Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Racket Leader Who Rolled Dice On 7-Week Trial & Lost Gets Belted w/ 27 Years For Peddling Phony Consulting Services To Hapless Consumers Saddled w/ Crappy Timeshare Investments Looking To Unload Them Or Obtain Discounted Mortgage Payoffs

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Camden, New Jersey):
  • An Atlantic County, New Jersey, man was sentenced [] to 324 months in prison for his role in a $3 million conspiracy to scam customers by offering phony consulting services to owners of timeshares through the New Jersey-based Vacation Ownership Group LLC, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

    Adam Lacerda, 31, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, was convicted [...] of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and three counts of wire fraud [following] a seven-week trial [...] in Camden federal court.

    According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:

    Lacerda and his codefendants schemed to defraud hundreds of timeshare owners by offering fraudulent consulting services through their company, the Vacation Ownership Group (now VO Financial). Lacerda, the company founder, president and chief executive officer, devised the company’s fraudulent sales pitches. He directed his sales force to tell numerous lies to VO customers, including that VO worked with the banks holding the customers’ loans, would use money sent by customers to pay off the customers’ loans on their timeshares, and could cancel customers’ timeshares with money back.(1)

    Three codefendants were convicted with Lacerda at the same trial: his wife, Ashley Lacerda, 35, the company vice president and chief operating officer, sent fraudulent contracts to customers and managed the office. Ian Resnick, 40, of Absecon, New Jersey, a convicted bank robber, started as a salesman giving the fraudulent sales pitch but became Adam Lacerda’s enforcer, with the title “director of compliance.” Genevieve Manzoni, 49, of Lake Worth, Fla. was a top VO sales representative who falsely told one victim she worked with a bank, another victim that she worked with a timeshare developer. They are all awaiting sentencing.

    The 14 victims who testified at trial – including business executives, veterans, senior citizens, a lawyer and a professor – were defrauded out of a total of tens of thousands of dollars by the defendants’ sophisticated scheme.

    In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Adam Lacerda to three years of supervised release.
Source: Atlantic County, New Jersey, Man Sentenced To 27 Years In Prison For $3 Million Time-Share Mortgage Fraud Scheme.

(1) See Ten Charged In Superseding Indictment In Time Share Mortgage Fraud Scheme:
  • [T]he defendants through the VO Group participated in a fraudulent scheme in which representatives of the VO Group called owners of timeshare vacation properties purchased from Flagship Resort Development, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc., and other timeshare developers and convinced the owners to submit money to the VO Group, purportedly to pay off their “mortgages” on their timeshares.

    The VO Group claimed that the timeshare owner could pay off the mortgage balance at a substantially reduced amount – often by as much as 50 percent of the amount of the owner’s original mortgage [...].

    The VO Group representatives also persuaded timeshare owners to send the VO Group money purportedly to have timeshares cancelled or sold. Rather than paying off the timeshare owner’s mortgage, cancelling the owner’s timeshare, or selling the timeshare, the conspirators kept the timeshare owner’s money for their personal use.

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