Timeshare Owners Revictimized By Florida Telemarketer
New Scam Promised Restitution for Those Already Victimized in Earlier Theft
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on February 3, 2015, Rance White, 25, of West Palm Beach, Florida, 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. White was sentenced to 18 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release.White was also ordered to pay $10,919.57 in restitution and a $100 special assessment.
“White truly felt no shame.” said United States Attorney Wigginton. “Instead, White had the gall to steal from people already victimized in a timeshare re-sale scam. Let us all hope that his time in federal prison will put an end to his thievery.”
The investigation determined that White participated in a "recovery scheme," that is, a scheme to re-victimize timeshare owners who had already been victimized in a timeshare resale fraud through the false promise of a restitution award. In a timeshare resale scam, timeshare owners are contacted by someone who claims to have a buyer for the person’s timeshare property. In exchange for an upfront fee (typically in excess of $1,000), the telemarketer promises that the sale will be finalized within a certain period of time and that a check for the sale price (typically in excess of $20,000) will then be delivered to the customer. No sale ever occurs, and the fraudulent company simply pockets the money. Thousands of timeshare owners across the country have fallen victim to this scam. Using that, White would call these victims and claim, that for a fee, he could secure restitution for the earlier scam. “As I have said, do not agree to part with your funds to persons or businesses that you do not carefully check out. The old adage is always true – if it sounds too god to be true, it is not true. I urge consumers, no matter how desperate, to use judgment and common sense before agreeing to give up your hard-earned dollars.” noted United States Attorney Wigginton.
South Florida is a hotbed for timeshare resale fraud, and in recent years, several major timeshare resale operations located in Palm Beach County, Florida, have been investigated and prosecuted in the Southern District of Illinois, including companies called Universal Marketing Solutions (UMS), Creative Vacation Solutions (CVS), and American Marketing Group (AMG). One of the most publicized of these prosecutions was the case against former CVS CEO Jennifer Kirk: United States v. Kirk, No. 3:11-CR-30093-GPM. Kirk was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison, but victims were unable to be made whole, thus creating the opportunity for the instant scam.
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 with assistance from the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Department of Agriculture. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce Reppert and William Coonan, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Hallock.