Fraud victimization can occur whether you’re searching for a solution or a scam artist is searching for you. These days, the internet is still a Wild Wild West of sorts and consumers are getting burned in a number of ways. But no matter how people become victims, they’re always caught off guard. It wouldn’t be a scam if they didn’t believe in the solution at one point. Once the unexpected reality sets in, it’s normally too late for them to respond.
Con artists are experts at manipulation and know how to leverage misinformation. It’s very difficult to know what’s really real. Today’s scams are so meticulous that unless a mistake is made, the likelihood of reparation is slim to none. At the same time, the amount of misconduct in the timeshare industry leaves many people vulnerable – and not just timeshare owners. This was the case when two Florida men recently pled guilty to their timeshare resale hoax in Tampa.
Details of the Fraudulent Resale Operation.
In 2015, St Petersburg residents, David Bell (55) and Troy Cater (30) were recruited to manage a telemarketing scheme that targeted people looking to sell their timeshare or piece of land. Through 2018, both men played a key role in calling people who believed they’d been victimized by their timeshare company. Posing as real estate professionals, they claimed they had a pool of buyers looking for a property just like theirs. They did the same for others looking to offload a parcel of land.
After building trust, they told their victims that they couldn’t proceed with the sale until advanced payments were received. These consisted of legal, closing and transfer costs as well as title searches and courier services. Troy and David spread these payments out in order to extend the scam and maximize their harvest. They would pay accomplices to continue contacting the victims for more advancements until they caught on. After collecting the money via wire transfers, the Florida boys paid every conspirator based on their level of involvement.
Phase 2: Legal Services for Timeshare Resale Fraud.
Once their resale opportunities dried up, Troy and David created a phony legal service to retarget their victims with. From here, the men and their co-conspirators used email to recontact those they already stole from with a friendly offer to pursue the resale operation for fraud. They promised to reach a settlement with the fraudulent operation if their victims hired them for representation.
The same advanced payment approach allowed Bell and Cater to continue hustling their victims. People lost their retirement savings and even their houses because they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars towards a phony litigation process. After numerous complaints were filed regarding the scam, the FDLE, St. Petersburg PD and the FBI got involved.
Filed Charges for the Florida Timeshare Resale Hoax.
After being prosecuted by Rachel K. Jones, the Assistant US Attorney, a number of men were charged with misconduct. Mark Boring (47), Martin Steele and Gary Kinard were all involved in the recruitment of Cater and Bell back in 2015. All have pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. In February, Kinard was sentenced to 7 years, 11 months in Federal Prison. In March, Boring was sentenced to 7 years and is required to pay a $75,000 money judgement in addition to a $895,011 restitution. Steele is currently awaiting his hearing.
David Bell and Troy Carter have each pled guilty to money laundering and will forfeit a total of $41,000 in fraudulent proceeds. Regarding victim restitution, Cater will be on the hook for $145,961 and Bell for $268,356. Both Florida men also face a 20 year sentence for their involvement in the timeshare resale hoax. Along with Martin Steele, they currently await their sentencing.
If you feel as though you’ve been victimized by your timeshare, please use caution when selecting a relief program. If you’re ever in doubt, you can always give us a call for insight on scams in the timeshare industry.