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2 Admit to O.C. Phone Scams

Crime: Both plead guilty to asking 'winners' to pay before receiving 'prizes' in unrelated schemes.

May 09, 1998|P.J. HUFFSTUTTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two Orange County men, each accused of operating a telemarketing scheme that targeted the elderly, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in federal court in Santa Ana, federal regulators said Friday.

Wayne Lewis Guenther, 31, of Newport Beach admitted that he called people and pretended to be affiliated with the Nation's Missing Children Organization, said Assistant U.S. Atty. S. Robert Raskin Jr. The volunteer group is a Phoenix-based association that helps people with missing children work with police and process paperwork.

Guenther would tell victims that they had won "huge sums" of money and that they needed to make a donation to the volunteer group to get the award, Raskin said.

But investigators found that there was no prize. Guenther--who admitted keeping a portion of the donated money--took more than $40,000 from more than 200 people.

Guenther was authorized to act as a fund-raiser, according to staff members at U.S. Marketing in Santa Ana. U.S. Marketing has a contract with the charity to seek donations from the public.

He is to be sentenced Aug. 31.

In an unrelated case, Clinton Maurice Tucker, 29, of Buena Park pleaded guilty to wire fraud April 10.

Tucker phoned elderly people and told them they had won a large prize in a fictitious sweepstakes, Raskin said. Tucker then told people they had to pay a fee or taxes to collect the nonexistent prize.

Tucker, who is scheduled to be sentenced July 20, took more than $200,000 from eight people, according to investigators.

Both arrests resulted from efforts of the County of Orange Boiler Room Apprehension task force, formed last year to stop fraudulent telemarketing schemes, which are prevalent throughout the county.

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