EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (December 23, 2014) — Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced that Leandro Velazquez has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The plea was entered at the United States District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois. Sentencing is set for Friday, April 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM, at which time Velazquez faces a term in prison of up to twenty five (25) years, a $250,000 fine and five years’ supervised release.
Facts revealed in Court showed that on February 20, 2014, a grand jury returned a one count indictment charging Velazquez with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. The indictment alleged that Velazquez and others were engaged in an extensive telemarketing scam which operated in Orlando, Florida, that bilked thousands of victims of approximately $6 million dollars, victimizing consumers throughout the United States and Canada. There were victims in seven of the thirty eight (38) counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
The criminal indictment alleged that Velazquez was a co-owner of National Solutions and related companies located in Orlando, Florida. The scheme operated under more than a dozen business names including Bluescape Timeshares International, Country Wide Timeshares, Countrywide Timesharesales MA, Landmark Timeshares, Propertys Direct, Quicksale Propertys, Sun Property Networks, Sun Property’s, Universal Propertys, VIM Timeshares, Propertys DRK, Quick Sale Advisers, Quick Sale International, City Resorts, Resort Advisers, American Timeshares, Exit Week, and Resort Advisors International.
The indictment alleged that Velazquez’ participation in the scheme began on or about December 5, 2007, and continued through July 13, 2011. The indictment alleged that telemarketers for National Solutions placed cold calls to timeshare owners and then falsely represented that their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. Telemarketers then solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs that they promised would be refunded to the owner once the closing on the property occurred. Many timeshare owners were told that their closings were scheduled within a number of days. Despite collecting fees from these victims, these companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit, the indictment alleged. Velazquez and his co-conspirators, the indictment alleged, simply pocketed these supposed closing costs.
The Federal Trade Commission investigated the National Solutions businesses and brought a civil complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando. In that action the FTC seized the offices and records of National Solutions on July 13, 2011, pursuant to Court Order.
This prosecution follows an investigation by the Midwest Region Office of the Federal Trade Commission and the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bruce E. Reppert and Michael J. Quinley.
Consumers who believe that they have been the victim of a consumer fraud should call the Federal Trade Commission 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or file an online complaint at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: US Attorney General’s Office of the Southern District of Illinois