US telemarketing scammer costs dozens of Canadians over US$21,710

Supported By:

Net Patrol International Inc.  Data Investigation and Forensic Services
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

Las Vegas, USA (July 29, 2019) – The American, Michael Kroger was sentenced to 20 months in prison for a telemarketing scheme that defrauded timeshare owners. The 60-year-old pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Since he showed no remorse for his role in the scheme, the court ordered him to pay more than US$212,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, from around 2000 until about March 2010, there was an agreement between two or more persons to carry out a fraudulent timeshare ownership scheme. In this time, they defrauded more than 1,000 victims, including approximately 58 Canadians. The Canadian victims are from Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Quebec. They lost an estimated US$21,710, Ctvnews.ca reports.

Kroger and co-conspirator Michele Paonessa created fictitious companies and false contracts to lure in victims seeking to sell their timeshare ownerships. The fictitious contracts obligated victim timeshare owners to pay a monetary fee to process fictitious documents relating to the sales and to cover the closing costs. In reality, Kroger and Paonessa used the victims’ money for personal benefits and to further the scheme. In all, approximately 29 fictitious companies were used in the scheme. Not a single timeshare ownership was actually sold during the course of the 10-year scheme.

Paonessa pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 20, 2019. Paonessa faces the maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, the Attorney’s Office informed.