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Canadian who bilked elderly Americans gets 9 years in prison

John Raymond Bezeredi of Vancouver promised his 4,500 victims — many of whom have since died — that their investments were guaranteed, prosecutors say. He is ordered to pay more than $4.5 million in restitution.

January 28, 2011|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

A Canadian man who ran a telemarketing scam targeting elderly Americans was sentenced to more than nine years in federal prison, prosecutors in Los Angeles said Thursday.

John Raymond Bezeredi of Vancouver was sentenced to 109 months by U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess, who said the scheme was "cold, calculating, callous."

Bezeredi, 49, used fraudulent companies with names such as Imperial Investments and Dominion Investments to solicit money, promising that the funds would be pooled in European prize bonds and used to buy lottery tickets.

His 4,500 victims, many of whom have since died, were told that the investments were guaranteed. Some participants eventually received small payments; most just got more solicitations for money.

Bezeredi has been ordered to pay more than $4.5 million in restitution, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Though he was first charged in 2004, prosecutors said he operated the scam from 2000 through 2005. An L.A. grand jury indicted him in 2006 and he was extradited to the U.S. in 2009 and has been in custody since.

The FBI and the Federal Trade Commission were among the agencies investigating his activities. In September 2009, Bezeredi pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud related to a victim in Glendale.

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