WEST PALM BEACH (CN) - In a brazen fraud, the Florida attorney general says, two men paid crooked companies that had ripped people off in timeshare frauds for a "hit list" of their victims, then victimized them again by charging upfront fees of $1,500 apiece to "recover" their money - and claimed to be working with the Florida attorney general while they did it.
Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Kevin Bates and Anthony Passaro, managers, respectively, of Inbound Marketing Advisors and Fortune Property Management & Investments. Their companies operate under other names too, including American Recovery Task Force and National Recovery Task Force, the attorney general claims in Palm Beach County Court.
Bates operated Inbound Marketing out of Boca Raton; Passaro operated Fortune out of Delray Beach.
McCollum claims the men bought a "hit list" of potential victims - sometimes from the shady timeshare companies that ripped them off in the first place - and then offered to get the suckers' money back in a "recovery" program. McCollum says that in making their telemarketing calls, the defendants claimed to be affiliated with the state attorney general's office.
They claimed that the attorney general's office had given them the victims' names to help them get refunds from the fraudulent timeshare resale companies, according to the complaint.
But victims who fell for it were burned twice: "The fraud targets who were initially scammed when shady timeshare marketing companies tricked them into handing over thousands of dollars for timeshare marketing services that ultimately were not performed, became victimized a second time, at the hands of the defendants," the complaint states.
"Many of these companies took millions of dollars from consumers through deceitful and unfair business transactions wherein these resale companies untruthfully promised consumers that they would actively advertise and guarantee the re-sale of the consumers' timeshare. Most of these activities took place from 2007 to present."
McCollum seeks injunctions, restitution and civil penalties of $10,000 to $15,000 for each violation, and the immediate dissolution of both defendant companies.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.