A Toronto man accused of defrauding 30,000 Americans of about $7-million U.S. in a low-rate credit card scheme for people with poor credit has taken his case to the country’s highest court to avoid being returned to Chicago to stand trial.
Alex Orphanou, a.k.a. Alexos Orphanou, who is in a Toronto jail, was ordered extradited to the U.S. last week by an Ontario Court of Appeal to face a slew of fraud-related offences. He quickly filed a leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will rule if it will hear the case or send the suspect packing.
Orpanou was charged by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2008 for violating commission laws and a telemarketing sales rule by falsely “promising consumers a major credit card and charging an advance fee for it, but never delivering the card,” the FTC said in a 2002 news release.
The FTC alleged “the appellant fraudulently telemarketed credit cards by offering persons who had poor credit ratings ’guaranteed’ credit cards in exchange for a fee.”
Court heard the alleged scheme was highly organized and preyed on elderly U.S. residents.
“The alleged fraudulent scheme, of which the appellant is said to have been the chief architect and directing force, was massive in scope and highly sophisticated,” the Court of Appeal said in its decision.
“It involved numerous corporations owned or controlled by the appellant, thousands of victims in the U.S. and victim losses totalling approximately $7 million U.S.”
The FTC alleged Orpanou falsely claimed he can provide consumers with a Visa or MasterCard with an interest of 3.9 or 6%, and a credit limit of $2,500 to $5,000 and no annual fee.
The scheme required customers to pay an upfront “processing” fee of up to $199 for the credit cards by authorizing debits from their bank account. But their cards never arrived.
The FTC said instead “consumers received packages containing information about avoiding credit card fraud and financial scams, about discount shopping services and vacation certificates.”
The commission alleged Orphenu was not authorized to issue credit cards and as many as 30,000 Americans, many who were elderly, were ripped off for millions of dollars.
The scheme led U.S. and Canadian police to shut four financial companies that they alleged were operated by Orphanou out of the same location in Toronto.
This article was written by Tom Godfrey and published by the Toronto Sun on October 4, 2011.
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