WILLIAMSBURG – A Williamsburg man will be sentenced next month in federal court after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
According to court documents, an FBI investigation revealed Brendan J. Hawkins was operating a business that knowingly transferred timeshare properties to unqualified purchasers.
Hawkins pleaded guilty in federal court in December. The charge was related to an elaborate scheme to obtain money by illegaly transferring ownership of timeshare properties to “straw buyers,” individuals who had no intention of fulfilling the obligations of timeshare ownership.
These duties include paying taxes and maintenance fees for the properties. Straw buyers would accept the transfer of timeshare properties into their name in exchange for approximately $25 to $35 per property transferred.
Hawkins was the owner of Williamsburg-based GoodBye Timeshare, LLC, which was located on Bypass Road. Court documents reveal that Hawkins hired sales teams to make presentations to groups of timeshare owners and solicit them to enter into a contract to have their timeshare property transferred to a new owner. Many of the targeted timeshare owners were elderly, according to the prosecution's Statement of Facts related to Hawkins case.
Sales personnel would advise elderly owners to transfer their timeshare to a new owner before the burden of ownership passed to their heirs. Clients were assured the transfer would remove the propety from their ownership and that the transfer was legal and legitimate. According to the Statement of Facts, Hawkins instructed sales representatives to charge owners three times the annual maintenance fees related to the property for the service.
An FBI investigation revealed that between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2013, Hawkins and others fraudulently transferred at least 230 timeshare propeties to straw buyers. GoodBye received a total of $546,904 in payments from timeshare owners for conducting property transactions.
Hawkins allegedly used the services of an unidentified Williamsburg law firm to process the ownership transfers. The investigation revealed the law firm was aware resorts where timeshare properties were located would reject transfers that did not make the necessary payments. The law firm also worked with GoodBye to locate straw buyers that would pass an audit from the resorts during the transfer process.
Hawkins faces up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, full restitution, forfeiture of assets, a special assessment, and three years of supervised release. Sentencing is set for April 20.
McMillan can be reached by phone at 757-298-4136.