EAST ST. LOUIS — A Rochester, N.Y.,man was sentenced to five years in federal prison Thursday, Oct. 16, for bilking timeshare owners out of $11 million.
U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said in a press release today that John C. Nicosia, 56, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $962,538 in restitution and a $100 special assessment. Nicosia had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud for his role in a Las Vegas-based telemarketing scam operating under the names Vacation Max and Showcase Resorts.
Vacation Max and Showcase Resorts targeted owners of timeshares throughout the United States. The overall scam bilked thousands of consumers throughout the United States, Canada, and other countries of $11 million. There were at least 12 victims in seven of the 38 counties comprising the Southern District of Illinois.
In this case, Nicosia and other telemarketers for Vacation Max placed cold calls to timeshare owners and falsely said their company had actual buyers for the owners’ timeshare property. Telemarketers then solicited advanced fees of up to several thousand dollars from each victim in purported closing costs that they promised would be refunded to the owner once the closing on the property occurred. Many timeshare owners were told that their closings were scheduled within 60 to 90 days. Despite collecting fees from more than 3,000 victims, these companies were not successful in selling a single timeshare unit. Nicosia and his co-conspirators pocketed the closing costs.
The St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Hallock.