A Florida business owner pleaded guilty today for his role in selling the personal information of tens of thousands of individuals to fraudulent telemarketers, who used the information to target potential victims for various fraudulent telemarketing schemes.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Richard T. Thornton of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Paul Wysopal of the FBI’s Tampa Field Office made the announcement.
Ronald John Mendleski, 72, of Bokeelia, Florida, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before U. S. Magistrate Judge Carol Mirando of the Middle District of Florida. Sentencing will be set at a later date.
As part of the plea, Mendleski admitted that for several years he operated an enterprise that provided telemarketers with information called “sweepstakes leads,” which are the phone numbers and personal information of individuals who have responded to mass mailings notifying recipients that they have purportedly won, or are about to win, expensive prizes and enormous cash payouts. Such information is highly valued by fraudulent telemarketers, who seek to identify individuals who may be susceptible to falling for fraudulent scams. Mendleski admitted that he sold this information to scammers, knowing that they intended to use the information to engage in fraud. This scheme generated over $1.5 million for Mendleski, he admitted.
The FBI is investigating this matter. Trial Attorney Timothy A. Duree of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.