An Orlando man accused of defrauding dozens of people out more than $250,000 was arrested Friday, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said.

Mark David Richmond, 45, allegedly targeted timeshare owners and scammed them out of money by brokering false real estate transactions. Richmond is being held in Orange County Jail on bond.

In all, Richmond is accused of bilking 68 people for $258,000.

“We will continue to pursue scam artists who prey on Floridians and visitors for their hard-earned money,” Putnam said in a press release. “Anytime consumers receive a telemarketing call, they can help protect themselves by checking with our department to make sure the business is licensed and in good standing.”

Investigators said Richmond operated Ultimate Financing, Ultimate Finance, Continental Resorts, Resorts Unlimited and Ultifin. He is accused of defrauding victims by requiring them to pay broker fees, closing costs and other fees up front to facilitate a timeshare sale.

Once he got money out of a timeshare owner, investigators say he wouldn’t go through with the sale and would stop communicating with the duped clients.

Richmond stands accused of more than 150 crimes and was booked into the Orange County Jail Friday. Among the long list of charges he faces are three first-degree felonies: Aggravated White-Collar Crime, Grand Theft and Organized Scheme to Defraud.

He also faces 68 counts each of Unlawful Use of a Two-Way Communications Device, Communications Fraud and Telephone Solicitation Without License.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services gave the following tips to avoid falling victim to common scams:

– Before any purchase is made, research whether the telemarketer or telemarketing salesperson is registered with FDACS and if any complaints have been filed against them. This can be done by visiting FreshFromFlorida.com’s Business/Complaint Lookup or by calling 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).

– Do not give out bank account, credit card or personal information (date of birth, mother’s maiden name, Social Security number, etc.) over the telephone, unless it is to a known and trusted source.

– Request written information by mail about the organization itself, as well as the product, service, investment or charity.

About The Author

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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