Federal Charges Filed In Multi-Million Dollar Telemarketing Operation
On January 22, 2014, John C. Nicosia, 55, of Rochester, New York, was named in a one-count indictment for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced. If convicted, Nicosia is subject to a term of imprisonment of up to 25 years, a fine of $250,000 and five years of supervised release.
The charge arose out of a telemarketing scam which operated in Las Vegas, Nevada, which the indictment alleged bilked over 3,000 victims of approximately 10 million dollars. Consumers were victimized in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, all ten Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territory of Canada, as well as Australia, Israel and the United Kingdom. There were at least twelve (12) victims in nine (9) of the thirty-eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois. The indictment alleges that the scheme operated from December 5, 2006 until January 24, 2012.
The indictment alleges that Nicosia was a telemarketer at a telemarketing company, called Vacation Max, which operated a timeshare resale scam. The company purported to be a Georgia corporation located in Delaware, but actually operated in Las Vegas, Nevada. The indictment alleges that the company falsely represented that they had found corporate buyers interested in acquiring blocks of timeshare units including the consumer's timeshare unit for purported business and tax purposes. The company solicited fees of up to several thousand dollars from each timeshare owner in purported pre-paid closing costs and related expenses. The indictment alleges that the purported sales did not occur and that Vacation Max did not successfully sell any consumer’s timeshare interest except a relatively small number at fire sale prices.
In May 2013, the owner of Vacation Max, Michael Patrick Sullivan, was indicted. Sullivan pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
This case is one of several cases recently prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois relating to timeshare resale fraud. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce E. Reppert and Special Assistant United States Attorney Stuart J. Zander.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. Under the law, a defendant is presumed to be innocent of a charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of a jury.