United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced a federal indictment charging CAROL ANN OLBERG, 46, with three counts wire fraud and violating the Senior Citizens Against Marketing Scams Act of 1994 (the “SCAMS Act”). OLBERG is the 63rd defendant charged to date as part of a nationwide telemarketing scheme that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims. OLBERG will make her initial appearance in U.S. District Court at a later date.
According to allegations in the indictments and documents filed with the court, from 2013 through 2020, OLBERG owned and operated Sun Coast Readers LLC, a California-based company involved in fraudulent magazine sales. OLBERG ran Sun Coast Readers from her home in Winchester, California. As part of the fraud scheme, OLBERG obtained lists of consumers who had active and ongoing magazine subscriptions through other companies. OLBERG knew that many of the consumers on these lists were elderly or otherwise susceptible to fraudulent and deceptive sales tactics. OLBERG used the information on these lists to fraudulently pose as the victim-consumers’ existing magazine provider, calling about an existing subscription. Using a series of knowing and deliberate lies and misrepresentations OLBERG signed the victim-consumers up for expensive magazine subscriptions or falsely claimed to be calling with an offer to renew the victim-consumer’s existing magazine subscription, often at a reduced cost. In reality, OLBERG and her company had no existing relationship with most of the victim-consumers and OLBERG was not calling about an existing magazine subscription. Instead she was calling to defraud them by tricking them into unwittingly signing up for entirely new magazine subscriptions.
According to allegations in the indictment and documents filed with the court, OLBERG also defrauded victim-consumers who had been previously defrauded by multiple magazine companies. These victim-consumers had been “sold” magazine subscriptions they did not want and did not knowingly sign up for. The victim-consumers were being billed by multiple other magazine sales companies—as many as a dozen magazine companies at a time. Many of these victim-consumers were elderly and otherwise vulnerable. They were desperate to cancel their magazines. As part of the fraud scheme, when victim-consumers said they did not want the magazines they were already receiving, OLBERG used a fraudulent “cancellation” pitch in which she fraudulently claimed that the victim-consumers owed a large outstanding balance for existing magazine subscriptions with their company. OLBERG then fraudulently offered to pay off that balance in exchange for a large lump-sum payment. In reality, the customers did not owe OLBERG or her company any money and OLBERG simply stole the money. During the course of the scheme, OLBERG defrauded more than 3,000 victims across the United States. Between 2013 and 2020, she received approximately $1.4 million from victims of her scheme.
This indictment is related to the cases United States v. Rahm, et al., 20-cr-232; United States v. Timmerman et al., 20-cr-233; United States v. Mathias et al., 20-cr-231; United States v. Dahl, 18-cr-305 and United States v. Oelrich, 20-cr-128.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Additional assistance was provided by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph H. Thompson, Harry M. Jacobs, and Melinda A. Williams are prosecuting the case.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
CAROL ANN OLBERG, 46
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600