A reader recently submitted one of the most complete records of a timeshare related scam that I've ever seen. The documents show how the con evolved from a promise of a resale with no upfront fees- to a mexican transfer tax scam for tens of thousands of dollars.
While the names are constantly changing, these documents provide a prime example of the sophisticated lies used by a network of thieves who take advantage of timeshare owners and steal thousand of dollars. If you read closely, you'll see where the con artists calling themselves Elite Property Management confused the name of the company and temporarily revert back to the previously discovered scam under Mission Vacation.
If you own a timeshare in Mexico, this document is a must read to educate and protect yourself from common telemarketing scams that are targeting timeshare owners in the United States.
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CAMDEN, N.J. – A former employee in the New Jersey offices of the Vacation Ownership Group LLC admitted in court to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties by offering phony consulting services while also illegally collecting unemployment benefits, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Brian Corley, a/k/a “John Corley,” 28, of Little River, S.C., and formerly of Egg Harbor, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to a charge of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.
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 and Egg Harbor Township, N.J., and claimed to offer consulting services to owners of timeshares, including cancelling, purchasing and upgrading the timeshares.
Corley started working at the VO Group in March 2010, where he was trained by a co-owner of the group, Adam Lacerda, to call customers using prepared scripts. Corley admitted that he would call customers and give them the false impression that he was working for a bank or lending institution, claiming he had the customer’s “complaint file” from a timeshare resort developer in front of him. Corley admitted that he regularly lied to customers in order to perpetrate the scam. Some of those customers then sent checks to the VO Group. The scheme caused more than $200,000 in losses to cnsumers.
Among other things, Corley admitted that he falsely told a customer that if the customer paid $25,000 to the VO Group and exchanged timeshare points, the group would eliminate the customer’s approximately $95,000 mortgage debt with a timeshare developer.
Corley also devised a separate scheme to defraud the New Jersey Department of Labor by collecting unemployment compensation benefits while working at the VO Group. He admitted to applying for and collecting unemployment compensation benefits to which he was not entitled. Court documents show Corley illegally received $16,936 as a result.
Each of the two counts to which Corley pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is currently scheduled for July 29, 2013.
Read the full press release by clicking HERE.
CourthouseNews.com is reporting that timeshare owner Linda J. Space has sued the owners association of her Colorado timeshare for blocking the resale of her interval ownership to an eBay buyer who purchased the future usage of the timeshare week for one dollar.
..... "At the time of the sale, Ms. Space had not used the timeshare in a while and no longer had use for the timeshare," the complaint states. "She had attempted to sell the timeshare to several other potential
purchasers previously without luck. At the time of the purchase and through the present, Ms. Space had made all required management and assessment payments required by the Christie Lodge of Ms. Space as a timeshare owner. The value of the timeshare at the time was severely diminished by market conditions and by the physical conditions of The Christie Lodge. As previously stated, she had difficulty finding individuals willing to buy the timeshare. As such, she attempted to sell the unit on the eBay website, a site where potential purchasers are allowed to bid on items for sale. After an extended period of time, few bids were placed on the property. The highest bid was $1. Ms. Space did not know the winning bidder and had never met the bidder before. Ms. Space
accepted this offer. In May 2012, Ms. Space notified the Association of the sale. The Association refused to acknowledge the sale. The Association stated that they would continue to bill Ms. Space for maintenance costs and for owner assessments. The Association would also not acknowledge the ownership, and not convey the benefits of ownership, to the buyer of the property found by Ms. Space...."
She seeks declaratory judgment and damages for unjust enrichment, breach of its own rules, unreasonable restraint on alienation of property and interference with contract and a prospective business relationship.
She is represented by Jeffrey Pederson, of Wantage, N.J.
Read the complete article by clicking HERE
Recovering alcoholic Gerald William Clarke promises he's sober and eager to pay back all of the dozens of elderly people across the country he scammed in a telemarketing timeshare fraud scheme. Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal, during a hearing that concluded Tuesday, said "Bill" Clarke must pay for his crimes by being locked up for five years, followed by five years of probation and full restitution. Keeping the man out of prison solely for the purpose of making payments to the victims would show he could "buy his way out of a prison sentence," Oftedal said.
"That sends out the wrong message, not only to the victims of this case but to society as a whole," he said. Oftedal, however, agreed with defense attorney Jason Dalley there was legal justification to impose a sentence
below the mandatory minimum term of nearly 10 years.
In December, Clarke pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, 72 counts of grand theft and three counts of petit theft. The scam had 75 victims and losses of more than $103,000 over a period of a year,
Assistant State Attorney Sam Stern said.
The victims were individuals who previously lost money to firms masquerading as timeshare resale businesses, according to court records. These victims were approached by callers from Clarke's operation — DeltaCorp and
G. William Clarke, P.A. — and told they could get restitution checks from the Florida Attorney General's Office, in exchange for hundreds of dollars in fees payable to Clarke's companies.
"The conduct is absolutely vicious," Stern said. "It does target the most vulnerable among us, seniors who live on fixed incomes."
An article has been released claiming that Wesley Financial Group LLC was hit with a proposed class action Monday alleging it made unsolicited phone calls to consumers in violation of the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act. The company is being sued by California resident Timothy Barrett
“Defendant, either directly or through its agents, illegally contacted plaintiff
and the members of the class via their cellular telephones, thereby causing
plaintiff and the class members to incur certain cellular telephone charges or
reduce cellular telephone time for which plaintiff and the class members
previously paid,” the complaint said.
The TCPA restricts the use of unsolicited automated phone calls that are not made for
The proposed class includes anyone in the U.S. who received calls from Wesley without their consent
in the last four years through an automatic telephone dialing system or with a
prerecorded voice, according to the complaint.
“Absent a class action, the plaintiff and members of the class will continue to face the
potential for irreparable harm,” the suit said. “In addition, these violations
of law will be allowed to proceed without remedy and defendant will likely
continue such illegal conduct.”
Barrett is suing for negligent and willful violations of the TCPA, and seeks undisclosed damages of at least $5 million. He and each member of the proposed class should get $2,000 in statutory damages, according to the
complaint. Barrett is represented by Abbas Kazerounian of Kazerounian Law Group APC. You can find information about this attorney at http://www.kazlg.com/attorneys/abbas-kazerounian-esq/
The case is Barrett v. Wesley Financial Group LLC, case number 3:13-cv-00554, in the
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
CAMDEN, NJ—A former employee of The Vacation Ownership Group LLC admitted today to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Aimee Allen, 27, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information charging her with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Allen entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman 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 (the “VO Group”), purported to offer owners of timeshares consulting services, including timeshare cancellation services. In June 2010, Allen started working at the VO Group and was trained by VO Group managers to call customers using prepared scripts.
Allen would call customers and give them the false impression that she was working for a bank or lending institution. Allen then would falsely represent that the VO Group could pay off the customers’ timeshares or have their timeshares cancelled. Allen also served as a “reference” for other VO Group employees by posing as a satisfied customer to persuade a new customer to send the VO Group money. After hearing Allen’s false representations, some customers sent checks to the VO Group. Allen admitted to causing over $200,000 in
On January 23, 2013, 10 other individuals who worked at the VO Group were charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other charges. Those charges are pending before Judge Hillman.
The mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge to which Allen pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 14, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez 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 Robert Panella, New York Region, for their roles in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alyson M. Oswald and R. David Walk, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.
Richard Marquette, the owner and editor of Vacation-Times.org will be a featured speaker at the next Timeshare Owners Association meeting in the Villages scheduled for March 18, 2013. Richard will be discussing timeshare rentals, and answering general questions about the timeshare industry and consumer protection efforts for Florida timeshare owners.
The Villages is one of the premier retirement communities in the United States, and boasts one of the largest and most active timeshare owners groups in the country. Meetings are held on the third Monday of every month at the Laurel Manor Recreation Center at 7pm. To learn more about the Villages Timeshare Owners Group, please visit http://thevillagestimeshareclub.com/
Richard is a regular speaker at numerous community and industry events in Florida. To have Richard speak at your next event, contact us by clicking HERE>.
The FBI issued a press release providing new details in the prosecution targeting the owners and employees of the Vacation Ownership Group. Follows is an excerpt of the press release. Read the full release by clicking HERE.
"... CAMDEN, NJ—A former employee of The Vacation Ownership Group LLC admitted today to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Eric Reilly, 34, of Galloway, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Reilly entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Noel L. Hillman 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, purported to offer owners of timeshares consulting services, including timeshare cancellation services. In September 2010, Reilly started working at the VO Group and was trained by VO Group managers to call customers using a prepared script and regularly lie to
customers. Reilly would call customers and falsely state that he was calling in response to a complaint they had made to timeshare developers and lenders. He gave customers the false impression that he was working for Wyndham Vacation Resorts, a developer of timeshare resorts. Reilly then would falsely represent that the VO Group could pay off the customers’ timeshares or have their timeshares cancelled. Reilly falsely told some customers that their credit would not be damaged if they stopped paying for their timeshares. Reilly gave
some customers “references” who were actually VO Group employees posing as satisfied customers. After hearing Reilly’s false representations, some customers sent checks to the VO Group, including one customer who sent the VO Group a $31,385 check. Reilly admitted to causing more than $70,000 in losses..."
CAMDEN, N.J. – A federal grand jury for the District of New Jersey, sitting in Camden, has returned a 44-count Superseding Indictment against ten individuals involved with The Vacation Ownership Group, a/k/a VO Group LLC- for their alleged roles in a $3 million mail and wire fraud conspiracy involving time share mortgages, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced
The six indicted defendants from New Jersey are: Adam Lacerda, 28, and his wife, Ashley R. Lacerda, 32, of Egg Harbor Township; Ian Resnick, 37, of Absecon; Steven Cox, 48, of Ventnor City; Francis Santore, 52, of Northfield; and Joseph Diventi, 32, of Somers Point.
Also indicted are: Alfred Giordano, 32, of Hurry County, S.C.; Brian Corley, 27, of Little River, S.C.; Joseph Saxon, 38, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; and Genevieve Manzoni, 46, of Lake Worth, Fla. The indictment was
returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 23, 2013.
Ian Resnick, Joseph Saxon, and Genevieve Manzoni previously were charged by criminal complaint. Adam Lacerda, Ashley R. Lacerda, Steven Cox, Alfred Giordano, Francis Santore, Brian Corley, and Joseph Diventi previously were indicted on the same charges by a federal grand jury sitting in Trenton on May 3, 2012.
The defendants are expected to be arraigned before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court in the coming weeks.
According to the Complaint, during the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers interviewed approximately 225 victims of the conspirators’ scheme identified to date. Many of the victims are elderly, causing them to be more vulnerable to the scheme. The Indictment states that law enforcement has
determined that the conspirators defrauded the victims of more than $3 million.
The mail and wire fraud conspiracy charge – with which all defendants named in the Superseding Indictment are charged – is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each
additional, substantive charge of mail fraud or wire fraud carries an additional, maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy to commit money laundering charge subjects defendants Adam and Ashley Lacerda to an additional, maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison
and a $500,000 fine. Defendants Adam and Ashley Lacerda also face an additional, maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison for each substantive money laundering count in which they are charged.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez 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 Robert Panella, New York Region, for the investigation leading to today’s Indictment. He also thanked the N.J. Department of Labor, Benefit Payment Control Unit, for its
The charges and allegations contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud perpetrated by this company or individuals should contact the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency at 609-677-6400.
As the result of a Federal Trade Commission investigaton, the operators of a telemarketing scheme that allegedly deceived consumers who were trying to sell their timeshare properties are permanently banned from the timeshare resale business, and from all telemarketing, and one of them has been ordered to pay more than $6 million.
In July 2011, the FTC charged Leandro Velazquez, Edgar Gonzalez, Samuel Velazquez, Joel Velazquez, and others with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by misrepresenting that they had buyers willing to pay a specific price for consumers’ timeshare properties, that they would refund their up-front fee when the property was sold, and that the FTC would review and approve proposed sales. At the FTC’s request, the court halted the operation, pending litigation.
According to the FTC, the defendants charged consumers up to $3,150 as an “earnest money deposit” to commit them to the sale or for sale-related expenses, and promised to refund the money when the sale closed. Customers often were not contacted again, their properties were never sold, and their refund demands were ignored or denied. Contrary to the defendants’ alleged assertions, the FTC does not review or approve timeshare sales.
The court entered a final judgment against Leandro Velazquez
and approved settlement agreements with Edgar Gonzalez
, Samuel Velazquez
, and Joel Velazquez
. In addition to banning Leandro Velazquez from all telemarketing and from participating in the timeshare resale business, the court order prohibits him from collecting money from customers, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, failing to properly dispose of customer information, and misrepresenting material facts about any goods or services. The order also imposes a judgment of almost $6.3 million against Leandro Velazquez. The three settlement agreements include the same bans and impose the same monetary judgment, which is suspended based on their inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if those
defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.
Litigation continues against and Kiomary Cruz and the corporate defendants.
The Commission vote, including Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, approving the proposed settlement orders was 5-0. The final order against Leandro Velazquez and the settlement orders with other defendants were entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division. NOTE:
Settlement orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants that the law has been violated. Settlement orders have the force of law when approved and signed by a District Court judge.