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Press Release

Three Defendants Charged for Timeshare Resale Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California
Defendants Operated Under the Names Platinum Access Program, World Luxury Destinations, and Others

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment today against Juan Carlos Montalbo, 54, of San Antonio, Texas; Wayne Arthur York II, 47, of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Marco Antonio Ramirez-Zuno, 31, of Cancun, Mexico, charging them with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to a timeshare-resale scheme, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between 2011 and 2012, the defendants conducted a timeshare resale fraud scheme based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Montalbo conducted sales meetings to convince prospective customers to purchase a timeshare vacation package marketed under the names Platinum Access Program or World Luxury Destinations. If customers had existing timeshare properties, Montalbo (also known as John Monte) assured them that another company, Continental Resources, would arrange for their sale. When the customers returned from Mexico, they were contacted by York (also known as Tim Hamick or Michael Halston), who claimed to represent companies named Property Marketing Group or Eagle Market Solution and claiming that a bona fide purchaser had been found and was ready to purchase their existing timeshares. Others were contacted directly by York without first giving their information to Montalbo.

According to court documents, York and others would then extract a series of upfront payments from the victims, which York claimed were required to be wired to bank accounts in Mexico in order for the guaranteed sale to be completed. York and the others would falsely claim that a buyer for the timeshare had already been located, and that all the prepaid fees wired to Mexico were being held in escrow and would be refunded to the victims as soon as the transaction was completed. After the victims wired the money to Mexico, York and the others would break off all contact with them. According to court documents, Ramirez Zuno managed the Mexican bank accounts used in the fraud, trained co-conspirators on how to conduct the fraud, and managed the disbursement of the proceeds of the fraud.

This case is the product of an extensive and ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew G. Morris is prosecuting the case.

On October 15, 2015, Montalbo was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona and has been released on bond. His next scheduled court appearance is May 12, 2016, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kendall J. Newman.

On March 30, 2016, York was arrested in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was ordered held without bond. On April 14, 2016, Ramirez Zuno was arrested in Miami, Florida and remains in custody pending further proceedings.

York and Zuno were arraigned today in Sacramento before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan and entered pleas of not guilty. They are next scheduled for a status conference on June 28, 2016, before U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez at 9:15 a.m.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated May 5, 2016

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 2:16-cr-092-JAM