JACKSON — A federal appeals panel has upheld the conviction of Timothy Allen for his role in a telemarketing scheme that prosecutors said targeted seniors.
Allen was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in 2012. He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison with four years’ supervised release. He also was ordered to pay $204,915 in restitution.
A three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Allen’s arguments that his sentence was too harsh for the minor role he played in the scheme. Allen described himself as a “runner” who rarely came in contact with others involved in the scam.
Authorities said the scam began with a call to tell victims they had won a large cash prize. The victims then were told to wire money to cover fees and taxes on the supposed prize.
The caller would instruct the victim to send the money to another co-defendant, also called a “runner.” The runner would retain a portion of the payment for himself and transfer the remainder to the caller.
Prosecutors said the scheme took money from 91 victims, most of whom were elderly.
Prosecutors said the scam netted tens of thousands of dollars from victims in California, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Vermont. Some of the money made its way to Mississippi.
The eight people arrested in 2010 by the FBI included men and women from Georgia, Illinois and Tennessee.
The three-judge panel said the Mississippi court found that runners like Allen were essential to the wire fraud scheme because they created a buffer between the caller and the victim by retrieving and resending the wired money.
“Thus Allen was an average participant rather than a minor participant,” the three-judge panel said.
The panel said while there was no evidence that Allen knew the victims were elderly, Allen collected money from the same individuals on multiple times.
“Although he was not a leader of the scheme and did not personally contact any of the victims, he was involved in a large number of transactions, sometimes taking money from the same victim up to three times in a short period. It is plausible in light of the record as a whole that Allen should have known that the victims of this scheme were particularly susceptible to criminal conduct,” the panel said.