Timeshare News

Florida Man Sentenced to 7 Years For a Telemarketing Timeshare Exit Scam

July 9, 2019
Timeshare Exit Scams

46-year-old Martin Steele of St. Petersburg, Florida has been sentenced to seven years and five months in federal prison for his participation in a telemarketing timeshare exit scam targeting innocent timeshare owners, who were searching for how to get out of a timeshare. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich also entered a money judgment of $75,000 in the court order, which was the amount of proceeds made off the timeshare exit scam from victimizing consumers. In addition, Steele has been directed to pay more than $1.1 million to the timeshare owner victims for this telemarketing scam.

Between 2016 and 2018, Steele and his team worked together to steal hundreds to thousands of dollars from timeshare owners throughout the United States, according to court records. The scam took place over the phone with Steele and other conspirators impersonating timeshare attorneys, real estate officers, and other professionals who claimed to be experts on selling timeshare. The victims were trying to sell their timeshare properties and made to believe their timeshare property had interested and active buyers with the help of the conspirators on the other end.

The victims of this fraudulent timeshare exit scheme were then instructed to make one or more advanced payments for fees associated with the property sale, such as closing costs, courier services, title searches, transfer fees, and legal fees. The conspirators made calls to timeshare owners and further directed them to send these payments via wire transfers to other conspirators on Steele's team. Once the victims wired the money, the timeshare exit scammers took the cash and divided it amongst themselves.

In many of these consumer fraud cases, the conspirators repeatedly contacted the timeshare owners and falsely advised them that there were additional fees needed for the sale of their respective timeshare. The timeshare victims continued to send money until they ran out or eventually caught onto the scam.

Several of the conspirators working with Steele have pleaded guilty to charges for their part in wire fraud conspiracy, identity theft, and money laundering.

Before you decide to exit your timeshare, be informed about your options. If you wish to sell timeshare, directly contact your timeshare developer so you can work together to create safe and reliable arrangements. If you wish to sell through an approved broker, the American Resort Development Association (ADRA) recommends going through their checklist of information regarding the selling process.

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