Springfield, Ill. – A Springfield, Ill., man, Andrew Miles Ross, was sentenced on Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, to serve 42 months (three years, six months) in federal prison and to pay $14,389 in restitution for operating a telemarketing advertising scam. Ross, 33, of the 3100 block of S. Woodward St., was allowed to self-report to begin serving his prison term at a later date, as directed by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
Ross owned and operated a telemarketing company from 2005 to April 2011, that used various names, including A. Ross and Associates and Coast-to-Coast Advertising, LLC, doing business as Nationwide Advertising and Nationwide Marketing. The company sold advertising space on placemats or take-home menus purportedly to be used by popular Mexican restaurants.
On Aug. 25, 2015, Ross pled guilty to the advertising scam, which grossed an estimated $900,000 from 2005 to April 2011. As a result of the scheme, Ross defrauded an estimated 6,500 small businesses in more than 32 states.
As part of the scheme, advertising space was sold primarily to small businesses located in the vicinity of Mexican restaurants. The telemarketers falsely represented to the businesses that they were employed by or associated with a local Mexican restaurant that was selling ad space on its placemats or take-home menus. Further, the telemarketers falsely represented a one-time annual fee for purchasing an advertisement, although the checking or credit card accounts of the small businesses were routinely debited without the businesses’ authorization or consent on multiple occasions during the year.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris. The investigation was conducted by agents of the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.