An Orlando, Florida man has pleaded guilty for his role in a telemarketing scam that targeted timeshare consumers, and which ultimately defrauded more than 1,000 victims, many of them elderly, of more than $3.3 million, according to a release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, brought to our attention by timeshare industry site Inside the Gate.
How exactly did the scheme work? As the report explains, from October 2010 to April 2012, the leader of the scheme and his co-conspirators:
“devised and participated in a telemarketing scheme to cheat timeshare owners out of money by promising to sell their timeshares in return for the owners paying in advance a portion of the closing costs associated with the purported sales. There were no buyers. The timeshare sales were never arranged and never occurred.”
According to the details of the report, the scam “operated under numerous business names,” which came complete with “websites with false and misleading information to include customer testimonials, company officers, and press releases.”
The operators took care to move their business front from state to state and change the name “approximately every 90 days,” and “used wire communications and mail carrier services to carry out the scheme.”
According to the press release, the leader of the scam “pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud; two counts of mail fraud; and two counts of wire fraud.” He “faces restitution in an amount not to exceed $3.5 million to the victims,” and sentencing is scheduled for May, 2018.
In all, this is an important reminder for timeshare consumers of all ages and backgrounds to be vigilant when it comes to any offers to sell, donate, or transfer their interests; the timeshare resale scam is an all-too-common one, which dupes countless individuals out of their hard-earned money every single year.
For more on the mechanics of this common scheme, we have resources available here and here. You may also want to peruse our “News Room,” where we regularly bring attention to stories of timeshare scams or fraud from around the country.
Above all, it’s important that consumers take care to thoroughly research and vet any organization offering to help them sell or exit their timeshare; take care to never wire money sight unseen; and arm themselves with the contact information for their state and local consumer protection agencies, should anything go wrong.
For now, we’ll leave you with this important message from the USAO Nevada:
“Consumers should use caution when previously unknown telemarketers offer unsolicited services. It is relatively easy for scam artists to create the appearance of legitimacy for a fraudulent business front by manipulating information available through the Internet. Fraudsters frequently are able to buy or steal information related to their intended victims that the victim believed was confidential, helping the fraudster trick the victim into believing the fraudster is part of a legitimate business.”
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.