A Canadian man living in Las Vegas was sentenced Wednesday to more than three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to running a telemarketing scam for five years that defrauded small-business owners of nearly $12 million, the Justice Department said.
Jason Demko, 43, was sentenced along with 53-year-old Michael Guariglia, of Buffalo Valley, Tennessee, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office. Demko was sentenced to three years, 10 months in prison, and Guariglia was sentenced to five years of probation.
Demko pleaded guilty in federal court on Feb. 14, 2018, and Guariglia pleaded guilty on March 20, 2018. Their co-defendants, Lorraine Riddiough — who is Demko’s mother and a Canadian living in Las Vegas — and Lissette Alvarez of Las Vegas, have also pleaded guilty in the telemarketing scam.
Alvarez has been sentenced to three years probation, while Riddiough is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Thursday.
Demko, Guariglia and their co-defendants operated a telemarketing scam known as the “grant-fee scam” from December 2009 to February 2014, the U.S. attorney’s office said. In this scam, people contacted small-business owners claiming to be a broker working for a corporation, charitable foundation or government agency looking to give money away.
“For a substantial fee,” the scammer would offer to file paperwork needed to obtain grants for the small-business owner and promised the costs of their services would be covered by the grants, the release said.
“In reality, no such grants exist,” the release said. “The criminals simply take the victims’ money.”
Guariglia and Demko, who also went by the name Jeff Ross, along with their co-defendants, defrauded “hundreds of individuals and families” out of nearly $12 million, the release said. The defendants persuaded businesses to pay them initial fees of $2,500 to $5,000 and continued soliciting owners for additional fees.
The co-defendants operated under the business names JCD Business Services; Foundation Processing Center; Summit Business Consultants Inc.; Inner Circle Corp. LLC; Sierra Investment Group Inc.; Valley Business Development; Quid Corp.; Interlan Charitable Foundation; Interlan Financial Corporation; Compass National LLC.; Compass National Inc.; Direct Business Company Inc.; Goldcom LLC.; and Company Planning LLC., the release said.
Both Demko and Guariglia were ordered to pay restitution of $11,509,087, the release said. They were also ordered to pay criminal forfeiture money judgments — $307,060 for Demko and $68,666 for Guariglia.