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Michael Saxon, 50, Thomas Sniffen, 58, and Donald Dodt, 76, operated call centers in Costa Rica that defrauded elderly victims in the United States via a telemarketing scheme.

The trio made $11 million during the scheme. On January 23, 2020 the suspects were all sentenced to multiple years in prison.

Dodt, Sniffen, and Saxon conspired together to commit the fraud and worked at a call center in Costa Rica. While falsely posing as federal judges, representatives of the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, they contacted victims in the United States — primarily senior citizens — to tell them that that they had supposedly won a substantial “sweepstakes” prize. 

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. 

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The conspirators used a variety of means to conceal their identity, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services provided by Dodt that made it appear as if they were calling from Washington, D.C., and other places in the United States.

At sentencing, it was determined that Dodt, Sniffen, Saxon and their co-conspirators collectively stole more than $11 million in total from victims.

They must also pay restitution in the amount of $7 million for Dodt, $11,236,857.65 for Sniffen and $2,593,574.02 for Saxon.