National Telemarketing Victim Call Center

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
National Telemarketing Victim Call Center
City & State:
Los Angeles, 
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The National Telemarketing Victim Call Center (NTVCC) is a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization that provides education and prevention services to older consumers who have been victimized or are at risk of being victimized by mass marketing frauds.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The National Telemarketing Victim Call Center (NTVCC) is a nonprofit organization that provides education and prevention services to older consumers who have been victimized or are at risk of being victimized by Mass Marketing Frauds…from lottery and prize scams, to oil and gas investments. We are primarily funded through the AARP Foundation as a result of a settlement fund with the National Association of Attorney Generals. Based in Los Angeles we work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the California Department of Corporations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the California Attorney General.

With a combination of part time staff and a large contingent of volunteers, each year we provide one-on-one counseling to over 150,000 consumers. Most of these counseling sessions happen over the telephone when we call a consumer whose name and telephone number appear on a lead sheet or “mooch” lists seized by law enforcement when a “boiler room” or telemarketing sales operation has been closed down.

In the last year, we’ve been calling consumers whose names and numbers were found on lead sheets in a boiler room that was pitching investments in medical imaging equipment, collectible art, movies and oil and gas. Our counseling reminds the consumer that investment fraud victims are not isolated, frail and gullible, but generally self-reliant, optimistic and above average in financial knowledge; that con artists use some common tricks like dangling the prospect of wealth, build credibility by claiming to be with a reputable firm, report that other savvy investors have already invested and create a sense of urgency by claiming limited supply. Our prevention messaging gives the consumer tips and strategies for ending the conversation, asking questions about registration and licensure, how to check out these registrations and licenses and how to get a second opinion. We also offer to work with the consumer in conducting due diligence on any offering they are considering.

When we get these lead sheets from law enforcement, they come in a cardboard box and usually include a single sheet for each consumer. Some sheets include significant information about the consumer including personal and work histories, investment style, and occasionally social security number. Of course, the con artists leave their own notes…”controllable, hit big” or “really old”. Our staff and volunteers will call directly from these sheets and start their own set of notes. Generally our notes include information regarding prior victimizations, whether complaints have been filed, and any recent sales calls. At the end of the day, all this information is entered into Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet, software that was obtained through the Microsoft donation program with Tech Soup.

Starting in December 2008 we came across two consumers who had just sent money for an investment in a “new film product for innovative distribution to home video, cable and foreign markets”. With information from the consumer we searched online for additional information on whether this was a licensed offering, whether the limited partnership was recognized and incorporated, and if there were any previous complaints against the salespersons. The only information we could gather was that the location where the consumer was sending their investment dollars was a “mail drop” and the address for the corporation offering endorsements of the investment did not exist. In the meantime, we checked our own database for other consumers who may have made a similar investment and were able to identify eight additional investors. Believing this to be a scam, we contacted all the known investors and worked with them in gathering the offering materials and in filing complaints with the California Department of Corporations (the state securities regulator). In April 2009, the California Department of Corporations issued a Desist and Refrain Order. In this particular case all the victims were retired, formerly managed small businesses and were quite elderly. While it’s hopeful that there will be criminal charges filed against the principals involved in this offering, it’s unlikely the consumers will get their money back.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology
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