A federal judge has imposed a nine-year prison sentence on a Canada-based con artist who was charged by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California with defrauding elderly consumers using phony claims about non-existent prizes and investments. In the sentencing hearing, the judge called the scheme “cold, calculating, callous behavior.”
In addition to imposing the prison sentence, the judge ordered the defendant, John Raymond Bezeredi, to pay $4.6 million in restitution for the 4,500 consumers he defrauded.
The U.S. Attorney’s criminal case followed a civil lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission. In 2007, the FTC obtained a court order against Bezeredi requiring him to pay $4.76 million for consumer redress and barring him from fraudulent telemarketing. The FTC’s Criminal Liaison Unit, a special branch of the agency set up to ensure that appropriate consumer scams are referred for criminal prosecution, then sent the case to the U.S. Attorney for criminal prosecution. In September 2009, Bezeredi pleaded guilty to one criminal count of mail fraud and admitted that he had targeted elderly victims with the telemarketing scheme.
The FTC would like to thank the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California for its work in successfully prosecuting this matter. The FTC brought its civil case with the cooperation of Project Emptor, a cross-border law enforcement collaborative, Consumer Protection BC, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Competition Bureau, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (FTC File No. 042-3152; see press release dated April 9, 2007.)
Copies of the document mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s website at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.