Three Tampa Bay men plead guilty to timeshare fraud

The men — from Largo and St. Petersburg — have to make restitution to more than 40 victims and yes, they will go to prison.

Pro-tip: Never wire money to someone you haven't met. Three Tampa Bay area men scammed more than 40 people out of more than $1.5 million that way. - Krystal International Vacation Club via Flickr/CC2.0
Krystal International Vacation Club via Flickr/CC2.0
Pro-tip: Never wire money to someone you haven't met. Three Tampa Bay area men scammed more than 40 people out of more than $1.5 million that way.

It's just a red-letter day for Tampa Bay in the news.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced not only that Brenda Dozier had pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, they also announced three Pinellas men — two St. Petersburg men and one Largo man — had pled guilty in a telemarketing scam.

We are so proud of Tampa Bay today. Really.

Greg Kinard, 40, and Mark Boring, 47, live in St. Petersburg; the third co-conspirator, Martin Steele, 46, lives in Largo. Each of the threesome has plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. In addition to a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft and a possible 20-year sentence for the wire fraud, each of the three Florida men must also make restitution to the victims.

According to the DOJ, "Kinard has agreed to pay restitution to the scheme’s numerous victims in the amount of $1,555,860.21; Steele has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $1,768,163.60; and Boring has agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $853,392.03."

What was the nature of the scam? Timeshares. Because of course it is.

Here's how it worked:

The threesome would find people who wanted to sell their timeshare and call them, pretending to be real estate professionals who had buyers for the timeshare. Then, they'd tell the seller that if they advanced the closing costs, the sale would go through. They would often call the seller back and say they need more money. According to the DOJ, "they continued to dupe the victims into sending bogus advance fees until the victims either ran out of money or became aware of the scam."

That's not the hideous part. This is:

After the seller ran out of money, the men would call them again — this time pretending to be an attorney who tell them they'd been scammed. They'd then offer to represent them so they could get their money back. Of course, they'd collect legal fees up front.

The three men scammed more than 40 people this way, and collected more than $1.5 million.

Look, there's nothing more stereotypical than three Florida guys scamming people out of money for timeshares. Kind of makes you long for a more Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey criminal, really.

Of course, these sorts of criminals are the ones Hiaasen's Skink and Dorsey's Serge would take out of circulation.

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About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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