>> MIDWEST AND SOUTHERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS
CHICAGO: Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Global Connections Inc., of Overland Park, Ks., and Madmol Inc., based in Crystal Lake, Ill., and GVN Illinois, based in Tinley Park.
The lawsuit alleges the companies operate a bogus travel club called Global Discovery Vacation Program. Madigan alleges the club scams as much as $8,000 in upfront payments and $398 in annual fees from consumers for membership in the program that in reality provides no discounts and instead charges consumers even more money to book vacations.
The Global Discovery Vacation Program is sold through direct mail solicitations and telemarketing calls that claim recipients have won a free prize or free roundtrip airfare. Many consumers reported receiving a fake check or letter made out to them from legitimate-sounding airlines, including “US Airlines” or “American Airways”, neither of which is a real airline. When consumers contacted the company to claim their free prize and airfare, they learned they first had to attend a sales presentation for the Global Discovery Vacation Program. The presentation billed the program as an exclusive club, promising consumers access to hundreds of properties across the country and around the world for a discount.
Said Madigan, “Any time you are offered a ‘free’ prize or a supposed award, that’s a red flag. If you receive solicitations like this, your first and only move should be to throw it in the trash.”
The lawsuit seeks to ban the companies from operating in Illinois, provide full restitution to affected consumers and assess penalties based on violations of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Assistant Attorneys General Janice Parker and Kimberly Slider are handling the case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.
EAST ST. LOUIS: Once upon a time Robert Joseph Lopicola was a popular weatherman for a local TV station in West Palm Beach, FL, charming, entertaining and something of a hunk. Life was good.
Until his penchant for underage boys came to light and he was fired in 2008, arrested and put on trial.
In October 2013 he was convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct and computer pornography and exploitation involving a 15-year-old boy. In December 2013 he was sentenced to 56 months in prison, with credit for time served which means he will be released on Christmas day 2016. Or not.
You see, in January 2014, while he was serving time in Miami for that crime the State of Illinois indicted him on one count of felony conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with timeshare resale fraud.
Three other South Floridians were indicted along with Lopicola. They are Jacqueline Enid Acevedo, 30, of Cedar Hill, Texas; Nathan Scott Christian, 30, of Boynton Beach, Florida; and Kyle Richard Robertson, 31, of Miami, Florida were also each indicted for one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and all four are currently awaiting trial. If convicted they face a maximum of 25 years in prison.
It’s possible, though, that Illinois prosecutors could hold off on Lopicola’s trial until he’s released from the Everglades Correctional Institution in 2016. In that case they would re-arrest him on the spot and transport him to Illinois to face trial there — assuming he doesn’t plead out before that.
The criminal indictment against him alleges that beginning on or about March 27, 2009, and continuing until on or about October 14, 2009, Lopicola was a telemarketer who worked for C&G Marketing Associates, LLC, a Florida corporation that defrauded consumers using the fictitious name, Premier Timeshare Solutions (“PTS”).
The company allegedly victimized thousands of consumers in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico as well as in all ten Canadian provinces and the Northwest Territory of Canada. The scam took more than $14.5 million from its victims by falsely claiming to have buyers for their timeshares and charging upwards of $1,000 on average in upfront fees to complete the bogus transactions.
PTS owner Jose Goyos has already pled guilty to wire fraud and has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
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