FORMER FLORIDA WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO TELEMARKETING SCAM
Jennifer Kirk, 31, of Howell, New Jersey, formerly of Lake Worth and Wellington, Florida, entered a guilty plea to a Criminal Information charging her with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud on June 30, 2011, in federal court in East St. Louis, IL, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. The charges arose out of a telemarketing scam operated in Florida that bilked over 22,000 victims of $30 million dollars. Kirk victimized consumers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, all ten Canadian provinces, and the Northwest Territory of Canada. Locally, there were at least 54 victims in twenty seven of the thirty eight counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The Criminal Information that was filed today, and to which Kirk pled guilty, alleges that the Kirk operated Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions in Palm Beach County, Florida, between October, 2007, and December 1, 2009. Kirk employed telemarketers who placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. Kirk’s telemarketers 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, Kirk’s companies either sold no timeshare units, or, at best, sold only a token number, the Information alleges. Kirk and her co-conspirators, the Information alleges, simply pocketed the closing costs.
Kirk 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 at her sentencing, which is set for October 24, 2011, at 1:30PM.
This is the second Florida telemarketing scam related to timeshare resales prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The first prosecution was concluded earlier this year with the sentencing of three Florida men who operated an almost identical timeshare resale scam in Boynton Beach, Florida by the name of Real Timeshare Marketing. United States Attorney Wigginton noted: “My Office has prosecuted many huge telemarketing schemes operating in the continental United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. My office works closely with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and both domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies in addressing mass marketing scams which, although they occur worldwide, have their effects felt in the Southern District of Illinois. I will not tolerate theft and fraud schemes perpetrated upon the good citizens of Southern Illinois.”
“I have nothing but high praise for the dedicated efforts of the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service.” added United States Attorney Wigginton. “These fine agents, aided by the Office of the Florida Attorney General and the Boynton Beach (Florida) Police Department, were able to develop the evidence which led to this Criminal Information and Kirk’s guilty plea,” he added.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert.