Browse Month

May 2018

News on Wednesday: More Warnings

We start today with another warning about the “Fake Law Firm”, Abogados Lopez, more readers have contacted Inside Timeshare with information on the calls they have received from Hope Brugge, claiming to be working for Canarian Legal Alliance.

According to our readers, many of whom are existing clients of CLA, the call is to inform them that their case is about to go to court and she needs to confirm some information before submitting the case. This is obviously a fishing call, as if you have a case with a legitimate law firm they would already have those detail and they would have been confirmed at the start.

Within a few day Hope Brugge calls again and informs the client that the case has been won and a substantial amount of money has been awarded. In order to have this money released, (yes you guessed it), Hope Brugge and Abogados Lopez need a fee to release it. The client is given bank details for a named individual to transfer the money.

The telephone numbers being used are:

0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga code

0034 602 654 670 which is a Spanish mobile

Another number that has been used is

0044 1291 440 500 which is a Chepstow code.

If you receive any call of this nature do not be fooled by them, if you are an existing client of any law firm, contact them directly and inform them.

This is a blatant fraud, which the authorities are aware of.

Another reader has also informed us that another company has been contacting owners who purchased with Azure Resorts in Malta, using a Barclay Partner Finance loan agreements. Unfortunately the reader was not able to get the name properly so we will not speculate and guess.

According to the caller they are working with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) to bring a “class action” against Barclay Partner Finance on the 19 June, all rather urgent wouldn’t you say?

There is a case on that date being brought by the FCA, but this has nothing to do with what this company are on about. The case is being heard at the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) of the Royal Courts of Justice.

The case revolves around a validation order sought by BPF for loan agreements made by Azure Resorts for timeshares in Malta, it turns out that the company brokering and arranging the loans was not authorised or licenced by BPF to do so. BPF turned to the FCA to have these agreements validated. These are only for certain clients who signed these agreements between April 214 and April 2016. If you did not receive any information about this in February 2018, then you are not involved.

The FCA on the evidence made out a validation order to have the loans legally recognised, as no client had suffered the “possibility of any consumer detriment arising from the manner in which the unauthorised broker carried out its activities”.

Unfortunately, the FCA was not aware of the full facts and many clients made complaints, the FCA has now sought to have this validation order overturned in the light of these complaints and new evidence put forward by the clients.

Inside Timeshare will keep you updated as to the outcome of this hearing.

It seems that according to information from our readers, Claims Solutions Group are contacting Silverpoint clients, (which we already knew), but this time using Brexit as the reason only they can help.

According to the caller, once the UK leaves the EU, it is going to be very difficult for any owner of a Silverpoint timeshare to get out. Now why would this be the case?

Obviously it is another scare tactic, to get Silverpoint owners to take up their services, for a fee off course, to get them out of a Silverpoint timeshare. Remember Silverpoint are working with this company and FullBrook Associates.

http://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-new-information-on-centaurus-mediations/

Sticking with Silverpoint, another company Centaurus Mediations is also using another tactic, this time it is at their offices in Tenerife. According to our reader, they were told that Centaurus had been appointed by the court to mediate following several court cases against Silverpoint, many of these cases have been reported on these pages.

Now considering that Centaurus Mediations is part of the Silverpoint setup, using data supplied by Silverpoint, plus the fact that the courts do not appoint any company to mediate or carry out any work such as this, points to one blatant lie. Only one of the many made over the years that Silverpoint have been operating.

The one thing in common is they all state that it is only them that can get you out, well Inside Timeshare begs to differ, the court results that we have reported on show that Silverpoint is on the run. At least 45 rulings against them from the Supreme Court, rulings against them on an almost daily basis in the lower courts, with many more waiting to be heard, that is the truth of the matter.

If you have any questions or comments on any this or any other article, then use our contact page and get in touch.

Have you been contacted by any company offering you a claim or stating that a case has been won and there is a substantial amount of money waiting for you at court then contact Inside Timeshare, your information can help others avoid losing thousands.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot we welcome a new contributor, Haley Saldana, who shares her experience with Resort Relief and Castle Law, the introduction is by Inside Timeshare’s very own Irene Parker.

But first, yesterday it was announced by Canarian Legal Alliance that they have secured a Court of First Instance sentence against Club la Costa, in the number 4 court of Fuengirola.

The case was brought against Club la Costa Leisure Limited by CLA on behalf of their English clients. The main basis for the judgement was the contract did not have an end date, which made it a perpetuity one, this has been declared illegal under Spanish Timeshare Law 42/98, which states that contracts have a duration of between 3 and 50 years.

In this case the contract has been declared null and void, with the clients being refunded a total of £19,442 plus all their legal fees and legal interest.

It is quite clear that the lower courts are following the now 115 rulings made by the Supreme Court, which is good news for all clients who have cases pending or are considering filing claims.

Now for today’s article.

Resort Relief and Castle Law Group’s Tangled Web

Part I: How Haley Saldana Lost $3,495 retaining Resort Relief

Part II June 1: Declarations of former employees of Castle Law Group, P.C. and Castle Marketing Group, LLC

Haley Saldana shares her Castle Law and Resort Relief experience

Introduction by Irene Parker

May 29, 2018

Former Silverleaf member Haley Saldana relates her frustration over a cycle of hopeful vacation promises that ended with a desperate need to get out. More consumer awareness is needed, so Haley has shared her story today hoping people ask the right questions before buying a timeshare or signing up to get out of one. It’s important to examine the reasons why people reach out to a timeshare exit company in the first place.   

Inside Timeshare has heard from 431 mostly angry, overwhelmed, desperate timeshare members. They don’t know where to turn for straight timeshare answers. Most allege that they either bought or upgraded a timeshare from sales agents employing bait and switch tactics. If deceived, or just not understanding the nature of the product they purchased, they soon learn the challenges one faces attempting to be released from a timeshare contract, especially if there is an outstanding loan. The contract is perpetual, and the resort usually dismisses the member with a “You signed a contract.” Some state regulators second that response. With no other way out, the buyer seeks legal or third party assistance, or gets foreclosed. In Haley’s case, seeking third party assistance cost her $3,495 and she still got foreclosed!

Haley explains why she feels she was deceived into purchasing a Silverleaf upgrade. Unable to get help from Silverleaf, she contacted Resort Relief. Haley is 31 years old and her husband Louis, 34. Haley and Louis went from Silverleaf timeshare owner, to Resort Relief, to Castle Law, and ultimately to foreclosure.

Through public filings, we obtained depositions from two former Castle Law Group, P.C. employees. Their descriptions of what it was like to work for Castle Law will be the subject of Friday’s Letter from America.      

By Haley Saldana

I contacted Resort Relief in 2016 after being convinced to make a second Silverleaf timeshare purchase. In 2014 we had paid approximately $11,000 for our first Silverleaf timeshare. We had no problem affording this purchase.

We feel we were deceived into making the second Silverleaf purchase. We could not use the bonus time that went with the original purchase. At a members’ meeting we were told a second purchase or upgrade would give us more availability, but it did not. I contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief set us up with Castle Law Group. We were charged $3,495 February 2016.

Castle Law Group told us if we talked to Silverleaf they would drop us and keep our money. I heard nothing until I talked to a guy at Castle in 2017. He said to keep not paying and again told us not to talk to Silverleaf. We had gotten a letter from Silverleaf that said we should contact them. We received a second letter from Silverleaf June 23, 2017 that said if we do not pay them what we owed them, it would go against our credit, but we had been instructed not to talk to Silverleaf. By this time it had been well over a year since we had originally contacted Resort Relief February 2016.

I emailed Barb Holland from Castle Law the Silverleaf letter June 23, 2017.

Next, now almost two years later, we got a letter from Silverleaf January 26, 2018 saying that they were proceeding with foreclosure.

We notified Castle Law. Castle responded by letter informing us they no longer represent us because of a serious legal conflict with the organization that referred us to Castle Law Group (Resort Relief).

We contacted Resort Relief. Resort Relief owner Kevin Hanson told us, “I’m sorry, I lost $2 million because of Castle Law. He said that Castle Law Group came back to Resort Relief and said “Here are your clients. Castle Law Group is no longer representing Resort Relief clients.”

You would think Resort Relief would make things right since they were the ones that set us up with Castle Law. Instead, Mr. Hanson said if we pay Resort Relief $750 they will transfer our case to a local attorney. We lost the timeshare through foreclosure, and the $3,495 paid to Resort Relief/Castle Law. I have all the emails confirming this disaster.

Mr. Hanson said Baker & Britt is the local (Conroe Texas) law firm that is representing him (Resort Relief) against Castle Law Group.

On the creditor’s side of the fence, back in March 2017, I interviewed Kristie, an HOA collections agent. Kristie expressed her discomfort with Timeshare Exit Team and timeshare attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman. Countering Kristie’s comments, timeshare attorney Mitchell Sussman Reed responded:  

While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit. Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset; the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a dead beat to the credit reporting agencies.

Shame on them, and bravo to any attorney willing to sue or otherwise punish the resort for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.

If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?

If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.

Mitchell Reed Sussman

Attorney at Law

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-hoa-collections-agent-shares-experience/

Resort Relief has an A BBB rating! As explained on a TUG post below, an F rating may be more credible than an A+ rating.  

https://www.bbb.org/houston/business-reviews/timeshare-advocates/resort-relief-llc-in-conroe-tx-90046035/reviews-and-complaints?section=complaints

Here’s a complaint almost identical to Haley’s complaint!

Complaint

We were sent a letter from Resort Relief where we were talked to about getting timeshare relief for the Timeshare we have through Silverleaf Resorts and was told that this service was a money back guarantee and that we were going to be able to get out of our timeshare once we paid the $4050.00. We… paid the monies and was referred to Castle Law Group who took the information and received all of our documents for them to proceed. I had no heard from the in sometime so I contacted Castle Law Group for a follow up. I was informed on September 11th that the law firm could no longer represent us due to a conflict of interest and referred me back to Resort Relief. I have been calling nonstop and no one is available to give me information or anything. I have stressed that I want my money back and I am getting tossed back and forth from Resort Relief back to Castle Law Group and back to Resort Relief. This has been stressful and I am not getting anything but a Reba will bet back to me and I haven’t heard anything and the worker that answers the phone Tyler doesn’t either and he knows its stuff going on and can’t tell me.

Thank you, Haley for sharing your disappointing experience after responding to a “Get you out of your timeshare or your money back” ad, powered by massive search engines seeking desperate timeshare members. It’s very difficult to reach Castle Law and when I tried calling Resort Relief I kept getting the busy signal.   

Maybe it’s just me, but I find today’s timeshare product one of the most flawed products in history. First, members contacting us allege they were deceived into buying or upgrading a timeshare. When they complained to the resort, the resort dismissed them with, “You signed a contract.” The member is then driven into the net of a search engine, and contacted by someone that often is a former timeshare sales agent or executive. When we researched one questionable timeshare sales agent, we learned he had several open and closed LLCs with names like Vacation Planning. Hence, the sales agent dangled the bait, made the sale, the timeshare buyer victimized, the exit company next deceived them, and possibly by the very person who sold them the timeshare in the first place! Worse, one snoop removed from our advocacy Facebook, had in his background a company called, Timeshare Fraud Recovery. No question this meets the definition of racketing. The member is defrauded by an exit company and then contacted by the same people offering fraud recovery!     

We’re not lawyers, so Haley and Louis would need to contact a reputable lawyer for an opinion as to where to go from here. Given what money has already gone down the drain, I can understand her reluctance to pursue this further. It’s a mess.  

When a reader asks about an exit company, keeping an open mind, I contact the company, explaining one of our readers asked us whether we would recommend them. Often they hang up the phone after a few questions. Once I received a threat accompanied by a string of expletives. Three timeshare exit companies I contacted I feel are reputable and we have maintained communication in an effort to better understand this murky world of timeshare exits and transfers.   

One timeshare insider provided us with this Timeshare User Group forum (beginning November 2016). I can vouch for one of the licensed brokers mentioned, Judi Kozlowski. Judi has helped us out with a few of our articles.

(Brokers recommended) Fred Messreni

www.timeshare-gallery.com

Seth Nock

www.sellingtimeshares.net

Judi Kozlowski

www.timeshareresalepros.com

Tug review crew comment November 16, 2016

I’m adding one more voice strongly recommending that you steer clear of any and every “exit / release / escape” entity — and to ignore meaningless BBB ratings.

 

You might consider “sweetening” the TUGgiveaway” by now additionally offering to pay the transfer fees — and maybe even the next maintenance fee bill as well (…said bill is likely already in hand at this time of year, or very soon en route to you). You’d still be mathematically “ahead” compared to paying any shaky upfront fee parasite, whoever they may be.

Finding a valid new recipient is infinitely more “clean” and legally conclusive than getting involved with (and/or paying) any upfront fee “exit / release/ escape” entity. Bear in mind that some of these entities are actually committing outright fraud by design …which could boomerang back around to you in the future.

Good luck, but do yourself a big favor and stay away from any and all of these alleged “escape artists”.

TUG Admin February 23, 2018

Looking at your ad, we see you are still asking for money for your Festiva timeshare.

You also don’t appear to be offering to pay closing costs as the seller.

Both of these factors are the reason you are having no success in selling your timeshare…not that fixing them will guarantee a buyer…but having them is certainly guaranteeing that the only folks interested in your ad…are upfront fee scammers.

(You are welcome; we just saved you thousands of dollars being thrown away for an upfront fee company)

Contact any of these independent self-help groups if you have a question or concern about your timeshare.

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/

Thank you Irene and Haley, this industry is in dire need of a major shake up and regulation, the periphery companies such as resale, terminations and claims are a product of the greed of the major developers, with the lack of a resale market and the inability to terminate membership.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other article published on Inside Timeshare, use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Have you been contacted by a termination or claims company, or have found one on the internet and are not sure if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to check them.

Remember, by doing your due diligence and your homework, you will save thousands in the end.

Start the Week

We ended last week with the news of the 115th ruling from the Supreme Court, plus the news that judges in 3 courts at Maspalomas all made the same judgements in 4 cases against Anfi. All these were in accordance with those set down by the Supreme Court. This leaves us in no doubt that the law is very much set in stone.

Today is Memorial Day in the US, this is the equivalent of the UK’s Remembrance Sunday held in November, although some in the US may have lost sight of its meaning, lost in a sea of Memorial Day sales at auto dealers and shopping malls.   

“But at its heart, Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for those who have died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The history of Memorial Day

https://parade.com/479467/tamrabolton/memorial-day-what-the-holiday-really-means/

“This is not Veterans Day, it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom.”

Our favorite quote, out of 17 quotes, as it applies to our veterans helping veterans and active duty military and law enforcement, alleging they were fraudulently sold or up-sold a timeshare, best describes their efforts.

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”Mary Roach

https://parade.com/670587/lindsaylowe/17-memorial-day-quotes-on-sacrifice-gratitude-and-patriotism/

Inside Timeshare has heard from over 50 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement. Decorated war heroes join Timeshare Wars, hoping the industry will acknowledge the harm done to those who have sacrificed their physical, and sometimes mental health, to protect even those who seek to do them financial harm. The consequences of predatory timeshare sales and lending can be devastating, as described by many military families reaching out to Inside Timeshare, asking for help.

   

It would seem that the “fake lawyers” AG Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family may have stopped cold calling, but the scam has now moved on the familiar cheques has been sent, but the envelope is open and the cheque is missing.

The same story which we reported last year, the only difference is that the gang of Romanians has now been replaced by Ukrainians!

There is now a new law firm which has been charged by the court to investigate and sort this out for the clients, Elias Elisa SA, yet another fake law firm. (See link below for the previous article).

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

Just to remind you, the courts do not send cheques through the post to payout clients, these “firms” are all fake. With this new phase of the scam underway, it is more then likely that the website will soon be down, so we just wait and see what new name comes up. If you get a call from a “Law Firm” that tells you your timeshare company is being taken to court and you can join in the action, contact Inside Timeshare and let us know.

Inside Timeshare has also received several enquiries about a new firm that has started contacting timeshare owners, Harrison Moorcroft Litigation Limited, based at Harlow Enterprise Centre Kao Hockham Building, Edinburgh Way, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2NQ.

This company was registered on 9 October 2017 at Company House, with the registration number 11001924, so a fairly new company.

According to their website, they are not going after any timeshare company, but the banks that issued the finance agreements and the credit card companies.

https://www.harrisonmoorcroft.com/

Some parts of this post have been removed due to information which has come in since publication. It does look like they will be working in the interest of consumers.

With the proliferation of claims companies setting up it is making it very difficult for timeshare owners to know who to trust. Stick to the basic rules and remember, can they prove what they say, especially if the have only recently been registered as a company. If they claim to have links with well known law firms etc, check with them to verify the claim. We have seen too many companies claim they are working closely with known lawyers and companies, only to find out it is a fabrication. ,

If you are unsure on how to make any checks, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction. Remember do you homework and stay safe.

Friday’ Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America submitted by our very own Irene Parker, but first some news from the Gran Canaria.

Canarian Legal Alliance has had what can only be called a very successful and dramatic week in the courts. At the Supreme Court in Madrid the judges once again ruled in two cases against the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint. This now brings the total number of rulings by Spain’s Highest Court against the timeshare industry as a whole to a massive

There was also a High Court ruling in Tenerife against Silverpoint, plus two Courts of First Instance rulings in Gran Canaria against Anfi Del Mar. In all, clients will be receiving over 148,000€ plus legal interest.

In four cases at the Courts of First Instance, numbers 2, 4 and 5, with Anfi Resorts once again the defendants, all judges came to the same decision as per the rulings of the Supreme Court. The basis of the sentences varied from the lack of a tangible object found in the contract, floating weeks, along with the contracts being over 50 years in duration.

In all the courts have awarded these clients over 138,000€ plus legal interest, also in all seven cases the contracts have been declared null and void.

So seven very happy clients and no doubt celebrations at the offices of the lawyers.

Now for our Letter from America.

How I Made my Worst Enemy so Much Money in the Stock Market in Six Days he probably didn’t have to Work Anymore!

The Flip Side – Consumers Drowning in Debt

By Irene Parker

May 25, 2018

After a pathetically aggressive and deceptive timeshare presentation my husband and I attended in 2015, I started researching timeshare. We had owned three timeshares having bought our first two timeshares around 1984. I didn’t know how to use Facebook and knew little about Social Media. I started posting comments on places like Tripadvisor. One site responded to my post asking me to fill out a form describing my work and educational background. That seemed odd, but I responded that I had retired from Edward Jones Hawaii and had an MBA and a CFP. A few days later I received a call from one of the TheStreet editors. I almost fell over when he said TheStreet was Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money’s investment news service!   

My first TheStreet article was an “editor’s pick” about how I made my worst enemy so much money in six days he probably did not need to work again. Another article was about creating wealth. Given most of the 431 timeshare members who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are struggling with oppressive timeshare loan payments, credit card payments and maintenance fees, I republish my advice to graduates on how to avoid excessive debt. I published about twelve articles for TheStreet before finding my writing and advocacy home at Inside Timeshare. The education I received while working with four TheStreet editors, all possessing the patience of Job, felt like I had earned a degree in journalism.

I hope a developer or two will take the time to read about how two adversaries can come together for the good old fashioned goal of making tons of money. Shooting yourself in the foot by allowing deception to become the norm is unfair to the consumer and has devastated many families. Let’s together turn this ship around and drain the swamp of predatory and criminal sales agents. At least that is what they are if allegations hold true, according to several FBI agents I have talked to over the last year.

Doctor Khalil in my article and I had a grudging respect for each other that we weren’t even aware of. It is my hope the angry timeshare member and developer can come to a similar understanding for the good of the industry. The timeshare developer needs to wake up to the futility of allowing and encouraging sale by deception via overreliance on the oral representation clause, making the consumer sign a perpetual contract, often at a high loan interest rate, often with no secondary market. It can’t continue as it has. Social Media is here to stay.

My investment hero is Peter Lynch, former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan fund. As mentioned in my article, while sitting around waiting for my Series 7 score, I read Warren Buffett’s biography and Mr. Lynch’s book, One Up on Wall Street. Their sage advice guided my career. It was a great compliment when ValueWalk reposted my article referencing One Up on Wall Street. I may take a flyer once in a while, but I will always be a value investor at heart.  https://www.valuewalk.com/

May 22, 2016

 https://www.thestreet.com/story/13576145/1/the-markets-crashed-my-first-day-as-a-stockbroker-and-here-s-what-i-did-next.html

The consumer is not off the hook. My mother would admonish anyone who financed a luxury item like a timeshare at 12% to 18% for ten years, often relying on a 20% or higher interest rate timeshare credit card. That doesn’t make any sense, according to my mom.     

Predatory Credit Card Lending – Graduates Beware!

Heed the Cardinal Rule of Investing

How the Time Value of Money can grow $50 a month to $1 Million  

Originally published by TheStreet June 11, 2016

What does this have to do with timeshare?

Don’t finance a luxury item at 12% to 18% as this has been driving some families into foreclosure and sometimes bankruptcy. I don’t think there is a financial planner in the land who would think this is a good idea.

Timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare describing how they have ended up in a financial timeshare wasteland. Tomorrow is my 67th birthday, which has caused me to reflect on my mother, who would have reacted violently, had she learned I financed a vacation at 12% to 18% for ten years.

The importance of prudent borrowing and paying yourself first

First off, buy no vacation plan unless you are maxing out your 401K, 403B, IRA or company retirement saving plan. It’s always best to check with your accountant to determine whether a 401K or IRA is the best choice. The Roth IRA is of great benefit to younger people. But this is not an article about retirement vehicles – it’s about encouraging graduates to start early.

To become better informed, read Jim Cramer’s book, Get Rich Carefully, and then simply check yes to something, preferably 15% payroll deduction.

Here is my TheStreet article about my mom’s extraordinary forced savings plan and about how $50 a week starting early can end up over a million $. Please pass this lesson on to your upcoming graduate.

   

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13603800/1/recent-college-graduates-heed-this-cardinal-rule-of-investing-now.html

My mom drilled into me the time value of money principle every Friday night from the third grade until my high school graduation. This principle is so simple you would think it would not even need to be mentioned. Unfortunately, as an Edward Jones broker, only about one in twenty of my 1,200 client families working towards financial independence, got it. Many did not max out their 401K, 403B or self-employed retirement account.

My mother’s retirement savings method was extraordinary. Her finance education was nothing more than a bookkeeping class she took in high school; but she was a walking MBA. My father flunked 7th grade three times due to something about the school basketball team. He started and failed in six businesses, narrowly escaping a second bankruptcy. I was born into a dry cleaners, his seventh attempt at business.

The first thing my mother did was to hire an accountant. She had had it with financial mismanagement. The accountant, John Schmuck of Ferguson, Missouri, warned my mother, “Whatever you do – keep Johnny out of the books!”

On my ninth birthday, I was informed I was to start helping with the Friday payroll. Mom told me about her “background fund”. Every Friday night she would point to the checkbook balance and a number she recorded in a secret location. She would say each week, “This is our background money – and you are not to tell your father about it unless I die.” It was a lot to absorb at age nine. You see, if the dry cleaners took in $200 in a day, but had $100 in bills to pay, Mom would only record the balance as $100 so my dad would think they were broke. My Mom kept up this charade for 27 years! At age 65, my parents stopped by a Cadillac dealer. Mom pointed to a powder blue Cadillac and asked Dad, “Do you like this one Johnny?” He nodded. Mom looked at the salesman and said, “We’ll take this one.”  She wrote a check, turned to my dad and told him he could retire.

One of my brokerage clients was a cartoonist. She took this story and made it into a cartoon booklet. I handed out 2,000 copies to help build my brokerage business on the Big Island of Hawaii, currently erupting. I had just opened my brokerage office in Honoka’a. The local police officer went up and down the street warning residents not to invest money with this haole lady (haole means in Hawaiian “one who has no life” because the Hawaiians thought the white sailors were ghosts) as I would in all likelihood take their money and abscond back to the mainland. At the time, the local insurance agents were selling whole life insurance policies as an investment.

Undeterred, learning the sugar plantation had closed, and workers could not get their pension benefits, but could get Social Security disability benefits, I lobbied the ILWU. It took about a year, but they amended the plan, workers received their benefits. I began receiving calls like, “You’re the only haole we trust!”  My business flourished as $50 million in assets flowed in.

But – back to the cardinal rule of investing. The most important principle my mother taught me was – PAY YOURSELF FIRST!  As I typed payroll checks, she would point to the list of employees and sadly say, “You see these people! They live from paycheck to paycheck! Think of yourself as a light bill or a telephone bill. You would not miss paying those bills. Don’t wait until you pay your bills to see if anything is left over to save!” Pay yourself first!

If you heed my mother’s advice here is what can happen based on historical stock market performance:

Age 25 – first job at $40,000 per year – 15% of pretax earnings = $6,000

$6,000 in annual 401K contributions

(The Wow of throwing an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 a year in payroll taxes – to the IRS – and what that could have grown to if invested in a 401K convinced a lot of people to get with the program) To continue:

N = number of years (35) to work to age 60

8% – Average estimated growth rate or total return with dividends and capital gains reinvested

The estimated future value at age 60: $1,116,612.

Liquidating or receiving in dividends and capital gains 5% of portfolio income each year in retirement: $55,830 estimated annual investment income.

Most people can comfortably retire on 70% of current income (you should be earning more at age 60 than the $40,000 a year you started out with at age 25).

Sadly, it was not unusual for someone age 45 to come to my office and tell me they needed to start saving for retirement with nothing yet saved. This scenario:

Age 45 earning $40,000 = $6000 saved annually

N = 15 years until age 60 and average estimated growth rate – 8%

Future value estimate at age 65: $175,945.

5% of the $175,945 would generate an estimated $8,797 a year in income

The examples illustrate the power of the time value of money. I went through this exercise with all new clients and watched their eyes widen as my now ancient 12C HP Calculator blinked out the good or bad news. I recently showed my estate planning law firm how it works. Despite being a highly skilled law firm, my little calculator caused shock and awe. Teachers were the best savers; maybe because of the steady paycheck and their expertise in education.

Make sure to pencil in ten minutes every birthday to keep your annual scorecard by updating the numbers. There are an abundance of retirement estimators on the internet. My husband and I had kids to send to college, pitfalls and financial disasters, but overall, we kept the 15% rolling.

Thanks to our pharmaceutical bioavailability laboratory, my jumping ship to learn the ropes of Wall Street, and prudent investing, my husband and I retired at age 55. We don’t live in a palatial home or drive an expensive car, but we enjoy our comfortable lifestyle.

And you know what else? Not one of my clients ever told me they were sorry I made them save all that money.

Thank you Irene, a change from our normal theme, Next week in the Tuesday Slot we publish a story from Haley Saldana, another new contributor and her story of woe.

If you need any help or advice about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, whether is be about claiming or just getting out of your timeshare, use our contact page and we will give the correct information.

So that’s it for this week, it’s Friday and the weekend is now upon us, have fun and join us next week with more news from the world of timeshare.

Mid Week Report

One of our regular readers has sent in a link to another website giving David Cox a bashing, it certainly looks like he has annoyed a lot of people. Well that is not surprising, he does attack anyone with his ranting lies and false information, all to try and give himself and his company TESS Paralegal Services Ltd credibility.

This website which was registered at the end of March, is hard hitting and well written, the author or authors who have remained anonymous for obvious reasons, also seem to have a sense of humour.

It goes on to vilify his writing skills or rather lack of, calling him “Dyslexic Dave” and “David “The Dunce” Cox”, but it also explains that he is also under investigation by Avon & Somerset Police due to his dealings with Mark Rowe and Monster Credits. The article also asks the question why his rants against Monster have been removed from his website, after all he did even attack his former partner.

Inside Timeshare knows he has been sent legal notice of action to remove his posts, as yet no response from him has been received by Inside Timeshare or any of the other parties involved. No new posts have been published since the end of March, he just seems to have melted away into the shadows where he belongs.

He has duped timeshare owners all over the UK first with his ownership of the Timeshare Consumer Association, which was once run by the late and esteemed Sandy Grey, then using that platform to enhance his own business TESS. The people we feel sorry for are the poor consumers who have been taken in by this charlatan.

Click on the link below and have a bit of a laugh.

http://timeshareexitsupportservices.com/

Silverpoint Ordered to Payout Immediately.

One Belgian client of Canarian Legal Alliance has now been paid over 100,000€ by the Court of First Instance, Arona, Tenerife. In this case the court ordered to Silverpoint to pay immediately and also declared the contract null and void.

The Barrister for CLA has received the payment and this is now being transferred to the clients personal account. This is not the full amount as the court are still calculating other sums due the client.

It is obvious from this, the courts are taking a dim view at Silverpoints continual delaying tactics, which has resulted in delays and considerable court time in chasing up. There is also a system of embargoes which the court can enforce, this will freeze assets and bank accounts, allowing the court to withdraw the funds at their will.

Canarian Legal Alliance have also set into place a system where they now have lawyers whose task is to file these embargoes with the court and enforce the settlement in favour of their clients.

Silverpoint have a history of delaying and this is a clear warning from the courts that they will no longer tolerate this behaviour. It is a good sign for the many client that have cases against this company, speeding up the return of their money.

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/silverpoint-forced-courts-pay-100000e/

Another warning is being issued about a fake law firm called Abogados Lopez, operating out of Malaga and Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. They use the telephone numbers:

0034 951242867

0034602654670 (mobile)

The scam is very simple and they are very adept at making consumers believe them.

The call comes from a woman (possibly Dutch) called Hope Brugge, in her call she seems to know many details, that the case is going to be heard in court the following day. The next call is to say that the court has found in the client’s favour and awarded Ex amount.

To have this money released the client needs to send an amount via bank transfer to an account in the name of an individual, they are using numerous accounts and names.

This is also backed up by fake but official looking paperwork, do not be taken in by them, if you do have a case with a law firm, contact them for verification before engaging with Hope Brugge and paying any money.

This is a very well laid out fraud.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any article published, then use our contact page and we will get back to you.

Been contacted by a company, found one on the internet and not sure if they are genuine, then ask Inside Timeshare, we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with Irene, today we welcome yet another new contributor Mike Yelton, edited as always by our very own Irene Parker. This article will also be of interest to our readers in Europe, as many have been victims of similar tactics, so we are asking our readers, both members and hopefully developers, to weigh in on the discussion questions posted throughout Mr. Yelton’s article.  

The deception that prompts the presentation, as happened to Mike and Joyce Yelton,  is often the reason why the ultimate end is the timeshare exit company when the developer will not address these issues.  

If the developer would clean up the sales process, the back end of the timeshare exit problem would go away, or at least be reduced. Until the developer owns up to their being a part of the problem, the angry and desperate timeshare owner is here to stay..

Is Freewheeling Credit Card Lending Here Again!?

The Over Reliance on Credit Card Lending

Our Stormy Point Village, Summerwinds Experience

By Mike Yelton, Army and Air Force Vietnam Veteran

May 22, 2018  

Introduction by Irene Parker

Was this Elder Fraud?  

Was this Credit Card Fraud?

Was this an Unfair and Deceptive trade practice?

Was Summerwinds resolution to the Yelton’s offer fair?

Inside Timeshare has been receiving an increase in complaints about timeshare credit cards opened onsite and credit card charges made without authorization. This is exactly what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau worked so hard to put a halt to when Wells Fargo agents opened credit card accounts without the cardholder’s knowledge. Undeterred, Wells Fargo moved on to a $1 billion penalty announced April 20, 2018. This penalty was levied due in part to interest rate-lock promises. Mike and Joyce Yelton’s timeshare upgrade experience is somewhat similar, although they were promised a rate lowering.   

Another Wells Fargo Settlement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) announced a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in a coordinated action with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). As described in the consent order, the Bureau found that Wells Fargo violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) in the way it administered a mandatory insurance program related to its auto loans. The Bureau also found that Wells Fargo violated the CFPA in how it charged certain borrowers for mortgage interest rate-lock extensions. Under the terms of the consent orders, Wells Fargo will remediate harmed consumers and undertake certain activities related to its risk management and compliance management. The Bureau assessed a $1 billion penalty against the bank and credited the $500 million penalty collected by the OCC toward the satisfaction of its fine.

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/bureau-consumer-financial-protection-announces-settlement-wells-fargo-auto-loan-administration-and-mortgage-practices/

Here’s what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Yelton. I have interspersed discussion questions hoping our readers will offer their input in our comment section. We encourage responses from the industry in addition to reader responses. We hope meaningful dialogue will help bridge the gap between the angry timeshare member and the timeshare provider.         

By Mike Yelton

My wife Joyce and I, both 79 years of age, bought a Stormy Point Village timeshare in Branson, Missouri in 2015 and upgraded in 2016. We enjoyed our stays there and had no major complaints until December 2017 when we attended what they said was a ‘mandatory update meeting’. We were told that if we did not attend we would lose our benefits. At that meeting we feel we were deceived and lied to. We may be older, but we are not stupid.

Discussion Question 1

Do you think it is fair for a timeshare member, who has made a prior purchase of a deeded week, be required to attend an update, threatened with the risk of losing their benefits if they did not attend? The Yelton’s would not have become angry owners had they not attended the meeting and we would not be writing this article.    

At this mandatory update, the salespeople presented what they described as a “change in need” or an exchange in benefits. We were led to believe it was not an upgrade. They said they could lower the interest on our loan if we opened a new lower interest rate credit card.

Discussion Question 2 & 3

Do you think this was more an attempt to open credit card accounts and sell an upgrade, rather than actually addressing the customer’s needs?

Was the “change in need” enough of a reason to tell the Yelton’s they would lose their benefits if they did not attend?

Due to our health we cannot travel far from home. We don’t live far from Branson. We were told if we wanted to limit our use to just Branson, two weeks could be broken down into four parts. We signed the papers, but later we found out we had purchased an upgrade which we did not want or could afford.

We felt we had become a victim of the unauthorized opening of credit card accounts and unauthorized charges made. We were not aware the cards had been opened or that an amount had been charged. We didn’t know the cards had been opened until not one, but two Bank of America credit cards showed up in the mail! We had agreed to one card being opened because they said it would be at a lower interest. It was never mentioned the card was being opened for the purpose of buying an upgrade. The cards have been canceled as Bank of America agreed they were opened without our knowledge.

Discussion Question 4

Was it deceptive to tell the Yelton’s the card was being opened to lower their interest rate if charges were made to make a purchase? What could have been done so that the Yelton’s would have been aware the card was being charged to purchase a timeshare product? From members young and old, we are hearing about credit cards opened and charged, and even loans taken out when the member was not aware. It seems the first thing a sales agent does is to run the card to determine the credit limit and then back into the maximum point purchase.  

To our utter dismay we learned that the sales agent charged $7,000 on a card opened in my name and $4,000 on a card opened in Joyce’s name! The salesperson told us we could charge up to $11,000 on the card but he NEVER said he was actually charging that amount of money or that he was opening two cards. He just charged it without even asking! We both were there. He told us we would get a check in the mail, which we should sign and send in, in an envelope that would be included with the check. We have no idea what the check was about, but no check ever arrived.

Discussion Question 5

Should the sales agent have explained to the Yelton’s why they would receive a check in the mail? This question was asked to encourage timeshare buyers to challenge vague statements like this. For example, Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from members purchasing additional points because they say they were told “You can pay your maintenance fees by charging purchases on the new credit card.” The problem is – the consumer typically does not ask the next question: What is the actual value? If 1% is credited, a family would have to charge $100,000 in one year to pay a $1,000 maintenance fee bill.    

We expected Summerwind to cancel the deceptive upgrade. We sent a letter of complaint to Summerwinds which they ignored. We then filed a complaint with the BBB which did get a response. Summerwinds asked us to take down the complaint so we could discuss the issue without a third party. They offered us a cancellation on the upgrade but not a full cancellation of our timeshare, which would have required the prior outstanding loan be cancelled.   

Discussion Question 6

Do you think the offer Summerwinds proposed was fair?

We will allow the cancellation of the last upgrade.

The debt prior to this purchase is still your responsibility.

We will start the first year of use for 2019 on the new contract. We will give you one free week in a 2 bedroom unit for use in 2018.

We will refund the amounts placed on the cards and any payments made to the lender since the time of your upgrade.

They never apologized for opening the second card or charging the credit cards without our knowledge. We had some good times at Summerwinds, but because of this experience, we have lost all faith in Summerwinds. We dread checking in.

Discussion Question 7

Should Summerwinds have apologized for the mistakes? Lawyers will be quick to respond….but not so fast. Hug your Haters author Jay Baer, obtained this answer from attorney and litigator Michael Laskey of Davis and Gilbert law firm in New York City.    

“In some corners of the business universe, anyone interacting with customers is prohibited from saying (or typing) an apology, because it is believed – by particularly Draconian attorneys – that it could weaken the company’s position in a legal proceeding.” “In the world of Charles Dickens, ‘If that’s the law, then the law is an ass,’”

Mr. Laskey emphasized that of course companies should be careful about what they say, but the answer is not to ever say “I’m sorry.” p 125

http://insidetimeshare.com/?s=hug+your+haters

So there you have it. Mr. Yelton has produced lots of food for thought. This is the YouTube Mr. and Mrs. Yelton produced. https://youtu.be/a1XCF479oa8

We hope you will express your thoughts on our comment section.

Summerwinds Resorts Services, LLC has a BBB rating of F

https://www.bbb.org/stlouis/business-reviews/timeshare-companies/summerwinds-resort-services-llc-in-branson-mo-29040/reviews-and-complaints

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from all branches of the military as well as law enforcement. We have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, Active Duty military and government workers. We encourage those who have been assisted by our efforts to make a donation to this worthy organization. https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

I have never served my country, but I am honored to serve those who have by providing the means to let their voices be heard. Thank you to Mike for joining Inside Timeshare as a contributor and for your service to our country.

Additional self-help groups that can aid in your due diligence:

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/

In Europe we have not yet seen this use of credit cards, but we are familiar with finance being arranged by the sales staff, the main provider of theses loan agreements is Barclays Partner Finance. We have many readers who have informed us that they told the sales staff they could not afford the timeshare as they were only on pensions.

Yet after many hours of high pressure sales tactics they eventually agreed to finance being provided, the unfortunate thing is the usual due diligence checks such as income versus outgoings reports have never been done. Eventually this has ended in severe financial hardship.

It has also been the case that many of these loans have been brokered by unauthorised and unlicensed staff and companies. Yet the banking industry still allows these agreements to take place, putting yet more people in financial crisis.

If you have any comments or questions on this or any article published, Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

 

Start the Week

Just as we were about to publish last Friday’s Letter from America, news came in from the Court of First Instance Number 3, Abona, Tenerife on the sentence made against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL.

In this case the court ruled on several infringements of the law 42/98, thus the court ruled that the contract was declared null and void with the client to receive a total of £44,790 which included double the deposit taken illegally on the day. (See PDF of sentence below)

1st N3 Diamond data protected (cla)

The EU Timeshare Directive 2008/122/EC which supersedes previous one along with the Spanish law states that no deposit shall be taken within the 14 day cancellation period (cooling off) even by a third party.

It is also stipulated that the consumer must also be informed of this prohibition in writing, failure to do so along with other information required by law, extends the cooling off period to 90 days. The courts are penalising resorts by paying the consumer double the amount taken within that period.

We have seen some sales decks using the method of issuing a voucher for accomodation, or even moving the purchaser into the resort and stating the payment was for accomodation, the courts have determined that this is indeed a payment to a third party to secure the sale, so is classified as a deposit.

Up until January 1999 most contracts were in what is known as perpetuity, or never ending. It was thought that as the original concept of timeshare was looked at as property, perpetuity appeared to be good thing. The law makers decided that contracts should be for a minimum of 3 years with a maximum of 50 years.

The thinking behind this was simple, it was felt that it is inherently unfair to saddle the children of purchasers with an ongoing debt for maintenance on a contract they did not instigate or sign.

The idea of “floating weeks & points” systems was made illegal due to the fact that they lacked any substance. With the fixed week system each purchaser was given a specific week number and apartment number. This was then logged at the land registry, this also had the effect of stopping overselling and guaranteed the purchaser a specific week in a specific apartment.

With the floating weeks and points systems you own nothing apart from a right of use which is subject to availability. You became a member of a vacation club rather than an owner with specific rights.

The sales of these were not governed to the same extent, therefore the resort was able to double, triple or even quadruple its membership. In other words have more members than actual weeks available, so actually being able to get your preferred date became a lottery.

It also has the advantage of more income in regard to maintenance fees, so obviously more profit!

There are other laws which are also being used in bringing these cases, they range from Civil Consumer Laws, Mercantile law and Criminal Law. All this is to protect the consumer and regulate an industry that for many years did what it liked, believing it could not be touched.

See PDF’ below for the English & Spanish version of Law 42/98 and EU Directive 2008/122/EC

42-1998 in english

42-1998 in spanish

eu_timeshare_directive_2008 Highlighted

There are many companies springing up now who will tell you that you do have a claim, many will entice you with a “no win no fee” offer. But then in order to do this you must first pay for a cancellation, this will cost thousands and as many of our readers have since found out, their contracts have not been terminated.

At present the only country in Europe that is seeing cases going to court is Spain, so unless your purchase was in Spain after January 1999, with the main criteria as above, then you may not actually have a claim possible.

If you have been contacted or have found one of these companies on the internet, it is important that you do your homework and check them out thoroughly. If you need any help in doing this then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, in this article which replaces the one scheduled, which we pulled once again at the last minute due to a very good response from the timeshare company, Irene Parker explains how US timeshare owners can file a complaint.

In Europe, Spain leads the way in protecting consumers of timeshare, we do understand that in the US, each state is responsible for their own laws, there seem to be no federal laws which govern the sale of timeshare. Europe has tried to unify how timeshare is sold, the unfortunate thing is that in many states the industry (with their large corporate law firms) have held sway.

Spain, which was one of the main areas where timeshare resorts were being developed, has suffered from the bad press associated with the industry. People being hijacked on the street while on holiday, bundled into taxis to endure hours of hard sell by unscrupulous sales agents. Although the blame must be on the sales and marketing companies,who paid only on results, commission only. Many start out okay, but the pressure to produce is enormous and an agent can be forced out by being given poor quality “ups” if they don’t produce.

The European Union developed a series of timeshare directives which each member state had to enact into domestic law, many have watered them down, Spain on the other hand decided that they needed to be strengthened and enacted Law 42/98.

This law came into force in January 1999, since then it has been strengthened by Law 4/12 along with the many Supreme Court rulings.

This now gives consumers more protection, no deposits within a 14 day cooling off period, no contract longer than 50 years, no points or floating weeks systems, with many other safeguards.

There are other laws which protect the consumer which are being used in the many cases coming before the courts, these include the civil consumer laws, mercantile law and by no means least, criminal law.

The way consumers are enticed to attend presentations has also been looked into, OPC’s are now regulated and licensed, unlike before. Infringements of the regulations can result in very severe penalties.

Timeshare in Europe has a very bad reputation because of the past, the original concept cannot be faulted, it is the greed around the sales that is to blame. We know this to be true due to the closing of many sales decks, with many of the sales agents now working for the “bogus” law firms and claims companies that are springing up on an almost daily basis.

Inside Timeshare is doing what it can to warn consumers of these companies, but as soon as we identify one there is another to replace it. Litigious Abogados is a great case in point, changing names every few months but the “scam” is the same.

It is only through the help of our readers that many of them are identified, as owners / members working together we will be able to protect the timeshare community.Now for this weeks Letter from America.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (May 2018 revision)

Start with the Attorneys General Office

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

May 18, 2018

By Irene Parker

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear. Rosa Parks

Inside Timeshare received 425 US timeshare complaints as of May 16, 2018 (238 was the number of complaints reported as of our last revision 12/15/17). An escalation in the criminal nature of member allegations, especially those voiced by 45 active duty and retired military and law enforcement, led us to the FBI (9 members of the military/law enforcement reported allegations of timeshare fraud as of 12/15). Some fear they could lose their Security Clearances due to a foreclosure on their record. Active duty military feel this is a threat to our national security as just about anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points.

Members need to be especially vigilant about “Get you out of your timeshare” firms because many are scams. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ (TAG) has a scam research team formed by members who have themselves been scammed. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups listed below if you are contacted by someone you don’t know offering to help you get out of a timeshare.

This US Department of Justice timeshare scam report details the extent of the problem. Based on 425 complaints, our advocates feel the front of the timeshare sale contains a comparable level of criminal activity.  

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

Timeshare developers created the criminal cottage industry of transfer and exit scams by overreliance on the oral representation clause, iron clad developer based contracts, the lack of an adequate secondary market, and ingrained deception run amuck, according to reported complaints. The vast majority of our readers are highly professional, educated citizens with credit scores around 800 who have rarely been late paying a bill. Identical complaints, directed against the same sales agent, sometimes in cooperation with a manager or vice president, can establish a pattern of complaints.

It is one thing to say I am a sinner, but let someone else say that about me and then I feel it – I am up in arms. If I am falsely accused I may suffer, whereas if correction be found on even a small reality – something in me having deserved it – then often that hurts more. We must be happy that our faults are known as they are. Mother Teresa

With no way out if the timeshare company refuses to even acknowledge the deception, hiring a lawyer or foreclosure were the only options until real consumer advocates formed Timeshare Advocacy Group™ – bridging the gap between the developer and the member harmed. At times it felt like turning the Titanic, but closing gaps on social issues never comes easy and some causes take longer than a lifetime. Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus at great peril to her safety, but Rosa reached a decision that enough was enough and action was needed. It was a small action, but one that led to great changes. Educator and activist Parker Palmer explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK0dXNK94BM

Almost all members have reported their timeshare company responded to their allegations of deceit with, “Sorry, you signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” This knee jerk dismissal is backed up by some Attorneys General, via their timeshare divisions, responding the same. Unscrupulous timeshare sales agents realize this of course, so the hamster wheel of recycled inventory never ceases beginning with “It’s not a sales presentation.” If there is still truth in advertising, change needs to begin there.   

According to the FBI and to lawyers consulted, it is not legal to hide behind fine print, but it takes volumes of complaints to raise a regulator’s eyebrow. The Federal Trade Commission released its summary report of 2017 complaints listing travel, vacation, and timeshare as one of the most costly frauds at $1,710, although complaints we have received from members range from $25,000 to $400,000 or more. We wish members were only losing $1,710.   

Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population.

https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/04/06/ftc-releases-2017-complaint-statistics/493425002/

According to the FBI,

White-collar crimes are characterized by deceit, concealment, or violation of trust and are not dependent on the application or threat of physical force or violence. The motivation behind these crimes is financial—to obtain or avoid losing money, property, or services or to secure a personal or business advantage. These are not victimless crimes. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three).

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of financial institution fraud known as “fraud for profit”:

Fraud for profit: Those who commit this type of mortgage fraud are often industry insiders using their specialized knowledge or authority to commit or facilitate the fraud. Current investigations and widespread reporting indicate a high percentage of mortgage fraud involves collusion by industry insiders, such as bank officers, appraisers, mortgage brokers, attorneys, loan originators, and other professionals engaged in the industry. Fraud for profit aims not to secure housing, but rather to misuse the mortgage lending process to steal cash and equity from lenders or homeowners. The FBI prioritizes fraud for profit cases.

https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

The FBI has advised our members, if the allegation involves credit card fraud, the member should also file a complaint with the Secret Service.

https://ask.metafilter.com/81136/Should-I-call-the-Secret-Service-over-credit-card-fraud

The two most common complaints reported:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points
  • They said I could pay maintenance fees by charging purchases to a credit card, neglecting to add only about 1% of each purchase is credited to maintenance fees. Some fell for bogus maintenance fee relief programs. Already struggling, they buy more points.

How Advocacy Works

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is organized into seven teams:

  1. Team 1 is our Reporting Team. Once the timeshare member has related their concern or grievance, the member submits their written complaint to the timeshare company. If ignored or the member receives a negative response, the complaint is forward to one of six advocates assigned to a specific regulatory or law enforcement agency. For example, Sheilah Brust is our go to person for the FBI and the Secret Service. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-4/
  2. Team 2 is our Legislative Team. Members on this team reach out to sympathetic lawmakers to advocate for better disclosure. It would be nice to know that the timeshare you just bought for $100,000 had little or no secondary market the moment you signed the contract. TAG has received an alarming number of complaints from seniors 75 to 85 who have signed timeshare contracts for $100,000 or more. Not one of the 425 members reaching out to Inside Timeshare realized their timeshare in all likelihood could not be sold, even when costing as much as a house.
  3. Team 3 is our Military Team. We encourage anyone who has resolved their timeshare complaint as a result of our efforts to make a donation to Whistleblowers of America. WOA is a non-profit that seeks justice for active duty and veteran members of the military and government workers. WOA has supported our efforts by helping to distribute our articles. Our timeshare fraud report was presented as part of a Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018.  https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/
  4.  Team 4 is our foreclosure support group. Facing cruel and relentless debt collection calls can be an overwhelming experience for anyone who has rarely been late on a bill, but for those who have recently lost a spouse the experience is devastating. Some members of this team have been through this and are determined to stay involved to fight Elder Fraud especially.
  5. Team 5 is our Scam Research team. This team consists of members who themselves have been scammed. There is a very dark side to this illegal industry. We are careful in our approach.
  6. Team 6 is our Media Team. Given state regulators backing up the timeshare company by responding, “You should not have relied on verbal representation” or “You have no proof” the Court of Public Opinion and Outcry is the only court open in some states.
  7. Team 7 is our Technology team.  We have a support staff of volunteers to assist those without access to a computer due to age, illness or disability. This team also provides YouTube production support.

Contact Inside Timeshare or email Irene Parker at [email protected] or call 270-303-7572 EST if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Feel free to call any day of the week from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST. It’s best to schedule a call. All calls and emails are returned within 24/48 hours.

Now it’s time to begin filling out the form. Before you begin, raise your right hand.

Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God? It is important to present your information factually and without opinion or inflammatory language.

Our advocates are not attorneys and we do not provide legal advice. We have researched regulatory agencies and are here to direct consumers to the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies listed below. We have also developed media relationships and will continue to work with broadcast and print media to alert the general public as to what questions to ask before buying a timeshare. Life events can change your life in an instant or a day. If your timeshare provides no secondary market, it can make a member feel a hostage to their vacation plan. It’s a good idea to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out whether your timeshare has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

How to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Current Loan Balance

Loan Number

Current Maintenance Fees

Name of Credit Card if one was used

What do you want? Do you seek Refund or Relinquishment?

Why? Is it due to Deception, Health, Age or Financial Burden?

If your investment is $40,000 or less and you owned and used your timeshare for ten years or more consider relinquishment. There can be no loan outstanding and maintenance fees need to be current.

Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded as will a request based on not being able to afford the timeshare. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say you can’t afford it. The difference is you can sell your home. Your complaint should be filed with the FBI only if there are credible and serious allegations of deceit and bait and switch. If you feel you were deceived, list the reasons why.   

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

It is better to state your narrative as a narrative referring back to the contracts and figures at the top of your complaint. Begin with when you first became involved with the company and proceed chronologically. Keep your history brief up to the point when things began to go wrong.

After you complete your complaint, email it to the appropriate resort department or to TAG if you need help with your complaint. Expect to be denied. Typically your resort reviewer will restate your concerns, produce your initials and signatures, point out the oral representation clause and inform you, “If something was important to you, you should have asked for it to be put in the contract.” File a rebuttal if you disagree with their response.

Depending on the seriousness of your complaint, your advocate may forward your complaint to the firm’s public relations office or firm and to ARDA, the timeshare industries PAC, for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics. ARDA’s Code of Ethics can be found on ARDA’s website.

We do not recommend owners make the voluntary opt in or opt out ARDA ROC contribution on your maintenance fee invoice. It is the opinion of our advocates that although ARDA lobbies for the industry and for timeshare members, when the issue at stake is one that is at odds with members, members lose because they have no voice. We also forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners. AVO has been tracking our complaints for research purposes. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-3/

Mark your email to the resort urgent if you are in financial distress. It is best to file a complaint before the debt collectors are hounding. The member will report back to us if the issue is resolved. Due to the required non-disclosure or mutual release form, terms and conditions will not be discussed.

The FBI complaint website is called IC3.gov which stands for Internet Crime. This is a bit confusing. IC is the name of the portal. That doesn’t mean it has to be an internet crime. We think they should have a white collar crime option to avoid this confusion. Click IC3 as your choice when filing. https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Serious allegations of fraud should be reported orally by calling the FBI field office’s public access line available 24/7 (see Sheilah’s article). Sometimes your local field office will pay closer attention than say Las Vegas, where losing money is a tourist attraction. You can find your nearest field office from this website.

https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices

The next step is to file a complaint first with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed your contract and where you live. It can take a month or more to hear back from an AG but once your complaint has been accepted, debt collectors are not allowed to call. You can find any Attorney General by searching the state name and Attorney General.

If there was an unauthorized credit card charge or account opened or you feel you were deceived into signing off on a loan, you should file with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage) and select the bank that financed your loan or issued a credit card. This is the organization that helped Wells Fargo victims. The CFPB lost power after the roll back of the Dodd Frank act March 2018. The Dodd Frank act was enacted after the abuses caused by subprime lending. The CFPB is still considered a regulator. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

You should file a complaint with the state Real Estate Division in the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against a sales agent. Your advocate can help you find the agent’s ID number. Timeshare sales agents are real estate licensed in most states.

File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s BBB rating can be misleading in that the BBB only rates how efficiently a company responds to complaints. Sometimes the BBB allows you to log in and file a rebuttal.  

Most important, consider reaching out to local or national media. Reporters look for content and are surprisingly easy to reach. Write an article about your experience. The more people who come forward, the more the public is made aware of timeshare black holes before engaging in a timeshare sales presentation.

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The FBI at IC3.gov portal if you feel you were deceived by a bait and switch. For allegations of a serious nature also contact an FBI field office to file an oral tip. Have your facts and figures ready.
  • Attorneys General where you signed your contract. Most AG complaints can be filed online.
  • The Real Estate Division of the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against the agent.  
  • The media – the court of public opinion is often the only court available. Inside Timeshare, published in Spain, publishes timeshare articles online focusing primarily on the need for reform and oversight.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the mortgage option selecting the bank involved. Timeshare has dodged this regulatory bullet because most members don’t even know the identity of the lender as the timeshare company often services the loan. Timeshare companies are not an option from the CFPB’s drop-down menu.
  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • The Better Business Bureau
  • Lawmakers – The problem is the timeshare buyer typically does not buy in their state of residence which is why lawmakers don’t seem to take timeshare seriously. Still, any effort to contact lawmakers is encouraged.

If this sounds like work, it is, but you can file with some, all, or none of the agencies. We have a team of advocates who can answer questions and help guide you through the process. We feel “Action and Advocacy” is the way to change questionable timeshare business practices.  

If you are granted a positive outcome, you may not say or write anything disparaging about the resort, but there is no harm in staying involved by referring timeshare members who need help to Inside Timeshare or to one of the self-help groups listed below we know are not industry influenced.   

Who We Are and Why We Do This

Timeshare members contacting us are often struggling with maintenance fees and high interest rate loans. Venting on complaint sites has no effect whatsoever but an organized campaign to track complaints and report criminal activity has already born fruit in the form of Attorneys General settlements and a greater awareness.

If all else fails, we will refer to an attorney if the member can afford one. If you are forced into foreclosure, but have an otherwise unblemished credit report, you can write to the credit reporting agencies in an effort to explain why you were deceived and why you were not able to resolve your dispute.

I worked three years as a CASA supervisor, writing and editing court reports for Family Court on behalf of foster children. I find two commonalities between children of abuse, neglect or dependency and deceptive timeshare sales.

  1. The abnormal becomes the normal. After receiving 425 complaints, I fear deception is endorsed and encouraged by some timeshare companies. Of course not all sales agents are dishonest. Inside Timeshare endorses Disney Vacation Club because of their scarcity of complaints.
  2. Victims are silenced and isolated via non-disclosure agreements and arbitration. Buyers should opt out of arbitration immediately after signing a contract.   

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare. My husband and I owned three timeshares for 25 years with no problems or complaints. After we attended a pathetically aggressive sales presentation in 2015, I began researching the industry, writing articles and assisting timeshare victims. My solo effort has grown to a network of 44 Advocates. We are not compensated. We are volunteers. We hope there will come a day our advocacy group is not needed.

Self-help groups seek to provide 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/

http://tug2.net/

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2018 Irene Parker Timeshare Advocacy GroupTM

 

That’s it for this week, the weekend once again beckons so join us again next week for more news and information on the world of timeshare.

Latest news just in from the Court of First Instance Number 3 Abona Tenerife.

The judge in a case against Diamond Resorts Tenerife Sales SL, has declared the clients contract null and void. The infringments are the points system which has been made illegal, the contract in perpetuity, when the law stipulates that it should be for a maximum of 50 years and the taking of deposits within the cooling of period, which is also illegal even by a third party.

The client will now receive a total of £44,790 which includes double the deposit illegally taken, the court also awarded legal interest.

The laws in Spain have been put into place and strengthened by the Supreme Court to protect consumers, they are having a profound affect on the industry, which for too long believed it was untouchable.

Mid Week News

Inside Timeshare has received information from one of our readers involving Silverpoint in Tenerife, it is to do with the so-called “Company Participation” scheme they have been selling.

In this scheme, the clients for considerable amounts of money, in many cases in excess of more than 150,000€, clients purchase not shares but “participations” in companies set up to hold “freehold” apartments, which will then be rented out by Excel Resorts. (Allegedly).

Having seen the documents for this scheme, it doesn’t leave much to the imagination that they are not in the best interest of the clients.

This reader has been contacted by Ali Farhoud one of Silverpoints sales people by email, in this he tells the client what we already know, that Excel Resort Management have cancelled the rental contract with Silverpoint.

This does look like Silverpoint are no longer in a position to generate a sufficient rental income to satisfy their contractual promise to their clients who have purchased the participation scheme.

Apparently Mr Farhoud told our reader that he had helped clients sell their apartments with genuine sales companies. But he also added that many companies had said that the apartments with leases concluded with Excel were not saleable.

He has taken on the services of a lawyer, (we wonder if it is the same one Silverpoint use), on behalf of the clients and that the necessary Power of Attorney was being sought from the clients.

Having studied this scheme and reading the documentation, it is Inside Timeshares opinion that extreme caution should be exercised before signing any power of attorney. Do not rely on any lawyer appointed on your behalf, as with any business or property transaction you should always engage your own independent legal advice.

Continuing with our David Cox / TESS theme, we have just been told that it looks like Mr Cox is about to retire and that he is trying to find a buyer for his pathetic excuse of a company TESS Para Legal Ltd! To be perfectly honest who would purchase any company that has been associated with this individual?

It also begs the question where is this going to leave all his clients?

You have seen the list of his history with different companies, not the most impressive CV with many leaving debts in their wake!

He also seems to be a bit of a delusional character, a Walter Mitty if you like, according to Company House records he is Director of the following company:

D & B Cox Ltd, Company number 10658737

Tudor Croft 39-41 Headroomgate Road, Lytham St Annes, England, FY8 3BD

D & B COX LTD – Overview

According to the records the company is listed with its activities as:

80300 – Investigation activities

82990 – Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified

So does this mean he is also a “Private Detective”?

The address given is also very interesting, according to Google Maps and Street View, it is comprised of two rather large detached houses, number 39 and then number 41, two separate properties.

According to Zoopla, number 39 has a value of £411,000 and was last sold in August 2007. Number 41 has nothing listed for price or when last sold.

So either the registered address for his company is the two homes, or he has not been economical with the truth when registering his company!

On that point we leave it for you the reader to decide!

The Court of First Instance No 2, in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, has just issued the following sentence. Anfi have been ordered to repay one of their clients a total of 70,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. The infringement of the law in this particular case is the length of the contract, it was one in perpetuity, when the law only allows for a maximum period of 50 years.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding any part of this article, or would like to know where you stand with any product purchased, then use the contact page and get in touch.

Have you been called or found a company on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot with Irene we welcome a new contributor and member to the Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook Group, Jenny Baldner, edited and introduction by Irene Parker. In this article Jenny gives her way of avoiding those persistent “update meetings”.

In response to Marcy’s comment about US Consumer Attorneys in Friday’s Letter from America, another Veteran has come forward worried about the $6,000 he paid US Consumer Attorneys after he was not allowed out of his timeshare. George Yamada served his country in Vietnam. He is 70% disabled, exposed to Agent Orange.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 44 veterans and Active Duty members of the military and law enforcement alleging timeshare fraud. Those who have put their life and health on the line for us should not have to suffer timeshare abuse that can ruin their retirement.

Last week after publishing Friday’s Letter from America, news came in of yet another Supreme Court ruling from Spain’s Highest Court in Madrid, Once again the lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance secured the ruling against Silverpoint in Tenerife, making the number rulings from this court a massive 112!

The judges in this case ordered that the client be awarded over 80,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest, with the contract being declared null and void. So another happy ex-timeshare owner.

Considering the above and what has been published in the past, it seems strange that David Cox of TESS is still very quiet, still nothing published since his diatribe against Inside Timeshare, Canarian Legal Alliance and Praetorian Legal back in March.

Could it be he has run out of thoughts (not difficult for someone without a brain), or just forgotten how to write, not that he could write anyway, or is it he knows that he has landed himself in the proverbial legal dung heap!

We actually suspect that this enterprise is going the same way as all the others he has been involved with, LIQUIDATION!

https://tesstimesharefacts.com/news/david-cox-bernadette-cox-disolve-companies-faster-alker-seltza-glass-water/

Now for this Tuesdays article.

A Fair and Balanced Timeshare Review

By Jenny Baldner

May 15, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

Two common timeshare complaints are:

There is never any availability!

You can always book cheaper online!

I don’t agree with either comment, but it is also true there are many times it is cheaper to book online than use vacation points. My mission is to slow the growth of deceit and bait and switch tactics used to sell points, inspired by the evolution of the points based timeshare product.

Today Jenny Baldner shares her fair and balanced opinion along with her words of wisdom on how to dodge efforts to get her to attend sales presentations. Jenny is a Diamond Resorts member, but Inside Timeshare has heard complaints from members who own points of several timeshare companies. More than a few members have told us the only reason they want out is because of the herculean efforts of greeters to get you to sit down for that 90 minute presentation that can end up taking as long as nine hours. Nine hours has been the record so far.    

The only comment of Jenny’s that I don’t agree with is “since we are stuck with it for life.” The old adage holds true. The only two things we are stuck with are dying and paying taxes. Developers are finally starting to wake up to the fact that ironclad one sided perpetual contracts, accompanied by rising maintenance fees, with little or no secondary market, are a one way ticket to disaster. As always, don’t pay anyone any money to get you out of your timeshare without checking with one of the self-help groups listed below or Inside Timeshare.

Three important considerations need to be input into Jenny’s model:

  1. The age of the buyer
  2. The initial investment
  3. The interest rate – never finance a vacation at 12% to 18% for 10 years   

We appreciate Jenny’s article submission. Due to the escalation in the number of comments and complaints Inside Timeshare receives, contributor articles allow Charles Thomas and I more time to answer questions and point members in the right direction in order to resolve their complaint. And I love to edit!

Jenny’s Timeshare Tips

I’m really glad I was accepted into this group.

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

I see that a lot of people have experienced what we have. So, I wanted to share a few ways to evade the badgering of sales agents and other ways I get my money’s worth since we’re stuck with it for life.

  1. We always check in late to avoid the rush. Sometimes we travel separately so I can say my spouse isn’t accompanying me on this trip. They leave you alone if your spouse isn’t with you.
  2. Skip the concierge desk after checking in.
  3. Don’t answer the room phone during your stay. Most of us have cell phones so you can go one step further and unplug the room phones which I have done if they’re persistent.
  4. When they call your cell phone, make sure that you let them know that every day is booked with set activities. This is not a lie.
  5. Program that number into your phone so you know not to answer it.
  6. Kill them with kindness. “Thank you so much, I appreciate it but, No!”
  7. We have way more points than we need every year, so I usually book extra rooms so families can join in on the fun. I supply the room and they either pay me money to go towards my maintenance fees, or they buy all the food while we’re there. They don’t have the money to buy or rent hotels or resorts. I always try to upgrade to get my money’s worth.
  8. I got tired of feeling like I was being duped, so now I use a budget planner to track my maintenance fees and points. When I find a location using my points, I compare the market value of the resort as if I were to book the same room through booking.com, Trip Advisor, hotels.com, and so on. I make sure that when I book a room, I couldn’t get it cheaper through the market.
  9. Lastly, I hate the way they sell you these timeshares! But, I have to admit I like the rooms and it forces me to take a couple vacations every year. If you have it, use it! Don’t lose your points. I have booked rooms for my friends and their families after they return from deployment. One year I even used it as my white elephant gift at work.

On another note…a few days after 1 January, I save my max points for the year. If I need them back because I went over the remainder to use, they just pull that amount back for your booking. You already paid your maintenance fees so you don’t have to pay anything extra. And then you don’t have to worry about forgetting to save your points by a certain deadline.

Below is a picture of this year’s budget. As you can see if I were to book these vacations without my timeshare it would have cost me an additional $2,552.79. The market tracker does include taxes and the additional resort fees we don’t pay.

I hope this helps you or someone. We started with Sunterra in 2006 and are now with Diamond Resorts.

Thank you again Jenny! Jenny worked as a Resource Advisor for a few years while in the Air Force and decided to take those skills and apply them to this. “Nothing worse than feeling like you were made a fool of,” Jenny added.

The consumer is not off the hook, but clearly more timeshare public awareness is needed to slow the volume of complaints as well as rising default rates. Consumer knowledge can address both negatives.    

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://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Jenny and Irene, I’m sure that by using this advice, you will have a much more peaceful vacation.

If you have any comments or questions about any article published, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

 

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