Who’s Cheating America: Sharing Time (or Doing It?)

Vacation timeshares! What a great business, helping people to explore their dreams. I love vacations! I love staying in nice places!

Sure, there’s a possibility of some abuse. The clientele skews older, and salespeople can be pushy. But what might seem like aggressive sales tactics could also, in a different light, be viewed as encouraging people to pull the trigger on their dreams. Sales can be an honest profession! There’s no sense smearing everyone with the same brush!

Pappalardo, also known as “Patsy Ubatz” and “Posh,” started a branch office of Timeshare Market Pro, a time-share resale business, in February 2009 with Joseph Crapella, according to evidence presented at the trial…Witnesses testified that Pappalardo had met Crapella, who has used the nickname “Joey Cigars,” while both were serving time in federal prison.

Oh dear. Joey Cigars? Why do I think this is not going to end well…?

Or am I being too hard on them? I might be jumping to unfair conclusions! Maybe Posh and Joey Cigars have turned a new leaf! So what if they met in prison? They paid their debt to society, and then they wanted to help seniors honestly realize their vacation dreams, and…well…uh…

Timeshare Mega Media hired salespeople who worked for a fraudulent time-share resale companies, including Lovinsky, who used the work alias Edwin Lovins, the DOJ said.

Lovins? As in McLovin?

Oh, wait, this was a timeshare resale company. I missed that the first time around. That’s promising! If people have been saddled with something they don’t want – maybe because of shady salespeople – you step in with a plan to resell it for them. In other words, to help them get out from a burden they can no longer afford.

But why would Mr. Cigars hire a salesperson who worked for a fraudulent time-share resale company? Well, maybe McLovin wanted to turn a new leaf too! Or maybe…

[The men were recently convicted] for their roles in a time-share resale telemarketing scheme that fraudulently obtained about $5 million from its victims.

Fraudulently obtained! What did they do?

The salespeople called time-share owners, told them they had completed sales of their units and then asked for fees ranging from $1,996 to $10,000, according to the DOJ.

So what? $10,000 seems reasonable, and $1,996 seems like an outright bargain. You’re helping people alleviate their burden! Matching up sellers with buyers!

In reality, there never were any buyers, prosecutors said.

D’oh!

Over 10 months of operation, Timeshare Mega Media collected about $5 million from some 3,000 customers, of which Pappalardo received at least $300,000 in checks and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in cash, the DOJ said.

Ugh. People got ripped off going in (one assumes), then got ripped off getting out (one does not need to assume). There’s a special place in hell for people like this. Or at least in federal prison:

Pasquale Pappalardo was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was ordered to pay $1,061,401 in restitution and a forfeiture of $3.5 million. Audwin Lovinsky was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $34,635 in restitution. Both men were sentenced to three years of supervised release following their prison time.

And Joey Cigars pled guilty in a separate proceeding. This time, boys, use your time in jail wisely. Figure out an honest way to make a living when you get out. And stop cheating America!

Previous entries in our Who’s Cheating America? series:

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