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February 2018

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene


Here we are with another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week it is all about “Whistleblowers”, those who decide they need to tell the inside truth about companies, organisations or even politicians. Inside Timeshare has highlighted this topic before, without them we would never know the truth. But first a quick look at Europe.

We started this week with a warning about the scam involving clients of Ramirez and Ramirez, our old friends from the Costa del Sol, this one had an unusual twist as it involved the Supreme Court in Portugal. We are used to seeing letters supposedly from Spanish Courts, maybe because they have been highlighted this so often the “fraudsters” have decided to take a different angle.

There is still no news on the sentencing of Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, last year they pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court, they were sent to the Crown Court for sentencing as the powers of the Magistrates Court were deemed insufficient due to the severity of the offences. When we know what they receive we will let you know.

We are still receiving emails from clients of the Mark Rowe companies being investigated by the South West Police, Regional Organised Crime Unit, that they have been contacted by the Police and are making statements. This is obviously a huge investigation and will take some time, we will keep you informed of any developments.

To finish off the European news this has just come in from the courts in Maspalomas.

The Court of First Instance Number 4 has issued their latest sentence against Anfi, The judge has declared the CLA clients contract null and void and ordered the return of over £26,000 plus legal Interest. This is another blow to Anfi and the CEO’s claim they are not losing in the courts!

Now for the Tuesday Slot with Irene Parker.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

remember vets

A borrowed headline from Whistleblowers of America

Press release

February 20, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

The Whistleblowers of America press release below describes alleged misuse of power. Seekers of justice and fair play seek to change corporate and/or government corruption. Deceit can become ingrained and accepted. It becomes the norm until those brave and determined enough to fight back, strike back.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-most-senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government, then used the award to justify paying for his wife’s travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid more than $4,300 for her airfare. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/veterans-affairs-chief-shulkin-staff-misled-ethics-officials-about-european-trip-report-finds/2018/02/14/f7fbc020-0c3a-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.e6c8f81cab95

Inside Timeshare has connected 31 active duty and retired military and law enforcement members, alleging they were a victim of timeshare fraud for profit. Whistleblowers of America is dedicated to seeking justice for this population.  

Five members of our military and law enforcement group are worried about losing their security clearance, including two who have published articles:

Amanda and George Jones http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Scotty Black http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-36/

I have highlighted the following excerpts in red from the Whistleblowers of America press release below, noting similarities between what VA workers and timeshare victims confront when power and wealth seek to destroy individuals and families by way of corporate greed and misuse of power.

First, several VA employees noted that their cases have lasted from three to eight years while investigations continue – far greater than the 6 months it took to investigate Shulkin. However, some have reported that the OIG never even responds to their complaints.  They have called repeatedly, but their reports of fraud have not been investigated.

It takes at most a day to buy a timeshare, but weeks, months and sometimes years to cancel a timeshare contract. There are endless rebuttal emails responding to timeshare contract fine print experts (also known as customer service representatives), regulatory and law enforcement filings, YouTube interviews, and media outreach.

Such has been the case with reports of homelessness numbers being underreported

Non-disclosure agreements and private and binding arbitration rulings have effectively swept timeshare corruption under the rug, but recent Attorneys General actions, Social Media, and lawsuits are saying, “No more.”

One whistleblower said, “If you don’t have photographs, they don’t investigate.”

If a fraudulent timeshare presentation is recorded, or the victim works for the media or for an Attorney General’s office, or has a family member working in these fields, resolution is quickly achieved.  

Another whistleblower in the Philadelphia Regional Office laments that the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is being used to fire employees over production.

One timeshare company initiated the recording of Quality Assurance sessions, announced as a consumer protection. The QA session occurs after a two to eight hour hard sell sales presentation, basically a nodding, initialing and signing session. The sales session where the crimes are committed is not recorded and members have reported the recording of the QA session being used against them and some buyers coached on how to “pass” QA because they didn’t get “the letter” (that was never sent).

Several other whistleblowers report that once they are terminated or forced to resign, they can no longer afford to pay costly attorney fees. These out of pocket expenses can soar above $100,000 before settling.

The timeshare industry counts on this, knowing the amounts involved will not withstand the time and expense it takes to litigate. State enforcement is spotty at best. Federal enforcement, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is ineffective because members often can’t even select a lender when filing a complaint because payments are made to the timeshare company that services the loan, and timeshare companies are not a choice from the CFPB dropdown menu.  

A Washingtonian whistleblower familiar with the Shulkin attorneys’ fees reports that their insurance rate is $275 an hour, but other whistleblowers report spending $500 an hour on attorneys while the government lawyers defend the perpetrators of the wrongdoing.

Timeshare members are sometimes at the mercy of arbitrators, hired by the timeshare company. Arbitrators charge $400 to $500 and have a reputation of being pro-industry. If the arbitrator rules against the timeshare member, not only are they liable for the timeshare debt, they can be assigned to pay the timeshare developer’s attorney fees.

Whistleblowers have lost their homes and college tuition for their children.

The first article we wrote was about the Saldana family, transferring a $30,000 loan balance to a home equity loan, forfeiting $60,000 in timeshare points back to the timeshare company, left with no vacation, a $30,000 home equity loan, and a high school graduate starting college that year.

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

United in Speaking Truth to Power

whistleblowers

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20004

#USTOO: Whistleblowers United in Seeking Justice WoA is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Together, we can speak truth to power.  

Washington, DC, Feb 13, 2018 – USA Today reported on February 12, 2018, that the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that Secretary David Shulkin inappropriately accepted gifts and travel expenses for his wife during his visit to Europe last July. After this story posted, Whistleblowers of America (WoA) was inundated by VA employees outraged by the different standards by which their leadership is held versus the scrutiny they endure.

Shulkin has hired lawyers Justin Shur, Eric Nitz, and Emily Damrau to rebut the OIG findings related to the wrongdoing.

First, several VA employees noted that their cases have lasted from three to eight years while investigations continue – far greater than the 6 months it took to investigate Shulkin. However, some have reported that the OIG never even responds to their complaints.  They have called repeatedly, but their reports of fraud have not been investigated.  

Such has been the case with reports of homelessness numbers being underreported at medical centers in the Midwest and 14,000 disability claims lost out of the Oakland Regional Office.

One whistleblower said, “If you don’t have photographs, they don’t investigate.”

Another whistleblower in the Philadelphia Regional Office laments that the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is being used to fire employees over production.

Allegedly, one employee with 28 years of service has been served a proposed termination notice for recently missing production standards. However, these production standards have been a sore point with Congress over the last decade as numerous Veterans Service Organizations have testified that quality should beget quantity and for Raters to “Do it right the first time.”

Even when the OIG finds in their favor, many whistleblowers still suffer the consequences of retaliation and must take their cases to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) for further adjudication.  One whistleblower who could no longer tolerate the stress of months of retaliation, resigned before hearing back from OAWP.  

Several other whistleblowers report that once they are terminated or forced to resign, they can no longer afford to pay costly attorney fees. These out of pocket expenses can soar above $100,000 before settling.

A Washingtonian whistleblower familiar with the Shulkin attorneys’ fees reports that their insurance rate is $275 an hour, but other whistleblowers report spending $500 an hour on attorneys while the government lawyers defend the perpetrators of the wrongdoing.

While it may be affordable for a VA Secretary to hire three counselors to battle his own OIG, most VA employees who report wrongdoing are GS 12 – 15s.  They quickly run through their family savings and retirement funds to fight whistleblower retaliation and if they do not reach settlement and damages, then the financial losses have impacts for several years. Whistleblowers have lost their homes and college tuition for their children.

And for those who are not terminated, remaining employed often means being marginalized to lesser assignments, lost pay or advancement opportunities, privacy invasions, poor performance evaluations that mar personnel folders, which then obstruct their ability to compete for other gainful employment. Even attempts at Alternative Dispute Resolutions that can resolve conflicts at the most internal levels are fraught with impartial mediators, lack appropriate decision-makers and can be non-binding, so costly when final arbitration is still needed at a higher level. Whistleblowing has been labeled “career suicide.” When you are not the VA Secretary or other senior leader, life gets tough when harmful disclosures are made to the OIG.

WoA is a 501C3 that provides peer support to whistleblowers because retaliation has consequences that can result in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, divorce, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, as USA Today once reported in the case of psychologist, Chris Kirkpatrick.  He died by suicide after reporting overmedication of patients at the Tomah VA Medical Center in Wisconsin and was fired.

Contact:

Jacqueline Garrick, Executive Director

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org

202-309-1870

jackie@whistleblowersofamerica.org

Thank you Irene and Whistleblowers of America, a very interesting article.

If you have any information regarding the practices in the sale of timeshare and want the world to know the real truth behind the industry, then Inside Timeshare welcomes any information you can share.

Been contacted by a firm and want to know who they are, or if they are genuine? Then contact Inside Timeshare for honest, truthful and impartial help and advice.

 

scam alert

Start the Week, With Yet Another Warning!

Here we go again, another interesting scam has just appeared, this time it comes from Portugal and involves our old friends the fake law firm Ramirez and Ramirez.

According to Juan Sanchez of the Finance Department for the Supremo Tribunal de Justiça of Portugal, in a letter to a Mr Bauer of the law firm Bauer & Bauer, Sociedade de Advogados, Ramirez & Ramirez Sl have been found guilty on all charges. The court has confirmed that the client for Bauer & Bauer is entitled to £26,500 in compensation for misrepresentation of a holiday product.

One has to ask, what holiday product, as anyone that has had any experience with Ramirez & Ramirez will testify, they took money as a fake law firm to chase court cases and claims against holiday clubs and timeshare. They never did sell any holiday product.

Now the other strange factor is why is this being “dealt with” in the Portuguese Supreme Court?

Ramirez & Ramirez, operated out of the Fuengirola area of the Costa del Sol, all the companies set up by Marcelo Ramirez were registered Spanish entities, nothing to do with Portugal. In fact the only court that has jurisdiction over Ramirez, are the Spanish Courts.

Looking at the letter from the finance department of the Supreme Court, the question that springs to mind is, as it is written to a “Portuguese” lawyer, why is it in English and not in Portuguese?

Portugal Justice Redacted-page-001

PDF of the document

Portugal Justice Redacted

Also, the letter from the Supreme Court, has no telephone, fax numbers or email address, although the address given does show the courts on google street view, that is about the only genuine thing about it. To be honest, it is not the best fake we have ever seen, it just screams fake!

Now let us look at this illustrious law firm Bauer & Bauer, well there is a law firm by this name, unfortunately it is not in Portugal, it is around 7000 miles away in Brazil, there is no trace of a law firm by this name in Portugal.

The only website we have found is for the legitimate law firm in Brazil, there is no website for the Bauer & Bauer operating out of Lisbon Portugal. The letter from and signed by Janettje Bauer shows no email address or website details, which considering how companies operate today is very strange indeed.

Portugal_Justice 2 Redacted-page-001

PDF of the letter

Portugal_Justice 2 Redacted

Our next question is who is behind this, no website so no chance of a registration, no company numbers, so unable to trace any director, very little information about them is available. So it makes you wonder is this another one of Ramirez’s ploys?

After all he did set up another company to contact the clients of the original Ramirez & Ramirez, with the story that they have been taken to court and there is substantial money being held, just waiting to be returned to those who got swindled in the first place. Only thing was the new Ramirez company needed to be paid to get this done.

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-resurrected/

This article goes to show that you have to be very careful when dealing with anything regarding timeshare, courts and claims, Inside Timeshare has been publishing many articles on this subject, including showing the sophistication of some of the fake documentation.

If you have been contacted by any company including Bauer & Bauer Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. If you need any help in checking if a company is genuine contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Do not pay any money until you are 100% sure that who you are dealing with as absolutely genuine.

 

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday, so time for another Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a look today’s major news in Europe.

El Diario a prominent Spanish daily newspaper published the following article today (see link for full story).

The article reports on the current legal actions against Anfi and tells of the 1.35 million Euros they have had to repay to consumers, in the execution of around fifty judgements. It also goes on to say that there are over 395 live cases at court with a value of over 27 million Euros, with over 100 having had decisions in favour of the consumers. Some of these are firm decisions with the sentences yet to be executed, others are awaiting confirmation.

With even the Spanish press publishing articles such this, it does make the claim by Anfi that they have not lost or the Supreme Court has got it wrong rather flimsy!

In fact on Tuesday yet another sentence was announced by the Court of First Instance against Anfi, again the clients contract was declared null and void with the judge ordering Anfi to return over £20,000 plus legal interest

(if using google. Right click on the article for a translation to English)

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Grupo_Anfi-condenas-negocio-timesharing_0_739477033.html

The same article has also been published in Canarias7, one of the major Canary Islands Newspapers.

https://www.canarias7.es/economia/turismo/anfi-paga-ya-1-35-millones-por-condenas-YK3590405

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

 

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (first published in three parts)

Timeshare Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund, Foreclosure

Magnify

By Irene Parker

February 16, 2018

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare, but rising maintenance fees, high interest rate loans and higher interest rate developer issued credit cards can spell financial disaster, especially when an individual or family is hit with an unexpected life crisis. Not one of the more than 300 Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us realized the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract (in the US), or that their timeshare had little or no secondary market. It is not uncommon for a family to have spent $100,000 or more on a timeshare.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone, or any firm, money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, like being in the middle of buying a house, may result in a referral to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help the individual or family.   

Our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because we don’t win them all. No one does, not even lawyers. “We can guarantee you release!” boasts the exit timeshare ad. We have had reports of people paying scammers large sums of money for a guaranteed release, only to learn the guarantee came about because of foreclosure or non-payment.

Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

The goal:  Convert from angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused into empowered. Timeshare Advocacy Group™   has 44 core advocates and 10 technical support advocates to help you. All of our Advocates are unpaid.

The First R: Relinquishment

dont like

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees. It is difficult to determine how many surrenders requests are granted, compared to the number of surrenders requested.

There is nothing wrong with deeding back a timeshare if you have used and enjoyed the timeshare for several years. However, if you find out just days or weeks after purchase that you bought a timeshare not matching what you were promised, walking away from even $5,000 doesn’t seem right.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their 64 members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:

refund

A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund can be achieved.  Inside Timeshare has heard from so many members alleging fraud, we can sometimes guess the name of the repeat offender sales agent before we are told. The fact that some of the same agents are committing the same “fraud for profit” over a period of years is telling.

The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort. Anticipate a knee jerk “you signed a contract’ reaction. Next, begins the filing of regulatory and law enforcement agency complaints. This is where our advocates are ready to assist because just figuring out online forms can be daunting. Check our complaint form for the list of appropriate agencies to contact.

Eron Grant has become our resident ARDA Code of Ethics analyst. In all likelihood, timeshare members are not even aware they are collectively giving $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opts-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member.

Despite our advocates and members forwarding a volume of complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response. Inside Timeshare has learned two of the worst alleged offenders each give $1 million a year to ARDA ROC, surely a disincentive to enforcement.   

Here’s Eron’s article: Why Does ARDA Have a Code of Ethics?

red dress

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-14/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including 19 Attorneys General like Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, as reported by Chris Parker.  

“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”

“Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private,” writes Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause. However, as we have stated in several previous articles, according to the FBI and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind the fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points.      

The most common deceit and bait and switch complaints

  • The agent said I could sell my points.
  • The agent said my points were an investment, so easily sold, at a profit.
  • I can turn in points to pay maintenance fees but no such program exists
  • The value of airline and other travel awards is zilch. A common complaint is being told you can use a credit card to offset or pay maintenance fees in their entirety, when a member would have to charge $200,000 to pay an annual $2,000 maintenance fee.
  • The interest rate is 18%. They said I could get better financing but I can’t.

The Third R

resolved

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

One amusing complaint was a buyer whose complaint was that they bought a trial program, but they were promised a lifetime membership. I explained, in the case of the timeshare company they bought into, the last thing they wanted was a lifetime membership. I encouraged them to become a Secret Shopper since they were not locked into perpetual maintenance fees.

 foreclosure  Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. Timeshare Advocacy Group has a foreclosure support group, with members offering each other tips on how to withstand the grueling up to 180 days or more of collection calls. Calls are relentless and members have reported many violations of debt collection consumer protection laws.  

We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed on Better Business Bureau reports, Attorneys General Settlements, and Assurances of Discontinuance and lawsuits. There will be a hit to your credit score of course, but if you feel you are a victim of fraudulent timeshare sales practices, provide the rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan or credit card. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process for an article we published previously. Mike’s answers are worth repeating. Some common questions:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

Remember, “I can’t afford it,” is not a valid reason to cancel a loan for a timeshare any more than it is a reason to be able to cancel your home mortgage loan. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and ask them to cancel your home mortgage because, “I can’t afford it.”

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to evaluate and work together to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

fix prob

That’s it for another week, remember if you require any information about any article published or any company that contacts you, Contact Inside Timeshare and we will get the information for you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

jail

Lawyer Sentenced to 4 Years for Financial Fraud

Do not pass go, do not collect 200€, go directly to Jail!

A lawyer from Gran Canaria, Juan Arencibia Rodriguez, has been sentenced to four years jail and fined 1.7 million Euros, in the Criminal Court Number 6 of Las Palmas, the presiding judge was Judge Ivana Aisa Muiños. He has also been ordered to compensate the Tax Agency 865,000€.

The case centers round tax fraud, and the non declaration of earnings which were paid into a Swiss bank account. The case came to light after his name appeared on a list of tax fraudsters which was delivered to the Spanish Treasury by Hervé Falciani who was the operator of the Swiss branch in Geneva of HSBC Private Bank Suisse.

Arencibia is a well known lawyer and tax advisor, he is a former director of the auditing firm Ernst & Young and is a current partner of the law firm Aramburu & Montero. He is also the former a board member of Anfi for the Lyng family.

Another aspect is he is also head of the law firm which handles all of Silverpoints legal matters, including the ongoing legal cases regarding timeshare.

So it does make you wonder now, how Silverpoint has got away with the sale of “investment packs” for so long, as well as all the other infringements could it be that this lawyer massaged the evidence for them?

It also leaves many other unanswered questions such as how much of the “new” rebranding and splitting up into various companies is down to his advice?

At Inside Timeshare nothing now ever surprises us in that murky world called timeshare.

Follow the links below to see 2 of the article is prominent Spanish press:

https://www.canarias7.es/sociedad/tribunales/condena-de-4-anos-a-juan-arencibia-por-delito-fiscal-MF3564097

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Condenado-grancanario-Juan-Arencibia-Suiza_0_740176922.html

karma

If you require any information about this or any other article published or just want to know the validity of any company regarding timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

 

consumer alert

Martin Zabala Abogados, Appointed by the Court in Las Palmas!

Today’s article is a warning to readers about a new “Law Firm” contacting UK owners of Palm Oasis in Gran Canaria. One of our readers contacted us after being contacted and receiving a letter from Martin Zabala Abogados Asesoria, based in Madrid.

The address given is Calle Velazquez 15 -1, Escalera Derecha, 2008, Madrid, telephone number 0034 911 01 34 24, also using the same number for the Fax. They give two email addresses on the letter: info@mzabogados.com & mzabogados@email.com

We have found an entry for this company in company records, registered on 20 July 2016, with the CIF number B87615928.

One problem we have found is in the email addresses, the info@mzabogados.com actually belongs to a genuine law firm based in Barcelona called Martinez-Zurita Abogados Asociados.

The address on company records is: VIA AUGUSTA, Nº 246, 5 08021,Barcelona, with the CIF: E64299092, they have a website:

http://mzabogados.com

The law firm was founded in 2000 and shows all the lawyers and partners on the Team section, having checked on the Centro General de Letrados, which is the official register of all lawyers in Spain, all the names are members of the Barcelona Bar Association, so this is a genuine law firm. They have also been informed of the use of their email address.

So what makes this outfit in Madrid so suspicious?

suspicious

Firstly the letter is signed by Jasmine Phillips, Lawyer at Martin Zabala Abogados, but no trace of her can be found in the official lawyers register.

Secondly it is the nature of the letter sent to Palm Oasis owners, the second paragraph reads:

“The court of Las Palmas has approved our office to aid all agreement holders residing in the United Kingdom. As Mediators, we are advising all members of the holiday resort of the ruling in their favor and to handle all outstanding claims of the injured parties.”

So they have been “approved” by the court in Las Palmas have they?

Well we know that the courts do not farm out these cases to outside companies or approve such companies to act on the courts behalf. We then have the fourth paragraph where they state that:

“Due to the material misrepresentation, aggressive selling methods, failure to revoke the right of withdrawal and in some cases, no right of revocation, all contracts concluded between 1994 and 2009 have been null and void.”

Not quite accurate, the laws which are being used by genuine law firms to claim and have contracts declared null and void, did not come into force until 5 January 1999 and are known as Ley 42/98.

Although they do say they will make no charge for their services as these are paid by the defendant, you the client are not exempt from court fees, these have to be paid directly to the court and not their company, also they will not exceed 12% of the settlement amount. All very strange indeed. What is the betting the amount will have to be sent by bank transfer to a fictitious court address?

Another fact from the letter is regarding the owners documents, they want them sent by fax or email clearly marked as copies, so they can ensure swift processing of applications.

Not the usual procedure to take a case to court, which requires original documents which then have to be translated into Spanish, a Power of Attorney needs to be signed, the case then has to be prepared on an individual basis by a lawyer (no class actions in Spain), the case is then filed by a Procurator at the court. We then have to wait for a pretrial judge to review the case and if eligible sending it for a full trial hearing. None of this is a quick process.

No doubt the main sting will come later in the process, which if like other cases we have highlighted will entail the owners receiving a letter to say their case has been won and many thousands of pounds have been awarded. Unfortunately, before the court will release this money a “TAX” will have to be paid, again probably by bank transfer to another company dealing with the “TAX” or the same fake court address. That will be the last you hear from them and yes your money has gone!

Inside Timeshare reminds all our readers and those coming across our pages looking for information, beware contacts from companies, law firms etc with these wonderful promises, check and check again. If you are unsure on how to do this contact Inside Timeshare and we will help, remember doing your homework before taking on the offers or paying any money will save you in the long run.

homework

breaking news

The Tuesday Slot with Irene: Lawsuit Filed Against Diamond Resorts

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with Irene Parker, as this is breaking news and an important story,  we go straight into her article and will catch up with Europe in Wednesdays publication.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Diamond Resorts

This action alleges Defendant’s sold unregistered securities in violation of the Securities Act of 1933 that requires that any securities sold in the United States be registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission

Factual Allegations of False Representations

(i) DRI points appreciate in value

(ii) DRI points can be readily sold

(iii) DRI points are a hedge against inflation

(iv) DRI points constitute an appreciating asset that DRI members can pass along to heirs.

By Irene Parker

February 13, 2018

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Diamond Resorts. It’s not easy to make your way through a 43 page complaint, so after I digested it, I cut and pasted the complaint so I can understand it.

Inside Timeshare has received 292 Diamond Resorts complaints, 48 since the first of the year. Diamond has implemented a Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department to address member concerns, and has implemented a CLARITY™ program designed to promote “transparency, accountability, and respect for the customer.” Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued Diamond an Assurance of Discontinuance in 2017 after his office received hundreds of complaints from Diamond members accusing the company of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. The company did not admit wrongdoing.

To follow the progress of the case, Diamond members or industry observers are encouraged to join our member sponsored Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook established February 17, 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Case 2:18-cv-00247 filed February 9, 2018 in United States District Court, District of Nevada

Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP

Albright, Stoddard Warnick & Albright

Plaintiffs:  Joseph M Dropp, Mary E Dropp, Robert Levine, Susan Levine, and Kaarina Pakka, Individually and on Behalf of All others similarly situated

v.

Diamond Resorts International, Inc.;

Diamond Resorts Holdings, LLC;

Diamond Resorts Corporation;

Diamond Resorts International Club, Inc., a/k/a “THE Club” Operating Company

Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Development, LLC;

Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Members Association

Diamond Resorts Hawaii Collection Development, LLC

Diamond Resorts Hawaii Collection Members Association

Apollo Management VIII, L.P.,

Apollo Global Management, LLC

Michael Flaskey

Kenneth Siegel

Excerpts from the complaint:

The lawsuit alleges almost none of the Class members are aware that they have purchased an unregistered security under the Security Act of 1933.

  1. The arbitration clause does not apply

The entire Agreement – including the arbitration clause – is void and unenforceable under federal securities law. 10

Class Action Allegations

Common questions of law and fact include, without limitation, the following:

  1. Whether the points in a U.S. Collection Members Association, the Hawaii Collection and/or THE Club constitute securities under the Securities Act;
  2. Whether DRI violated the registration provision of the Securities Act;
  3. Whether a common practice of DRI employees and/or agents to potential investors was to make representations that “points” are investments that will appreciate in value due to the efforts of DRI as set forth herein; and
  4. The nature of relief that may be granted to Plaintiffs and the Class under the Securities Act.

Similarly situated persons:

All persons who purchased “points in THE Club and membership in a Diamond Resorts U.S. Collection Members Association or in the Diamond Resorts Hawaii Collection Members Association on or after three years prior to date filing of this complaint. Excluded from the Class are Defendants and any of their affiliate’s current and former employees, officers and directors.

  1. A “Pricing History and Location Growth for DRI” shows how the DRI points have increased and will increase in value over time.  A recent version states that between January 26, 2013 and January 1, 2017, DRI points in the U.S. Collection:  “15% Price per point increase in less than three years” with an “average” increase of 25%. Finally, the document states that points purchased “today” at $8.61 per point will be “worth” $10.76 per point in one year, and $13.45 in two years.

 

9. The Securities Act, passed in response to the stock market crash of 1929, was caused in part by issuers selling stock or other investments based on false representations, without disclosure of material information, and/or without and continuing reporting obligations.

10. Defendants are selling purchasers investment contracts, and hence securities, even if they are not explicitly described as such and even though the written contracts contradict in part the promises of the sales pitch.

Lead Plaintiffs

The Dropp Plaintiffs, New York residents, were initially owners of an unrelated timeshare purchased in Virginia Beach, Virginia and Kill Devil, North Carolina, through Gold Key Resort, subsequently acquired by Diamond Resorts on or about August 4, 2016. At an “update meeting” the Dropps were told that failure to purchase DRI points would render the Dropp’s existing timeshare membership useless or worthless.  The Dropp’s purchased points:  

8,500 U.S. Collection points purchased for $25,710 in Virginia August 6, 2016

A few hours after this purchase, they received a phone call from DRI insisting they were required to schedule an “orientation” with DRI that would take place in Las Vegas.

50,000 additional U.S. Collection points purchased for $140,000 in Las Vegas November 9, 2016

According to the complaint, a DRI salesperson took Plaintiffs to a private office, and made, inter alia (among other things), the following representations if they purchased DRI points:

  • He described DRI points as an investment.
  • He stated the Dropps would own an interest in real property.
  • He said that these additional points in DRI, plus the 8,500 points already owned, would be worth approximately $700,000 of “equity.”
  • He said that the value of the points would increase over time due to the improvements and updates that DRI continuously made to their properties.
  • He indicated that the points (and the “properties”) should be added to the the Dropp’s wills and could be bequeathed to their children and grandchildren.
  • He stated that the points could be sold for a profit in the future.
  • He informed the Dropps that they could use their DRI credit card for purchases and earn (wholly separate) points, which could be applied to their maintenance fees. Contrary to the DRI salesperson’s representations, in no way do purchases made on the DRI credit card offset or absolve the Dropp’s obligation to pay their annual maintenance fees.  

The Levine Plaintiffs, California residents

The Levines had acquired 35,000 US Collection points by 2016.

Purchased 35,000 Hawaii Collection points for $84,650 in Kona, Hawaii October 25, 2016

A DRI sales agent represented to the Levine Plaintiffs that:

  • They should convert all of Susan Levine’s points in the U.S. Collection to the Hawaii Collection because points in the Hawaii Collection would appreciate faster than points in the U.S. Collection due to the fact that there is limited real estate in Hawaii, causing real estate values to continue to rise.
  • Their points could be passed down to heirs and heirs could sell points at a profit.
  • They would have to purchase more points to convert their U.S. Collection points to Hawaii Collection points.
  • If they purchased points in the Hawaii Collection immediately, they would purchase at a “low price” because the price per point was steadily increasing.

Purchased 25,000 U.S. Collection points for $71,250 in Miami May 11, 2017

A DRI sales agent represented to them:

  • Points in the U.S. Collection are actually more valuable than points in the Hawaii Collection because the U.S. Collection requires the payment of lower maintenance fees.
  • Points purchased in the U.S. Collection are steadily increasing in value and could be sold at a profit in the future.
  • However, in order to convert their points in the Hawaii Collection to points in the U.S. Collection, they would need to purchase additional points in the U.S. Collection.

Purchased 50,000 U.S. Collection points for $144,000 in Las Vegas at Polo Towers July 11, 2017

A DRI sales agent represented to them:

  • DRI was implementing a new “Legacy Program” designed to operate as an estate planning device beginning January 2018. Through the Legacy Program, DRI itself would sell up to 20,000 of the Levine’s points at a price of $8.79 per point, generating a total sale price of $176,000, minus an estimated escrow fee. The profit would be passed along to the Levines, and they would not have to do anything other than contact DRI to commence the selling of points. However, in order to participate in the Legacy Program, the Levines would have to purchase 50,000 additional appoints in the U.S. Collection.
  • If the Levines or their heirs wished to sell all of their points in the future, DRI would “handle” the sale and sell the points at a price of $8.79 per point for a total amount of $1,230,000 minus closing costs.
  • Additionally, if the Levines purchased 50,000 additional points in the U.S. Collections that day, they could covert up to 80,000 of the DRI points to a credit on this Diamond credit card and could use that credit to pay their annual maintenance fees.
  • Again, the Levines were told that prices per point in the U.S. Collection were constantly increasing and they had to purchase points that day in order to reap the benefits of this investment.

When the Levines attempted to sell points, they were informed that no such program existed, and that DRI would not make any attempts to sell points.  In addition, no program existed by which the Levines could convert some of their points to a credit card and sue that credit to pay their maintenance fees.

The Pakka Plaintiff, original Sunterra owners, converted to 30,000 U.S. Collection points.  

Purchased 50,000 Hawaii points for $175,356 in Maui on November 16, 2016

A DRI salesperson represented to Plaintiff Pakka that:

  • DRI points were an “investment” that would increase in value over time. Plaintiff Pakka was provided with a “Pricing History and Location Growth for Diamond Resorts International” document which projects how much value the points will gain over time.
  • The value of her points “can only go up.”
  • She would have “no problem” selling her points.
  1. Diamond is in the business of selling “points”, which are marketed to prospective purchasers as an investment which will appreciate in value and can be easily resold. Diamond sells points to new point purchasers, as well as existing owners, in person, at sales centers in several Diamond resorts throughout the United States.
  2. Prior to the 60 to 90 minutes sales presentation, no contract or other official DRI document describing the terms of the point investment is provided to the prospective purchasers until the time of closing.
  3. Vacation counselors’ sales presentation exceed 90 minutes and often last five to six hours in length or longer. Moreover, DRI tells prospective purchasers that they will forfeit their benefits if they leave the sales presentation before the respective sales people agree that the presentation is over. Prospective purchaser are not permitted to take any contract, information sheets, Purchase and Security Agreements, Credit Sales Contracts, notes, or other written materials with them off premises prior to closing, nor are prospective purchasers given time to consult with their own advisors, attorney, or any other person during the sales presentation.
  4. DRI pitches its points as an investment that will appreciate in value due to continuing improvements made by Diamond in the quality and number of its resort and hotel properties, the general appreciation of real estate in the future and the managerial skill that DRI provides in operating the properties. The unwitting targets are told that by purchasing points “now” the purchasers will receive a discounted purchase price that is only available on the day of the sales presentation; they are investing in their future; their points will increase in value; they can use points to pay annual maintenance fees, they can bequeath the points to their heirs as an inheritance and they can sell their points – at a profit – at any time. Thus, these points are actually investment contracts and therefore securities, under the United States securities laws.
  5. Once the purchasers agrees to purchase points, they are individually shepherded to a sales center “quality control” person, whose job it is to obtain the purchaser’s signature on a lengthy, densely worded sales contract (the PSA) and to instruct the purchaser to initial numerous items on a lengthy information sheet. (Often the initials are generated electronically by the sales people for the purchasers’ “convenience”).  The closing documents contradict parts of what the prospective purchasers are told and/or shown during the sales presentations.
  6. Points can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the purchases are often financed by DRI at credit card interest rates. Maintenance fees have risen at a rate far higher and faster than ordinary inflation despite the economies of scale that DRI has in place to manage its properties.  Existing point purchasers are often induced to purchase additional points in order to reach “preferred” thresholds. DRI tells these point purchaser or members that if they buy more points, the DRI member will no longer be required to pay “maintenance” fees. By way of example, DRI investors are told that by becoming platinum members (50,000 point owners) the investors may redeem their points at the rate of 30 cents each to pay for maintenance fees. Since maintenance fees are currently approximately 18 cents each, the DRI investor is told that he or she can actually profit “off the spread” by purchasing more points. However, when DRI investors try to redeem points, they discover that there is no such program in place.
  7. Sales pitches regarding the investment value of the points are false. DRI points do not increase in value, there is no viable secondary market for them, and DRI severely restricts the resale of points. Moreover, DRI contracts or PSA last in perpetuity.

The amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000, excluding interest and costs.

Business Model

VOI Vacation Ownership Interest Points

DRI does not refer to itself as a timeshare company

Nevada law protects timeshare owners of traditional timeshare that were fixed weeks, by prohibiting timeshare companies from selling more than 365 use-days in any particular property in any particular year.

  1. Investor-members purchasing points in Nevada are provided a form stating that the DRI salesperson is licensed real estate agent who has a fiduciary duty to disclose all facts material to the transaction, DRI points are in no way tied to the value of any real estate.
  2. The Convoluted Relationship between DRI, the Club, and the U.S. and Hawaii Collections
  3. The investor-member has no direct ownership interest in any real property. The real property is owned by or held by the trust, for the benefit of a Home Owners Association, in which the investor is a member solely by virtue of his or her ownership of points.
  4. DRI controls the votes electing the boards of directors for each Association. The board of every Association has hired DRI to provide management services for the Association – services for which DRI receives substantial fees.

III Points have no Intrinsic Value

IV The Onerous, Ongoing Cost of DRI Points and its Relationship to DRI’s Business Model

  1. DRI collects a property “management fee” of 10-15% per year of the costs of operating any resort in a Diamond Collection.
  2. Between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2015, DRI financed 74.5% of all its Membership sales. According to the restated financial statements, in the DRI 10k, DRI sold $624,283,000 of vacation interests in 2015.
  3. DRI relies upon a $100 million loan sale facility with Quorum Federal Credit Union.  “In the past, we have sold or securitized a substantial portion of the consumer loans we originated from our consumers.”4
  4. Unlike an interest rate for a home mortgage, affordability measures like debt to income ratios do not apply.
  5. In 2015 DRI sent IRS Form 1098 to investors setting forth the amount of mortgage interest (which is generally deductible) paid in a particular year.

IV The High-Pressure Sales Process

  1. 61 sales centers around the world, with a full in-house sales and marketing team at 49 locations, including Polo Towers.
  2. “Mini Vacation” packages lure prospective investors. If the target fails to attend the sales presentation, or leaves before the presentation has completed, the individual is told that he or she is responsible for paying the cost of the entire package.
  3. Points are being sold to them at a discount, so that they will have “equity” because they own interests that are worth more than the purchase price.

B DRI Salespeople State that there is a market for points, and DRI will help investor-members find buyers for their points.  

  1. DRI salespeople represent that they will help an investor-member sell their points which contradicts THE Club “Legal Documents” which state that “THE Club Operating Company has no obligation to assist a Member with the resale, lease or rental of his or her Qualifying Interest.”
  2. Timeshare Exit companies advise investor-members to simply stop making payments on their maintenance fees and/or loan. DRI then terminates the membership, recaptures the points (as recycled inventory) and then resells to new purchasers. The net result is that the purchasers lose their entire investment.

V Terms of the DRI Purchase and Security Agreements

A. The Member-Investor’s Right to Rescind the Agreement is Illusory

Click on the PDF file below to see the full document:

Complaint (JT Demanded) 2 9 18 A Filed #1

This is certainly a major story and Irene will be keeping us posted on any further news and developments.

 

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

In today’s Letter from America, Scotty Black another service veteran tells his own story of his “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These stories are becoming all too common at Inside Timeshare, with readers contacting us on a daily basis. But first we have a look at what is happening in Europe.

As we have reported on many occasions, Anfi deny that they are losing cases and that no one is getting paid out, well we would like to share with you a press release from Canarian Legal Alliance.

One of their clients won their case at the High Court in las Palmas, Anfi appealed to the Supreme Court, the judges in Spain’s Highest Court confirmed the sentence and ordered Anfi to pay back double the amount of the deposit paid during the cooling off period, which is prohibited by law.

This particular client has now received into their own bank account the sum of 37,979€, this leaves us in no doubt that regardless of what Anfi claim, they are losing and clients are being paid.

c2

CLA also issued the following figures on cases for this past week.

  1. In the Courts of First Instance in Gran Canaria and Tenerife there have been 5 rulings in favour of their clients against Anfi and Silverpoint.
  2. In Tenerife, the High Court ruled once again against Silverpoint.
  3. There were also 3 Rulings in favour of their clients at the Supreme Court in Madrid, these were again against Silverpoint.
  4. In total, CLA clients have been awarded a massive 402,552.19€ Not bad for just one week.

Staying with Anfi, several of our readers have enquired about another letter sent by the Anfi CEO, in this he stated that any contract signed between January 1999 and January 2001 had a 2 year window for adaptation. The law referred to is 42/98, this was passed in 1998, it became effective on 5 January 1999, so the question is why would  resorts and developers be given a 2 year period to change?

Surly the period between the law being passed and coming into force is the window to change?

What would be the point of setting a date for the enforcement and then allowing things to continue as before?

These are questions that need to be answered, Inside Timeshare has asked for clarification on this and is waiting for an answer. We will publish in full when it is received.

More readers have informed Inside Timeshare that they have received a letter from the Police regarding the following Mark Rowe companies:

  • Monster Travel (known as Monster Group/Monster Rewards)
  • SellMyTimeshare
  • Complete Internet Solutions
  • Hollywood Marketing

These are being investigated as we reported previously by the South West Police, it looks like a major criminal investigation, if you have had any dealings with any of these companies you can contact the Police at the address below.

South West Police ROCU. DC 4624 Katie Andrews. PO Box 37, Valley Rd, Portishead,Bristol. BS20 8QJ

Now on with our Friday’s Letter from America.

A Letter to Timeshare Developers and ARDA

Law Enforcement, Military and Lawmakers

Our Mission to Stop Timeshare Crime – Front and Back

EW

February 9, 2018

By Scotty Black, M.S. Criminal Justice, former Navy

Promissory Note $65,741.14 @ 14.4309%

How I got here

  • Purchased 5000 timeshare points October 2014 Scottsdale AZ CA Collection
  • Purchase price $13,000
  • October 13, 2016 in Hawaii we bought 15,000 additional points
  • Name of sales agent Brian Holmes
  • Purchase price is $75,710
  • $4500 on a resort issued Barclaycard used for the down payment
  • Monthly payment $1,037.84
  • Maintenance fees $4,006.22

I am one of 22 active duty, retired military, law enforcement agents, feeling victimized by timeshare. For my family, I would describe timeshare as a parasite killing its host. Like Amanda and George Jones, I’m worried about losing my security clearance. Like, Lela Renea, I work in law enforcement. Like Kevin Hopkins, I am military trained in Electronic Warfare. I never imagined we would need that training to fight in a Timeshares War. Kevin is retired Air Force. I served in the Navy. My primary job was Electronic Warfare, but partly due to my attitude, I was sent often to security, so I ended up assigned to the Special Security Force, Battleship Missouri. The fact that this is the second complaint in a matter of weeks from an electronic warfare veteran and that there are 22 of us working, or having served to protect our country, filing timeshare complaints, is telling.

Kevin was featured in this article on January 30 unidentified, but as Kevin has since received his automatic knee-jerk, “Sorry, you signed a contract” denial, Kevin has been identified and has joined the ranks of Inside Timeshare Contributors.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-8/

Kevin’s sales agent managed to work in every oral misrepresentation possible into one presentation. He’s working on an upcoming article about his experience.  

Timeshare companies have negatively affected national security with their fraudulent sales practices. Active duty Navy Technicians George and Amanda Jones could be forced into foreclosure. They say they were assured by two sales agents in two separate states they could lower their 18% loan interest rate by contacting finance companies offering a lower rate or a military rate. “Just Google it,” their sales agent said. Banks do not finance timeshares. Consumer credit issues can cause a revocation of security clearance. Jeff is in the process of writing to the Commandant of the Marines.

Jeff Diehl, former Marine, purchased a timeshare at Vacation Village

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-30/

Lela Renea, a detective, who purchased a Bluegreen timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

Amanda and George Jones, active duty Navy, purchased a Diamond timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

We have summarized our reports from our 22 unit members and have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, an organization that seeks justice for military and government employees. If you are not drowning in timeshare loan payments, credit card payments and maintenance fees, consider a donation.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Here’s what happened

In Hawaii, October 2016, we asked our timeshare sales agent Brian Holmes what would happen in the event we could no longer make payments. As we were told in Arizona, we were told again points could be rented and that we would be able to sell the points, likely at a profit, especially since we purchased them at such a low price – a price so low because “a sales staff member forgot to file the declination of purchasing more shares in a previous presentation…!”

meet

We were told Hawaii points are a good investment. This sticks in my mind because my wife had to write a statement to that effect, so the purchase at such a low rate could go through. As for the potential of profit, we were told there is a land-usage moratorium on how many places and percent of the land can be built on in Hawaii so this would also make the points appreciate, even with a speculation of over $10 per point. We were told we would need to sell points through the secondary market but that would be easy.

We have since learned our vacation points have no secondary market and that renting points through a third part website is not allowed. I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one I spoke with would even accept a listing for our Diamond points feeling the restrictions placed on the use of secondary points renders the points worthless. Since LTRB members, unlike some scam timeshare exit companies, do not accept an upfront fee, it’s a waste of their time to accept a listing.  

In Scottsdale, at an “owners update” early September 2017, long after the issuance of the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance, we experienced yet another highly aggressive sales presentation. The length of the presentation was a violation of the AOD. We complained repeatedly that we wanted to leave. We were told it was not a sales presentation and they would not try to sell us points, but after the 55 minute presentation we were paired with a sales agent for at least two hours.  My wife had broken her foot on resort property the prior day and was in pain. She had to keep her boot elevated. They still did everything they could to keep us from leaving. I still was experiencing symptoms from a car wreck that had required a hospitalization. We were both on painkillers.  

Ultimately, I contacted Irene Parker and our Timeshare Advocacy Facebook group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Irene suggested I contact Diamond’s Consumer Advocacy Department, which I feel has nothing to do with consumers. The “hospitality” agents are fine print detectives, in my opinion.

Irene explained about Diamond’s new Quality Assurance program, CLARITY, launched after the AOD was issued. CLARITY is reported to be about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer, but as Irene predicted, our Hospitality agent referred us to the oral representation clause. I ask what purpose CLARITY serves, other than a piece of paper to hand out to provide a false sense of security, making it seem like the company cares about false promises made by sales agents.

Researching timeshare in general, I have come to believe many timeshare sales agents employ tactics that meet the FBI’s definition of white-collar crime, Financial Institution Fraud, defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Timeshare buyers who feel they were victimized should file complaints with the following agencies:

  1. The Better Business Bureau
  2. The Attorneys General (The AGs where you signed, where the firm is headquartered, and where you live)
  3. State Real Estate Divisions against the individual agent
  4. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  5. The FBI (if as serious as mine at IC3.gov and orally through a field office public access line #4 prompt, then #3 white-collar crime prompt)
  6. The FTC if you have any energy left

Other agencies that investigate multinational and cross-border financial institutions

We know criminal actions on the part of timeshare sales agents extend beyond any one resort, except for Disney Vacation Club. Somehow they manage to show a profit without resorting to deceit.

mickey mouse

Hopefully, timeshare executives and lobbyists will read this. We know one lawmaker has.

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

If you need help, call us.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

 

Thank you Scotty for sharing your “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, we find it appalling that veterans are being treated like this, facing foreclosure and ultimately losing the valued and hard earned security clearance after years of loyal service. All we can say is shame on the the sales agents and even more so on the developers for allowing their sales agents to behave in this despicable manor.

News has just come in from Madrid, the Supreme Court has issued another sentence this morning against Silverpoint, this is now 89 rulings made against various timeshare companies by Spain’s Highest Court.

The latest ruling has awarded British clients of CLA a massive £36,000 including £8,000 which is double the deposit paid within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period, plus legal interest. The contract has also been declared null and void, so congratulations the these happy ex-timeshare owners and great well done to the staff and legal team at CLA.

Today we have received another email from yet another victim of Ramirez and Ramirez, it seems he is upto his old tricks again. The last we heard from him was in April 2016, (see link below).

The pitch is the same, the consumer is contacted and told that their claim has gone through, there is a substantial amount, in this case over £31,000 waiting for them at the court. All they had to do was pay £1,498 to Ramirez to get the payment underway, then they were told they had to pay £2,560 Tax  to the Agencia Tributaria (Spanish Tax Office) and the money will be released.

Please be aware this is one experienced conman, there is no money waiting for you at court, there is no tax to pay to release this ficticious money. Unless you have instructed a lawyer to act on your behalf through the courts then there is no claim.

The Resurrected!

That’s it for this week, a very big thank you to all who sent in valuable information which will always help others and to those who have contributed to the articles from our Cousins across “The Great Lake”.

Remember, if you have any questions about any article published or just need advice on whether to do business with any company, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good weekend.

weekend

 

sermon-o-what-a-tangled-web

A Tangled Web!

This first piece of information from one of our readers, (although the same information has been received in the past), concerns the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife Abogados Canarias, part of the ongoing fraud known as the Litigious Abogados family.

This particular reader had been contacted by this outfit with news that their timeshare company was being taken to court (as usual), that they could be part of this action. All they needed to do was pay a fee for the procurator to file their case with the rest.

abogados-canarias-logo

Luckily this reader decided to search the internet about this “law firm”, lo and behold found the article published here on Inside Timeshare, they then contacted us for further information, which as usual we gave free of charge.

We even warned them that this “FAKE” law firm would say that Inside Timeshare are the scammers! Not bad considering none of our readers are ever charged for any information or help given.

Well they decided to accept the return call as arranged, Yes you guessed it, they told the reader exactly what we had warned. They even told them that they had taken Inside Timeshare to court SIX TIMES last year!

Well myself and my lawyers memories must be going, as we can’t remember going to court ONCE, let alone SIX times.

Just to let you know at Abogados Canarias, all information supplied by our readers has and will be passed to the authorities to augment the denuncia made in February 2017 against your original “FAKE” law firms!

Another piece of interesting information has been supplied by our readers, this time it is concerning Diamond Resorts, it would appear that they are upsetting many of their members. (Well nothing new there!)

It now transpires that any members family using as guests, below that of Platinum is going to have to pay to use the WiFi, Swimming pool and other facilities on the European sites!

Apparently, the cost for using the pool is around £6 per day per person, not going to be a cheap holiday then, considering the extortionate maintenance fees associated with Diamond. It makes you wonder why you pay the high cost of membership in the first place along with the ongoing annual fees, when this happens?

Also is this just another ploy to “Upgrade” members to Platinum?

give us money

According to the information provided, it has nothing to do with Apollo, as they are only an “Investment Company” and has nothing to do with the day to day running of Diamond!

Hang on they Own Diamond, surly anything that Diamond management do which upsets the members, bringing bad publicity to the public eye, will have a detrimental effect on the share prices and thus on the “Investment”?

Well, all we can say is, timeshare is not the great thing is used to be, it has become nothing more than a money making machine that does not care about you the member. After all they got your money to join, they now get your money each year and if they can find another way to get more of it, they will!

We now move on to Silverpoint with another update.

We published recently the article on Centaurus Mediation SL, contacting Silverpoint members offering a relinquishment service, it also seemed that they were using the members data supplied by Silverpoint. We also stated that there was another company which had also been set up but no name had yet come forth.

The latest information provided by yet another reader is that Excel have taken the marketing contract from Silverpoint due to their bad practices. (Something we have known for years).

Apparently this was told to our reader by a representative from another company called Aspirantco, which we believe is part owned by Excel.

Excel is the management company behind all the resorts.

Aspirantco SL was registered 23/08/2017 with the company address given as Avda San Francisco 6 – Centro Comercial Pasarela, 38640 – (Arona) – Santa Cruz De Tenerife. The registered administrator is named as Carl Alan Jenkins, who is believed to have worked with Mark Cushway and Silverpoint for around 10 years. With the sales office apparently located at Port Royale another resort run by Excel and across the road from the Beverly Hills Club.

(Below is the PDF link to company details)

ASPIRANTCO SL, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE

Could this be the one?

From other information supplied Mr Jenkins is also Project Director for a Tenerife Real Estate Company called Homes Under the Sun, which does not appear to have any known ties with the timeshare industry.

Further information has been uncovered on 12 companies in the UK where Mark Cushway is the registered director. 10 of the companies were registered on 24 June 2016 and 2 registered on 29 July 2016. All have the same registered address for the director as 1 Bedford Row, London, England, WC1R 4BZ.

All the companies have the same name apart from a number attached such as TLCC-20 LIMITED (10250781) and TLCC-52 LIMITED (10250807).  The occupation given for Mark Cushway on the entries is Leisure and Real Estate, with his country of residence as Spain.

All companies are listed as 55209 – Other holiday and other collective accommodation, it is also interesting to note that the registered offices are given as Twin Lakes Country Club, Near Arnside And Silverdale Aonb, Tewitfield, Lancashire, LA6 1JH.

Link to Directors from Company House

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/3h5jf615-FnVKDHNzhQzpquyuSY/appointments

As the old saying goes, “What a tangled web we weave”!!!

We leave you the reader to decide where this may just be going, we obviously have our suspicions. We also thank all readers who have contributed information.

If you are contacted by any of these companies Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, or if you need any information, help or advice on any company that you may be thinking of doing business with get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week is part 2 of her Timeshare Tips, with some more legal comments from Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. But a few updates from the timeshare world in Europe.

Yesterday’s article focused on the new company Centaurus Mediation SL and the possible links with Silverpoint, well, not long after publishing, news arrived from Madrid and the Supreme Court. Yet two more rulings against Silverpoint.

In the 87th ruling by Spain’s Highest Court, the clients contract with Silverpoint was declared null and void, the court also awarded over £56,000 plus double the deposit amounting to over £69,000. The court also awarded all legal fees and legal interest.

Within minutes of this announcement, the Supreme Court released the 88th sentence, once again it was against Silverpoint.

In this case the contract was once again declared null and void with the client being awarded over £18,000 plus £2,000as double the deposit with legal interest.

As stated in yesterday’s article, a contract being declared null and void by the court means that it should never have existed, does not exist and all has to revert to the state it was in before the contract was signed. So if you do get a call from Centaurus Mediation, with the caller saying the only way to get out is for them to do it, remember it is just another ruse by Silverpoint to fleece you of even more money.

In Gran Canaria, Anfi was on the receiving end of two Court of First Instance sentences, both of these were heard in the court situated in maspalomas.

The first case in court number 2, Anfi was ordered to return over 16,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract declared null and void.

In the second case in court number 1, over £10,000 plus legal interest was returned to the client along with the contract being declared null and void.

With news like this coming out of the courts on an almost daily basis, how can these companies continue to deny any wrongdoing and that they are not losing in the courts?

It just goes to show the arrogance of timeshare companies who for too long have got away with malpractices on a grand scale.

Now on with this weeks article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Tip #2

Don’t Pay Upfront Money to get you out of Your Timeshare

Define “Upfront Money”

crime buster

By Irene Parker

February 6, 2018

A Williamsburg lawyer guilty of her role in a conspiracy to fraudulently transfer hundreds of timeshare units was sentenced today to 50 months in …

https://search.justice.gov/search?query=timeshare+fraud&op=Search&affiliate=justice

Florida statute does not allow anyone to receive upfront money to get you out of your timeshare.   

http://centralflorida.app.bbb.org/newsearch2.asp?ComID=073300175003582)

the State of Florida – the collection of advanced listing fees from Florida residents, regardless of the location of the property, and owners of Florida timeshares is prohibited. Section 721.20(6), Florida Statutes, prohibits the collection of any advance fee for the listing of any timeshare estate or timeshare license, and requires that any seller of a timeshare plan be a licensed real estate broker, broker associate or sales associate as defined in Section 475.01, Florida Statutes.”

So what are “Upfront Fees” and how are they getting around it?

Like timeshare rescission periods, upfront fees can be dodged. Exit companies accomplish this by charging a listing or ad fee, market analysis, a subscription fee, an advertising cost, you name it. Attorneys charge retainers, but not all attorneys are created equal, as mentioned in our opening statement.

I asked Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group about this as, like all lawyers, Finn Law Group charges a retainer. Given the difficulty, few lawyers will accept a timeshare case on contingency. Timeshare developers know this of course, and know the time and money it takes to litigate is cost and time prohibitive.

According to Mike,

There really isn’t a legitimate way around the no upfront fee issue in a legitimate licensed real estate broker scenario. The one exception is when a seller wants to have more advertising in place than is generally offered by a particular broker and the seller authorizes upfront funds to be specifically applied to a third party marketing provider.  This is rare and usually occurs in the commercial market.

The licensing statute (Florida) is F.S. 475.01 Definitions. The salient details include “(a) broker…for another…and for a compensation…sells…offers….negotiate the sale…purchase or rental…any real property or any interest in or concerning the same… holds out to the public…engaged in the business of…buying,selling…real property of others…or who directs or assists in the procuring of sellers, purchasers, … which does, or is calculated to… result in a sale”

In case you’re hung up on the real property aspect of the definition, “The term broker also includes any person or entity who undertakes to list or sell one or more timeshare periods…”

So, to my way of thinking this company (the one we asked about) is not a licensed broker and if the state actually cared about the enforcement of their laws, they would have shut this, and other similarly situated organizations down long ago.

One of my favorite sources of information is NOLO as you can actually chat with a real lawyer! They have useful information and you won’t be bothered by those pesky “Get You out of Your Timeshare!” ads.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-timeshare-foreclosure-right-cancel-laws.html

mice

In a strong arm attempt to make sure we vacation, powerful lobbyists and the industry have worked hard to make it difficult to get out of a timeshare contract. The exception is if there is no loan, in which case the timeshare company will “take back” your points and resell as “recycled inventory” on a “case by case” basis. Most timeshare members contacting Inside Timeshare allege they were duped into high interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards, sometimes popping out on site like toast from a toaster. In our opinion, the industry refuses to admit they are causing the exit scams by allowing deceit on the front end of the sale and by not allowing a secondary market.

Deceit on the front of the timeshare sale does not discriminate, but often the elderly are victimized, as they tend to have more time and money. Timeshare members over 55 need to reach out to AARP.  

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/

The $70 billion a year flowing into Florida in tourist dollars may contribute to why this deceit has not been exposed. I have interviewed a dozen former sales agents, managers, and even a few executives, who call it “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat.” Nice people.

Social Media is here to stay. Timeshare members like never before can share experiences. They are no longer silenced and isolated. One of our advocates sent this published report to us, posted on TUG Timeshare Users Group. (Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association member Judi Kozlowski has provided commentary for our Inside Timeshare articles)

In the timeshare resale market today, it is pretty much a guarantee that you will encounter an upfront resale scammer if you are attempting to sell or rent your timeshare. Sadly these scams have become so popular, they are regularly listed in the top 10 scams by Attorney Generals offices and the BBB year after year!

Hopefully you have read the TUG Scams and Fairy Tales advice article, but if not and you are the victim of an upfront fee scam, your options are limited but they at least exist!

STEP 1: SEND A LETTER DEMANDING A REFUND

In many cases, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, so if you are persistent in calling and emailing and sending actual letters, you stand a chance of getting a refund!

This sample letter was provided by Judi Kozlowski, a licensed timeshare resale broker who has been in the industry for many years and fights to shut down these scammers with her organization the . Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

We urge anyone who is the victim of an upfront fee scam to follow all the steps detailed below after sending this sample letter if you do not receive your refund or a reply in a timely fashion!

SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO A TIMESHARE UPFRONT FEE SCAMMER:

Dear (Insert Business Name Here),

We will be reporting you to the following people if you do not return our money. What you have done is fraud.

  • The Attorneys General Office in (the State you live in), (the State the timeshare is in) and the( State the Scammer is in).
  • We are also calling the police in (same as above, both locations).
  • We are going to report you to our (VISA/MC/AMEX/Discover) and have them report your fraud to your merchant account.
  • We are going to the following sites to report your scam:
  • Timeshare Users Group Forums
  • ARDA.org
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Ripoffreport.com
  • Every social media page we can find with your name on it (facebook/twitter/linkedin)

We do not want any phone calls from you. All we want is our money returned. You have lied, misled and committed fraud. We demand a refund to our credit card immediately and will be disputing this charge with them immediately.

Note: While TUG certainly cannot guarantee the success or failure of the above letter, it certainly gives you an option in which to attempt to obtain a refund from the company that scammed you out of the upfront fee. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Remember, these companies mislead and lied to you in the first place, if your initial request for a refund goes unanswered or is denied, this letter may be a last resort for you to get your hard earned money back!

This posted by jayjay on RedWeek

2009 – that’s how long this has been going on!

Someone that’s been taken by any upfront fee scam company in the state of Florida needs to copy and paste that statute and then report the scammers to the law ASAP ….. my mission is to put every upfront fee resale/rental timeshare company completely out of business …. this is certainly a good way to start.

Bottom line, never, ever pay a timeshare resale company an upfront fee in the hundreds/thousands of dollars to list your timeshare in a database that no one will ever see …. you’re throwing your money away AND you’ll never hear from them again.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=16239

Inside Timeshare received timeshare member complaint number 302 today, 44 since January 1.

If you have a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or one of these US member supported, non-industry influenced Facebooks and websites:

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

sos

Timeshare member Karen Krokosh reached out to Sell My Timeshare Now and here’s what happened to her:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

Thank you Irene and also Mike Finn, thanks also to all who have contributed to this weeks article.

If you have any questions or require any information on this or any article published, please contact Inside Timeshare. We are here to provide the best and informative information possible.

old tricks

Centaurus Mediation SL and the Silverpoint Link

Centaurus Mediation SL is a new company based in Tenerife, it is engaged in cold calling timeshare owners, cold calling is not in itself illegal, but it is the nature of the calls and the owners being targeted.

The company was registered in Spain on 31 October 2017, with the website registered on 2 November 2017, yet according to them they have already achieved the following successes

  • 327 Mediations
  • 151 Relinquishments
  • 97 Successful Claims
  • 64 Agreed Terminations.

Not bad going for a company that is only 3 months old! (PDF Company records) below

CENTAURUS MEDIATIONS SL, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE

The sole administrator is Caroline Hiberry (obviously just a front name) who has featured as the administrator to several other “dubious” companies

As for the owners being targeted, they are all Resort Properties / Silverpoint owners, not really a problem until you realise that Centaurus Mediation has all the details of these owners including the facts they have either started legal action or have already done so against Silverpoint.

This leaves us with some very important questions, where has the data come from, who has supplied it, and what data protection laws have been compromised?

In our mind, there are only these explanations, either the data has been stolen from Silverpoint, by a member of staff, or Silverpoint have set up these companies and provided  their membership database.

The latter seems the more probable, especially when you find out the nature of the calls.

In the call, one name that has come up is the agent known as James, he explains that his company can get them out of their membership from Silverpoint, that Excel have now taken over and that no one will ever get any compensation. The only way out is to let Centaurus to do it for you. Obviously this is going to be for a fee.

In another call, the agent knew that the client had already won their case at the Supreme Court, that they would get nothing and the only way to cancel the contract was for Centaurus Mediation to do it for them, as the court have no authority to cancel the contract.

This is untrue, the courts have declared the contracts null and void, there is nothing to cancel, having confirmed with Canarian Legal Alliance that the enquiry received was a genuine client of theirs, they confirmed that the contract had been declared null and void. They were asked to explain what this means.

Very simply, null and void means that it never existed, that everything reverts to the state before the contract was signed, the timeshare reverts back to the company, all money paid by the consumer is then returned. The contract and agreement never existed.

So what do we make of all this, here we have a company contacting specific timeshare owners, using a database that could only have come from Silverpoint, a company that has sold packs of weeks as investments that never materialised. Now this company is demanding payment to get the owners out of their contract, using very dubious methods and tactics.

Sometime ago Inside Timeshare also reported that Mark Cushway and Silverpoint had been negotiating with Timeshare Claims Solutions now known as Claims Solutions Group in Aberfeldy Scotland, to supply their client list and TCS or CGS would carry out the relinquishments.

So now we have a report that Silverpoint have set up two companies in Tenerife , Centaurus in Los Cristianos and another in Playa de Las Americas, the name of which has yet to be revealed. We also know they have closed their sales decks, that two names have come up in conjunction with running the new office for Centaurus, Carl Jenkens and Ruben Miller.

We must admit, they have been very clever in keeping any documentary link separate and difficult to find, but anyone with any sense would see through the client database. After all if a company was illegally using your client data, would you not take legal action?

So we now ask the question what is the reasoning behind all this?

Over the years Resort Properties / Silverpoint have been raking in the profits from their “investment” program, many people have been taken in by it, many have lost everything, others are still paying the price. Since January 2017, the Supreme Court has ruled on about 30 cases against them, declaring all contracts null and void and returning in many cases double the amounts originally paid by consumers. The lower courts are also ruling on an almost daily basis.

Silverpoint have obviously decided the only way to avoid any further litigation and huge losses is to allow people to get out, but why not make some money out of them first! We have had them once, lets have them again!

If you have been contacted by Centaurus Mediations SL or any other company using the same technique, let us know the details and we will publish the information here.

Need any help or advice on checking a company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

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