A federal jury in the United States has convicted two persons on charges of defrauding hundreds of elderly Americans from a call center in Costa Rica.
According to the court documents, 30-year-old Manuel Chavez of Florida and 36-year-old Mark Oman of Washington swindled Americans out of millions of dollars after posing as U.S. government officials.
They would call elderly citizens in the United States and inform them that they have won a sweepstakes prize. When the winners responded eagerly, they were told to pay taxes, customs, and other fees to collect their winnings.
Chavez, the document says, transferred the payments from the U.S. to Costa Rica while Oman phoned the victims from the call center in San Jose.
They used voice over Internet protocols (VoIP) — internet telephone services — to disguise the calls’ country of origin. “Co-conspirators used a variety of means to conceal their true identities, including Voice over Internet Protocol technology, which made it appear as though they were calling from Washington, D.C., and other locations in the United States,” reads the document.
Chavez, Oman, and their co-conspirators stole approximately $4.5 million from victims.
The convicted face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison per count. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.