Arrest - Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Four men were arrested Thursday on charges of timeshare fraud amounting to about $5 million in Orange County.

The four were named in an indictment alleging high-pressure tactics and false promises of financial relief for elderly timeshare owners, prosecutors said.

The four defendants are:

— Michael McDonagh, 41, of Long Beach, the accused ringleader who founded and operated several Orange County-based companies;

— Antonio Duarte, 42, of Corona;

— Christopher James Vannoy, 32, of Norwalk and;

— Ruben Ortiz, 40, of Long Beach.

Authorities were searching for Frank Anthony Molina, 43, of San Pedro, a fifth defendant named in the indictment.

From 2015 through May 2019, the timeshare owners were contacted with offers to help terminate their timeshare interest if they paid a fee, prosecutors said. Weeks later, they would be dishonestly coaxed into paying more money such as a promise of a substantial settlement of litigation, prosecutors said.

The victims were pushed to sign phony non-disclosure agreements to keep them from contacting other timeshare companies about the bogus class-action settlement, prosecutors said.

McDonagh founded and managed Irvine-based Global Transfer Inc., Costa Mesa-based Global Transfer SoCal Inc., Santa Ana-based Nationwide Transfer Inc., and Signal Hill-based Nationwide Exit Specialist Inc., prosecutors said.

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