United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the guilty plea of WAYNE ROBERT DAHL, JR., 51, to one count of mail fraud. DAHL entered his guilty plea today before Chief Judge John R. Tunheim in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.
“Fraudulent and deceptive sales tactics designed to trick consumers into buying expensive magazine subscriptions was the foundation of Wayne Dahl’s business model. This nationwide fraud scheme impacted more than 13,000 people across the United States, many of them elderly,” said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald. “Bringing to justice those who target vulnerable individuals for their own financial profit is a top priority of the Department of Justice and my office.”
According to DAHL’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, DAHL was the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Your Magazine Service, Inc., a fraudulent telemarketing company that operated a call center in Chaska, Minnesota. DAHL and his company defrauded mostly elderly consumers by tricking them into signing up for costly magazine subscriptions through false and fraudulent representations and sales tactics. DAHL purchased lists of consumers who had active magazine subscriptions through other companies. DAHL directed his sales employees to cold-call the people on these lists and fraudulently sign them up for expensive magazine subscription packages. DAHL required his employees call these consumers and falsely claim they were calling to offer the consumers a $150 reduction on their existing account balance. In reality, as DAHL knew, the consumers did not have an existing magazine subscription with his company. During the calls, DAHL directed his employees to obtain consumers’ credit card information by falsely claiming that the company was conducting a survey on credit card and banking usage. DAHL then directed his employees to use this information to trick consumers into signing up for expensive magazine subscription packages that they did not want nor realize they were purchasing. These new subscription packages resulted in DAHL’s company billing his victim-consumers 20 monthly payments of $49.90, for a total cost of $998.
According to DAHL’s guilty plea and documents filed with the court, DAHL also gave his employees a “rebuttal script” for use in responding to consumers’ questions. The rebuttal scripts provided false and fraudulent responses to consumers’ potential questions. For example, if a consumer stated that he or she did not want more magazines, DAHL’s script directed employees to falsely state “Oh, this isn’t for any more. This is for what you’re already getting.”
DAHL’s company used these fraudulent sales tactics to sell magazine packages to more than 13,000 people across the United States. DAHL and his company received more than $11 million from their victim-customers for the magazine subscription packages.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. United States Attorney MacDonald would also like to thank the Minnesota Office of the Attorney General for its assistance in this matter.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson, Harry M. Jacobs, and Melinda A. Williams are prosecuting the case.
WAYNE ROBERT DAHL, JR., 51
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600