An American man will serve 20 months in prison for his role in orchestrating a massive telemarketing scam that defrauded more than 1,000 timeshare owners, which included dozens of Canadians.
Michael Kroger, 60, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, swindling his victims out of more than US$780,000.
The judge overseeing the case said Kroger showed no remorse for the financial and emotional impact his crime had the victims, and ordered him to pay $212,396 in restitution.
According to CTV, a total of 58 of Kroger’s victims were Canadian. They came from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Quebec.
According to court documents, the scheme lasted between 2000 and around March 2010 and involved two or more people who agreed to carry it out.
In around 2004, Kroger joined in on the ploy to fraudulently get money from timeshare owners. He, along with co-conspirator Michele Paonessa, created fake companies and false contracts to lure in victims seeking to sell their timeshare ownerships. According to a statement from the Attorney’s Office, the fictitious contracts required the timeshare owners to pay a fee in order to process the fake documents relating to the sales, as well as covering the closing costs.
Kroger and Paonessa then used the victims’ money for themselves and to further the scheme. If victims contacted police or the Better Business Bureau, Kroger and Paonessa would then abandon their current business and create a new one, which they used to continue to commit more fraudulent acts. In total, the pair created 29 fake companies and not a single timeshare ownership was actually sold during the course of the 10 year scheme.
Paonessa has also pleaded guilty and is expected to be sentenced next month. She could face up to 20 years in prison.