Florida Man Sentenced for Role in $30 Million Telemarketing Scam that Victimized Over 22,000 People
John Robert Eddy, 30, of West Palm Beach, FL, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, 5 years supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today. Eddy pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The indictment alleged that Eddy and others were involved in a telemarketing scam under the names Universal Marketing Solutions and Creative Vacation Solutions. The fraudulent companies operated in Florida and 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.
The criminal indictment alleged that Eddy was an owner of a Universal Marketing Solutions franchise office. Beginning in October 2007, and continuing 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 Eddy supervised then solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs – fees 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 60 to 90 days. Despite collecting fees from 22,000 victims, not a single timeshare unit was ever sold. Eddy and his co-conspirators simply pocketed the closing costs.
Approximately twenty-four others have been charged in connection with the Creative Vacation Solutions telemarketing scam. The company’s former chief executive, Jennifer Kirk, pled guilty to a criminal Information on June 30, 2011. She was sentenced on January 9, 2012 to over 16 years in prison and five years supervised release. More than a dozen others have also been sentenced, receiving prison terms that range from 1 to 14 years.
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 Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Lewis and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bruce Reppert.