Brian Rogers, owner of the Timeshare Users Group, has posted a message again requesting timeshare owners who believe they were victimized by any of the groups below to contact the Assistant US Attorney Candida Heath. Victims are being asked to help provide information to prosecute the con artists responsible for telemarketing scams which targeted timeshare owners hoping to sell their vacation ownership interests.
"....appears the US department of justice is going after a principle that is responsible for these companies...and any victims of any of these scammers is urged to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
this appears to be a legitimate attempt to not only shut this guy (and these companies down) but to gain restitution for any victims!...." Brian Rogers
The original press release from the Department of Justice was posted in May, and named the following companies:
Resorts Condos Management;
Vision Ventures Inc.;
Timeshare Services Today;
Vacation Equity Marketing, Inc.;
Universal Processing Services of Wisconsin, LLC, also known as Newtek Merchant Solutions;
HES Merchant Services, Inc.;
Interval Equity Marketing, Inc.;
Vacations And Resorts; and
Visionary Investments, LLC.
These telemarketing scams were being investigated in a cooperative effort by the United States Postal Inspectors and the Orlando Police Department.
You can read the full press release from the US Dept of Justice by clicking HERE
Earlier scam alerts have been posted about a telemarketing scam using the name Vacation Max, in which the cold callers were targeting timeshare owners with promised timeshare sales to "corporate buyers". The scam charged consumers large upfront fees for sales that never materialized. The scam is believed to have bilked timeshare owners out of more than $11 million dollars in fake closing costs and fees.
An update on the prosecution of one of the con artists was just posted and states that Elpenike Eddy-Aldava, a 75 year old woman from Las Vegas, was found guilty late on Friday afternoon by a federal jury in East St. Louis.
"...According to Stephen R. Wigginton, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Eddy-Aldava participated in an alleged scheme that included victims throughout the United States, including southern Illinois. Evidence at trial showed that for more than five years, Eddy-Aldava worked as a telemarketer for a Las Vegas telemarketing business. Although the business frequently changed names, Wigginton said the two primary names of the business were Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max.
According to Wigginton, the telemarketers called timeshare owners throughout the U.S. and offered to help them sell their timeshares. The telemarketers then falsely represented that they had found corporate buyers interested in acquiring blocks of timeshare units and that the victims' timeshare units could be included in these blocks. In order to participate in this "corporate block," however, the telemarketers allegedly told the victims that they had to pay upfront fees, which usually ranged from $2,000 to $3,000.
The telemarketers allegedly falsely told the victims that these fees were needed to pay closing costs. Instead, the telemarketers were paid a large commission for each fraudulent sale. These commissions typically ranged from 40 percent to 50 percent. Because Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max had no corporate buyers, no timeshares were ever sold to any corporation.
Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max employed people known as "updaters" to handle all of the calls from customers who called in to ask why their timeshares had not been sold as had been promised. The job of these "updaters" was to provide false excuses to the victims in order to string them along and prevent them from contacting their credit card companies and demanding their money back. The scheme operated from at least December 5, 2006 until January 24, 2012. The losses caused by the scheme exceeded $11,000,000.
In May 2013, the owner of Vacation Max, Michael Patrick Sullivan, was indicted. Sullivan pleaded guilty and on January 9 was sentenced to five years in prison. Three other telemarketers from the scheme, John Nicosia; Robert Kelly Matthews; and Rebecca Mars, as well as one of the "updaters," Patrick Nosack, were also charged. Both Nicosia and Matthews pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. Nosack also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19. Rebecca Marrs' trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 26, 2016. The sentencing hearing for Eddy-Aldava is scheduled for Feb. 4, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. Eddy-Aldava could face up to 25 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and five years of supervised release. In addition, Eddy-Aldava could be ordered to pay restitution to the victims of her crime.
The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Verseman and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Lu.
Read the full story by clicking HERE
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has announced the arrest of Kathleen Caron Orlando, born June 28, 1978, allegedly operated Elite Cruise Options and defrauded victims who placed orders for cruise vacations they never received. In addition, victims reported their credit cards were charged for cruises they never authorized. A total of $21,643 was lost. Carson was booking into the Orange County Jail on charges of organized scheme to defraud.
If you believe that you were also a victim of this scam, please contact the Florida helpline at 1-800-HELP-FLA to provide additional information to law enforcement.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced the arrest of Adina Monegain of Orlando, born Jan. 6, 1991. Monegain allegedly operated Revenue Property Services LLC and was engaged in a scheme to defraud timeshare owners by promising fraudulent real estate transactions. Six victims paid $17,451.37 in fake closing costs and legal fees as directed by the business, but their timeshares were never sold. Monegain was booked into the Osceola County Jail on multiple charges, including: grand theft, organized scheme to defraud, unlicensed real estate activity, unlawful use of a two-way communication device and commercial telephone solicitation license.
If you believe that you were also a victim of this scam, please contact the Florida helpline at 1-800-HELP-FLA to provide additional information to law enforcement.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced the arrest of Joseph J Paprocki of Daytona Beach in connection with a scheme to defraud timeshare owners. Paprocki is alleged to have operated International Resales Unlimited LLC and promised consumers fraudulent resale transactions. Five consumers stated that they paid $8,000 in fake closing costs and legal fees for timeshare resale transactions that never completed.
If you believe that you have also been a victim of this scam, please contact the consumer hotline at 1-800-HELP-FLA to provide additional information to law enforcement.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit
against Condosmart LLC, an Arizona-based business. The suit accuses the company of making hundreds of unsolicited telemarketing calls to consumers who owned timeshare properties all over the U.S. According to Brnovich's records, consumers in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina may have paid Condosmart thousands of dollars for services that were not provided.
The suit claims Condosmart, which also does business as CS Marketing, CSR Financial, and Condosmart Marketing, engaged in deceptive and misleading business practices as it targeted consumers who owned timeshare properties.
“Routine misrepresentation”Brnovich says the company's telemarketers were armed with a lot of information about the condo owners, including their name and where the property is located. He says that during sales calls, the telemarketers would routinely misrepresent that the owners had bonus, or extra, weeks that were available for sale to third parties.
For example, in some cases Brnovich says timeshare owners were told well-known Fortune 500 companies wanted to rent their extra timeshare weeks for large events like automobile races, trade shows, and sporting events.
The catch, says Brnovich, is the condo owner would be required to pony up anywhere from $995 to $1995 to market his or her “bonus” weeks.
The suit claims the company has violated the Arizona Telemarketing Solicitations Act by failing to file a verified registration before soliciting consumers and by failing to maintain a surety bond, as required by Arizona law.
***** Editor's notes:
The best advice I can give to any consumer who receives an unsolicited telemarketing call about their timeshare is to simply hang up the phone! A legitimate broker will NEVER telemarket! Licensed brokers do not purchase Black Market owner lists... Many of these telemarketers will call and pretend to be associated with a resort or exchange system. Please be aware that timeshare exchange companies such as RCI or Interval International do not allow the commercial rental of exchange reservations.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has announced the arrest of one of two Central Florida brothers for running a telemarketing scam that was targeting timeshare owners and defrauded consumers across the country out of more than $350,000. Gregory Benjamin Davis and Jason Eugene Allan Davis are alleged to be the individuals behind the scheme.
According to the department's investigation, Gregory Davis and Jason Davis, acting under the business names American Timeshare Associates and Consumer Advocate Solution Headquarters, would contact consumers, promising they had waiting buyers for their timeshares. Allegedly, both businesses would then require advance broker fees, closing costs and other legal fees in order to facilitate the sale of their timeshare vacation properties. Once the victims paid the costs and fees, the real estate transaction would not occur and the business would never communicate with the victims again.
The following tips help protect consumers from common scams:
- Consumers can research whether the telemarketer or telemarketing salesperson is registered with the State of Florida and if any complaints have been filed against them. This can be done by clicking HERE by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).
- NEVER give out bank account, credit card or personal information (date of birth, mother's maiden name, Social Security number, etc.) over the telephone, unless it is to a known and trusted source.
- Request written information by mail about the organization itself, as well as the product, service, investment or charity.
Gregory Davis was booked into the Orange County Jail on multiple felony charges, including: organized scheme to defraud, unlawful use of a two way communication device, unlicensed telemarketing, and operating as a real estate broker without a license. Jason Davis remains at large. If you have information about the location of Jason Davis, please contact Crimeline by calling 1-800-423-8477. You may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.
Read the full press release by clicking HERE
A former employee of The Vacation Ownership Group LLC of Pleasantville, New Jersey, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties by offering phony consulting services, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Joseph Saxon, 42, of Brigantine, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Judge Hillman imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Vacation Ownership Group, a/k/a VO Group LLC, had offices in Mays Landing, New Jersey, and Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and claimed to offer to owners of timeshares consulting services that included cancelling, purchasing and upgrading the timeshares.
In 2010, Saxon started working at the VO Group and was trained by VO Group co-owner Adam Lacerda, 31, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, to call customers using prepared scripts. The defendant called customers and gave them the false impression that he was working for a bank or lending institution. After hearing Saxon’s false representations, some customers sent checks to the VO Group. For example, Saxon falsely told one victim that Saxon was working with the bank that held the victim’s timeshare mortgage and that the bank wanted to settle the loan for a fraction of the price. The victim then mailed a check for $5,925 to the VO Group. Saxon admitted causing more than $120,000 in losses.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Saxon to three years of supervised release.
Lacerda, who was previously convicted at trial for his role in the scheme, was sentenced to 27 years in prison on June 25, 2015.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel in Newark; and special agents from the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, New York Region, for the investigation. He also thanked the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development for its assistance.
A jury convicts the principal of a massive telemarketing scheme which operated under the company names Resort Sales Group, Vacation Realty International and Vacation Direct USA.
Following a nine-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, a federal jury has found one of the ten conspirators in an estimated $10 million resort timeshare telemarketing fraud conspiracy that victimized at least 5000 individuals, many of whom were over age 55, guilty on all 26 counts of an indictment returned in the Northern District of Texas in October 2012. John Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, made the announcement today.
Fabian C. Fleifel, 45, of Winter Springs, Florida, was convicted late yesterday on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud; nineteen counts of mail fraud telemarketing; and six counts of wire fraud telemarketing. The jury also found that the conspiracy count affected a financial institution and that the wire fraud and mail fraud counts were in connection with the conduct of telemarketing that victimized ten or more persons over the age of 55. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine on the conspiracy conviction and 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the other 25 convictions. Additionally, the telemarketing enhancements permit the Judge to impose up to an additional 10 years imprisonment. Judge Fitzwater temporarily remanded him into custody following yesterday’s verdict.
The following eleven coconspirators have pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, Edmond Charles Burke, 34, of Sanford, Florida; Kari Lynn Cash, 46, of Winter Park, Florida; Kevin Jacob Frater, 35, of Longwood, Florida; Bradley James Gomez, 36, of Longwood, Florida; Rani F. Khoury, 40, of Lake Mary, Florida; Courtney Darrell Lister, 39, of Midland, Texas; Joseph Bud Ramos, 27, of Tennessee; Armanda Nadine Rizkallah, 32, of Oviedo, Florida; Eric Rosado, of Orlando, Florida, Kevin Sanchez of Orlando, Florida, and Cesar Trinidad of Apopka, Florida.
The government presented evidence during trial that Fleifel conspired with others to make unsolicited interstate telephone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties to induce them into paying fees associated with the bogus sale of their property. Fleifel and others opened bank accounts and entered into merchant account agreements to process and collect funds raised in the scheme, and they set up phony mailing addresses to collect funds mailed in by timeshare owners.
Fleifel hired and trained telemarketers to work in boiler rooms he set up. These telemarketers were instructed to call timeshare owners using scripted sales pitches that falsely represented, for example, that a bona fide buyer was interested in buying their property, that the buyer had paid money into an escrow account, and that the buyer was ready to close on the property. The telemarketers falsely advised timeshare owners that they would receive all the funds from the sale within days, they must pay a one-time fee to cover the title search and other closing costs, and they would be refunded all fees paid if the sale did not close within 90 days.
After the conspirators obtained money from the timeshare owners, they made additional false and fraudulent statements to lull them and to keep them from investigating the transactions, complaining to law enforcement, or requesting charge backs to their credit cards
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Orlando Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys C.S. Heath and Joseph M. Revesz are prosecuting.
View the full press release HERE>
Tammie Lynn Cline pleaded guilty recently to her role in a timeshare sale scheme based in Seminole County that swindled at least $1.6 million out of timeshare owners across the country, officials say.
Cline, of Leominster, Mass., and her business partner, 28-year-old Mark Gardner, of Osteen, are accused of running a fraudulent telemarketing call center that targeted timeshare owners, saying there were people interested in buying their properties, federal court records state. All the owners had to do was wire the business – known as Universal Timeshare Sales Associates, or Gardner Cline, LLC – anywhere from $1,600 up to $2,200 to cover sale fees, records state. But after the owners paid the fees and gave up personal information, their timeshares wouldn't sell. The company then ignored requests for refunds and disputed any chargeback claims from credit card companies, the records state. And the owners were out thousands of dollars, which totaled to at least $1.6 million from April 2010 to May 2013.
Investigators said Gardner, Cline and their telemarketers claimed to be based out of Oregon, as to not reveal their location in Seminole County. They often told owners that there was a buyer "in the showroom at that moment" ready to purchase their timeshare, or a buyer had already deposited money into an escrow account, or there was a buyer ready to pay a specific amount, according to the records. Investigators said none of those claims were true.
Cline pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Gardner is scheduled to go to trial in September.