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Press Release

North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Michael Kent Admits to Defrauding Timeshare Owners

Harrisonburg, VIRGINIA – A North Carolina man, who previously lived in Frederick County, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to federal wire fraud conspiracy charges, Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced.


Michael Dean Kent, a.k.a. “Michael Dean,” a.k.a. “Michael Scott,” age 57, most recently of Franklin County, North Carolina, and formerly of Frederick County, Virginia, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today to a one count Information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.


According to evidence presented at today’s hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa, between 2014 and 2017, Kent and his co-conspirators targeted more than 500 victims across the United States who owned interests in timeshare properties and made false representations, by phone and by email, to convince the victims to sign property transfer contracts and to send currency under false pretenses to them, via mail.


During this time, Kent and his co-conspirators represented themselves to be employed at two different companies, The Holiday Property Group and Vacation Properties by Owner. Kent incorporated both entities, served as the principal of both, operated both and took significant steps to make both appear legitimate. Kent, and his coconspirators, established websites, paid for commercial post office boxes in various states, paid for memberships in business rating organizations such as the Better Business Bureau, applied for and received a federal tax identification number, and had corporate credit and debit cards in the names of the businesses.


After identifying timeshare owners (victims), Kent and his co-conspirators would introduce the victims to another coconspirator who posed as the “buyer” by assuming a false identity that included a different name and email address. The co-conspirator posing as the buyer communicated with the victim by phone and email would agree to purchase the victim’s property, often at the asking price, and would tell the victim they were going to use The Holiday Property Group/Vacation Properties by Owner [HPG/VPO] for the sale. The same “buyer” was in contact with multiple victims at one time.


Kent, and his co-conspirators, would then contact the victim to inform them they needed to send The Holiday Property Group/Vacation Properties by Owner money, typically between $500 and $1,500, to cover costs associated with the sale/transfer, such as “closing costs” or resort “transfer fee.” Kent represented that any fees would be held in escrow, and were refundable at any time.  In fact, the fees received were not held in escrow, but instead were deposited into the accounts of HPG/VPO.  


Throughout the course of this conspiracy, Kent and his coconspirators defrauded a total of over $550,000 from the victims he targeted.  Kent usually immediately withdrew much of the money deposited from the victim payments to use for his own personal expenses, pay for expenses needed to continue the scheme, or to pay his coconspirators for their role in the criminal scheme.


The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorney Erin M. Kulpa and Trial Attorney Andrew Tyler of the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated October 13, 2017