Springfield man pleads guilty to wire fraud

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SPRINGFIELD - The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that a Springfield man has pleaded guilty to defrauding more than 6,500 small businesses across the country.

U.S. Attorney James Lewis says Andrew Ross, 32, pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud in federal court.  Authorities say Ross allegedly defrauded the businesses in a telemarketing advertising scam.  Lewis says Ross allegedly owned and operated a telemarketing company that sold advertising space on placemats or take-home menus used by restaurants, and that Ross made more than $900,000 in false advertisements as a result.

Lewis adds that scheme allegedly involved selling advertising space to small businesses near popular restaurants, with telemarketers falsely claiming to be working for or with the restaurants in placing the ads on its menus or placemats.  Additionally, the telemarketers also allegedly said there was a one-time annual fee for purchasing the advertisement.  However, the company routinely took money from the accounts of the businesses without authorization or consent.

Ross is scheduled  to be sentenced on January 18, 2016.  He faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, up to three years of supervised release, and restitution.

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