Two More Mexican Nationals Are Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to International Timeshare Telemarketing Scam
NEW ORLEANS – CLAUDUA ANTILLON ZAHUITA, age 38, and SERGIO LEON KURI, age 40, both residents and citizens of Mexico, were sentenced to prison on September 29, 2021 by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the Eastern District of Louisiana after they each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans. ANTILLON ZAHUITA received 48 months, while LEON KURI received 60 months.
As detailed in the original indictment and superseding bill of information, the defendants, from at least January 1, 2016, to the present, conspired together and with others to commit wire fraud in connection with a telemarketing scheme that targeted and victimized persons in the United States, Canada and South America. As part of the elaborate scheme, the conspirators made unsolicited phone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties to induce them into paying fees associated with the bogus sale of their property. The defendants misrepresented the existence of a buyer for their timeshare and solicited money from the victims to facilitate the sale. They solicited the timeshare owners to enter into agreements to sell their timeshares and pay for alleged “closing costs” with electronic wire transfers from banking institutions within the United States to Mexican banks. There were no interested buyers, the closings did not occur, and the timeshares were not resold. Instead, the conspirators simply pocketed the advanced fees. Of the U.S. victims, 40 were age 60 and older and the total estimated loss is at least $20,000,000.
The defendants, who are all based in Mexico, operated under the business names Planet Travel and Newport International Investments, and at other times used the following business names: Advance Travel INC, All American Real Estate, American International Investment Group, Bear Claw Travel, Best Investment Services, Champion Properties, Closing Source LLC, Equity Closing Services Group, Global Offshore Services, NSC Holding, Peach Title, Sandia Title, Travel and Acquisitions, Travel Innovations, Travel Plus Acquisitions, Travel Right, and World Travelers, Inc. All these domain websites have been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.
In addition to imprisonment, ANTILLON ZAHUITA and LEON KURI were given three (3) years of supervised release, a $100 mandatory special assessment fee, and a restitution hearing is to be set at a later date. Each defendant was also ordered to be immediately deported upon the expiration of their terms of imprisonment.
This case is the product of an extensive and ongoing investigation by special agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Edward J. Rivera and Paige O’Hale are prosecuting the case.
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