A Las Vegas based telemarketing scam operating under the name Vacation Max and Showcase Resorts targeted owners of timeshares throughout the United States. In various court filings related to the Vacation Max scam, the government has alleged that the overall scam bilked thousands of consumers throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries of $11 million dollars. There were at least 12 victims in seven (9) of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
Telemarketers for Vacation Max placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. 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 over 3,000 victims, these companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit. Defendants and their co-conspirators simply pocketed the closing costs.
These, and other cases, are being investigated by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service General’s office. The prosecution of the cases is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce Reppert and Nathan Stump.
Since there are a very large number of victims in this prosecution, these cases may be designated as “Multiple Crime Victim” cases by Court Order under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. §3771(d)(2). Accordingly, the principal means of communicating and consulting with the investigators and government lawyers regarding these cases will be through a designated email for victims. If you are a victim, and wish to contact us, please send an email to USAILS-VW_ILS@usdoj.gov, and provide your full name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address. Given the large number of victims in these matters, and our need to efficiently manage our multiple victim prosecutions, we ask that you communicate with us by email. If necessary, we can have someone respond to you by telephone.
Beware of companies that promise that you can get your money back from a timeshare resale scam by paying them an upfront fee. This is a pervasive scam.
To any victim who plans on attending any Court proceeding:
Victims have the right to attend public Court proceedings, subject to some limitations as determined by the Court. For many reasons Court proceedings may be cancelled or rescheduled on short notice. If you are planning to attend a scheduled hearing, please check this web site for any updates before coming to Court.
Title 18, United States Code, Section 3771(a) provides:
A crime victim has the following rights:
(1) The right to be reasonably protected from the accused.
(2) The right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any public Court proceeding, or any parole proceeding, involving the crime or of any release or escape of the accused.
(3) The right not to be excluded from any such public Court proceeding, unless the Court, after receiving clear and convincing evidence, determines that testimony by the victim would be materially altered if the victim heard other testimony at that proceeding.
(4) The right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district Court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding.
(5) The reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.
(6) The right to full and timely restitution as provided in law.
(7) The right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay.
(8) The right to be treated with fairness and with respect for the victim's dignity and privacy.
United States Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois
9 Executive Drive
Fairview Heights, Il 62208