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Florida Business Owner Charged in Telemarketing-Related Fraud Scheme

A Florida business owner was charged in an indictment unsealed on Friday, with participating in a scheme that sold the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals to fraudulent telemarketers, who in turn used the information to target potential victims for various fraudulent telemarketing schemes.

Ronald John Mendleski, 72, of Bokeelia, Florida, was charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. he self-surrendered to the U.S. Marshals and made his initial appearance later Friday. A trial date has not been set.

According to the indictment, beginning in approximately 2009, Mendleski operated an enterprise whose principal business was selling personal information – including names, phone numbers and addresses – to telemarketers. Mendleski allegedly specialized in providing in “sweepstakes leads,” which are the phone numbers and personal information of individuals who have responded to mass mailings notifying recipients that they have purportedly won or are about to win, expensive prizes and enormous cash payouts.

The indictment alleges that many of Mendleski’s clients provided information indicating that they intended to use the sweepstakes leads to defraud people; at least one client told Mendleski directly that he intended to engage in fraud. Nonetheless, Mendleski sold the requested personal information to his clients, knowing they would use the information to victimize vulnerable individuals.

Over the course of the scheme, Mendleski allegedly earned approximate;y $2 million by selling personal information to scammers. Many of the senior citizens identified by Mendleski were in fact subsequently defrauded.