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Six indicted in timeshare scam

A Las Vegas area man charged in major telemarketing and tax fraud schemes was indicted again this week in an alleged scam involving timeshare properties and at least 15 victims, according to the Nevada attorney general’s office.

Alan Rodrigues, 56, the former owner of two small North Las Vegas casinos, and five others face 11 counts of theft of more than $3,500 of a victim 60 years or older, four counts of theft of more than $650 of a victim 60 years or older, and one count of multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in the course of an enterprise or occupation.

Rodrigues was convicted last year in a massive tax fraud conspiracy in which Justice Department once estimated that the Internal Revenue Service lost more than $324 million in taxes.

Also named in the timeshare indictment is Jonas Bowen, 62, who was charged with Rodrigues in a telemarketing ploy that promised to help small businesses obtain federal grants.

Rodrigues, Bowen, Larry Smith, 43, William Harper, 62, Jozsef Mate, 73, and Tracy Jones, 54, operated World Travel Access, also known as Travel Solutions, Travel Solutions LLC dba World Travel Access, and WTA Services LLC, according to the attorney general’s office. Between August 2013 and July 2014, the six are alleged to have told victims that they would transfer timeshare ownership in exchange for an upfront fee, but they never “actually attempted to transfer ownership of a timeshare” or refunded any money, according to the indictment.

“These deceptive timeshare resale scams targeting our elderly population can cost victims thousands of dollars, and are especially devastating to our vulnerable seniors,” state Attorney General Adam Laxalt said. “I encourage Nevadans to be skeptical of paying advance fees for resale services, and to report any suspicious activity to my office.”

The phony timeshare company invited victims to a presentation about transferring timeshare ownership. The victims each lost thousands of dollars and were unaware they had fallen victim to a scam until they received bills from their respective timeshare companies for yearly fees, according to a news release.

World Travel Access, with an address listed on East Russell Road, received five reviews on Yelp, all at one star, the lowest possible rating on the crowd-sourcing site.

Some of the reviewers — one from Henderson, two from California, one from New Mexico and another from Illinois — named the defendants directly.

“This company is Awful! We have tried several months for Larry Smith to return our calls,” L.B. of Henderson, wrote in February 2014. “He is evidently the manager, and seems to never be available, or doesn’t know how to use his phone. We paid several thousand dollars for a transfer of our timeshare which they never completed.”

A 2014 federal indictment charged Rodrigues and Bowen in a multimillion-dollar telemarketing scheme authorities say defrauded struggling small businesses. Bowen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced this week to 63 months in prison. Rodrigues is awaiting trial in that case.

Defense attorneys listed on indictment papers could not be reached for comment Friday.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.

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