Vancouver man convicted of fraud in U.S. after companies solicited more than $18M from 60,000 people

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April 2 2018 (Courtesy of A Vancouver man accused of bilking thousands of seniors in the U.S. — and who fought extradition for more than a decade — has been convicted of mail and wire fraud by a Los Angeles federal jury.

On Thursday, a jury convicted Mark Eldon Wilson, 57, of seven counts of mail fraud and two counts of wire fraud, said a spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.

Prosecutors alleged Wilson, as owner of the telemarketing company, orchestrated a fraudulent cross-border telemarketing scheme that targeted mostly elderly victims and offered a bogus credit card fraud protection program, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Between 1998 and 2001, Wilson and his telemarketing companies solicited more than $18 million US from more than 60,000 victims in 37 different states, the statement said.

Profited ‘handsomely’

Evidence admitted at trial showed that Wilson operated a phoney telemarketing scheme through various companies — including OPCO International Inc. and American Fraud Watch Services — targeting victims in the U.S.

At Wilson’s direction, telemarketers misled victims into believing that his companies were affiliated with victims’ credit card companies, and falsely suggested to victims they were vulnerable to credit card fraud and would be held liable for fraudulent charges on their cards.

They sold the victims a non-existent credit card “protection” service for approximately $300, and falsely promised a 100-per-cent money-back guarantee.

Prosecutors said Wilson profited “handsomely” from his scheme, transferring more than $100,000 in profits to an offshore account in the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu.

He also purchased a number of vehicles in the name of his telemarketing companies, and negotiated the purchase of at least one luxury boat that was selling for more than $400,000, the statement said.

Wilson, who was extradited from Canada in late February 2017, is in custody and is scheduled to be sentenced July 30.