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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Las Vegas Telemarketer Sentenced To Over Five Years In Prison

Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on February 17, 2015, Robert K. Mathews, 52, of Las Vegas, NV, was sentenced in the United States District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with telemarketing, to 63 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Mathews was also ordered to pay $1,460,343 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.

“I can only hope that this sentence sends a very loud and clear message to the scammers and thieves who try to prey on Southern Illinois consumers – Illinois is a “no call” state!” said United States Attorney Wigginton.

The charge arose out of a telemarketing scam which operated in Las Vegas, Nevada, which defrauded over 3,000 victims more than 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 victims in nine of the thirty-eight counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois. Court filings state that the scheme operated from December 5, 2006 until January 24, 2012.

The company purported to be a Georgia corporation located in Delaware, but actually operated in Las Vegas, Nevada. Vacation Max 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. Then fees were solicited of up to several thousand dollars from each timeshare owner in purported pre-paid closing costs and related expenses. However, sales did not occur and Vacation Max did not successfully sell any consumer’s timeshare interest except a relatively small number at fire sale prices.

This prosecution is one of nearly 75 timeshare resale fraud prosecutions brought in the Southern District of Illinois over the past four years. The case is part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Verseman and Michael Hallock.

Updated February 19, 2015