On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted a man from West Los Angeles for running a telemarketing scam that targeted elderly victims over the course of a decade, resulting in fraudulent gains of more than $4.5 million.
Michael Alexai Dragunov, 44, along with Christopher Michael Lang, 42, an accomplice from Kansas, each face 10 charges in total for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud related to telemarketing and email marketing campaigns aimed at the elderly.
From August 2013 to June 2023, Dragunov and Lang allegedly posed as representatives of companies offering advertising and related services to current or former timeshare owners, according to the indictment. The defendants used aliases, Skype phone numbers, and fictitious transactions to hide their identities and make their telemarketing companies appear legitimate.
The victims were tricked into signing agreements with Dragunov and Lang’s fraudulent telemarketing companies, which claimed to help sell or rent their timeshare properties for a single advertising fee. In reality, the victims never received the promised services or money, even after paying recurring fees totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars over multiple years.
The men allegedly went to great lengths to keep up the facade of their fraudulent telemarketing agencies, including making “hundreds of phony small transactions” on the companies’ payment processing accounts.
To extract more money from victims, Dragunov and Lang allegedly employed various deceptive tactics, including falsely assuring victims that the fees would be refunded or reimbursed, asserting that victims still owed taxes on their timeshare properties, and warning that any attempts to dispute payments would result in the loss of all funds and proceeds from potential timeshare sales or rentals.
If convicted, the men could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.