Thirteen Charged in Telemarketing Scheme to Defraud Time-Share Unit Owners
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 07, 2011|
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gilles, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Frank Adderley, Chief, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, announced today the filing of an information charging defendants Scott Faraguna, 41, Charles Blomquist, 52, Peter Borkowicz, 31, Raymond Harcar, 39, James Taylor, 23, Ryan Greene, 23, Jason Hampton, 28, Chris Faccone, 43, Steven Sokoloff, 47, Marco Sguera, 30, Joseph Giancola, 38, Ryan Soltow, 27, and Donna Ackermann Brown, 50, in a one-count Criminal Information with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
The defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearances in court Tuesday morning October 11, 2011, in West Palm Beach before U.S. Magistrate Judge Linnea Johnson.
According to the information, the defendants worked for Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc. (TMMMG), on Oakland Park Boulevard, in Fort Lauderdale. From in or about October 2009 and continuing to May 2010, the defendants and others at TMMMG called owners of time-share units and told them that they had buyers for their time-share units if the time-share unit owners would send $1,996 to TMMMG for the fees associated with the sale of the unit, such as closings costs and a title search. In fact, however, the defendants knew that they did not have buyers for the time-share units, and nor were the units previously sold.
The information alleges that after the time-share unit owners agreed to pay the fee associated with the sale of their units, the time-share unit owners would be called by another employee from TMMMG who acted as a “verifier.” The “verifier” would try to get the time-share unit owners to admit on tape that they knew that the fee they were paying was for the advertising of their time-share units and that TMMMG could charge their credit card. Some of the defendants would pay the “verifier” $50-$100 per sale in order to either not call the time-share unit owners or to process the transaction with the credit card company, even though the victim did not want to go through with the transaction.
According to the information, in order to make it more difficult for the time-share unit owners to obtain a refund of their money, the defendants were instructed by coconspirators not to give the time-share unit owners closing dates for the sale of their time-shares, or if they insisted, to give closing dates more than 60 days after the receipt of their money. When time-share unit owners would call TMMMG inquiring about the sale of their time shares, coconspirators would try to “lull” the victims by falsely stating to the time-share unit owners that the original buyer had a credit problem and was not approved, but that TMMMG had another buyer and that the sale would take place in the near future, in order to keep the victims from complaining to the credit card companies or the authorities.
If convicted, the defendants each face a statutory maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.
An information is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.