Five Indicted For Participation In Timeshare Telemarketing Scam
Chedna Charles, 25; James Richard Currey, 54; Christopher Robert Garten, 23; Osvaldo Gonzalez, 39; all of Orlando, Florida, and Amber Lynn Jones, 27, of Rome, Georgia, were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a nationwide telemarketing scheme which defrauded persons throughout the United States and Canada, including victims in seven counties in the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced. The grand jury charged the six with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. If convicted, each is subject to a term of imprisonment of up to 25 years, a fine of $250,000 and five years of supervised release.
The five were telemarketers who worked for National Solutions and related companies located in Orlando, Florida. The scheme operated under more than a dozen business names including Bluescape Timeshares International, Country Wide Timeshares, Countrywide Timeshares MA, Landmark Timeshares, Propertys Direct, Quicksale Propertys, Sun Property Networks, Sun Property’s, Universal Propertys, VIM Timeshares, Propertys DRK, Quick Sale Advisers, Quick Sale International, City Resorts, Resort Advisers, American Timeshares, Exit Week, and Resort Advisors International.
Telemarketers for National Solutions placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. The company solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs that were to be refunded to the owner at closing. Many timeshare owners were told that their closings would occur within a matter of days.
Despite collecting fees from these victims, the National Solutions companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit and indeed made little effort even to market the properties for sale. All advance fees collected were pocketed by the telemarketers.
Participation in the scheme began in April 2008 and continued through July 13, 2011, when the Federal Trade Commission raided the business pursuant to a court order.1 From 2007 to 2011, over 2,500 timeshare owners across the country were scammed by the National Solutions businesses to the tune of more than $6 million.
After being found guilty by a jury after a four-day trial in September 2013, Kathryn Garten was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $909,278.00 in restitution for her role in this scheme.
These prosecutions follow an investigation by the Midwest Region Office of the Federal trade Commission and the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Service. Theses prosecutions will be handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael J. Quinley and William E. Coonan.
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.