Joshua Barrett Hoskins, John James Fenimore, Michael T. Dignelli Sr., John F. Macpherson, and Garry Anthony Brown, all of South Florida, were accused Tuesday of defrauding timeshare owners across the nation out of $2.6 million as part of an alleged fraud, news sources indicate. The group allegedly used the facade of several South Florida businesses to carry out the scheme. So far, only Brown has been arrested, though each member of the group is facing charges of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. It is not yet known whether any of the defendants has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
Reports say the group operated under a number of registered businesses based out of Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, including Transatlantic Timeshares LLC, Euroamerican Timeshares, LLC and E.A.T. Sales, LLC. The defendants registered each business with Florida Department of State, records show. However, law enforcement officials claim that, “the conspirators frequently changed the name of the company after just a few months,” which “aided their evasion of law enforcement scrutiny.”
Although the alleged conspirators opened a number of businesses, each of them purportedly offered the same thing. The companies all offered timeshare owners the opportunity to sell their timeshares, either to the business or a client of the business. As part of the alleged scheme, telephone operators would reportedly contact the timeshare owners by phone. It is not clear where the group was able to get contact information for timeshare owners.
One set of callers, dubbed “openers” in reports, would attempt to convince the owners to part with their timeshare. When owners indicated they were curious about the deal, the opener would refer them to another caller, dubbed a “closer,” reports show. According to reports, the “closer” would go over the details of the sale and reach an agreement on the price. When an arrangement was made, the closer would reportedly deliver a falsified agreement document to the victim by mail, fax, or email, reports say. The document allegedly asked the timeshare owner to pay a monetary advance in order for the sale to be completed. However, reports allege that the accused and their businesses never made an effort to buy the timeshare after they received the upfront payment.
Records indicate that the telemarketers involved in the alleged fraud would sometimes refer to a “fictitious company created by co-conspirators” known as Royal Title Services. Two of the conspirators, Fenimore and Hoskins, purportedly used the title “director of sales” during the scam as a way of appearing more legitimate.
Investigators often time refer to frauds like this one as “boiler room” frauds. The name originates from the strategies used by telemarketers in the fraud. These strategies include using imbalanced and deceitful sales tactics to make a sale, reports purport.
The fraud swindled $3,200 out of a couple in California, according to the press. Hoskins reportedly contacted the pair and claimed he would buy their vacant timeshare for $24,000. Following his guidance, the couple sent Hoskins’ company, National Timeshare Liquidators, a check for the $3,200.
The complaint claims that Hoskins earned $326,000 as part of the fraud; Fenimore $304,124; Dignelli $26,975; Macpherson $7,711; and Brown $32,205. The complaint purports that “virtually all of the money received by the scheme was pocketed by the organizers and telemarketers.” If convicted, each defendant could face a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.