Three People Plead Guilty, Four More Charged with Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in Connection with Telemarketing Scheme Targeting Timeshare Owners over the Age of 55
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey:
CAMDEN, N.J. – Seven people have been charged for their participation in a telemarketing scheme to defraud timeshare owners over the age of 55, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
William O’Hanlon, 58, and his wife Karen Stefanowski, 60, of Miami, Florida, James Toner, 41, of Lake Mary, Florida, and William Chiusano Jr., 48, of Laguna Niguel, California, are each charged in a 13-count indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and multiple counts of wire fraud. O’Hanlon is additionally charged with three counts of tax evasion and one count of theft of government monies. O’Hanlon, Stefanowski and Toner were arrested today, made their initial appearances in federal court in Florida, and were released on bail.
Alex Klemash, 30, of Williamstown, New Jersey, Michael Lambe, 43, of Mullica Hill, New Jersey, and La’Tresa Jackson, 57, of Lindenwold, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on March 8, 9, and 13, 2023, respectively, before U.S. District Judge Karen M. Williams in Camden federal court to related informations charging them with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the telemarketing scheme.
According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:
The wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud charges arise out of the defendants’ alleged participation in a timeshare fraud scheme operated through businesses Williams Andrews Burns LLC, Resort BnB Inc., and Williams & Burns Inc., collectively referred to as “WAB.”
From October 2016 through October 2020, the defendants and additional conspirators engaged in a scheme to financially enrich themselves by selling fraudulent services offered through WAB to timeshare owners, including offering to rent or buy the owners’ timeshares under false and fraudulent pretenses or representations, and offering to recover monies timeshare owners had previously paid in connection with other scams. The conspirators obtained lists of timeshare owners and their contact information, and cold-called them to pitch their various services in return for upfront fees.
The conspirators made numerous false and misleading statements to the timeshare owners, including falsely stating that the timeshare owners had “bonus” timeshare weeks which WAB would rent for them in return for an upfront fee, and falsely guaranteeing thousands of dollars in rental income for the timeshare owners. Once the timeshare owners had signed up and paid their fees for the phony rental services, the conspirators also generally pitched collections/recovery services, offering to obtain refunds of monies previously paid by the timeshare owners in other fraudulent scams, in return for fees. The conspirators made numerous false and misleading statements in many instances to both timeshare owners and their credit card companies.
One of the fraudulent pitches used by the conspirators was to falsely claim that the timeshare owner had been identified as a victim of timeshare fraud and was entitled to monies that were held by a government entity, often referred to as the attorney general’s office or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and that WAB would obtain those monies for the timeshare owner in return for the payment of an upfront fee. The conspirators also offered additional fraudulent services to timeshare owners, including occasionally offering timeshare buyouts/takeovers.
O’Hanlon ran WAB with the assistance of supervisors Toner, Klemash and Lambe in New Jersey, and Chiusano in California. O’Hanlon and the supervisors also engaged in telemarketing sales, as did Jackson, and Stefanowski was the bookkeeper/controller responsible for drafting checks drawn on the victim timeshare owners’ bank accounts.
Each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud are punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison, including an enhancement of up to 10 years in prison for committing such fraud via telemarketing that targeted persons over the age of 55 and victimized 10 or more people over the age of 55. O’Hanlon is also charged with three counts of tax evasion, punishable by up to five years in prison, and one count theft of government monies, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The sentences on each count may run consecutively. Each offense also carries a potential fine of the greater of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire; special agents of the IRS Criminal Investigations, Newark Field Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; and special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Cooperative Disability Investigations – Eastern Region, Conor Washington, with the investigation leading to the indictment, arrests, and guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diana Vondra Carrig and Elisa T. Wiygul of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.