Browse Month

June 2018

Fridays Letter from America

Welcome to our Friday’s Letter from America, Irene Parker continues our theme of “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with this latest article about the treatment of “Seniors” by the timeshare industry. This article edited by Irene is from another new contributor Jang Park.

But first the latest breaking news from Europe.

Legal history has once again been made in Spain, the Supreme Court has issued another two judgements, numbers 121 & 122. These cases again involved the Tenerife timeshare operator Silverpoint, who has figured in a huge number of cases in the past year. They are also losing on an almost daily basis in the lower courts in Tenerife, this is a result of years of malpractice in the sales of their timeshare product which has seen hundreds of consumers lose thousands of Euros each. (See yesterday’s article, Silverpoint in the Courts: Criminal Action Vs Civil Action).

This weeks court figures are what can only be described as impressive, along with the two Supreme Court results there has also been the following:

In the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Anfi del Mar has had EIGHT rulings made against them.

Silverpoint have also figured in the lower courts.

In the Courts of First Instance in Arona, Tenerife, Silverpoint has lost FIVE cases.

They have also lost in TWO cases in the High Court in Santa Cruz, Tenerife.

Diamond Resorts Europe Ltd have also lost TWO cases:

In the High Court number 3 of Santa Cruz, Tenerife, this court upheld the previous sentence from the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, which Diamond appealed.

In the Court of First Instance in Granadilla de Abona, Tenerife the client has been awarded over 24,000€, which also includes double the deposit illegally taken within the cooling off period. This particular case is interesting in that the company named is Sunterra Tenerife Sales SL, but under Spanish law Diamond are liable as they took over Sunterra members when buying out Sunterra years ago.

(See PDF files of the court sentences below).

Diamond 1st Instance

Diamond High Court

As usual all the contracts have also been declared null and void, leaving all clients timeshare free.

In all that is an incredible NINETEEN victories, totaling a massive 851,215.00€. This can only be described as a very expensive week for timeshare in the Canary Islands.

These cases were brought on behalf of these clients by the Gran Canarian law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. This does prove that despite what the industry is trying to tell people, these cases are genuine and the timeshare industry is losing.

Below is a video from a Spanish news program aired in December 2017 by TVE, which is the major state owned television station in Spain. It explains the Anfi appeal at the Supreme Court against a High Court ruling which they lost on the illegal taking of deposits. The Supreme Court rejected the Anfi argument that it did not take the deposits as these were paid to a third party. The Supreme Court rejected this appeal as the law clearly states that no money is to be taken within the cooling off period, even by a third party. (Law 42/98 Article 11 & Law 4/12 Article 13).

The video is in Spanish and is subtitled in English, it also has a short interview with Eva Gutierrez a lawyer from Canarian Legal Alliance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of9a5iX3Mmg

In other news, last month the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) announced that it was working with the Alliance of International Property Owners, to replace the discredited and defunct owners association TATOC.

This association is to be totally independent of the timeshare industry, it does represent those who own outright their properties abroad, so let us hope they will be more effective in protecting timeshare owners and helping to change the industry for the better.

Now for our Letter from America.

Another Senior Couple, Age 82, Driven into Timeshare Foreclosure

By Jang Park

June 15, 2018  

I am 82 years old, a California resident and a Korean American since 1978. I worked for a steamship company as an owner representative.

I submitted my complaint to my timeshare company March 31, 2018. I received a refusal from the company yesterday, June 13, 2018. I have asked Inside Timeshare to help me prepare an article to warn other seniors. I was a deeded owner for almost 20 years.We were happy with our timeshare.

We were willing to remain a timeshare member with this company if our last contract for 5,000 points, for which we paid $20,000, would be cancelled. We strongly feel these points were sold by deception.  Now we have to seek the help of an attorney or foreclose, but will work through Inside Timeshare to make sure we talk to the right people. We understand there are a lot of scams that offer to get you out of your timeshare but don’t. I will be filing the following complaints assisted by advocates. I have been told there is no charge to me for this assistance.

First: California Real Estate Division against the California sales agent  

Assisted by my CA Advocate

Second: Better Business Bureau – Assisted by my NV Advocate

FBI, resubmitted due to now six complaints against this sales agent

Federal Trade Commission

AARPhttp://AARP

I have learned through the advocacy group we are the sixth member to complain against this same California timeshare sales agent. I am #6.

Complaint #1  

RB, a veteran “We upgraded in California ONLY because this sales agent said our heirs would not be liable for maintenance fees if we gave up our deed. The sales agent said he used to be a financial advisor. We bought 15,000 points for no other reason. We now know that the survivor benefit already existed. We lost $13,000.

RB worked as a contract specialist for Consolidated Edison. “I know, but when you buy cars and houses all your life, you don’t expect the real estate agent sitting across from you to be a bold faced liar,” he remarked.  

The agent said he would have to look at our contract, but our heirs would likely be responsible for the timeshare. I told him I would be willing to hire an attorney to fight that. He indicated it would be futile to do so as my timeshare company has top notch attorneys and we would not be able to win the case. He then said if we upgraded by buying 15,000 more points, we could avoid those issues. He also said the contract would be an annually renewable contract that we could walk away from at some future time.  

We were led to believe we could pay all our maintenance fees by opening their credit card and charging purchases. We later learned we would receive only $50 credit for qualified purchased for every $5,000.

Compliant #2 Ages 70 and 68 (resolved)

JM, Disabled Vietnam Veteran

First points purchased June 27, 2012

10,000 additional points purchased for $12,500

15,000 additional points purchased for $13,903

Number of points per contract:  30,000

Original Loan Amount: $49,900 @ 12.2441%

We feel we were deceived by the sales staff.  We had been deeded owners since 2001.

On 1/13/2017, we were asked to purchase a trial package. This sales agent advised us that our additional 15,000 points combined with our original 15,000 points would be worth $9,000.  He stated that the value of our points could be applied to pay our maintenance fees. We learned only some members can pay maintenance fees with points at only $.04 per point. He stated that we could take any points we did not use and apply them towards our maintenance fees. He then spoke of the opportunity to earn an additional $2,700 towards our maintenance fees by using the Barclay Credit Card. We learned we would have to charge over $270,000 annually to earn $2,700 towards our maintenance fees.

The sales agent said that with the few points we owned we would be stuck with the contract as well as our heirs, but said if we upgraded, our heirs would be released. He said there would be a letter in our packet stating this. There was no letter.

We were told that the bank would contact us with an interest rate change to 6% from the contracted amount of 12.2441%. That did not happen.

In a phone call they said they had no reason to cancel our contract and that we never mentioned being told that we could sell our points to pay for maintenance fees.

The 6/26/17 written response from the company not marked confidential.

You were in fact properly advised on the fee structure of your ownership per your contract. The findings also went on to confirm through the use of Barclays and the use of Member benefits you can reduce or apply redemption gained back by your choice to your maintenance cost. They found an area of miscommunication regarding your heirs being liable. The information conveyed (but in contradiction to the sales agent) explained that no one is bound to ownership. The on-going correspondence referenced has been forwarded and we have now provided you with a summary of those correspondences in the details aforementioned. Please feel free again to let any of us or myself of course know any other questions you might have.

Complaint #3 GB

7000 points purchased August 2016

Purchase price: $22,975.20

I told this CA sales agent I wanted to sell our timeshare points online to pay for the maintenance fees and loan payment.  He said it wasn’t allowed but he would privately show me how to do this and gave me his cell number. I called numerous times and he never answered. He told us when we upgraded we would have access to multi-million dollar homes. He said we could rent those for a week @ $10.000 and he would show me how when I called his cell.

Complaint #4 AP

1500 points purchased for $6,975 at an October 2016

The presenter said we were not full members and we should have received a letter to go to full membership. We never received a letter.  He then gave us an option of a deal that would only be good right then but we would have to buy 1500 more points to become full members. He made this seem like a huge deal because upper management would not want to give us this deal but they were working with us so that we would be happy.  He informed us that what we had was worth nothing now and we would have to upgrade to be able to use any benefits.

#5 DT, over 85 years old

40,000 points purchased December 2017 for $116,400

Amount financed: $93,870

Maintenance fees $13,000

At the December meeting we were told we could pay all our maintenance fees turning in points. When we contacted the company we were told that we could only pay $2,000 of the maintenance fees turning in 50,000 points.

We were told we could give it up and walk away if we purchased more points.

I am complaint #6 against this same sales agent

I purchased 5000 points for $20,000. The California sales agent told me I could pay maintenance fees by redeeming points at $.20 per point through the 20/20 program. I confirmed this more than five times with his agreeing when I said there should be some $250 left over after paying our new maintenance fees of about $2,800 with his writing down on the working paper, which he refused to give me after the presentation when I asked.

He said if we get their sponsored Visa Card, they will put $1,000 cash to our credit card account as an Honored Member. When we said we will have two cards, each for me and wife, he said $500.00 of cash will be credited to each account. It was not so important benefit compared with above no. 1, but was found a lie.

The sales agent said we can exit from Timeshare Ownership at any time without any obligation, which his manager confirmed true.

In 2015 we gave up our deeded timeshare. We were told there is no cap on maintenance fees for people who hold a deed. This was not true. We were told there is a 5% cap on maintenance fees increases for points if we gave up our deed. This is not true. We purchased 10,000 points. The sales agent said we could sell the points if we needed to. He gave me the name of a company that could sell the timeshare if we needed to.

The agent said it is almost impossible to sell a deeded timeshare, but timeshare points can be sold easily for about $15,000. He checked with IPhone and gave the following companies to me:

  • Steve Likins – Hilton Head & timeshare sales, 843-816-1900
  • Jimmy ; 706-839-7798
  • Timeshare Resale USA.com; 407 345 9333

We tried to sell our timeshare, and attended about five times, timeshare exit companies’ presentation, but we found all of them asked some fees to get exit.

Thank you to Mr. Park and to all members hoping the public gets the Buyer Beware and do your homework message.

Self-help groups for timeshare members.

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 Jang for your story, it is one we have become so familiar with over the past year or so, ever since we highlighted our first seniors article, we have been receiving a constant stream of similar complaints.

As we have said before, the industry is destroying itself by allowing their employees to lie and cheat, then take no responsibility for those actions. We keep hearing from all quarters, “ We are not responsible for what our sales agent say”. That is the weakest get out imaginable, they are your employees, they are selling your product, they represent your company. It is about time you as an industry took responsibility and changed for the better.

Timeshare could be a good product, the complaints are around the sales not the resorts, accommodation or the resort staff, in this area it looks like the vast majority are happy owners / members.

We are not against business, but we are against business purely for greed, which is what the timeshare industry has turned into.

If you have any comments or questions about any subject in this article or any others published, then use the contact page and get in touch. If you are from the US you will be passed to our team coordinated by Irene. For those in Europe then you will be contacted directly from Inside Timeshare.

As usual we warn you to be vigilant when dealing with any company that contacts you or one that you have found on the internet, do your homework, check, check and check again. If you are unsure how to check, or you are not sure if what you are seeing is true, then contact Inside Timeshare, we are here to help and guide.

That’s it for this week, Friday is here, happy hour is calling, so have a good weekend and join us for more news from the world of timeshare next week.

Silverpoint in the Courts: Criminal Action Vs Civil Action

At the start of this decade the first cases against Resort Properties / Silverpoint were being formulated, at that time there were two schools of thought, Criminal Action and Civil Action using the Timeshare Law 42/98.

First we take a look at the Criminal Action, this was proposed by the law firm Kaehler Abogados, he believed that what Resort Properties / Silverpoint were selling was classified as a fraud. This involved the selling of multiple timeshare weeks as “investments” in property, with a view to renting for an income and eventually going on the resale market with a return of around 15% to the purchaser.

As it turned out, the hundreds of consumers found out too late that what was actually happening was they were being continually upsold to higher standards of apartments / weeks. The reason they were given was what they had originally purchased was not selling as it was not what the market wanted. The only way to secure their “investment” was to pay even more money to upgrade to the better quality apartments.

Many of these transactions were funded with loan agreements brokered by Resort Properties / Silverpoint using Barclays Partner Finance agreements. The promise was that after two years the weeks would be sold and that would then cover the loan amounts and settle the agreements.

In reality this did not happen.

The first cases went to court and a long drawn out legal battle ensued, with the CEO Mark Cushway being indicted along with many managers and staff on charges of fraud. At the time it was dubbed as the largest fraud in timeshare history.

Unfortunately these cases floundered, Silverpoint successfully argued with the courts that these were property investments and not timeshare, therefore the purchasers were not consumers of timeshare but investors in property. As we know property can go down in value as well as up.

The courts at the time agreed, that these purchasers were buying into property investment, so they believed that no fraud had been committed.

At the same time the other school of thought was beginning to use the civil courts and the timeshare laws to pursue Silverpoint. The most notable case being that of Mrs Shirley Wilson, who instructed the proponent of civil action Miguel Rodriguez Cabellos to fight her case.

Mrs Wilson, argued that she at first believed she was investing in property, but it turned out it was in fact timeshare as there were maintenance fees attached along with other aspects of timeshare.

(Click on the link below to see the original trial)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksff6yofqJs

Again a long drawn out legal battle was underway, with the case eventually going all the way to the Supreme Court.

Then in January 2017, the Supreme Court made its historic ruling, that what Resort Properties / Silverpoint had sold was indeed timeshare. That the purchasers were indeed consumers of timeshare and not “investors”, which also meant they now had the full protection of the timeshare laws.

For the hundreds of clients who had been part of the criminal action this was very good news, it now meant their cases could be converted to a civil action using the now many rulings on timeshare law from the Supreme Court.

Canarian Legal Alliance under Miguel and his team of lawyers were now responsible for representing these clients. They were offered the chance of converting their cases to the civil courts.

One of the first client to do so has now had his case heard and the courts have found in his favour, according to the rulings of the Supreme Court. The Court of First Instance No 5 in Arona, Tenerife has declared this clients contract null and void, his original claim was for 60,000€, the court has awarded him 88,113€.

This is obviously good news for the hundreds of clients who took part in the original criminal cases, they now have the chance to receive the justice they have for so long sought, with many of them having already converted to the civil action. So we can be sure that there will be many more stories such as this in the coming months.

Below is another link to a Youtube video which shows the then Sales Director David Taylor giving another “investor” the run a around.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oNdi4NT4O8

In another twist, Silverpoint have another product which is very similar to the original “investments” deal, this they call the “Company Participation Scheme”. It is a very clever attempt to bypass the timeshare laws, although looking at the documentation it certainly looks like an advanced form of timeshare. More on this at a later date.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank CLA for the background information used in this article.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any article published, then use our contact page, we look forward to hearing from you.

Another New Name for Litigious Abogados Family

Well here we go again, and another name to add to the family of Litigious Abogados, just a slight change from a previous one, Legalidades Abogados is now Legalidades Tenerife. The lawyer is still Alberto Kalim Ro Galvera, along with Juan Luis Lutabaris, Miguel Halcon Morato and Manuel Goletas Gitano.

The company address is one that has been used before with Legalidades Abogados:

4, Calle San Francisco, Santa Cruz, 38002, Tenerife.

Telephone number are:

Freephone: 08008021916

Tenerife: 0034 822680087

The new website is www.legalidades-tenerife.com and was registered on 16 April 2018, obviously due to the fact that Inside Timeshare has previously identified the photographs of the so-called lawyers they used on previous websites, this one does not have any photographs, the registrant is again hidden by a privacy service. But it is still a fake law firm nonetheless. .

According to the letter sent to our reader, they have lawyers legally authorised to operate in any court of law in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Malta. The growth of the company over the years has been mainly due to numerous cases against timeshare companies.

The letter also states that they are currently involved in a class action for punitive damages against Petchey Leisure Group SL and MGM SL, along with one of their directors Mr Howard Manton.

Apparently their consultants have “gleaned” enough information to lodge a claim on the clients behalf. Their lawyers have successfully lodged the clients claim with the court on Tuesday 5 June 2018, using ref number BOE-S-2018-136. The hearing has been set for Tuesday 19 June 2018 at 12.20 at the Santa Cruz Court No 5.

Well that is very quick work indeed, they obviously have a great deal of influence with the judges and the courts.

The claim amount is for 22,934€ but there is a fee that needs to be paid first, this is for the Court Procurator and is 706€ which has to be paid directly to the Procurator. In this case the Procurator is Elinabeta Yessica Elierz with the address:

Calle Abierta Numero 6, Edificio, Cerebro, 228, 38001 Santa Cruz, Tenerife. This address does not actually exist, it could not be found on google maps or any other searches.

There is no telephone number only an email:

[email protected]

The website www.elinabeta-elierz.com/ was only registered on 29 May 2018, it is not even a month old. The Registrant is also hidden by a privacy service.

The bank account the money has to be paid into by bank transfer is in the name of the Procurator and is  with La Caixa, Avenida Islas Canarias, 2, El Faile, 38632, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The number at this address is actually an apartment, although there is a bank on the corner of Avda Islas Canarias and Calle Fuerteventura, it is not a La Caixa, the bank is actually a Caja Canarias.

Bank Details Procurator

The other strange thing is the “court” document lodging the case, the defendants are: Petchey Leisure Group SL, Resort Properties SL, Silverpoint SL and Howard Manton. There is no mention of MGM SL, plus we didn’t know that Resort Properties and Silverpoint were linked to Petchey!

Fake Court Document

It is blatantly obvious that the whole scam will be just as we have seen in the past, Next week on probably Wednesday 20 June, the client will be informed that the Director Howard Manton will have pleaded guilty and the court has awarded even more than the original claim. Now the second stage of the scam will kick in, there will be taxes to be paid to release the money, then if they are true to form the third stage will come into play.

This third stage is the envelope sent to the clients with the cheque will arrive opened, the letter from the court will be there but the cheque will be missing. The client will naturally contact Legalidades informing them of the missing cheque. Days later a new company that has been “appointed” by the court will be in touch and inform them that the cheque has been cashed, it did used to be a gang of Romanians, then it changed to Ukrainians, we just wonder what gang it will be this time. Anyway this new firm will need a payment so they can reclaim the lost amount from the bank.

As we have seen in the past this is a very clever and well worked out fraud, the paperwork looks very convincing especially if you do not know what the genuine ones look like.  They are full of official looking stamps, logos of genuine official bodies and the English in the letters is actually quite good.

In the end, this is a fraud, the process of taking a case to court takes a lot longer than these guys claim, from being lodged with the court and the trial date being only 14 days is an absolute miracle!

If you have been contacted by a law firm with a similar story to this, contact Inside Timeshare, your information will help others. Unsure of who is contacting you or just needing to find out if one you have found on the internet is genuine, again use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Doing your homework is going to save your precious hard earned money, don’t let these crooks lead better lives than you with your cash!

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, in this article by Irene Parker looks at the Seniors vs Crime project, but first another warning to our UK and European readers.

We have recently been reporting about the activities of a bogus law firm called Abogados Lopez, apparently working out of Malaga, well they are still at it.

They contact clients who have cases running against their timeshare resorts, the information they have seems to be fairly accurate, they ask for confirmation of details and explain that this is so they can put the case before the court within the next day or so.

A few days later a Hope Brugge or Megan Haywood calls with the wonderful news that the case has been won and that the court has awarded a substantial amount, but a fee to release the funds from the court is required. Depending on the amount awarded it is around £1000 to be paid by bank Transfer to the lawyer.

Two names have been reported for the account holder, Kingsley Ehigiator in Malaga and Isidro Palm Perez in Barcelona.

We have also now been informed that a second call from a Paul Tyler or Taylor, this time he needs a payment of 7% of the awarded amount to pay the fees for the bank transfer.

Again this is a scam and this is not a bona fide law firm, somehow they have stolen sensitive data and are using it to defraud timeshare owners.

Now for today’s article.

The Florida Attorney General’s Seniors vs Crime Project

Can the “Senior Sleuths” help timeshare fraud victims?

Perhaps even more important than the raw numbers is the psychological and emotional impact of crime on our older citizen.

By Irene Parker

June 12, 2018

The Florida Attorney General’s Seniors vs Crime Senior Sleuths act as “eyes and ears” of the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement by reporting on scams, high pressure sales techniques, false or misleading advertisement, or other deceptive or illegal activity. There is similarity in cases the Senior Sleuths have pursued and the 459 timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received.   

The senior timeshare buyers described below fell victim to “Defend against scams” points: #2 #3 #4 and #5. Following their case, we compare two Senior Sleuth cases and show how the crimes described are similar to timeshare crime. The FBI defines white-collar crime as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.”     

Reader complaint #452 was submitted by their son Eric. We have not identified the family or the company to allow the company time to respond to the complaint.

My parents are both 78 years old. My father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My mother is hard of hearing. Points were purchased in Florida at a hotel presentation and at a later date in Virginia. They were pressured for six hours in Florida, told the price was time sensitive. They signed electronically, despite having no computer skills.

In Virginia they dealt with seven sales agents who kept them for seven hours. My parents told the agents they had limited savings and could not afford the second purchase.  My mother said she started to cry. The sales agent said they had not purchased enough points the first time so they would lose everything if they did not buy more points and that the price per point would increase if they did not buy that day. My parents have never used the points. They cannot travel because this has caused their health to deteriorate. The $27,000 they spent represents all their savings. The first purchase of $13,000 has been paid in full. The balance is a loan.

We will be filing a complaint with the Florida Attorney General and the Virginia Attorney General, although I’ve learned through Social Media they will in all likelihood dismiss the complaint for lack of proof.  

The reason this meets the definition of fraud is because the couple did purchase enough points to be able to stay a week at a resort. They might have trouble booking Hawaii or the California coast, but there are many locations they could have stayed at with the number of points first purchased. In addition, they could bank their points into the next year and have double the points, easily covering a week’s stay. The complaint of being told the member did not buy enough points is a common ploy. “I can’t believe they sold you so few points! You can’t stay anywhere with only THAT many points!”

There would have been no trouble going back the next day, buying at the same price as the day before. This would at least have given Eric’s parents time to talk it over with Eric or with a financial advisor.  

Based on reports from members filing timeshare complaints, in all likelihood the company will respond, “We are not responsible for what our sales agent say,” falling back on the oral representation clause. Given the company’s response and the Florida Timeshare Division and Virginia Timeshare Division’s likely response, “You have no proof,” as our readers have reported back to us, timeshare sales agents are thereby encouraged to misrepresent. In effect, there is no timeshare regulatory enforcement in some states.

Senior Sleuths

“The Attorney General’s strong support for the Project, and dedication to helping consumers, ensures that those who fall victim to unethical business practices or frauds will have someone and somewhere to turn for help.”

This has not come to fruition for our readers complaining to the Florida and Virginia Timeshare Divisions. Maybe Senior Sleuths can help. Give them a try if you bought in Florida or live in Florida.

Once again we are left with public awareness as our only consumer protection.

From the Florida Bar Journal

“The Commission will find deception if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer’s detriment.”

The Third DCA confirmed that the standard requires proof of probable, not possible, deception; that the potential deception must be of consumers acting reasonably in the circumstances, not just any consumers; and that the deception must be likely to cause injury to a reasonable relying consumer.

https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-journal/?durl=/DIVCOM%2FJN%2FJNJournal01%2Ensf%2F76d28aa8f2ee03e185256aa9005d8d9a%2F1f23234b2401bb9885256af50015dc33

The family is asking the second purchase be rescinded. The Senior Sleuths resolved similar complaints described below.

The History of the Seniors vs Crime Project

Taken from the Seniors vs Crime website:

In 1989 the Florida Legislature ordered the Attorney General to form a task force to report on crime and the elderly. The Task force on Crimes and the Elderly, formed and chaired by Attorney General Bob Butterworth, held a number of public meetings around the state. Mr. Vern Thornton served on the Task Force as a consultant with the AARP Criminal Justice Services. The Task Force found that seniors were being targeted for scams, were being subjected to high-pressure tactics by salespersons, and were being deceived by false advertising at an alarming frequency. Perhaps even more important than the raw numbers is the psychological and emotional impact of crime on our older citizen.

Vern Thornton presented the Attorney General with a crime prevention program, to be run by volunteers and focused on Florida’s growing senior population. The program was to be called the Seniors vs. Crime Project. Volunteers, now called Senior Sleuths at the suggestion of the Attorney General, became more active in assisting law enforcement.

Examples of work performed by Senior Sleuths range from checking on scanner prices at supermarkets and counting pills when picking up prescription medications to performing undercover stings that captured salespeople utilizing high pressure sales techniques and engaging in false and deceptive practices.

What started as a fairly small organization, primarily on the (Florida) East Coast, has now grown statewide with over 2,000 Senior Sleuths. While methods used by the Project may change over the years the goal will remain the same – prevent victimization and provide a way for seniors to contribute to the safety of all Floridians.

Cases similar to timeshare handled by Senior Sleuths

An Auto Dealership Complaint

They told the salesman they wanted payments not to exceed $250 per month. When they returned they learned the monthly payment was $587 per month. The dealership agreed to take the automobile back and refund monies paid.  

This is a common timeshare complaint. Members report they are told they will be paying one loan amount but the actual loan amount turns out to be much higher. Also, many are told their maintenance fees will go down if they buy more points, but maintenance fees end up being higher.

A Going on Vacation Complaint

A St. Augustine couple signed up for a vacation membership with a travel agency that cost $2500. The couple could not access the website that promised them vacation discounts. Through no fault of their own, they were not able to access the website for five days. Once they finally gained access, they realized they could have arranged vacations on their own for a lower price than that offered by the membership website. The travel agent initially cited that the time to rescind the contracts had lapsed as presented on the website. Ultimately the couple was reimbursed the $2500.

Inside Timeshare has received many complaints from readers who describe how the company and/or the sales agent were able to dodge the rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site until after the rescission period had passed or saying bogus programs to sell points or pay maintenance fees would not be available until after the first of the year.    

Seniors vs Crime online complaint form (a description of how the program works is below) https://sites.google.com/a/svcproject.com/intakecenter/onlinecomplaint

How the Seniors vs Crime project works:

Victim must make the request. The services of the Seniors Vs Crime Project must be requested by the victim in the complaint. The Project cannot respond to suggestions that a third party has a problem and should be contacted. Victims may be assisted in filing their complaint by family, friends or Power of Attorneys but the victim must sign the Request for Assistance form before assistance can be rendered.

Two Options for Assistance.  When requesting assistance from the Senior Sleuths at a Project Office, a person has two options. The person may only be looking for coaching “assistance” through a situation. Seniors Sleuths can advise the senior on how to handle a particular matter and not get involved with anyone except the senior. The victim is not required to sign anything to receive this type of assistance. It’s just one senior talking with/advising another senior.

A second option is for a Senior Sleuth to intervene and represent the complainant. In these instances the Senior Sleuth will thoroughly research the complaint and attempt to mitigate the case with all parties involved. Many people, initially only seek advice, then after some discussion they quickly realize the situation is more complex, so they ask for a Senior Sleuth to assist in resolving the situation. This second option does require written authorization from the victim.

Civil Disputes involve many Civil Actions. All of the civil proceedings are expensive and arduous, and out of the financial and emotional reach of most seniors. While many civil lawsuits against scams are successful, to make matters worse, the proceedings expose a senior who has been scammed to public display for being naive or foolish, which is effectively making the victim a victim again. And making the victim a third time victim, most often when a senior “plaintiff” wins a civil case the efforts to collect the court award involve another long civil process. The Seniors Vs Crime Project’s Senior Sleuths do everything possible to reach a settlement for a senior without cost and without public or family embarrassment.

If you are involved in a civil situation and you request the Seniors Vs Crime Project’s assistance, the Senior Sleuths assigned to your case will do everything possible to reach a settlement without cost to you and without public or family embarrassment. Senior Sleuths are successful in a high percentage of cases. http://www.seniorsvscrime.com/history

Timeshare self-help groups:

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

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/

Related articles: Unauthorized credit card charges and

Timeshare Advocacy Group’s complaint form

https://www.thebalance.com/what-to-do-about-unauthorized-credit-card-charges-960260

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-5/

Inside Timeshare is pleased that the Attorney General’s Office is taking this matter very seriously, when you consider the number of complaints that we are receiving with the number going up on an almost daily basis, this is certainly a matter that needs to be dealt with.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other article published, use our contact page to get in touch. If you require any help or advice about any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet, then Inside Timeshare is here to help.

We would also like to inform our Danish (& Scandinavian) readers of a new website which Inside Timeshare is collaborating with:

https://www.timesharehjelpen.com

We will be sharing our information and reporting on each others articles. We wish this new site all the best.

Remember do your homework and keep your money safe.

Monday, Lets Start the Week

On Friday we published our usual Letter from America, this particular article was by Irene and was the story of two elderly Diamond members, the Liebmann’s and the Brust’s. As usual Irene sent well in advance a draft of the Article to several entities including Diamond for comments.

In fact this is always done for our US articles, in some cases the timeshare company has responded very quickly to the article and contacted the member directly with a solution. In these cases the article has been pulled at the last minute and another replacing it.

After last Friday’s article Irene received a letter from Diamonds external law firm. In this they state that the article contains “false and defamatory” material.

Inside Timeshare begs to differ, the article is the Liebmann’s and Brust’s story and they wanted it publicised as they felt they had nowhere else to turn. Inside Timeshare was pleased to do this, as that is what this publication is all about. To give the timeshare owning community a voice and a place where they can find the facts and the truth.

For Diamond to send in their well paid corporate lawyers or as I prefer to call them corporate “velociraptors” (swift seizer in latin), to me shows they really do not care what is going on at their sales presentations.

We constantly hear the words “Diamond is not responsible for what our sales agents say”, or “you signed the contract”.

This is a message to Diamond, if you do care about your members then why on earth do you not reign in the excesses of the verbal misrepresentations of your agents?

It is not rocket science, they are selling your product, they are your employees, it is your reputation that is being constantly tarnished, as we have seen in the many complaints and stories we have published.

These are not made up, these are facts as presented by those making the complaints to not only Inside Timeshare but to other entities as well. We at Inside Timeshare do believe that timeshare was and still could be a good product, it is the way it is sold that is the problem. In Spain these excessive sales practices have been curbed, the laws have been set and many companies are now losing millions in the courts for their past transgression.

The ball is now firmly in your court, it is time for you as a company to acknowledge these practices and act to have them removed.

To finish our Monday start we look at news from the Spanish courts of cases last week.

In the Courts of First Instance in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, there were SEVEN sentences passed against Anfi del Mar, once again the rulings of the Supreme Court took precedence, floating weeks, perpetuity contracts and the taking of deposits on the day. All contracts were declared null and void.

On the point of the Supreme Court, Canarian Legal Alliance announced their latest victory, bringing the total to a massive 120 rulings from Spain’s highest court. This particular case once again involve the Tenerife company Silverpoint, with the contracts being declare null and void.

In just these cases the clients will be receiving  over 311,000€ plus legal interest and in most cases their legal fees as well.

A very expensive time for timeshare at the end of last week.

If you have any comments or questions on any article published, then use our contact page, Inside Timeshare is here to give you a voice and to inform all timeshare owners of the truth.

We also apologise for the shortness of today’s article but other events took control and we were late in getting the article published.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today we highlight two families who have been up-sold by Diamond, Gad and Noreen Liebmann who are staging a protest outside Diamond’s Daytona Beach Resort and Sheilah and Thomas Brust. These stories are another in the series of  “A Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, but first a quick roundup from Europe.

It has been reported that yet another “Relinquishment and Claims” company is in liquidation, Standon Mortimer Associates. This company is one in a long line that informed clients that they could lodge a “no win no fee” claim against their timeshare, the only thing was to do this they had to “relinquish” their membership first. Obviously this was a great cost.

Once the membership was canceled then they would put in a claim, usually under section 75, which as we have said before is not likely to pay out. The whole scam was to get your money for the cancellation, which in many cases was never actually done.

If you have paid this company to carry out any work regarding your timeshare and it has not been done, contact the liquidators below:

Name of Company: STANDON MORTIMER ASSOCIATES LTD

Company Number: 10437622

Nature of Business: Timeshare Relinquishment

Type of Liquidation: Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation

Registered office: C/o Kingsland Business Recovery, 14 Derby Road, Stapleford, Nottingham, NG9 7AA

Liquidator’s name and address: Tauseef Ahmed Rashid, Kingsland Business Recovery 14 Derby Road, Stapleford, Nottingham NG9 7AA

Office Holder Number: 9718.

Date of Appointment: 18 April 2018

By whom Appointed: Creditors

Further information on Silverpoint or is it Signallia Marketing has just come in, apparently a representative from Signallia is knocking on the doors of guests at Hollywood Mirage and arranging appointments with none other that Aspirantco SL. We will be publishing the story of this meeting next week.

There are this week a couple more happy ex-timeshare owners, the first is an ex-Anfi member, who this week had over 53,000€ paid into his bank account after his recent court case where his contract was declared null and void.

This does fly in the face of the Anfi management denying that anyone is getting paid, according to Canarian Legal Alliance, Anfi have actually paid out 2 million euros.

In another case a German client who purchased his Anfi del Mar timeshare for 14,000€ had his contract declared null and void, with thcourt awarding him over 23,000€ plus legal interest. This is a result of Anfi taking a deposit within the cooling off period which is forbidden, so the court awarded double the amount taken.

Now on with our Friday letter.

A Report from Two Diamond Resort Platinum Members Up-Sold by the Same Daytona Sales Agent

Sheilah Brust warns: Keep The Pencil Pitch

Gad and Noreen Liebmann: Up-sold into financial disaster

There is no such thing as the “Ability to get (Double Usage)”

Page 2 of the Pencil Pitch is based on 15,000 points actually purchased instead of 25,000, so 65,000 points illustrated instead of the 75,000 first proposed

65,000 own                $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000

65,000 given                2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000

130,000 points            $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000

 50,000 if used            8,000 Less reimbursement check

 80,000 left                  $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed       

x $.10 reimbursed     EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!

$8,000

The CLARITY™ Promise handed out before sales presentations:

With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170123005839/en/Diamond-Resorts-Launches-New-National-Customer-Service

Diamond’s Response to Sheilah Brust:

On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a “hospitality” agent. She said our complaint had been escalated to the legal team and they found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.

I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.

We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create a savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.

By Irene Parker

June 8, 2018

Gad and Noreen Liebmann were up-sold by the same Daytona Regency sales agent as Sheilah Brust. Gad and Noreen have been protesting outside the Daytona Regency by holding up signs an hour or two every day except Sunday for over three months. They will take a few months off to go up north, but plan to resume their protest in September.

In preparation for this article, I felt it was important to get a feel for what it was like to hold up a sign. As we walked to Daytona Regency from our cars, Gad and Noreen dropped off food for a homeless man. Gad told us, “One of the homeless was offered $20 to ‘get rid of them’ and on another day one of the salesmen brought some water and wanted to “thank us” for picketing. He claimed that our presence increased their sales. He also told us that we could have more effect by working as greeters at Walmart to help pay our dues.”  

My husband and I weren’t sure what to expect. We arrived about 11:00 AM, Friday June 1. We were greeted by the security guard. He could not have been nicer. He seems to serve as a sort of diplomatic liaison between Gad and Noreen and the staff at Daytona Regency. He patiently listened to me relate some of the more serious allegations timeshare members have reported to Inside Timeshare, 208 since January 1. He said he has not purchased Diamond points.          

Inside Timeshare has heard from a total of 32 Diamond Platinum members, alleging they were up-sold by deceitful sale tactics or are disappointed in their Platinum membership. Of the 32 Platinum members, 29 members reported they were told they would be able to sell points, or pay for maintenance fees, if they purchased more timeshare points; utilizing programs members say did not exist. Thirteen of the 32 Platinum members say they have resolved their dispute. Eleven were up-sold by the same Diamond sales agent.

Pictured from left: Noreen, Irene, Tyler and Don

The sign my husband Don is holding reads,

Diamond is not responsible for what our sales agents say.”

This was told to Diamond member Joshua Parker (no relation) by a Diamond VP on a call Diamond recorded. Josh says he was told points are an investment and would be easy to sell. When Josh and Nichole learned they were expecting twins and could no longer afford the timeshare, they learned there is virtually no secondary market for Diamond points. Josh is a 90% disabled Army veteran. He served in Iraqi. They are in the foreclosure process.

John Collick, a decorated 100% disabled Marine veteran, was told he needed to buy Diamond points because Diamond was acquiring his timeshare, The Colonies. This turned out not be true.

Josh and John were both told, Diamond is not responsible for what our sales agents say.” That would be okay, except Diamond hands out to consumers before a presentation their CLARITY™ promise, launched after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued the company an Assurance of Discontinuance.

Amanda and George Jones are both active duty Navy. They recently received their foreclosure letter. Both fear losing their Security Clearance. They say they were told by Diamond sales agents in Virginia and Florida their 18% loan would be easy to refinance, “Just Google it.” http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Today, June 6, 2018, another Navy couple contacted Inside Timeshare. They too could lose their security clearance as they are Navy logistics.   

Sheilah and Thomas Brust’s “Double Point Promise” complaint

Sheilah says she and her husband Thomas were promised double point usage if they upgraded by buying 15,000 additional points. Already Platinum members with 50,000 points, they had enough points to meet their travel needs.

Sheilah and Thomas met with Brad Leslie on February 4, 2017.  Mr. Leslie said there were big updates due to Apollo changes. Brad said he had just learned about the double points program in Orlando while in training. Another Florida DRI sales agent pitched a double points program to a Navy veteran. Her complaint has been resolved:

We were hosted by the Diamond Resorts East Coast Sales Team from Mystic Dunes. They said we had been invited to the workshop as a way to thank us for having been Platinum members for over five years. Mystic Dunes sales agent A M explained details of a program only available to five plus year Platinum members. A M said if I purchased an additional 25,000 DRI points, I could take advantage of a special offer and never have to pay maintenance fees. He illustrated on paper how the program worked.   

57,500 points I owned prior to the workshop

25,000

82,500 x 2 (double points) = 165,000

Back to Sheilah’s “Pencil Pitch”

Brad Leslie said that over ten years our maintenance fees would be $86,310. According to Brad, we would have 65,000 points after buying 15,000 more points but DRI would give us 65,000 more – so we would have effectively 130,000 annual points. Of the 65,000 original points, we would use 50,000 and the purchase of an additional 15,000 points would allow us the extra bonus 65,000 points. Brad said we would receive via check or reloadable debit card $8,000 from the redemption of 80,000 points at $.10 through a travel reimbursement program that could be used to pay maintenance fees. If we redeemed 80,000 from the 130,000, we would be left with 50,000 points to travel.     

I asked Brad why this program was developed. He said Diamond wanted to make sure we STAYED VACATIONED. Now it seems more likely he wanted to drive us into foreclosure to be able to start over with his next victim.  

As a result of this up-sell, we have less time to travel because we have to work to pay for the additional points that increased maintenance fees to $11,252. We also have a loan with Diamond for $31,000 and the $26,000 Barclay card charges.

Brad charged on two Barclay cards $14,000 in my name and $12,000 in Thomas’ name. After he opened the cards, Brad said,Barclays loves you! You got $26,000 credit!” I was livid after I learned what happened as we were unaware the amounts had been charged. We could have used a different credit card that would have gotten us rewards points.

We saw Brad again in May 2017. Brad said the program had changed. Brad told us in February we would be sent a debit card that would be reloadable for the maintenance fee reimbursement program. Brad informed us in May that DRI was getting rid of the debit cards because there were problems. Brad had said the double points (65,000) would appear on a split screen on our dashboard. He said DRI was still working on the split screen. This program only made sense if we received the additional 65,000 points. I wrote down everything Brad said. I have an accounting background.   

This whole deal was based on having 130,000 points using points at $.10 a point for a Travel Advantage reimbursement service, but this was of very poor value and only made sense because of the extra bonus 65000 points. You can book a lot of vacations with 54,259 points that would vastly exceed a measly reimbursement check for $5,425.90.

Brad assured us he would be here for us and hoped he could restore our trust in Diamond. We had explained how we had been duped into buying 4000 more points in California so our heirs would not be saddled with Diamond points.

Diamond has refused to help Sheilah, but she is encouraged by a call from her Florida Timeshare Division reviewer supporting her claim.

Gad and Noreen’s debacle

Gad and Noreen own 96,000 Diamond points, only because they bought an additional 25,000 points to take advantage of benefits they now know they already had. Gad and Noreen are both Army veterans. Noreen served as an Army officer in the nursing corps. Gad, also an Army veteran, worked for IBM and VISA, at times stationed overseas. The Liebmanns have nine children, not counting children they fostered. According to Gad,  

For over 20 years we enjoyed using our Diamond points. We had purchased eight Diamond contracts over the years and had been happy until Daytona sales agent Brad Leslie sold us 25,000 points November 22, 2017, we allege by fraud.  Brad told us that if we purchased 25,000 additional points for $70,000 we would get additional benefits. He showed us how using these benefits, we might not have to pay more maintenance fees if we used the same amount of vacation time. What Brad Leslie neglected to tell us was that we were already eligible for these benefits. He knew this. He also claimed that we could recover the cost of the additional points after 10 years. This was also false. Brad said that we would be even on the $70,000 within ten years if we only booked through Value Getaways.

A call to Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey got a response from a lady who offered to allow us to give back some of our points, lowering the dues but not eliminating the latest purchase.  In other words, give back points we already paid for, requiring us to pay the company $70,000 after being sold points to take advantage of a program we already had. We may be older, but we’re not stupid.

We have used all of our 2018 points for redemption reimbursement and with the over $700 monthly mortgage payments, we can no longer use Diamond points for vacations. Since we can’t afford to travel because of this debacle, we thought we should warn others by holding up our signs. I feel America is in a moral crisis when CEOs feel no concern when people complain directly to them of questionable business practices. My heart is heavy since the DRI salesman Brad Leslie professed to be a Christian, as I am.

Gad and Noreen protesting outside Daytona Regency

Thank you to Gad and Noreen and Sheilah and Thomas for joining our advocacy efforts. I reached out to Diamond for comment, but they did not respond. We were hoping they could explain Sheilah’s pencil pitch.  

Many timeshare members feel there is little to no timeshare enforcement in Florida. According to several members, Florida dismisses complaints, backing up the developer by also falling back on the oral representation clause. Florida receives about $70 billion a year in tourist revenue.

From the Florida Attorney General’s Timeshare Division DBPR

Timeshare developers are required to provide full and meaningful disclosures to purchasers in the documents they are required to deliver to them including the public offering statement, sales contract, and all supplemental documents at the point of sale.  A document called “Acknowledgment of Representations” or “Purchaser’s Understanding” or a similar document provides the disclosures which each purchaser initials and signs at the time of purchase and it contains all the relevant information about the timeshare product.  A developer heavily relies on these documents to refute any claims by a purchaser regarding the alleged misrepresentations. Therefore, in light of these written documents, it is very difficult to prove the allegations raised in the complaint.  

From the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance:

IV Assurances

“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:

  1. Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
  2. Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.

https://www.azag.gov/press-release/attorney-general-brnovich-announces-800000-settlement-diamond-resorts

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you need help.

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/

That’s it for this week, Friday is here and the weekend is about to start, join us next week for more readers stories and their experiences in the world that we call “A Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

We will also be publishing more information on those companies that keep springing up promising the earth and delivering nothing, so remember if you are called and are not sure if the company is genuine, do not do anything until you have done your homework, double check and check again.

If in doubt contact Inside Timeshare and we will show you where to look.

Have a great weekend.

What a Pitch! Readers Share their Information.

Over the few months Inside Timeshare has been alerting our readers about two companies, Abogados Lopez and Centaurus Mediations, the latest is the pitch these two are using, first Abogados Lopez.

According to the calls our readers have been receiving calls from first Hope Brugge and then a Megan Haywood, they have been appointed to take over cases against timeshare companies, that the client’s case has been brought forward and is going to be heard in the next couple of days.

Hope or Megan need to verify certain information before presenting the case in the court, which if it had already been filed and the case is being brought forward, those details would have been checked before. So the question is why do they need to verify it and file the case at court, is it for credibility?

They also go on to tell the client that the law firm they have paid to do the case for them is actually a scam which is why they at Abogados Lopez have taken on the cases. Hope or Megan even go on to say they hope that the client didn’t sign a power of attorney.

Within a day or so the client receives another phone call from Hope or Megan, this time with the great news that they have won the case and the court has awarded them thousands of pounds in compensation. Now comes the crunch, to get this money released from the court there is a fee to be paid, some have been told it is for taxes.

This fee has to be paid by bank transfer, the client receives an email with all the bank details, there is only one major problem here, the account is in the name of a private individual. Now, we don’t know about you, but we have to ask, why is a so-called law firm using bank accounts in the names of private individuals?

Unfortunately, due to readers of our pages getting in touch with Inside Timeshare or their law firm they have realised that this is just an elaborate “SCAM”. When they confront Hope with this she gets very aggressive, raising her voice and telling the client that they are not the “SCAM” but everyone else is. She then slams down the phone. Oops, chucking dummies out of the pram!

The next pitch our readers have told us about is another that is being used to gain “credibility”, this involves Centaurus Mediations SL in Tenerife, a company that is not unfamiliar to our pages and that we know is linked to Mark Cushway and Silverpoint.

In this case the representative from Centaurus knocks on the doors of Silverpoint members at the resort, in this case Hollywood Mirage. In the case of our reader it was a young lady, she informed them that they had been “appointed” by the court to act as “mediators” following court cases against Silverpoint.

When questioned the young lady was unable to answer any questions as she stated she didn’t work with the mediators, but acted on their behalf to contact clients. She then made an appointment for them.

At the appointment they were greeted by the same girl, and introduced to a man named John who was described as a “Paralegal” and would explain their options.

The clients then asked where did Centaurus get their contact details and information that they were staying, apparently John looked a little flustered and reiterated that the court gave them the details. Obviously the client did not believe them and informed them of this even stating that it was a breach of protection of data, that the court would not pass on any information without informing the client.

John then brought over another person called Taz who he called the owner and his manager, this Taz told the clients that the court had ordered Silverpoint to supply them with weekly lists of Silverpoint clients stay at the resorts.

Obviously our readers did not believe all this baloney, informing them again that it was a breach of data protection and that they believed that Centaurus was in fact working with Silverpoint and getting the data direct from them as part of Silverpoints enterprise.

At least our readers in this case had the good sense to realise that what they were being told was not true.

Silverpoint is that desperate that they set up a company to act in this way and swindle their own clients yet again, don’t forget they are also using two companies in Scotland for the same thing, Claims Solutions Group in Aberfeldy and Fullbrook Associates in Stirling.

Inside Timeshare warns all its readers beware the “pitch” which is designed to give credibility to the company that is contacting you. Question what you are being told, remember the courts do not appoint or order companies to contact timeshare clients. This information is coming from one source and one source only Silverpoint!

If you have had an experience like this then Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, it will serve as a good warning to others. If you need to check on any company that has contacted you or one you have found in the internet, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today Margaret Chandler shares her “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with an introduction and editing by Irene Parker. This story focuses on the problems being faced by senior citizens at the hands of unscrupulous sales agents, this is being commonly called Elder Abuse.

We were actually hoping that this article was going to be pulled, but unfortunately we have not had any answer or reply from Wyndham, so on with the article.

For the Benefit of the Consumer and the Benefit of the Industry,

Timeshare Consumer Education is Important

Margaret Chandler shares her Wyndham disaster

Introduction by Irene Parker

If you buy a house and have a loan, you can still sell your house.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 443 mostly angry and desperate timeshare members, many seniors with 800 credit scores, facing foreclosure in their 70s and some even in their 80s. All report they were told their timeshare would be easy to sell or that the company would buy the timeshare back. Margaret contacted two licensed timeshare resale brokers. They both told her there was no demand for timeshare points.

I contacted Tom Tubbs of Island Consulting Realty. Tom has been in the timeshare resale business for 32 years. Tom said Wyndham points can be listed for a penny or a penny and a half a point. So, for example, 300,000 points could be realistically listed for $4,500. That’s quite a hit from a likely initial purchase price of $60,000. http://www.timesharestogo.com/

Margaret has filed complaints with the appropriate regulatory agencies, but chances are nothing will happen. Timeshare members tell us the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division will say, “You should not have relied on verbal representation,” the Nevada Real Estate division will say, “You have no proof,” and the Texas Attorney General will advise legal assistance. With virtually no timeshare regulation, and few understanding at purchase the limited secondary market, more and more timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare seeking straight answers. Do not pay anyone upfront money to get you out of your timeshare without checking with Inside Timeshare or one of the self-help groups posted below. Scams abound. We sent a draft of this article to Wyndham. They said they are looking into it.       

Elder abuse is “a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.” Wikipedia  

June 5, 2018

By Margaret Chandler

My name is Margaret and my husband is Edward. We are both 70 years old and Florida residents.  Edward is an Army veteran, E6 at discharge. Our timeshare nightmare started with Wyndham in 2012. I want to detail some of the lies we feel this company told us so that others can be forewarned. We have filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office, the Nevada Real Estate Division and the Texas Attorney General. We have also filed with the Better Business Bureau.

We purchased Wyndham points several times.

We bought 125,000 points in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2012.

We bought points a second time in San Antonio, Texas in 2013. We were told buying more points would increase our original point value to get more availability. This did not improve availability.

We could only find availability in less desirable locations.

We went to Hawaii in 2014 and bought what they said was deeded property.

We were told at Pompano Beach in November of 2014 we would be better off with non-deeded points. They took our Hawaii points. They said there would be higher maintenance fees with the deeded points because deeded points are tied to real estate. The maintenance fees did not go down.

We bought additional points in Atlantic City December of 2014. They kept telling us we would have better benefits at a higher loyalty level.

We bought more points at Daytona Beach January of 2017. They took two contracts and traded those in and added more points. Now all we own is points.

We still have the Nevada and the San Antonio contract in addition to Daytona.    

We are financially devastated.

Our experience started out fine, but got worse and worse. We ended up paying more and more money to fix a situation that never improved.  I imagine it’s something like a drug dealer hooking a new junkie. The first hit is for free. After that you have to pay more and more to get something that gives you less and less satisfaction.

Wyndham’s salespeople have always told us that they have our best interests at heart and that they are there to make our experience better. One salesperson even called me ‘mom’ and another invited us to her son’s wedding. Others were ex-teachers like me or said they had military connections when they found out Edward is a veteran. As a result, we have signed six contracts between 2012 and 2017 that have been upgrades, trades or merges.

The problem is we now feel that that the sales agents were not truthful about pretty much everything. We are both being treated for high blood pressure worrying about the money that we feel they have taken from us so dishonestly. Edwards’s face turns red and I can see the stress level increasing every time the topic of timeshare comes up. We cannot even talk about using it anymore, as he stresses too much. He wants us to be able to enjoy our remaining lives without the threat of bad credit, missed payments or annoying phone calls from Wyndham all day long. I keep telling Edward not to answer calls, but he forgets and answers anyway….then he becomes annoyed all over again.

Edward was working a part time job during 2016-2017 but gave it up because his blood pressure was increasing due to the worry over these timeshare loan payments. He has not been sleeping well which is another factor that is leading to his declining health.

Wyndham promised us the vacations of our dreams, an investment that would be something we could pass onto our children. One salesperson, Zadith, even offered to contact us in a year to help us deed it to our children. They said the Las Vegas location’s value would rise, Hawaii would always be in demand, and Bonnet Creek was a great one because it’s near Disney.

We had to book 13 months in advance to get a place in Hawaii and it has become harder and harder to find availability. Wyndham said there was no availability when we tried to book six months ahead in San Antonio, but online booking sites showed River Walk Wyndham was available. Now how does that happen that owners cannot get a room, but the rooms are available to the general public??

The Wyndham sales agents told us to go to the bank to get a line of credit after we returned home, using the properties as collateral, but we learned timeshares are not considered properties so we can’t refinance. We are stuck with a high interest loan.

Wyndham told us the contract would pay for itself with rentals and they would help us do that but when we tried to rent they told us it would cost 40% of the fee of the booked room to put it in the rental pool and if it was not rented we would have to cancel or lose our points. No one helped us with this complicated process. It was completely left to us.

They told us we could resell the timeshare with ease because timeshares are in demand but when we called Wyndham to do this they said we couldn’t because we still owed money on it. They didn’t tell us those were the conditions at the presentation. If you buy a house and have a loan, you can still sell your house. We were referred to two licensed resale companies that wanted to charge us 10% and 15% of the sale but told us there really was no market for timeshares because the market was flooded.

This was the turning point. Wyndham lied and pressured us into paying more and more money, each time telling us they would fix the problems, but each time we were saddled with more debt. Our ‘personal reps’ were never available. The latest one Zadith, from Daytona Beach, has not been in touch at all.  I tried texting her several times.

We are on a fixed income and we cannot keep up with the increasing costs. We are near the end of the money that we saved all our working days just to pay for these purchases. How can their sales people sleep at night after taking advantage of people that are hardworking souls and are honest and simple folks? They don’t have to lose sleep over our bills that are not being able to be paid. They are not worried about our blood pressures or our health. They just move on to the next victim.

We have written to Wyndham and they have offered to cancel our latest contract from 2017 but not the first two. We have tried to explain that the only reason we have so many contracts in the first place is because they told us the new contracts would fix the problems with the old ones. We are tired and exasperated and just want to be done with Wyndham.

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 Margaret and Irene, once again it is a story we at Inside Timeshare are becoming very familiar with, it is a great shame that a once superb product is being destroyed by nothing more than greed.

If you have had a similar experience to Margaret or just want to comment, then use our contact page and get in touch with us. Inside Timeshare is here to give you a voice.

 

Anfi del Mar: Lopesan Seek to Take Majority Control

ABC Canarias reported on 26 May that IFA Hotels the chain run by Lopesan, will propose to the shareholders meeting in Germany of increasing their capital to 128.7 million euros in a move to take a majority control of Anfi del Mar.

In September 2016 the announcement was made that the Lyng family had sold their 50% share of Anfi to Lopesan, for a mere 41.2 million euros, but this still left the Cazorla interest at 50% plus the golden share which gives them control over the board.

Lopesan is by far one of the largest hotel chains in the Canaries, they specialise in quality 4 and 5 star all inclusive resorts with three of their largest hotels in Meloneras, Maspalomas. It is also known that they do not appear to have any interest in the timeshare model.

This now leaves a huge question for those members at Anfi, if Lopesan do take complete control, where does this leave them?

Will Lopesan continue to run the resort as a timeshare, or will they close it down and turn it into a standard hotel in the model of their other interests?

Lopesan Villa del Conde Resort & Thalasso 5 Star Hotel

We have in the past seen this happen to other timeshare resorts, with those members, especially on floating weeks and points systems losing all their rights. For those on fixed weeks with fixed apartments the scenario is possibly a little better.

As fixed weeks owners enjoy more rights and protection, as they technically own a piece of the property, rather than being members of a vacation club, it could be they may just get a financial return, with Lopesan paying them for the weeks to be returned. This has happened elsewhere, when a resort has been bought out and changed from timeshare to a hotel.

For the members at Anfi the future is uncertain, along with the plethora of court cases against Anfi for the illegal contracts they have sold, is also taking its toll on their finances. We know that sales are not what they used to be, with many sales decks throughout Europe cutting the number of reps they have, with many closing down completely.

Although, at present it is pure speculation what the future holds, it is obviously a very worrying time for all those who have paid substantial amounts of money to purchase their weeks along with the annual maintenance charges. For those with floating weeks, who even now have a problem with availability, will their vacation club continue or will it just cease to exist?

As usual, only time will tell, will we see an increase in the number of cases being taken to court, as members look to recouping what they have paid before they possibly lose everything?

The other question is the Tauro Beach Project, if Lopesan does take full control, will the project be resurrected, this time without the controversy?

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-project-canarian-government-revoke-anfi-concession/

Click on the link below to read the original article.

http://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-hotels-lopesan-hara-ampiacion-capital-para-controlar-anfi-mar-201805261103_noticia.html

Links to past Inside Timeshare articles

http://insidetimeshare.com/lopesan-buy-lyng-families-50-anfi/

http://insidetimeshare.com/lopesan-buys-lyngs-anfi-share-update/

If you have any comments or have any questions on this subject, use our contact page and send them in, your views are important, so share them here with others. As more information becomes available we will publish it here.

In tomorrow’s Tuesday Slot we will be publishing an article by another new contributor, Margaret Chandler, about her experiences with Wyndham, the introduction is by Irene Parker. Although Wyndham were sent a draft, they have so far not responded, if they do respond at the eleventh hour with a favourable answer, the article will be pulled.

Join us tomorrow for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America for June, this week Irene Parker follows on from Haley Saldana’s Tuesday article, but first we look at the end of the week in Europe.

Over the past few weeks we have been issuing various warnings on some very dubious claims companies and fake law firms, we have now received some new information about one called Abogados Lopez.

In the past warnings the name of the lady on the phone was Hope Brugge, well it seems that Hope has now changed to Megan Haywood.

The pitch is the same as before, checking the details of how much they paid etc, before they file the case at court, the a day or so later the great news comes in that they have won the case and the court has awarded a substantial amount. Yes you guessed it they need to be paid to release 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.

This week has also been busy with the courts, Silverpoint has been on the receiving end of yet more Supreme Court rulings, with four in one week, this makes a total of 118 against the timeshare industry as a whole.

There have also been six sentences issued in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi del Mar and Silverpoint, with the total being awarded by the courts to the clients amounting to over 409,000€ plus in most cases the return of legal fees and legal interest. The contract have also been declared null and void, leaving these client not only financially better off but timeshare free.

All these cases were brought on behalf of the clients by none other than those intrepid lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance.

Now on with this weeks Letter from America.

Diamond Resorts International Lawsuit against Castle Law

Declarations of Two Former Castle Law Employees

The Tangled Web: Castle Law Group Entities

How money was funneled from timeshare members to Castle Law

By Irene Parker

June 1, 2018

Diamond Resorts International filed a first amended complaint for damages, injunctive and other relief against Judson Phillips, Esq., Castle Law Group, P.C. and 24 other defendants in the US District Court of the Middle District of Tennessee on February 21, 2118, in an effort to untangle Defendants’ web  of deceit and so as to end Defendants’ improper and legally inappropriate schemes, and in doing, not only vindicating its own rights, but also safeguarding the unsuspecting public and positively impacting the timeshare industry at large.

Case 3:17-cv-01124

Timeshare developers say timeshare exit companies like Castle Law are targeting timeshare members, enticing them to get out of their timeshare contracts. Some of these exit companies charge thousands of dollars upfront, but members are held in suspense for months or years, only to learn they were not released from the timeshare contract. On the other side of the dispute, timeshare members have been contacting Inside Timeshare, desperate to be released from timeshare contracts they never knew were perpetual, and had little or no secondary market.  

https://www.nashvillepost.com/business/legal/litigation/article/20972343/resort-company-sues-local-lawyer-over-timeshare-exits

This past Tuesday we published an article about Haley Saldana getting caught in the middle of a dispute between Castle Law Group and Resort Relief. Haley lost $3,495 after paying Castle Law to get her out of her Silverleaf timeshare, only to find herself foreclosed anyway. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-6/

Two former Castle Law employees, a director of business development and an attorney, relate their experiences working for Castle Law Group, PC and Castle Marketing Group, LLC in depositions filed. I reached out to both employees through Linked-In and the attorney’s law firm. They did not respond.  

Over a year ago I received an email from Carly Vaughn, former public relations manager and content writer for Castle Marketing, asking if I would be interested in writing for the Castle blog. I declined the offer.

We first published an article about developer lawsuits against Castle Law and Judson Phillips August 22, 2017.

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/

Among the twelve causes of action in the “cease and desist” letter Castle sent to developers, are those Inside Timeshare readers, asking for help in complaints against developers, would not disagree with. From the Castle “cease and desist” letter found in public filings:

  • Improper and unethical high pressure sales tactics.
  • Gross and deliberate misrepresentations regarding benefits of ownership.
  • Gross misrepresentation regarding the ability to utilize timeshare points to cover fees associated with membership and exchanges.
  • False information regarding the ease and/or ability to resell for a profit.
  • False sense of urgency to purchase the same day.

A “cease and desist” letter demands all communication with the client, including collection attempts cease under the Fair Debt Collections Protections Act.

Declaration from an attorney who worked for Castle Law

In his declaration, the lawyer states that it became clear to him that Castle Law was not functioning within the ethical boundaries of a proper law firm. At no time was the lawyer tasked with meeting with and/or engaging clients. Rather, according to the attorney, Castle Law clients were primarily engaged through outside third-party exit timeshare companies. Only on a few occasions does the lawyer recall even speaking with a prospective client. The attorney graduated from law school in 2015 and was hired by Castle Law Group, P.C. in 2015. He worked for Castle Law until May 2017. According to the attorney’s declaration:

It was my understanding, through observations, that many prospective clients engaged the services of Castle Law without ever speaking with any attorney. Strangely, I agreed to have a rubber stamp made of my signature to be used by assistants, which made me uncomfortable.

While at Castle I was shocked to learn telephone calls were being recorded without my knowledge, whereby neither of the two parties was aware they were being recorded. I learned of this practice from Sean Austin, president of Castle Marketing, which I now know to be illegal.

I was involved in the evaluation of various cases of timeshare owners who did not have valid claims and should have been entitled to a refund of monies paid to any of the Castle entities. I reported my claims to Judson Phillips and Michael Keever. To the best of my knowledge, very few, if any, actually received a refund. (Castle Law Group and Castle Marketing were both operated by Sean Austin and Michael Keever, neither licensed to practice law)

After I left Castle, I became aware that Castle Law sent out letters to their purported clients that they never represented them. I became aware of such letters after I was forced to defend my license to practice law against four bar complaints against me. All four complaints were eventually dismissed.

DECLARATION 2

This declaration was provided by the “assistant director of affiliate relations” who later served as “director of business development” for Castle Marketing Group as an independent contractor in 2015.

The director’s role was to communicate with and manage outside affiliate companies, referred to as Third Party Exit companies (TPE) who solicited timeshare owners to cancel their timeshare contracts. According to the director:

I observed that Castle Law allowed the outside affiliates to use Castle Law Group’s engagement agreement without an attorney being present or consulted. I observed that timeshare owners were being led to believe they were paying legal fees entirely to Castle Law Group, which was not true.

Initially, Castle Law Group collected all of the funds and was engaged in the practice of sharing the fees with the TPEs. Sean Austin told me that they had created Castle Marketing Group to “act as a buffer between the clients and the law firm” and to “protect the law firm” and to “get around the issue of fee splitting.”

Later Sean Austin told me Castle Law Group was not making any money, which was “not legal,” and that funds had to be pulled out of Castle Marketing Group and transferred to Castle Law group, so that it would appear as if Castle Law Group was earning revenue as part of the transaction. The TPEs kept their portion of the amounts paid for legal services and sent the rest to Castle Marketing. Castle Marketing then transferred funds to Castle Law Group and the many other business entities operated by William Michael Keever and Sean Austin (pictured above).

I observed that attorneys at Castle Law Group rarely, if ever, met with or spoke to the timeshare owners. Sean Austin told me that the staff needed to keep the timeshare owners happy as the lawyers did not have time to confer with them.

At times a year or more went by without any action taken by Castle Law Group on behalf of the timeshare owners. I witnessed that timeshare owners who persisted with their complaints, or demands to speak with an attorney, would be placed on an “escalation sheet.” Staff members would, in some instances, contact customers to calm them down and say whatever was necessary to keep them hanging on until the deadline for their money-back guarantee had expired. My job became so stressful as a result of timeshare members and TPEs demanding answers, my health was impacted and my doctor advised me to quit my job.

The funds collected from the legal fees paid to Castle Marketing Group were funneled to other business ventures owned by Sean Austin and/or William Michael Keever. These businesses included: Castle Venture Group, Worthington Galleries, God Cloud, ExxoGear, Advisant, Kryptobit, and Instant Merchant Group, among others. Sean Austin expressed to me on more than one occasion that the payroll and budget for all these companies was dependent on my work with the TPEs and the funds generated.  

When I expressed my concern that “clients” would complain to the Tennessee Attorney General, Sean Austin stated that Castle Law Group was registered only in the name of attorney Judson Phillips, so Sean Austin, William Michael Keever and the staff, as non-lawyers, would be shielded from any liability or fault.

The Director left Castle Market Group in 2016.     

To date Inside Timeshare has received 437 requests for assistance from timeshare members who allege they were defrauded by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. It is our hope a meaningful dialog will develop to clean up both sides of the timeshare sale.  

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups before paying anyone to get you out of a timeshare contract.

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/

So that’s it, the end of another week in the world of timeshare, a week that has seen more fake companies emerging and many cases against some of the major timeshare companies being resolved in the courts.

If you require any information or have any comments on any article published, use our contact page and send us a message.

Have you been contacted by a company with a similar story to the ones published and want to know the truth, or have you found one on the internet, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to find the information you need.

Remember to do your homework before engaging with any company, it will save you a lot of heartache in the end.

Have a great weekend and join us next week for more “Nightmares on Timeshare Street”.