Jess Kinmont and John P. Wenz, Jr. have been sentenced for operating a timeshare resale scam business that affected more than 8,000 victims nationwide, many of them elderly. The victims lost more than $18 million based on the defendants’ false promises that they could help timeshare owners sell or rent their timeshare properties.
“The defendants monetized their clients’ trust to commit a multi-state fraud scheme that enabled them to steal millions of dollars from more than 8,000 victims, including many seniors who were particularly misled by the defendants’ false promises,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “Kinmont and Wenz solicited hefty up-front fees based on fraudulent representations that they would sell and rent the victims’ timeshare properties. Their sentences demonstrate that federal law enforcement will not cease to prosecute those who commit fraud of this type.”
“For years, Kinmont and Wentz ran the scam without once selling a timeshare interest, only a series of lies,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Exploitation like this has a crippling effect on victims. The FBI and our partners will continue to pursue financial fraudsters who exploit anyone for personal and financial gain.”
“Kinmont and Wenz deserve their time in federal prison for deceiving elderly Americans trying to get out of timeshares” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Kinmont and Wenz lined their pockets by scamming thousands of victims, and we’ll continue to target fraudsters who prey on the American public with the help of our law enforcement partners.”
According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: Between January 2012 through December 2016, Kinmont and Wenz operated Pro Timeshare Resales, a timeshare resale business. The defendants hired callers and developed scripts for those callers to use in targeting timeshare property owners to defraud.
Using the scripts, the defendants and others acting at their direction called timeshare owners and falsely claimed that Pro Timeshare Resales had a buyer or renter ready and willing to buy or rent their properties for a specific price. The defendants also falsely promised to sell the timeshares quickly, sometimes within a specific time period. But Kinmont and Wenz’s representations and promises were false. In reality, they never sold a single timeshare interest during the five years of the scheme’s operation.
Kinmont and Wenz charged timeshare property owners up to $2,500 in advance while lying and failing to deliver on their promises. Even after the timeshare owners paid the advance fee, Kinmont and Wenz strung some timeshare owners along with additional false claims. For instance, the defendants assured owners that they would soon receive the proceeds from a sale or rental, and often convinced the owners to pay additional purported closing costs or other fees as a part of these fake transactions. Consumers’ requests for refunds were typically denied or ignored. Together, Kinmont and Wenz defrauded at least 8,000 victims of more than $18 million. The district court judge noted at sentencing that the defendants’ fraud scheme was “breathtaking” in scope.
On October 12, 2023, Jess Kinmont, 57, of Port Orange, Florida, was sentenced by Chief Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. to seven years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,699,376.60. The sentence was imposed following Kinmont’s guilty plea to wire fraud conspiracy on April 5, 2023.
On October 12, 2023, John P. Wenz Jr., 43, of Palm Coast, Florida, was sentenced by Chief Judge Timothy C. Batten to three years, 10 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $4,845,425.88. The sentence was imposed following Wenz’s guilty plea to wire fraud conspiracy on April 1, 2021.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with valuable assistance from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC previously prosecuted a civil fraud case against the defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bernita B. Malloy and Jesika W. French prosecuted the case.