THREE FLORIDA MEN INDICTED FOR ROLE IN TELEMARKETING SCAM
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on August 16, 2011, Ryan Brazel, 31, Brian Morris, 45, and Steven Folan, 34, all of Palm Beach County, Florida, were named in a thirteen count indictment charging them with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, and twelve counts of Mail Fraud. The Indictment alleges that the three were involved in a telemarketing scam which operated in Florida, and that the scam bilked over 22,000 victims of $30 million dollars. The Indictment alleges that the scam victimized consumers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, all ten Canadian provinces, and the Northwest Territory of Canada. There were at least 54 victims in twenty eight (28) of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge and is entitled to a fair trial at which the Government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The criminal indictment alleges that the three defendants were managers of Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions in Palm Beach County, Florida. The indictment alleges that the scheme began October, 2007, and continued through at least January, 2010. Telemarketers for Universal Marketing Solutions and Creative Vacation Solutions placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. Telemarketers they supervised then solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs that they promised would be refunded to the owner once the closing on the property occurred. Many timeshare owners were told that their closings were scheduled within the next sixty to ninety days. Despite collecting fees from 22,000 victims, these companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit, the Indictment alleges. Defendants and their co-conspirators, the Indictment alleges, simply pocketed the closing costs.
If convicted, each Defendant faces a penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to five years.
This is the second prosecution by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois related to Universal Marketing Solutions and Creative Vacation Solutions. On June 30, 2011, Jennifer Kirk, alleged to be a principal of both companies, pleaded guilty in to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for her role in the alleged scam. Her sentencing is scheduled for October 24, 2011, in Federal District Court in East St. Louis.
The Indictment follows an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, assisted by the Boynton Beach (Florida) Police Department and the Florida Attorney General’s Office. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert.