Four Southern California men were arrested Thursday after being charged with defrauding dozens of elderly timeshare owners out of more than $5 million.

The men – along with a fifth defendant whom authorities are still looking for – are accused of using ‘boiler room tactics’ and lying about being able to provide financial assistance to victims, an indictment alleges of the recently unsealed federal grand jury.

Federal prosecutors have identified Michael McDonagh — a 41-year-old Long Beach man who founded or controlled telemarketing companies in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana and Signal Hill — as the ringleader of an alleged scheme that targeted dozens of people, many of whom were 55 or older.

Three other co-defendants – Antonio Duarte, 42, of Corona, Christopher Vannoy, 32, of Norwalk and Ruben Ortiz, 40, of Long Beach – were also arrested on Thursday, while a fifth man – Frank Molina, 43 , of San Pedro – is said to be still at large.

According to the indictment, employees of McDonagh’s telemarketing companies would contact timeshare owners and try to get them to sign contracts promising the companies would remove them from their timeshare interests for a flat fee.

After customers paid that upfront fee, prosecutors say, employees of the telemarketing company would contact them weeks later and tell them “a series of lies” in order to extract more money from them. This included some of the victims being told that for an additional fee, they could obtain a large settlement payment based on an “alleged litigation” against the timeshare companies, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege the victims were falsely told they could receive restitution to cover the costs they were paying once a settlement was reached. The defendants are also accused of convincing victims to pay for fraudulent nondisclosure agreements by claiming the forms were necessary before they could contact the telemarketing companies, prosecutors said.

But, according to the indictment, there was no ongoing litigation against the timeshare companies and none of the promised restitution payments were ever made.

The indictment alleges that McDonagh told employees to “take no prisoners” to have “no remorse” and to “take every penny you can”. Prosecutors allege that when one of the men grew concerned about the risks they were accused of taking, McDonagh told him: ‘This is a decision for you to make personally, I have made (peace) with this, (I have) been a criminal all my life and now it really benefits me.

The men were arrested following an investigation by the US Secret Service and the Huntington Beach Police Department.