Office of the Attorney General
Guilty Plea of Campbell County Man Involved in International Telemarketing Scam
Attorney General Greg Stumbo today announced a guilty plea entered by Matthew Gordon Hunt, of Ft. Thomas, on six felony counts relating to the Defendant’s involvement in an international telemarketing scam that stole millions of dollars from victims across the country. Hunt was arrested and indicted in December.
Hunt, age 30, plead guilty in Campbell County Court to four felony telemarketing counts and two felony counts of receiving stolen property. All of the charges are D felonies punishable with up to 5 years in jail with a maximum of 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, 2006 at 11:45 a.m. in Campbell Circuit Court.
Hunt was arrested on the evening of December 16th and is on home incarceration under a $60,000 full cash bond. An indictment was returned by the Grand Jury of Campbell County which is where the Defendant operated the scam.
Hunt admitted in a statement given to investigators that he assisted in an unlawful scheme in which victims’ bank accounts were debited without their authorization or debited under false pretenses. The victims’ funds were transferred through an account in the name of Mountain Peak Financial, Inc., in Kentucky, and then to the illegal telemarketers. Canadian and Indian telemarketers obtained some of the bank account numbers from telemarketing victims whom the criminals contacted with bogus offers of credit cards and promises of U.S. government grant money.
According to the scheme, the victims would obtain a credit card or a grant upon payment of a fee, usually between $199 and $299. During the sales pitch, the telemarketers would also obtain the victim’s bank account number. Some victims received credit card application materials, but none ever received the promised credit card or grant. In more egregious cases, the bank account numbers were simply obtained and debited without even contacting the victim.
Hunt facilitated this illegal activity by helping to form a company known as Mountain Peak Financial which was used as a conduit between the victims’ bank accounts and the telemarketers accounts located outside of the United States. Hunt, through Mountain Peak, notified third party processors who used the victims’ account information to electronically transfer funds from the victims’ accounts to Hunt’s merchant bank account without proper authorization. Hunt took a portion of the funds as a fee and transferred the balance to the telemarketing companies. Between November 2003 and August 2005, approximately $3 million in victims’ money was processed through Hunt’s Mountain Peak Financial account. Many of the victims appear to have been elderly or to have had credit problems.
“This type of fraudulent banking activity, known as ACH fraud, is the latest type of attack on consumers,” Attorney General Stumbo said. “This case highlights the importance of consumers closely reading their bank account statements to make sure there are no unauthorized charges. If unauthorized charges are found consumers should contact their bank and dispute the charge and contact the Attorney General’s Office.”
The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and Kentucky Bureau of Investigation. The Attorney General’s Office was also assisted in the investigation by the United States Customs Bureau, and the Fort Thomas Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Division with assistance of Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney Jack Porter.
Victims of Telemarketing Fraud can contact the Office’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-866-877-7867.
Matthew Gordon Hunt, 30