Criminal Justice

Lawyer's identity stolen by scammer asking timeshare sellers to send money for closing

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A scammer targeting timeshare owners desperate to sell their properties stole the identity of a Florida lawyer to further his scheme.

The scammer would call people who had placed ads to sell their timeshares and tell them their property could be sold if they forwarded closing costs to the lawyer, David Eaton, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Other scammers in the Tampa Bay fraud ring posed as other lawyers or real estate professionals.

Eaton, a former prosecutor and now an estate planning lawyer, learned of the scam several years ago when he got a call from the Florida Bar, according to the article. A woman had complained that she sent money to someone who claimed to be David Eaton. The bar concluded that Eaton’s identity had been stolen and called Eaton as a courtesy to let him know.

In late 2016, Eaton began getting calls from people who also had sent money thinking it would go to a real lawyer. He ended up spending hundreds of hours speaking with people on the phone. He would forward their information to police.

The man impersonating Eaton, Mark Boring, had seen Eaton’s name on a sign for his law office atop a strip mall. He finally was caught when a scammed woman who wired $8,100 spoke with Eaton. Police put the woman in touch with the FBI, and she agreed to participate in a sting.

The woman called one the of the numbers she was given by scammers and said she still wanted to sell. She was instructed to wire $800. The wire went to a Tampa address, where the person who collected the money had to present identification. The man was Boring.

Eaton was in court when Boring was sentenced March 8 for felony fraud, the article reports. Eaton testified that Boring had exploited his name and reputation. “He zeroed in on his victims, most commonly women, most commonly elderly. I spent hundreds of hours listening to the poor souls,” Eaton said.

Then Eaton turned to Boring and said, “God damn you!”

Boring pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire theft and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced to 84 months in prison and ordered to jointly pay about $895,000 in restitution with two other defendants.

According to a sentencing memorandum filed by Boring’s lawyers, Boring’s participation in the conspiracy caused nearly $900,000 in losses, but Boring received only about $75,000 through the conspiracy. He received a downward departure in the sentencing calculation for cooperation with the FBI.

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