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How does mass marketing fraud work?

The first component to mass marketing fraud in Cleveland, Ohio, is that a wide audience has to be reached. This generally means that something like the telephone, the Internet, or the postal service will be used. In some cases, even large meetings can count as mass marketing fraud, however.

The goal of a mass-marketing scheme is to get in touch with potential victims and present false solicitations to them with the end goal of taking the money that they provide. Sometimes, this is done with the aim of taking a very small amount of money—perhaps under $100—from as many people as possible. Other times, it aims at taking a larger amount of money from a smaller number of individuals.

For example, the scheme could tell the people to send in money orders for a small amount of money in order to get checks for a larger sum, often calling it a reward. Some reason will usually be given, like needing the money up front to buy checks that can then be used to distribute a fictitious fortune. The people will be promised more than they put in. The most elaborate schemes promise to make them rich, often claiming to have millions of dollars.

What happens is that the money is collected from all of the people who agreed to pay up front, but they are never sent the greater amount that was promised, or they are sent fake checks. Either way, the scam needs the mass marketing tactics to get as many of these up-front payments as possible.

If you've been accused of running a scam like this, you have a right to a fair trial.

Source: United States Department of Justice, "Mass Marketing Fraud," accessed Oct. 29, 2015

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