November 3, 2015
Las Vegas, NV – Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Claudia Benedetti, 42, and Richard Hughes, 41, pleaded guilty for their roles in a multi-state timeshare resale scam. Benedetti pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft, while Hughes entered a guilty plea for two counts of obtaining money under false pretenses. The fraudulent acts were committed between January and March of 2012.
Benedetti and Hughes participated in a scheme to defraud timeshare property owners by claiming they would take over timeshares for owners who were no longer interested. The defendants worked for companies that would initiate cold calls, promising to sell owners’ unwanted timeshares. In order to transfer title, the defendants required an up-front fee that they alleged would be repaid once the timeshare was sold. Despite paying thousands of dollars in hefty fees, victims were never reimbursed, and the sale of the timeshares never closed. Most victims never heard from their callers again, and only learned that they still owned their timeshares after receiving maintenance fee statements.
“Because of fraud schemes, I encourage Nevada’s timeshare owners to take precautions before paying in advance for resale services,” said Laxalt. “Owners are vulnerable to a number of deceptive timeshare scams that can cost them thousands of dollars. Consumers should take care before selling their timeshares, and should report any related frauds to my office.”
Consumers should be skeptical of any caller who purports to be a timeshare reseller. Legitimate brokers do not cold call owners or ask for up-front fees. Consumers should also be mindful of websites offering timeshares for $1 or free of charge, as there may be exorbitant hidden maintenance costs and fees. Timeshare resale fraud is trending in Nevada, and seniors and others who need to sell their timeshares are especially vulnerable to resale scams.
Benedetti and Hughes are two of seven defendants alleged to be involved in this scheme. Another defendant, Carlos Barron, 33, pleaded guilty earlier this year, and is pending sentencing.
Conspiracy to commit theft is punishable by up to 364 days of imprisonment and a fine of no more than $2,000. Obtaining money under false pretenses is punishable by up to six years of imprisonment and a fine of no more than $10,000. The sentencing hearing for both defendants is scheduled for February 8, 2016 in the Eighth Judicial District Court.
This case was investigated by the Fraud Unit of the Office of the Nevada Attorney General. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Westmeyer prosecuted this case.
To view the criminal Information for Claudia Benedetti, click here. To view the criminal Information for Richard Hughes, click here. If you believe you have been victim of timeshare resale fraud, you may file a complaint with our office here. Please attach a copy of any contracts or materials received during the transaction.
BENEDETTI, CLAUDIA HUGHES, RICHARD
(Photos courtesy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)