According to the complaints:
In 2010, law enforcement officers began investigating The Vacation Ownership Group, (a/k/a VO Group LLC). The investigation revealed that the defendants, through the VO Group, participated in a fraudulent scheme in which representatives of the VO Group, often using false identities, telephoned owners of timeshare vacation properties purchased from Flagship Resort Development, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc., and other timeshare developers.
They convinced the owners in some cases to submit money to the VO Group, purportedly to pay off the owners’ “mortgages” on their timeshares. The VO Group claimed that the timeshare owner could pay off the mortgage balance at a substantially reduced amount — often by as much as 50 percent the amount of the owner’s original mortgage — by mailing payments to the VO Group.
The VO Group representatives also got timeshare owners to send the VO Group money purportedly to have timeshares cancelled or sold. After receipt of payments for the VO Group’s “service,” the conspirators caused those payments to be deposited into a bank account in the name of the VO Group. Rather than paying off the timeshare owner’s mortgage, cancelling the owner’s timeshare, or selling the timeshare, the conspirators used the timeshare owner’s money for their personal use.
The investigation also revealed that in an attempt to cover up the scheme, the conspirators in most cases engaged in a “bait and switch” tactic by purchasing an additional timeshare in the victim’s name without the victim’s knowledge. The victim purportedly had assented to the purchase based on documents the VO Group previously emailed to the victim for signature even though the victim had been led to believe he or she was simply paying off the original timeshare mortgage. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers interviewed approximately 225 victims of the conspirators’ scheme, many of whom were elderly.
The nine defendants arrested in New Jersey are:
Adam Lacerda, 28, Egg Harbor Township
Ashley R. Lacerda, 32, Egg Harbor Township
Steven Cox, 48, Ventnor City
Ian Resnick, 37, Absecon
Ryan E. Bird, 34, Clementon
Francis Santore, 52, Northfield
Brian Corley 27 Egg Harbor
Catherine Bannigan, 57, Egg Harbor Township
Joseph Diventi, 32, Somers Point
Also charged are:
Alfred Giordano, 32, Hurry County, S.C.
Vincent Giordano, 27, Margate
Joseph Saxon, 38, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Aimee Allen, 26, Little River, S.C.
Genevieve Manzoni, 46, Lake Worth, Fla.
Eric Reilly, 33, Galloway
Eric K. Reiff, 40, Williamsburg, Va.
All of the defendants except Alfred Giordano, Allen and Reif were arrested Tuesday and are in custody.