Three Plead Guilty in Telemarketing Scam
Over the course of the conspiracy, the conspirators received more than $1.5 million by wire transfers from more than 40 victims, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
TAMPA – Three Pinellas men have pleaded guilty in a telemarketing scam that cost 40 victims more than $1.5 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.
Gary Kinard, 40, of St. Petersburg; Martin Steele, 46, of Largo; and Mark Boring, 47, of St. Petersburg, have each pleaded guilty to one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud and of Aggravated Identity Theft. Each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years’ in federal prison for the wire fraud conspiracy and a minimum mandatory consecutive term of 2 years’ imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft.
Pursuant to their plea agreements, Kinard has agreed to pay restitution to the scheme’s numerous victims in the amount of $1,555,860.21; Steele has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $1,768,163.60; and Boring has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $853,392.03. Each has also consented to a forfeiture money judgment of $75,000.
According to the plea agreements, from 2016 through at least 2018, Kinard, Steele, and Boring conspired with each other and others to take money from victims throughout the U.S. who wanted to sell their timeshare properties or other land parcels.
The conspirators placed telephone calls to these victims impersonating real estate professionals. They misled the timeshare owners to believe that the conspirators had identified buyers for the victims’ timeshares and other properties. The conspirators further advised the victims that the timeshare and property sales could be consummated if the victims made one or more advanced payments to the conspirators for various fees purportedly associated with the sales, such as closing costs, courier services, title searches, transfer and legal fees.
Once the victims agreed to pay the bogus advance fees, the conspirators directed the victims to send funds via wire transfers to one of the conspirators. That conspirator then withdrew the fraud proceeds and shared them with the others, based upon each conspirator’s role in the fraudulent transaction.
The conspirators often repeatedly re-contacted their victims and fraudulently advised them that additional fees were needed to complete the sales, and they continued to dupe the victims into sending bogus advance fees until the victims either ran out of money or became aware of the scam.
After the victims had depleted their assets or recognized that they had been defrauded, Kinard, Steele, and other conspirators evolved their scheme.
In this second stage, Kinard, Steele, and/or other conspirators re-contacted their victims via email and, now posing as helpful attorneys, told the victims that they had been defrauded in a timeshare scam. They then offered to “represent” the victims against their “first attorneys,” and to obtain settlements on their behalf.
Once Kinard, Steele, and/or other conspirators regained the trust of the timeshare victims, they directed the victims to forward additional bogus fees purportedly associated with the cost of litigation, settlement expenses, and other related expenses. Some victims paid the conspirators hundreds of thousands of dollars for the purported “litigation.” Over the course of the conspiracy, the conspirators received more than $1.5 million via wire transfers from more than 40 victims.
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