Finally, another robocaller bites the dust. Travis Deloy Peterson of Utah is accused of soliciting donations from thousands of consumers across the US for a supposed charity for veterans, NBC reports.
He was caught with the help of Nancy McDaniel, a woman who was so sick of the constant calls that she kept track of every single one. The information she reported helped the Federal Trade Commission in Chicago find the culprit of the calls, and form a lawsuit against him.
The lawsuit states that Peterson has been running his fake charity under different names for the last few years, including “Veterans of America”, “Act of Valor”, and even the straightforward “Donate Your Car”.
The organization used various websites and millions of automatic calls and voicemail messages to persuade its victims to donate cars, houses, and even time shares. Many donors fell for the scheme because the “charity” promised tax write-offs for donations.
Peterson then allegedly sold and auctioned off those assets and used the money on himself. The FTC discovered that he spent the funds on personal vacations, dining, vehicles, and even dating services.
“He’s preying on people’s sympathies to get them to donate goods to help service members and veterans and then he’s using most of that money just for his own personal expenses,” Todd Kossow of the FTC told NBC.
According to the FTC, all the donations collected by Peterson over the past four years add up to about $500,000.
However, his assets have now been frozen and he’ll soon face judgment in court.
For Nancy McDaniel, that means that her persistence in logging and reporting the robocalls she received over the years has paid off. Although she never answered the phone, the scammer left many annoying recorded messages on her answering machine.
Luckily, she was able to detect right away that the “charity” was probably a scam, and she did not make any donations. Instead, she wrote down every number that called, and details about messages that were left. Although the numbers changed constantly, all the calls turned out to have the same origin.
All this information helped law enforcement build a case against Peterson. And even though there are plenty more criminal callers out there, at least this one won’t be able to make scam calls ever again.