Question: How much money can three Palm Beach County scam artists make by convincing old people there are new government regulations that ban traditional toilet paper?
Answer: Around $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Mary Moore, 54, Joseph Nouerand, 52, and Christopher Lincoln, 46, each pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for the scam, in which some elderly folks purchased more than 70 years' worth of "second generation" toilet paper.
The feds say the trio, along with other employees at their company -- FBK Products LLC -- pitched the idea over the phone to people across several states between March 2009 and October 2010.
The three would tell people that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture were all in on the toilet-paper gig, as well as some other imaginary government regulations.
"As a further part of the scheme, the defendants and others fraudulently misled residents into believing that Septic Remedy would eliminate the need for having their septic tank pumped; that government regulations had changed the components of toilet paper; and that the version of Septic Remedy being marketed by the defendants was a second generation product, reformulated to work on allegedly new toilet papers," the U.S. Attorney's Office says. "Through this scheme, some elderly customers were defrauded into purchasing more than seventy years worth of toilet paper. The fraud was valued at approximately $1,000,000."
According to court documents, one pitch for the new toilet paper included also selling a chemical product that would break down the oil in the toilet paper to keep a person's septic tank up and running, and they claimed it was the same chemical used to break down the oil in the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They were also selling it at half-price!
The plea deal the trio accepted drops an additional charge that was brought against each of them, but they still face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years at their February 10 sentencing date.
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