Over the past few months, we’ve shared a lot of news regarding fraudulent activity by timeshare relief programs. But not all misconduct focuses on victimizing unhappy buyers looking to escape perpetual agreements. There are deceitful measures occurring everywhere in the industry. Even those with the utmost of character are tempted to partake in quick money schemes. Blinded by potential earnings, they make greedy decisions they later regret. This was especially true when a lawyer in Virginia found herself disbarred and facing jail time after puppeteering a timeshare transfer scam.
Lawyer Tries to Make Money Transferring Timeshares.
Beginning in 2011, Deborah M. Wagner and her staff began working with a number of co-conspirators, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars through 3rd party transfer services. Her law firm, Wagner & Hyman, claimed to execute their transfers by using “straw purchasers.” Also known as nominees, straw purchasers volunteer to buy something for someone who can’t, then they transfer it into the interested party’s name. In most cases they receive a kickback for the transaction. But that wasn’t what was occurring at Wagner’s firm.
Wagner’s operation was inevitably labeled a timeshare transfer scam due to the simple fact this pool of “straw purchasers” consisted of uninformed people. Her employees ended up creating false documents with their stolen identities to illegally process the company’s timeshare transfers. People were unknowingly placed under someone else’s contract without their permission.
They were able to make a pretty penny by fooling both parties during the timeshare transfer scam. Once the original owners were timeshare free, they happily compensated the firm. But Wagner wasn’t able to pull off the timeshare transfer scam on her own. Similar programs played complementary roles in the scheme. Brendan Hawkins (owner of Goodbye Timeshare) and Kieth Kosco (owner of Exotic Equity Transfers) also processed fake transfers and paid Wagner for her involvement. For the most part, they were responsible for persuading timeshare owners the transaction was legitimate because an attorney was involved.
But the multi-year scam ran its course when the maintenance fees and taxes of over 1,000 transferred properties went unpaid. Not only did the timeshare transfer scam cost resorts hundreds of thousands of dollars, it also left identity theft victims (straw owners) with severe damages to their credit. To give you an idea of how far Wagner went to pull off the scam, at least one of the straw owners was in jail. She had no idea timeshare contracts were in her name.
How the “Timeshare Lawyer” Tried to Cover Up Her Tracks.
When timeshare companies questioned specific transfers, Wagner would try to move ownership to another stolen identity. She eventually established another company by the name of Vacation Match, LLC, in order to target additional straw purchasers. She used the address of a tanning salon she owned in an attempt to legitimize the business. In all, the scam resulted in over $1.3 million in losses.
Leader of the Timeshare Transfer Scam Sentenced.
Deborah Wagner pled guilty to conspiracy and mail/wire fraud in September of 2016 and has been disbarred from practicing law in the state of Virginia. 10 additional charges were dropped due to her agreement with the prosecution. On July 20th, 2017, the federal court concluded the trial by sentencing the Virginia Lawyer to 50 months in prison. Hawkins was sentenced to 46 months on April 20th, 2017 and Kosco is currently serving 74 months. This is a strong message to those thinking about pulling off a timeshare transfer scam.
Before Considering Timeshare Relief, Do Your Research..
If you’re considering timeshare relief, make sure you thoroughly research the services you’re considering before doing business with them. It may cost you some time, but the money you’ll save will make it all worth it. For more information on our cancellation services, feel free to schedule a free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.