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Three North Americans receive jail time for Costa Rica-based telemarketing scam

January 27, 2020

Two U.S. citizens and a Canadian were sentenced to prison for their participation in a telemarketing scheme that defrauded victims in the United States from a call center in Costa Rica.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the three individuals received the following sentences from Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. of the Western District of North Carolina:

  • Donald Dodt, 76, originally of Cleveland, Ohio: 90 months in prison.
  • Thomas Sniffen, 58, originally of Peekskill, New York: 114 months in prison.
  • Michael Saxon, 50, originally of Ontario, Canada: 75 months in prison.

The scheme — which defrauded primarily elderly U.S. citizens of approximately $11 million — involved Dodt, Sniffen and Saxon falsely posing as federal workers and telling victims they had won a large “sweepstakes” prize, according to the DOJ.

The trio used Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to appear to victims as if they were calling from Washington D.C. and other U.S. locations.

“After convincing victims that they stood to receive a significant financial reward, the members of the conspiracy told victims that they needed to make a series of up-front cash payments before collecting, purportedly for items like insurance fees, taxes and import fees,” the Department of Justice says.

Dodt and Sniffen were arrested by Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Police in 2017 after receiving warrants issued by Interpol.

U.S. officials filed extradition requests to try them in North Carolina.

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