A 31-year-old woman was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison by a federal judge on Jan. 9, following her guilty plea in connection with what authorities described as a scheme to steal money from timeshare owners. The woman, who used to own a telemarketing company, cried and expressed remorse before the judge issued her sentence. She told the court that she had not meant to commit fraud and believed at the time she was helping her clients sell their property.

According to the federal prosecutor, the defendant, who has a 15-month-old daughter, ran a telemarketing firm from October 2007 until December 2009. Calling itself Universal Marketing Solutions and later Creative Vacation Solutions, the company’s employees would call people who owned timeshare properties and were looking to sell. The telemarketers would tell the property owners that they had found buyers and ask the sellers to put up money for closing costs, the prosecutor claimed.

But few of the timeshares ended up selling, the prosecutor said, and the company allegedly kept the closing costs money. Authorities claimed the company took $30 million from some 22,000 clients. None of those thousands of described victims spoke at the sentencing hearing.

When the defendant, who had no prior criminal record, was given the chance to speak, she apologized for her “horrible decisions.” She said she and her staff convinced themselves they were providing a genuine service.

Interestingly, the judge did not order the defendant to repay any of that money, though he did fine her $15,000. His sentence was a few years higher than the 12 years the woman’s attorneys had requested. The defense attorneys said they would request their client be allowed to serve her sentence in Connecticut so that she could remain near her daughter.

The woman will remain free on bond until she is to report to prison.

Source: Washington Post, “Sobbing timeshare telemarketing scheme boss sentenced to more than 15 years in prison,” Jan. 9, 2012