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68 area customers bilked by man going to prison

EAST ST. LOUIS – Some 68 Southern Illinois residents got a bit of justice today when a south Florida man was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison in a telemarketing scam.

Peter L. Massimino II’s sentence will be followed by two years’ supervised release, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Reagan sentenced Massimino for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with an international telemarketing scam. The plea agreement states that Massimino, and others were engaged in an extensive telemarketing scam which operated in Palm Beach County, Fla., that swindled thousands of victims of over $35 million, victimizing consumers throughout the United States, and all 10 Canadian Provinces and the Northwest Territory.

There were at least 68 victims in the Southern District of Illinois, Wigginton said.

According to court documents, between Oct. 5, 2007, and continuing until on or about January 2010, Massimino was a telemarketer and manager at Universal Marketing Solutions (UMS) and American Marketing Group. During that time, Massimino and other telemarketers falsely represented that they had found buyers for the consumers’ timeshare interests and solicited fees of up to several thousand dollars from each consumer in purported pre-paid closing costs and related expenses. There were no interested buyers, the closings did not occur, and the timeshares were not resold. “This entire scheme, put simply, was nothing but an act of thievery.” said Wigginton.

This case was investigated by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. The prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Bruce E. Reppert and Nathan Stump and by Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Hallock.

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