Mark Gardner, 28, Osteen, Florida, and Tammie Lynn Cline, 32, Leominster, Massachusetts, have been charged with one count of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering for their alleged role in convincing time share owners to pay a fee in exchange for a prospective buyer.
According to the indictment, Gardner and Cline operated a telemarketing room in Central Florida. They, along with the telemarketers who worked at their call center, made unsolicited calls to owners of timeshare properties located throughout the United States. In those calls, they claimed that they worked for Universal Timeshare Sales Associates (UTSA), Beaverton, Oregon, that UTSA had a purchaser who was interested in buying a timeshare, and that the timeshare owner just needed to pay a fee of between $1,600 and $2,200 for the sale to proceed.
To convince timeshare owners to pay the fee, Gardner, Cline, and their telemarketers sometimes claimed that an interested purchaser was present in the showroom ready to buy a timeshare, that a buyer had already deposited money into an escrow account for the sale, or that the sale would take place in about 90 days. Those representations were false. The timeshares were not sold as had been promised, and Gardner, Cline, and their conspirators denied or ignored requests for refunds and disputed chargebacks with the credit card companies.
In May 2013, the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a civil action against Gardner, Cline, and others in federal court in Orlando. In June 2014, the Court entered a permanent injunction against them related to certain telemarketing practices.
If convicted, each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each conspiracy and wire fraud count and up to 10 years in federal prison for each money laundering count.
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announced the charges.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg.