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Press Release

Quebec Resident Sentenced To 30 Months In Prison For Multimillion Dollar Telemarketing Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Athanasios Vouloukos was sentenced yesterday to imprisonment for 30 months for his role in a five year conspiracy to commit mail fraud that deceived thousands of United States businesses, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Rafael Nunez, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Michael Daniels.  As part of his sentence, Vouloukos will be ordered to pay at least $1.4 million in restitution to his victims.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Susan Illston, United States District Judge.

Vouloukos, 48, of Ville St. Laurent, Quebec, Canada, pleaded guilty to the mail fraud conspiracy charge on January 28, 2020.  According to his plea agreement, Vouloukos admitted that he and others took part in a Canada-based telemarketing scheme over a five year period to defraud small United States businesses into paying for a service that purported to enhance their online profile. The service was variously described as “business listing optimization,” “business profile optimization” and “online business listing optimization.”  In reality, no such service existed. 

As described in his plea agreement, Vouloukos operated a call center in Canada with his co-conspirator.  United States businesses were cold-called from Canada in conjunction with sending them bogus invoices. The telemarketing scheme involved calling the businesses about the fraudulent invoices and falsely asserting that the businesses had ordered the “business listing optimization” service or other phony service and therefore owed the invoice amount.  Over the five year period, thousands of small United States businesses paid approximately $500 each for these non-existent services.  Victims were directed to mail their checks to addresses in the United States.  These addresses were United Parcel Service (UPS) mailboxes or virtual offices, including one at a San Francisco UPS store, which were instructed to forward the mail to Canada.  The majority of the proceeds were ultimately deposited into Canadian bank accounts.

According to a memo filed by the government for sentencing, Vouloukos and others collected more than $3 million in victim deposits. While Vouloukos agreed in his plea agreement to pay at least $1.4 million in restitution, the Court ordered a restitution hearing on October 8, 2021, to determine the full amount of restitution to be paid.

In addition to his 30 month prison sentence for mail fraud conspiracy in violation of 18 USC § 1349, United States District Judge Illston sentenced Vouloukos to a three-year period of supervision following his release from prison. 

Vouloukos was ordered to surrender immediately into custody. 

The case is being prosecuted by the Corporate and Securities Fraud section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service and IRS Criminal Investigation.

Updated September 15, 2021