At the age of 74 you would think some people should know better, there are those who think what do they have to loose and don’t ever believe they will be severely punished. Elpenike Eddy-Aldava of Las Vegas, Nevada, was this person, sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for her conviction of telemarketing fraud.
After a four-day trial in October 2015, a East St. Louis federal jury found Eddy-Aldava guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The scam scheme victimised individuals throughout the US.
Evidence showed that Eddy-Aldava worked for more than five years as a telemarketer for a telemarketing business in Las Vegas. This business primarily traded under Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max but frequently changed names thinking they were staying one step ahead of anyone catching them.
Targeting timeshare owners, Telemarketers from Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max called and offered to help them sell their timeshares.
In the same story we hear time and time again, the telemarketers then falsely represented that they had found corporate buyers interested in acquiring blocks of timeshare units and that the victims’ timeshare units could be included in these blocks if they acted fast. In order to participate they had to pay upfront fees, which ranged from $2,000 to $3,000. The victims were falsely told by the telemarketers that these fees were needed to pay closing costs.
Instead, these fees were taken by Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max as revenue. The telemarketers were paid a large commission for each fraudulent sale they were able to secure. There was a big incentive to mislead as the commissions were typically between 40% to 50%.
No timeshares were ever sold as Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max never had any corporate buyers. To keep the timeshare resale scam going, Showcase Resorts and Vacation Max then employed individuals called “Updaters” to handle the large number of calls from customers asking why their timeshares had not been sold as promised. The role of the “Updaters” was to stall and provide excuses to the victims in order to string them along and prevent them from contacting their credit card companies and demanding their money back.
The scheme was known to operate from at least December 2006 until January 2012 but could have been longer. The losses caused by the timeshare resale scam exceeded $11 million.
“Unfortunately, these telemarketing scams take place far too often,” Acting U.S. Attorney James L. Porter stated. “Hopefully, the sentence will send a message to other telemarketers that when they defraud citizens of Southern Illinois, they are going to be prosecuted and they will most likely go to prison. I’d also like to remind our citizens that when someone contacts them on the telephone with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
The owner of Vacation Max, Michael Patrick Sullivan, was indicted in May 2013.
On 9th January 2015 Sullivan was finally sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty. Three other telemarketers from the scam, John Nicosia, Robert Kelly Mathews and Rebecca Marrs, as well as one of the Updaters, Patrick Nosack, were also charged. All pleased guilty and were sentanced to prison. Rebecca Marrs’ trial is scheduled to begin on 5th April 2016.
As part of the OAP, Eddy-Aldav’s sentence, the court also ordered Eddy-Aldava to pay $647,015 in compensation to the victims she personally defrauded. Once Eddy-Aldava completes her prison sentence she will then serve two years of supervised release.
The case against Eddy-Aldava is one of approximately 80 cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois relating to timeshare resale fraud and part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service.
Posted on: February 24, 2016
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk