DALLAS, TX (February 8, 2016) — Three defendants convicted for their roles in a resort timeshare telemarketing scheme that victimized at least 5000 individuals, many of whom were over age 55, were sentenced February 5, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Fabien C. Fleifel, 45, who was convicted at trial last summer on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud; 19 counts of mail fraud telemarketing; and six counts of wire fraud telemarketing, was sentenced this morning by U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to 168 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution jointly and severally with co-defendants. He must surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on March 15, 2016.
Co-defendant Bradley James Gomez, 36, of Longwood, Florida, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution. Another co-defendant, Amanda Nadine Rizkallah, 32, of Oviedo, Florida, who pleaded guilty to the same offense, was sentenced to a five-year term of probation which included a 180 day period of home confinement. Rizkallah also was ordered to pay restitution jointly and severally with co-defendants.
Fleifel conspired with others to make unsolicited interstate telephone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties to induce them into paying fees associated with the bogus sale of their property. Fleifel and others opened bank accounts and entered into merchant account agreements to process and collect funds raised in the scheme, and they set up phony mailing addresses to collect funds mailed in by timeshare owners.
Fleifel hired and trained telemarketers to work in boiler rooms he set up. These telemarketers were instructed to call timeshare owners using scripted sales pitches that falsely represented, for example, that a bona fide buyer was interested in buying their property, that the buyer had paid money into an escrow account, and that the buyer was ready to close on the property. The telemarketers falsely advised timeshare owners that they would receive all the funds from the sale within days, they must pay a one-time fee to cover the title search and other closing costs, and they would be refunded all fees paid if the sale did not close within 90 days.
After the conspirators obtained money from the timeshare owners, they made additional false and fraudulent statements to lull them and to keep them from investigating the transactions, complaining to law enforcement, or requesting charge backs to their credit cards.
Toward the end of the conspiracy, Fleifel set up and operated a boiler room called Consumer Rights Advocates. Fleifel’s telemarketers contacted timeshare owners who previously were defrauded during the conspiracy or were defrauded by other boiler rooms operating a similar fraud. Fleifel’s telemarketers fraudulently represented that, for a fee, they could recover the timeshare owners’ lost funds.
Ten defendants were charged in the case; all were convicted, and five have now been sentenced.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Orlando Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys C.S. Heath and Joseph M. Revesz are prosecuting.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Texas