PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Phoenix police say they have busted a telemarketing fraud ring that has scammed thousands of senior citizens out of more than $40 million. Thirteen people have been arrested.
The investigation started in 2014 with a 75-year-old woman from Iowa.
Phoenix Police Detectives of the Commercial Crimes Detail say that the woman had been scammed out of thousands of dollars by a criminal enterprise operating as a telemarketing business or called WyzeMoney.
The telemarketer convinced her to invest money in the company with the promise of no risk and guaranteed money back.
Phoenix police detectives, working with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and The Better Business Bureau, identified additional victims who had filed complaints.
[PHOTOS: 13 arrested in telemarketing scam]
The victims, numbering in the thousands, ranged from their late 60s to their 90s and lived out of state. The total monetary damages are estimated at more than 40 million dollars.
"We've identified 9,000 victims," said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. "We estimate that $40 million was stolen from these vulnerable adults. All were over the age of 65, and some were people with disabilities."
WyzeMoney, which changed names several times, set up call centers in various cities within Maricopa County.
Police say the company made a variety of false promises in order to convince victims to provide their debit or credit card information over the phone. The victims were promised thousands of dollars in returns as well as a 100% money back guarantee, making it appear risk-free.
Police continued to investigate the claims, and in 2016, the suspects were identified and interviewed, which shut down their operation.
In addition, The Federal Trade Commission partnered with the investigators, and approximately $7 million of the fraudulently obtained money was identified and recovered for return to the victims.
"We would never want this to happen to our loved ones," says Chief Williams.
In September, 2019, warrants were issued for 13 adult suspects identified as part of the telemarketing fraud scheme. Four of those suspects are believed to be top level members of the operation.
The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests may be made.
The suspects involved have been arrested and charged with several felonies, including conspiracy to commit fraudulent schemes, money laundering, theft from a vulnerable Adult, illegal control of an enterprise and unlawful telephone solicitation.
The suspects have been identified as:
-Susan Rodriguez, 42
-Amanda Dahlstrom, 46
-Carla Jewell, 51
-David Johnson, 54
-Eric Larion, 47
-Dorian Levine, 59
-Jessica Adams, 34
-John McClure, 35
-Christopher Lynn, 22
-Karla Finocchio, 53
-Brandon Randis, 40
-Zachary Costa, 28
-Dale Burney, 55