Canadian Telemarketers Who Defrauded Elderly Americans in Prescription Drug Discount Scam Headed to Prison
Earlier this morning, at the federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Illinois, three Canadian citizens were sentenced to prison for their roles in defrauding elderly Americans in a prescription drug discount card telemarketing scam. Fawaz Sebai, 41, and Vassilios Klouvatos, 34, both of Montreal, Quebec, were each sentenced to serve 44 months in prison. The third defendant, Lefkothea Klouvatos (Vassilios Klouvatos’ sister), 27, also of Montreal, Quebec, was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison.
All three defendants pled guilty to federal mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges back in December 2018. As part of their guilty pleas, Fawaz Sebai and Vassilios Klouvatos admitted that they owned and operated a call room in Canada that marketed prescription drug discount cards to elderly Americans over the phone. Lefkothea Klouvatos admitted that she managed the call room.
The telemarketers who worked for the defendants routinely lied and misled the victims. One of the lies the telemarketers often used was that they were calling on behalf of Medicare. Sometimes the telemarketers stated or implied that the victims might lose their Medicare benefits if they did not purchase a prescription drug discount card. The telemarketers also concealed the fact that the prescription drug discount cards they were selling for $299 were available for free on the internet.
The defendants sold these prescription drug discount cards under various corporate names, including AFD Medical Advisors and Clinacall. The scheme defrauded over 5,000 people throughout the United States out of more than $1.9 million. At least seven of the scheme’s elderly victims reside within the Southern District of Illinois in the towns of Carterville, Centralia, Granite City, Highland, Johnson City, Harrisburg, and Smithton.
The case was indicted in July 2014, and the Department of Justice promptly requested that the Canadian government extradite the defendants to the United States to stand trial. The Canadian government extradited all three defendants in 2018.
This case was investigated by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Montreal Office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided substantial assistance in the investigation. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission filed a civil action to stop the operations of this business in the United States. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Quinley and Scott A. Verseman.