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Feds: Foreign nationals scammed seniors out of $10 million

Federal authorities are seeking two foreign nationals suspected of a $10 million telemarketing scam targeting elderly investors in the United States. Jonathan Papa and Methsiri “Lal” Palliyaguru sold phony deposit and real estate investments to nearly 200 seniors between 2008 and 2013, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago.A Toronto man, Austin Etches, pleaded guilty to taking part in the scheme and is cooperating with investigators. He was sentenced last year to 84 months in prison.Papa, 43; and Pallivaguru, 57, used call centers to reach out to victims at American retirement communities, trying to get seniors to invest in fake companies they claimed Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway were involved with, prosecutors allege.

Among the companies they purported to run was Bradley Cooper Financial Services, which they listed at 500 N. Michigan Ave., prosecutors said. Investors’ money was actually being funneled to the men in the Philippines. Over five years, they sent investors fraudulent statements claiming their stakes were increasing in value, when the two men had actually pocketed $10 million, prosecutors said.Both are considered fugitives and have been indicted on eight counts of mail fraud that victimized 10 or more people over the age of 55. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.Authorities think Papa is in the Philippines and Palliyaguru in Canada, and are seeking their extradition.