Woman Sentenced To 15 Years In Jail For Swindling $30 Million In Telemarketing Timeshare Scheme

Telemarketing itself isn’t a crime (more’s the pity) but using that method to cheat 22,000 people out of around $30 million sure is, as one one woman sentenced to 15 years in prison found out recently.

A judge in East St. Louis sentenced the 31-year-old new mother to serious jail time, says the Associated Press, as well as chiding her for starting a family when she was already under investigation by authorities for her scam.

Prosecutors say the woman operated out of Florida with her company called Universal Marketing Solutions, and another one later called Creative Vacation Solutions from October 2007 to December 2009.

Telemarketers would tell timeshare owners that they had found buyers for their properties, and convince them to hand over cash to for closing costs. They’d promise to reimburse the owners when the deals were done. Most of the time, those timeshares hadn’t been sold, but the company still kept the fee money.

“It was never my intention to cause harm to the thousands of people victimized,” the woman said, insisting that “somehow I convinced myself and others that we were helping people.”

Along with jail time, she was fined $15,000 but won’t be forced to pay restitution, as it’s just too much money, given the scope of the scheme.

Mastermind of $30M telemarketing scheme gets 15 years [Associated Press]

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  1. Jack T Ripper says:

    What???? $30 million is just too much to pay restitution on? Even Bernie has to pay restitution. There is another Ponzi scheme I read about recently where the convicted scammer has to start working on paying back over $45 million he screwed people out of. It hardly seems right that you screw people out of $30 million and suddenly that is just too much money to calculate just because she has baby making organs.

    • who? says:

      If she actually still had any of that $30M, she would be paying restitution. I would assume she’s just like most of the people with that kind of …ummmm….job. The money was going out as fast as it was coming in, usually on hookers and blow. Maybe not the hookers, but definitely the blow. And fast cars. And jewelry. Once you add in legal fees, $15k is probably all she has left.

      • tooluser says:

        The last I heard, the chemical content of the human body is worth $6.28 on average. If I were a victim, I might settle for that.

        But if she is made an example of, then shouldn’t the corporate officers of pretty much every bank in the world get 15 years to life?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Based on the judge’s other comments I don’t think her baby making organs helped her out much here.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      The original article simply said this:
      “Murphy fined Kirk $15,000 but did not order her to pay restitution, saying that was inconceivable given the scope of the scheme. “

      I’m not sure if Mary Beth added the “too much money” part, or if it was said by the judge but not reported in the AP story.

      The judge could be referring to the scope in terms of the number of victims – 22,000. It might be a burden on the court to engage in communication with all 22,000 victims to make sure that restitution has been paid. Had it been three victims who were each swindled out of $10 million, it would be far easier to verify.

      I’m pretty sure the victims could still take a swing at her in a civil trial, though.

    • gparlett says:

      She doesn’t have the $30 million, if shes’s ordered to pay $30million she’ll just declare bankruptcy. It’s a waste of the courts time to order her to pay restitution when there is no physical way that she can.

      • maxhobbs says:

        You can’t declare bankruptcy to get out of paying for money you swindled, doesn’t work that way.

      • Grungo says:

        More specifically, certain types of debts (and court judgments) are immune from discharge in bankruptcy. Debts from most bad acts, such as fraud, are non-dischargeable.

  2. Coffee says:

    Would you accept a 15-year prison (with reduced time for good behavior) sentence for $30 million? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      Hell yes I would!! $2 million per year is pretty decent wages. Not to mention that in that 15 years you better be damn sure that I’ll come out with at least a law degree and a couple bachelor degrees.

      So let me get this straight… I get to live rent free for the next decade and a half while earning whatever higher education I want AND I don’t have to give any of the money back that I stole? F-ing A I would do it!! My family would just have to understand I guess.

      • little stripes says:

        I worked in a county jail that was pretty comfy compared to most places (even though we did house quite a few federal inmates because of prison overflow — county jails get $$ for that!), but even working there for 8+ hours a day IT SUCKED. A lot. I hated it.

        Keep in mind that you aren’t alone in a little box. You have to socialize with other inmates … and the staff, which include many disgruntled corrections officers. It’s not as easy as you might think. Especially when you consider the chance of your being raped. Or beat up. Or terrorized.

        And you probably won’t be having sex (outside of rape) for the next 15 years. And you won’t have any real privacy to jack off. Is that still worth it?

        • El_Fez says:

          No sex, no Rosy Palmer for 15 years and I get a 30 million-ish payout?

          Hell yeah.

          • Kate says:

            I think the 30 million was already spent, otherwise she would have had it to refund. So at the end? No money.

        • Jack T Ripper says:

          She fucked how many people for $30 million? And she just pushed out an offspring, so I think she has had enough sex for one lifetime. Besides, she is going to get sent to a female prison, so her chances of getting raped aren’t really that horrible.

          As for me, hell… for $30 million dollars I’d let you rape me as often as you want. Millions of people actually pay for that kind of thing and some even get off on it, so it can’t be that bad. Maybe I’d be one of the guys doing the rapes. Ever think of that? Or perhaps I’d set myself up for weekly AIDS treatments and let the word spread that I’m dirty so that nobody would touch me. For $30 million dollars I’d fucking think of something.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        Then there’s the bonus prison rape. So there’s that.

      • regis-s says:

        You do realize that the guards and the walls and all the other security is there to keep the prisoners in prison right? They’re not there to keep everyone else out.

        I hardly think doing hard time in a federal prison is the walk in the park some people seem to think it is.

      • Jawaka says:

        Of course there’s also the downside of having to take it in the ass every few days too

    • shthar says:

      Net or Gross?

    • Murph1908 says:

      Now, at 40? No.

      When I was 20? I think I’d go for it.

      Keep in mind, the prison rape commenters below, that crimes like this often lead to time served in minimum security, i.e. Club Fed. Not Federal PYITA Prison.

    • Mr. Bill says:

      Can I do six months for one million?

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “Along with jail time, she was fined $15,000 but won’t be forced to pay restitution, as it’s just too much money, given the scope of the scheme.”

    …what? So in 15 years she gets out of jail a multi-millionaire? Who do we have to punch in the nuts to get proper action taken on her ill-gotten gains? And what about getting that fraudulently-taken money back to the victims?

  4. Jevia says:

    Never intended to cause harm? Helping people? WTF? I suppose she was helping herself and her “employees”.

    I always thought the buyers paid all closing costs and would have been suspicious of anyone telling me, as a seller, I had to front the money. Fronting money = scam.

    Not that I own a money sink, i.e. time share anyway.

    Poor kid.

    • MattO says:

      in the housing boom, we had the sellers pay our closing costs. we bought in 2007, 100% mortgage, and on TOP of that, had them pay closing costs. literally we paid some fees like the lawyer, inspection, and a few other things, then sgned some papers, and became homeowners…..i dont think it is uncommon at all for sellers to pay closing costs.

      before everyone gives me crap, i have CONTINUED to pay my mortgage (and PMI), for the past 5 years, and though i am stuck in an upside-down place, i would never walk away….i signed up for this debt, and indend to pay it off, or sell at a loss and eat it in the end….or if i am REALLY lucky, housing prices go back up and i can break even!

      • hmburgers says:

        Your sellers “paid closing costs” at the time of the sale transaction using funds provided by your mortgaging bank. It’s a money shuffle where they effectively sell the house for less money.

        I guess the best analogy to compare that, to the sitaution in this article, would be to say that the sellers were willing to pay your home inspection fee and your mortgage application fees… both things that are done well before the transaction is a “done deal”.

        Of course, maybe this scam implied to the sellers that the transaction is a “done deal” and they thought that they were, in essence, just getting a little less money for their time share.

  5. Conformist138 says:

    Why do people assume she HAS the money?

    The odds that there are tens of millions just sitting in the bank waiting for her is stupidly presumptuous. All we know is additional restitution payments were not ordered, but it made no mention of what, if any, assets were seized in the nearly 2 year investigation. Sure, we wish she had to pay something, but what kind of money will she be making in prison?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I stuggled to come up with the right words to express my thoughts on your comment, and I came up with:

      “So?”

      • who? says:

        So…everybody is all bent because she’s not paying restitution. If she had any assets or any way of getting any assets, she’d be paying restitution. The idea that she’d have millions waiting for her when she gets out? It just doesn’t work that way. Not only is she likely flat broke already, she’ll also have all kinds of restrictions on what kind of work she can do when she does get out, so that she doesn’t do anything like this again. She will likely not be able to own her own business, or have any job where she works with money, and because she has a major felony conviction, she’s not going to be able to find a job working for someone else that doesn’t require her to operate a fryolator.

        So….the fact that she’s not paying restitution sucks for the people who were scammed, but they weren’t going to get anything anyway.

        • regis-s says:

          It does make you wonder how she could blow through thirty million dollars and not have anything to show for it. Unless there was someone ripping her off as fast as she was ripping off her victims.

    • spf1971 says:

      While I doubt she has 30 million sitting in a piggy bank, she must still have some of it. Unless she lived her own version of “Brewster’s Millions” she must have some assets left. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088850/

  6. StarKillerX says:

    Really?

    How exactly did you “think” you were helping people?

    As for restitution, while she might never be able to pay the money back, every single penny and item she has should go toward doing so.

    If this woman has anything I see civil suits taking care of it, although now it will all go to lawyers, if it hasn’t already.

  7. Tyanna says:

    Well, at least her child will be set. $30mil should be enough to support the kid for the next 15 years!

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      15? Try 150. Hell, that’s 500 years of my salary from a few years ago.

  8. shthar says:

    I would have stopped at 29 million.

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      I dunno… $29 million might be below that magic line where you have to pay restitution. $29 mil and you have to pay it back… $30 mil and it is just too hard to calculate.

      Me on the other hand, I would have just avoided getting caught in the first place. I’m up to $400 million in my ill gotten gains and nobody knows about it yet. …er, well, at least they didn’t until now.

      (Damnit!! Where is that edit button!)

      • shthar says:

        I figger they only caught her after she stole the 30th million.

        Actually, I would have stopped after the first million, but I don’t have any kids.

  9. sufreak says:

    Somewhere, a few offshore accounts are gathering interesting nicely.

  10. TVGenius says:

    Somehow, I admire her for being able to bilk that many idiots out of that much money in that short of a time.

  11. hmburgers says:

    There has GOT to be something missing from this article… how could she get $30M and not have to pay restitution, i.e. returning money?

    Unless this is the female equivalent of the father from Bad Santa? She’ll be in jail while her daughter lives in her multi-million dollar home, with a 7-series Bimmer in the garage and old Granny watching over shit offering to “fix some sandwiches” for anyone who shows up at the door…

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      My guess is simply she doesn’t have it. Any money still existing in her bank accounts or a “company” account was probably seized and who knows what happened to the rest. They didn’t bother with restitution because at that point she’ll never repay it. Of course, I’d still make her have a go at it once she got out of prison, but hey, that’s just me.

  12. deadandy says:

    Jail != prison

  13. framitz says:

    She should have got 1 year in prison for each person harmed.

  14. AngryK9 says:

    She will be out on parole in less than a year, and then will be given a lucrative high paying job as some politician’s campaign fund manager…

  15. Dr.Wang says:

    Play it safe. Never talk to any telemarketer. They are ALL liars and thieves.

  16. ancientone567 says:

    I never accept telemarketing calls and don’t take calls that block their id. I also am on the do not call list. The point is people need to get a bit more street smart and stop this crap from happening before it even starts.

  17. Lyn Torden says:

    Victims should sue her. Judgements/debts which are the result of a crime cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

  18. smo0 says:

    What I want to know is… who got all of the money stolen? where is it?

  19. savdavid says:

    Well, that comes out at $2,000,000 a year in jail IF she doesn’t get out early. I hope she thinks it was worth it although I’m sure she has a bit of that tucked away where she can retrieve it after jail.

  20. crispyduck13 says:

    $30 million out of 22,000 people by the age of 29?? Someone get that woman a book deal, I will gladly fork over my $14.95.

    As for not paying restitution…well her lawyer(s) sure earned their pay.

  21. purpleterrapin says:

    If these guys have to pay restitution in the millions then so should she.

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Loan-fraud-probe-nets-5-695076.php#page-1

    Except I bet that they are paying it to a bank and not defrauded individuals.

  22. AngryK9 says:

    Just think: Somewhere, an innocent 80 year old grandma is being carted off to court to be sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay a couple of million in restitution to RIAA dweebs because her grandson visited her for the weekend and shared a couple MP3s online via her internet service…

  23. OldSchool says:

    100% Forfeiture of any and all assets along with life in prison without the possibility of parole would be an appropriate punishment but she benefits from the laws bought and payed for by the 1%ers.