DALLAS, TX (May 16, 2016) — A Florida man who was convicted for his role in a resort timeshare telemarketing scheme that victimized at least 5000 individuals, many of whom were over age 55, was sentenced May 13, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Rani F. Khoury, 41, of Apopka, Florida, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to 97 months in federal prison, following his guilty plea in July 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Judge Fitzwater also ordered Khoury to pay $1,583,252.28 in restitution and forfeit real estate in Orlando, Florida, as well as a 2010 Mercedes Benz.
Ten defendants were charged in the case; all were convicted, and seven have now been sentenced. For instance, earlier this year, Fabien C. Fleifel, 45, of Winter Springs, Florida, 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 to 14 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution jointly and severally with co-defendants.
Khoury 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. Khoury 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. Khoury also 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.
During Khoury’s participation in the conspiracy, victims incurred approximately $10,887,684 in losses.
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