SACRAMENTO, CA (March 23, 2017) — Marco Antonio Ramirez Zuno, 32, of Cancun, Mexico, pleaded guilty March 21 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to a timeshare resale fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between 2011 and 2012, Zuno and others conducted a timeshare resale fraud scheme based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Sales agents including co‑defendant Juan Montalbo, aka John Monte, conducted sales meetings to convince prospective customers to purchase a timeshare vacation package marketed under the names Platinum Access Program or World Luxury Destinations. If customers had existing timeshare properties, Montalbo assured them that another company, Continental Resources, would arrange for their sale. When the customers returned from Mexico, they were contacted by co-defendant Wayne York, aka Tim Hamick or Michael Halston, who claimed to represent companies named Property Marketing Group or Eagle Market Solution and claiming that a bona fide purchaser had been found and was ready to purchase their existing timeshares. Others were contacted directly by York without first giving their information to Montalbo.
According to court documents, York and others would then extract a series of upfront payments from the victims, which York claimed were required to be wired to bank accounts in Mexico in order for the guaranteed sale to be completed. York and the others would falsely claim that a buyer for the timeshare had already been located and that all the prepaid fees wired to Mexico were being held in escrow and would be refunded to the victims as soon as the transaction was completed. After the victims wired the money to Mexico, York and the others would break off all contact with them. According to court documents, Ramirez Zuno managed the Mexican bank accounts used in the fraud, trained co-conspirators on how to conduct the fraud, and managed the disbursement of the proceeds of the fraud.
The charges against Montalbo and York are only allegations; those defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the product of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Morris is prosecuting the case.
Ramirez Zuno has been in custody since his arrest on April 14, 2016, in Miami, Florida. Montalbo and York have been released on bond. Montalbo and York are next scheduled to appear in court on June 6, 2017, for a further status hearing on their cases.
Ramirez Zuno is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on June 27, 2017. Ramirez Zuno faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California