A scammer who targeted vulnerable timeshare owners desperate to offload their burdens, stole the identity of a lawyer from Florida to make his scam appear legitimate.
The scammer would call people who had placed ads to sell their timeshares and tell them their property could be sold if they forwarded closing costs to the lawyer, David Eaton, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eaton, a former prosecutor and now an estate planning lawyer, learned of the scam several years ago when he got a call from the Florida Bar, according to the article. A woman had complained that she sent money to someone who claimed to be David Eaton. Florida Bar investigated and informed the real David Eaton that his identity had been stolen, and was being used by fraudsters.
In 2016, Eaton began getting calls from people who believed they had sent money to him. He would send countless hours explain to these people what had happened, but always forwarded the details to the police.
The man impersonating Eaton, Mark Boring, had seen Eaton’s name on a sign for his law office in a shopping mall. He was finally caught after a woman who wired $8,100 spoke with Eaton. Police put the woman in touch with the FBI, and she agreed to participate in a sting. The woman called one the of the numbers she was given by scammers and said she still wanted to sell. She was instructed to wire $800. The wire went to a Tampa address, where the person who collected the money had to present identification. The man was Boring.
Eaton was in court when Boring was sentenced March 8 for felony fraud, the article reports. Eaton testified that Boring had exploited his name and reputation. “He zeroed in on his victims, most commonly women, most commonly elderly. I spent hundreds of hours listening to the poor souls,” Eaton said.
Boring pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire theft and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 84 months in prison and ordered to jointly pay back $895,000.
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 possible Timeshare Termination.