COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced on Monday that the ringleader of a telemarketing fraud ring from Ohio and Florida that stole millions of dollars from victims was sentenced to six years in prison.
In June, DeWine's office, in cooperation with Miami County Prosecutor Anthony Kendall, indicted 18 individuals for crimes resulting from the operation of United Property Sales, World Wide Land Marketing and Nationwide Advertising and Marketing. Fifteen of the 18 defendants have pleaded guilty with trials pending for the remaining three defendants.
Theodore Thomas pleaded guilty on March 1 to a first-degree felony for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities. Thomas also agreed to testify against the remaining defendants.
"Our goal is to make sure that individuals who lie, cheat, and steal face harsh criminal penalties," DeWine said. "Theodore Thomas led an operation that stole millions of dollars from mostly elderly victims across the country, and now he will pay the price. This sentence shows that consumer fraud is a crime that will be punished."
The scheme allegedly targeted elderly victims owning inexpensive, vacant land throughout the U.S. The telemarketers allegedly told victims their land was worth up to 15 times its assessed value and charged fees as high as $16,000 to guarantee the sale of the land. There were never any buyers, closings or sales and the enterprise allegedly defrauded people in 41 states out of more than $2.8 million.
Since DeWine created the Economic Crimes Unit in March 2011, 65 people have been charged with felonies and 35 have been convicted from the unit's inquiries.