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.