The leader of a timeshare resale fraud scam which targeted elderly and vulnerable people, has been sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay back $3.37 million in damages. The Notorious Florida Based scammer was sentenced to 63 months in Federal prison, for defrauding more than 1,000 victims, many of whom were elderly, out of over $3.3 million.

Daniel Boyar from Orlando, Florida, ran an elaborate timeshare scam between October 2010 to April 2012. He and 20 co defendants devised and carried out a telemarketing scam to defraud more than 1,000 timeshare owners out of more than $3.3 million. Boyar, the leader of the scam, used stolen data to target timeshare owners. They promised clients they could sell their timeshares for a profit, all the owner had to do was pay an upfront cost to facilitate the sale. In reality, there were no buyers and the timeshare sales never occurred.

The scam operated under numerous business names and often used fake front companies in various cities across the United States. Boyar and his co-defendants would use false identities and lease temporary office spaces around the U.S. This enabled them to create front companies using the names of inactive businesses which made the operation appear legitimate. Using voice-over-internet phone systems, they spoofed telephone numbers to make it appear that they were calling from the location of the fake front companies, whilst actually being located in Florida. Callers would find out local information like the weather and news in order to trick victims into thinking they were a local company. The fraudsters created fake websites and false and misleading information to include customer testimonials, company officers and press releases.

U.S. Attorney Mr Trutanich said: “Today’s sentence demonstrates law enforcements commitment to protecting vulnerable elder populations. Elder fraud and exploitation can have a crippling effect on victims, and federal prosecutors will pursue financial fraudsters who exploit our most vulnerable for personal and financial gain.”

What is Wire and Mail Fraud ?

Mail and wire fraud is any fraudulent plot to intentionally deprive another of property or honest services via mail or wire communication. This is considered a serious criminal offense in the US. Mail fraud charges are when an individual puts into place any form of scheme to defraud in order to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretences. This occurs when the individual attempts to distribute, supply or unlawfully use any counterfeit in their scheme and in attempting to do so, places the same in any post office or authorized depository for the mail to deliver. This type of offence carries a fine or the possibility of imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both. Wire fraud charges occur when an individual carries out financial fraud using telecommunications or information technology to do so. The sentence for this type of offence is the same as mail fraud with a fine, or the possibility of imprisonment for up to 20 years, or both.

How does a timeshare scam work?

A company may contact you out of the blue, but you have to be especially cautious when you receive unsolicited phone calls from timeshare exit companies. Under new EU regulations, it is now illegal to cold-call people unless they have specifically agreed to being contacted. Any legitimate company would not willingly break the law in this way and risk the financial penalties in doing so. How did they obtain your information without you giving to them? It was probably sold to them in an illegal manner, they will know all about your previous investments and your personal details, this gives them credibility when trying to sell their fraudulent services.

They make claims that sound too good to be true, unfortunately, they are. Anyone who claims to be able to re-sell your timeshare within a specified time period, or who has buyer lined up, is probably lying. The timeshare re-sale market is completely saturated and even if you do manage to make a sale, it will be nowhere near the price you originally paid for it.

They request upfront fees, they will ask for fees to be paid via a credit card, bank transfer or cheque. These fees are requested to cover registration fees, taxes or closing costs. Fraudsters may initially ask for a small fee but rely on the victims seeing this as a nominal amount worth paying if it facilitates the sale of the timeshare. Once paid, various excuses are made by the fraudsters to explain why the timeshare has not been sold yet. Subsequently, further larger amounts are then requested by the fraudsters. Needless to say, no sales ever materialise and no money is ever refunded.

Protect yourself from timeshare fraud.

Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you, such as the website, address and phone number, are correct as the fraudsters may be posing as a legitimate organisation.

Challenge all calls, letters or emails from people or organisations you don’t know or you have never contacted before. Ask how they have obtained your details and make a note of the call.

If you have been a victim to fraud in the past, seek independent advise before engaging with any organisation that is offering to help you. Callous fraudsters will often attempt to defraud people who have already fallen victim to fraud by offering to return what the victim has already lost.

People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.

It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a Timeshare Termination.

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