IRS: Miami couple among 7 charged in telemarketing scam targeting seniors

MIAMI – A Miami couple and five other people faced multiple federal charges after authorities accused them of running a telemarketing ring targeting seniors who owned timeshares.

According to a Wednesday news release from the IRS, William O’Hanlon, 58, ran a number of companies involved in the scheme, including Williams Andrews Burns LLC, known as “WAB.”

His wife, Karen Stefanowski, 60, served as a bookkeeper.

Also charged this week were James Toner, 41, of Lake Mary and William Chiusano Jr., 48, of Laguna Niguel, California.

Three others, Alex Klemash, 30, of Williamstown, New Jersey; Michael Lambe, 43, of Mullica Hill, New Jersey; and La’Tresa Jackson, 57, of Lindenwold, New Jersey; all pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, authorities said.

The news release states that from 2016 to 2020, the ring hatched a scheme to enrich themselves by selling fraudulent services to timeshare owners, including offering to “rent or buy the owners’ timeshares under false and fraudulent pretenses or representations, and offering to recover monies timeshare owners had previously paid in connection with other scams.”

Prosecutors allege that the ring obtained the contact information of timeshare owners and cold-called them to “pitch their various services in return for upfront fees.”

They accused the group of lying or misleading timeshare owners in the calls.

One of those statements, prosecutors said, was “that the timeshare owners had ‘bonus’ timeshare weeks which WAB would rent for them in return for an upfront fee, and falsely guaranteeing thousands of dollars in rental income for the timeshare owners.”

According to the IRS, once the timeshare owners signed up and paid fees for the company’s “phony” rental services, the accused scammers pitched collection and recovery services, promising to recover money lost in other timeshare scams — as long as they paid another fee.

Prosecutors said the ring told timeshare owners that they had been a victim of fraud and were entitled to money from the government. The company then promised to obtain that money in return for another upfront fee.

Authorities allege the company also offered other fraudulent services, including “occasionally offering timeshare buyouts/takeovers.”

In 2022, the state of New Jersey ordered WAB to pay $10 million for defrauding timeshare owners.

O’Hanlon, Stefanowski, Toner and Chiusano each faced a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud as well as multiple counts of wire fraud.

Additionally, O’Hanlon faced three counts of tax evasion and one count of theft of government monies.

O’Hanlon, Stefanowski and Toner appeared in federal court in Florida Wednesday and were released on bail, according to the IRS.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.