Former Employee of New Jersey Timeshare Consulting Firm Pleads Guilty to Separate Mortgage and Unemployment Scams
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 18, 2013|
CAMDEN, NJ—A former employee in the New Jersey offices of the Vacation Ownership Group LLC admitted today to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties by offering phony consulting services while also illegally collecting unemployment benefits, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Brian Corley, a/k/a “John Corley,” 28, of Little River, South Carolina, and formerly of Egg Harbor, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The Vacation Ownership Group, a/k/a VO Group LLC, had offices in Mays Landing and Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, and claimed to offer consulting services to owners of timeshares, including canceling, purchasing, and upgrading the timeshares.
Corley started working at the VO Group in March 2010, where he was trained by a co-owner of the group, Adam Lacerda, to call customers using prepared scripts. Corley admitted that he would call customers and give them the false impression that he was working for a bank or lending institution, claiming he had the customer’s “complaint file” from a timeshare resort developer in front of him. Corley admitted that he regularly lied to customers in order to perpetrate the scam. Some of those customers then sent checks to the VO Group. The scheme caused more than $200,000 in losses.
Among other things, Corley admitted that he falsely told a customer that if the customer paid $25,000 to the VO Group and exchanged timeshare points, the group would eliminate the customer’s approximately $95,000 mortgage debt with a timeshare developer.
Corley also devised a separate scheme to defraud the New Jersey Department of Labor by collecting unemployment compensation benefits while working at the VO Group. He admitted to applying for and collecting unemployment compensation benefits to which he was not entitled.
Court documents show Corley illegally received $16,936 as a result.
On January 23, 2013, co-owners Adam Lacerda and Ashley Lacerda and other members of the VO Group were variously charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and other charges. Additional members of the VO Group were also charged by criminal complaint in April 2012. As for the Lacerdas and other defendants who have not been convicted in this case, the charges and allegations against them are merely accusations, and they are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Each of the two counts to which Corley pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss caused by the offense. Sentencing is currently scheduled for July 29, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents from the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark; and special agents from the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robert Panella, New York Region, for their roles in the investigation leading to the guilty plea. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Labor, Benefit Payment Control Unit, for its assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alyson M. Oswald and R. David Walk, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.