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]