News and Press Releases

Florida Man Sentenced for Role in $30 Million Telemarketing Scam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2012

Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that Steven Folan, 34, of Palm Beach County, Florida, was sentenced in federal district court to 5 years in prison, 5 years supervised release, a fine of $1,000, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment fee. Folan plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The indictment alleged that Folan and others were involved in a telemarketing scam which operated in Florida that bilked over 22,000 victims of $30 million dollars, victimizing consumers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and 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.

“Do not think that you can sit in another state and victimize folks in Southern Illinois,” noted United States Attorney Wigginton. “My office will pursue fraudsters and scammers who cheat the people of Southern Illinois, wherever they may be.”

The criminal indictment alleged that Folan was a manager of Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions in Palm Beach County, Florida. The indictment alleged 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 alleged. Defendants and their co-conspirators, the indictment alleged, simply pocketed the closing costs.

Several others have been charged in connection with the Creative Vacation Solutions telemarketing scam. On June 30, 2011, Jennifer Kirk pled guilty to a criminal information. She was sentenced on January 9, 2012, to over 16 years imprisonment and five years supervised release. On August 17, 2011, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis charged Ryan Brazel, and Brian Morris in a multi-count indictment for their involvement in the alleged scheme. Folan, Brazel, and Morris pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Joel Intravaia pled guilty to conspiracy in an information filed on August 19, 2011. He was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and three (3) years supervised release on December 9, 2011. Ralph Johnson entered a guilty plea to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on September 8, 2011. He was sentenced on December 16, 2011 to 46 months imprisonment and two (2) years supervised release. On September 21, 2011, Kenneth Foote and Joseph Grizzanti were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. On October 7, 2011, each filed a consent to transfer their case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in order to plead guilty to the charges there. Sentencing for Foote and Grizzanti is scheduled for March 30, 2012, in the Southern District of Florida. Jeffrey Tracey Fields was charged with conspiracy in a criminal information on October 25, 2011. He filed a consent to transfer his case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in order to plead guilty to the charges there. John Thomas Egan pled guilty to conspiracy charges filed in a criminal information on January 6, 2012. His sentencing is set for July 16, 2012. In March 2012, John Robert Eddy, Cloyd James Holmes, Jr., Gino Christopher Marquez, and Donald Meyers were indicted by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. The four are awaiting either arraignment or trial. Most recently, in April 2012 Lacey Marie Stone, Daniel L. Gregg, and Joshua G. Schneidau were indicted by a federal grand jury and are awaiting arraignment.

The prosecution follows an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Boynton Beach Florida Police Department. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce E. Reppert, Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lewis, and U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton.

 

 

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