As we know he no longer works for Silverpoint but is a consultant for his brother’s company Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, who are now making more money from the very people they sold the scheme to in the first place, this time through dubious legal action against their former employer Silverpoint and Mark Cushway.
It all began with a visit to Tenerife in 2017 and a subsequent invitation for a return visit with discounted air fares and two week stay at Beverly Hills Club. The only “condition” was they would have to attend an “information” meeting with Silverpoint.
Once they arrived they were contacted by the Silverpoint representative Alex Farhoud. They attended the arranged meeting and were greeted by the friendly Alex. He began in the time honoured timeshare “warm up”, enquiring into their health, how they are enjoying their stay and giving information on the variety of restaurants, trips and attraction that Tenerife had to offer. All designed to put them at ease.
Eventually the conversation switched to a proposal which would be of great interest and benefit to the client, namely how they could purchase an apartment at Beverly Hills Club well below the market value, this equated to about 60% less.
He went on to explain that they would be able to use the apartment for up to half of the year and for the rest rent it out for a considerable income. Although they would have to wait a few years they would receive “compensation” of 4.5% of the the purchase price, around 155,000€
Alex Farhoud explained the business structure with the aid of the tried and trusted “pencil pitch”, (of which Inside Timeshare has a copy). It shows the workings of the 4.5%, which would equate to 6,975€ which they would receive in the first year as compensation of forthcoming rental income.
This forthcoming rental, was also shown on the hand written “pitch” and showed the proposed income of 21,623.51€, although the amount was actually shown in Swedish Kroner. There would also be a 19% tax deducted from the amount to be paid to the Spanish Tax Authority. This note does have Alex Farhouds name on it.
For the purchase to go ahead a deposit of 5,000€ was payable at that time with the balance of 150,000€ within the next couple of months.
As they had received so much information it was proposed that they would return the following day after looking over the paperwork.
They obviously had many questions they wanted answers to.
According to the paperwork, they would not receive “title” to the property until all the “timeshares” had been freed from their owners, a process that would take approximately 3 years. The paperwork also stated that they were not purchasing “timeshare”.
To cut a very long story short, it seemed like a good deal, Alex Farhoud then contacted Mark Cushway to approve the deal.
Moving on to 2018 early 2018, Alex Farhoud makes contact with an important announcement, problems had arisen with the lease. He also announce that he had parted company with Silverpoint, but did not elaborate if he resigned or was dismissed. Now that he was an independent agent he would be able to restore the original terms of the Rental Program Agreement, but this would entail a payment of 2 x 5,000€, paid in two instalments.
It would also appear other “buyers” had received similar information.
Step in Nordic Consulting, as we have stated the CEO is Ali Farhoud, Alex Farhoud is the consultant. They announced they had “found illegalities” in the agreements, that what they had purchased was “timeshare”, which as we know is subject to some very strict laws in Spain.
Nordic Consulting explained they had already taken several cases to court where the contracts were cancelled with the client receiving back full payment. They proposed that they would take on the case and help this purchaser. The cost would be over 30,000€ to be paid to Nordic Consulting.
So now we have the very people who sold the scheme in the beginning, making what must have been large amounts of money in “commissions”, contacting the very people they sold it to, claiming they had no idea it was “illegal” at the time. Now making more money from the very same people!
From information received, several formal criminal denuncias have been made against them, with apparently more in process of being filed.
We don’t know about you, but it does appear to us that something is very wrong that these brothers who sold the timeshare and the participations scheme on behalf of Mark Cushway for many years are able to operate in this way.
If so, use our contact page, let us know what you have purchased, Inside Timeshare will get back to you with information on where you stand and what is open to you on the legal front. Whether you are from the UK, Scandinavia, or any other European country, we can point you in the best direction.
Over the past few months, Inside Timeshare has received many enquiries regarding claims and legal action against timeshare companies. As we know there are now many firms contacting timeshare owners informing them they have a claim against their timeshare company. Most are not even law firms, but companies setup to get on the bandwagon of claims since the Spanish Supreme Court strengthened the laws.
From the enquiries received, it would appear that everyone has a claim, unfortunately that is not the case, although the purchase may have been in Spain, unless it can be proved that there is a link to a Spanish entity i.e. an SL or SA company, there may not be a viable case.
For example, one reader contacted Inside Timeshare about a Marriott purchase in Mallorca, the company who contacted them was adamant there was a claim and they could take Marriott to court. This reader contacted Inside Timeshare as they were suspicious that what they were being told was not correct, how could they know there was a claim just by the conversation on the telephone?
This reader sent copies of their documents, unfortunately for them there was no viable claim, all the documentation and payments went via Marriotts Florida headquarters. There was no Spanish link, so no Spanish court would have accepted the case. The contract even though purchased in Spain was essentially a US contract, so it was not covered by Spanish law.
We have even had enquiries from readers who have purchased in the UK, being told they have a valid claim. With many of these they have been told they can do this on a no win no fee basis, then are told they must first pay for the contract to be cancelled. The no win no fee is the enticer, the claim is unlikely to ever be paid out.
Spain has the strongest laws regarding timeshare in Europe, by comparison the UK laws are weak and favour the timeshare companies, it is a fact that the EU has issued directives on the sale of timeshare, but these are not law, they are directives pure and simple. It is down to the individual state to place the basic guidelines into domestic law.
The basic criteria for a valid claim against a timeshare contract in Spain is one or a combination of the following:
The purchase must have been made in Spain after 5 January 1999;
The contract is over the permitted 50 year duration, i.e no end date known as perpetuity;
Contains floating weeks or points systems which also includes fractional and “investments”;
Any payments made within the 14 day cooling off period, this is extended to 90 if other infractions such as any of the above are present.
These have been reinforced by the Supreme Court and all lower courts must now follow suite, they have no choice. These are civil cases and it is all down to contracts. Other laws may also be invoked, this is usually done on a case by case basis when the lawyers are preparing the case. They may include Civil Consumer Law and Mercantile Law.
The Supreme Court has also recently ruled that in the case of any payment made during the cooling off period (which includes the 90 day extension) this must be paid back double.
What would be the claim?
Double the deposits paid within the 14 day cooling off period, the balance only if paid after, this is the minimum claim amount. If paid within the cooling off period then double that as well. (All double if 90 day invoked), this is the maximum claim amount.
Added to the claim will also be the return of legal fees (this is at the judges discretion), but also legal interest is paid from the time the case is presented to court.
Maintenance fees may be added to the claim, but again it is the judges discretion if he awards the return.
Obviously, to enable a case to be brought, a competent and genuine lawyer is required, they also should be registered to practice in Spain and have knowledge and experience in this field.
Legal fees are also required to be paid for the work and case to be carried out, these fees are broken down as follows:
Translations of all documents into Spanish, interpreters if the client is required to attend court;
Lawyers fees, for the preparation of the case and representation in court;
Procurator fees, (barrister), they work alongside the lawyer and is responsible for filing the case, submitting and retrieving documents at court;
Court fees and taxes.
Notary fees for Power of Attorney, if signing in Spain this is included. If the POA is signed in the UK then that must be paid separately by the client.
The fees are calculated on the minimum claim amount, which is the purchase price, they are a one time fee, so if the case has to go to an appeal court, no further fees are requested. This system enables the client to know the cost of bringing a case in advance, unlike most systems in the UK where the legal bill for a civil case is not known until the conclusion.
They do not operate a no win no fee system, in fact even in the UK, no win no fee is not what it seems. This system usually involves a litigation funder who pays the legal bills for the case to be brought. You could say they are gambling on the case, if successful, they will take around 40% of the compensation awarded. If you lose, you could be liable for the oppositions cost, which has happened in several timeshare cases in the UK High Courts. One aspect of these no win no fee offers is they do not advise you to take out a litigation liability insurance in case you lose.
As for the prospect of losing in the Spanish courts on these cases, as long as the correct law firm is employed, which has the experience in these cases and this field of law, that possibility is very remote. Plus the correct firm would not take on a case unless it fulfilled the relevant criteria and breached the laws.
If you would like further information Inside Timeshare would be happy to help, also if you would like to have your case checked as to whether you have a valid and viable claim Inside Timeshare can arrange that free of charge and without obligation.
The documents needed would be scanned copies of:
Terms & conditions;
Any finance agreements if these were provided by the sales staff at the point of sale.
If any finance was taken out and is still being paid, then if you do bring a case this still needs to be continued. Once a ruling and sentence on your case has been issued, then the finance company can be approached to have the contract cancelled and all interest returned. This can only be done at the conclusion of the case, the reason is once the court finds in favour of the client the contract is declared null and void on the grounds it is illegal, therefore, the loan agreement was used to finance an illegal product. A claim for interest may be possible if the loan has been cleared.
Once you know for certain that you have a valid and viable claim, Inside Timeshare can then make a recommendation for the best law firm for your case, they would then be able to go through costs and procedure.
Also if you do not have a case which can be taken through the Spanish courts, but have a finance agreement which you are now finding to be a problem, Inside Timeshare may be able to recommend a firm which specialises in this field.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please use our contact page and we will get back to you.
The perpetrator behind this claims fraud, Stephen Paul Fairclough has seemed to have disappeared, his offices at Regus House are now empty. We do know that he does have links in Portugal and is believed to own a property and lives there. So he may just have fled the UK and is living his life of luxury on the money he has swindled from countless victims.
Apparently from information received by one source, who wishes not to be identified, it looks now like the Police in the UK will not be pursuing the matter against Stephen Fairclough. From the information received the reason is that they do not have sufficient evidence. As we know to secure a prosecution and ensure a conviction in any criminal trial, the evidence must be strong and be of “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Inside Timeshare would love to see Fairclough prosecuted and convicted, so it is now up to you the readers and victims of his fraud to come forward. Inside Timeshare is in contact with one victim who would like to gather together all those affected and form an Action Group.
If you have lost money for services not provided by Fairclough, then use our contact page, send in your details and Inside Timeshare will pass them to the coordinator of the Action Group. It is only with your help that this person will ever be brought to justice.
Our information is that two clients have begun legal proceedings against Silverpoint but they have also lodged the criminal complaints against the two Farhoud brothers who sold them the scheme in the first place. It is believed from our sources that more clients are also coming forward and more “Criminal Denuncias” are going to be made.
It must also be remembered that they are now contacting previous victims via their company Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, with the offer of taking legal action against Silverpoint (their former employer) and claiming back what their clients originally paid. They explain that what was sold to them was not legal, yet they are the ones who sold it in the first place, yet they claim they had no idea that it was “fraudulent”.
Now, we also know that they will be charging huge amounts for legal fees to carry out this “service”, so in reality they made large amounts in commission for selling it and are now set to make even more by offering a “legal service”!
If you have purchased these “Company Participations” or any other product peddled by Silverpoint, or have been contacted by Nordic Consulting, then use our contact page to get in touch. Inside Timeshare will then answer your questions and point you to the best solution for your situation.
We also have an update of court cases held in the Courts on Gran Canaria, all these involved Anfi and were brought on behalf of clients by Canarian Legal Alliance.
In total there were seven sentences issued, 3 by the High Court in Las Palmas and 4 by the Courts Of First Instance in Maspalomas. Again all contracts were declared null and void as the contained infringements of the Timeshare Laws as laid down by the Supreme Court. These ranged from floating weeks to perpetuity contracts, the courts awarded over 241,545€ to the clients along with legal fees and legal interest.
Then on Tuesday 5 March, another sentence was issued by the Court of First Instance of San Barlelomé De Tirajana, again this was against Anfi. This quite a significant case as the amount involved is huge.
The client in this instance is set to receive over 212,476€ plus legal interest, along with the contract being declared null and void. This will be one happy client.
The case was conducted on behalf of the clients by the Canarian Legal Alliance lawyer Adrián Diaz-Saavedra Morales, who is another of the young and dynamic team at CLA. So congratulations to them all, and keep up the good work.
If you need any advice with a timeshare problem or paid a company for services which you have not received, contact Inside Timeshare via our contact page. We will point you in the right direction.
It appears that the purchaser of this “participation programme” for the outlay of considerable amounts of money are rental rights to certain resorts accommodation. From the information received these are:
The Dream Hotel, Phuket Thailand
The Americano Hotel, Daytona Florida
The Lodge Hotel, “Twin Lakes Country Club”, Lancashire
“The Club Lodge” Forest lakes Country Club, Nova Scotia Canada
As with the “Company Participation Scheme” these will be rented out with the purchaser receiving 6.05% fixed rental revenue. They will also after a number of years been promised to receive a full repayment.
From the two enquiries we have received so far about this “new scheme” one paid over 39,000€ the other has paid over 57,000€, neither have received any rental payments and have not received the repayment promised.
So we do have a very tangled web indeed, just on this alone, along with the past deeds of the persons and companies involved, from the “investment packs of timeshare weeks” to the “company participation scheme” and now the “Excel participation programme”, can you actually trust what they are selling?
Previous articles on Silverpoint Company Participations.
As you will see from the end of year accounts for 2018, Lodgequest Holdings has capital and reserves of minus £18,380. I don’t know about you the reader but this does not look good for any company. So will the purchasers get what they are promised?
Click on the PDF below for the December 2018 accounts.
If you have had any dealings with Excel Overseas Lodging Participation Programme, The Company Participations Scheme or any of the old Silverpoint Investment Packs, then use our contact page and get in touch. We will answer any questions or concerns regarding any purchase you have made, then point you in the right direction to resolve the matter.
Following are PDFs of the Company House records. You will also notice another name on some documents, the late Robert Trotta, the man behind Resort Properties / Silverpoint and all associated companies
ARDA Timeshare Lobbyist Don Isaacson Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639 – A Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers
ARIZONA TIMESHARE BILL PASSES OUT OF HOUSE COMMITTEE
By Irene Parker and registered nurse, Fran D
March 5, 2019
Arizona has proposed a timeshare bill to protect timeshare buyers, but this bill is being contested by timeshare lobbyists. If Arizona HB2639 passes, it would help to protect consumers from fraud and deceptive sales practices by allowing a 14 day rescission period, among other safeguards. Fran, an Arizona resident, hopes that by sharing her timeshare experience that took place in Sedona, Arizona, and Maui, Hawaii, it will help lawmakers understand what buyers face when purchasing a product improperly presented.
Timeshares have little to no secondary market. ARDA ROC has launched 8 Tips to Navigate the Resale Market. I contacted 22 licensed brokers. Not one would accept a listing for my timeshare points, feeling the restrictions placed on the use of secondary points too restrictive. For the members of my timeshare company, there is no resale market. http://www.ardaroc.org/timeshare-resales-resource-center.aspx
Many of the families affected by the lack of a secondary market for timeshares have been financially devastated. The majority of our readers have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
But the bottom line, said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.
“You read the documents,” said Isaacson. “And unless there is fraud, you are bound to that particular purchase.”
Anyway, Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue. He said the 250 complaints a year to the Attorney General’s Office pale in comparison to the 600,000 timeshare units owned in Arizona.
What Mr. Isaacson doesn’t understand, is that members are bound by the contract, despite fraud, with the vast majority of complaints alleging deception dismissed with “You signed a contract.” It’s not that buyers don’t understand the product. It’s that they understand the product as it is so often deceptively presented. Three major timeshare companies have received, respectively, over 2,000, 1,000 and 800 Better Business Bureau complaints over the last three years.
When buyers complain, they are typically told they signed a contract. How many people buy cars and houses without relying on reading every word of a contract, relying on the ethics of the real estate or automotive broker? It is only in timeshare that the oral representation clause is so abused and so overused. The industry itself calls deceptive practices “pitching heat,” a term unique to timeshare sales.
There are many ways to deceive, such as:
“This is a new program, so don’t say anything because I could get fired.”
Access to booking is not allowed until after the rescission period, so reading the contract would not help.
Wait until you make a few payments before refinancing – when banks don’t finance timeshares.
Fran’s complaint, recently sent to the Arizona and Hawaii Attorneys General, was dismissed by the company, responding that there were no misrepresentations. You be the judge. She will file complaints with the BBB, the FTC, the FBI at IC3.gov and theSecurities and Exchange Commission.
Fran hopes ARDA lobbyist Don Isaacson reads her complaint. She will be reaching out to the following Arizona representatives involved with the bill:
Excerpts from the complaint Fran filed with the Arizona and Hawaii AG offices:
We purchased 8500 points in Sedona Arizona April 24, 2017.
Purchase price: $29,955.00
Down payment: $6,150.00
Amount financed $23,805.00
Sales agent Eric told us that we were buying points at a low rate, less than $ 4 per point, and that “at this price the point value can only go up.” We could sell some points at a profit and keep the original base points for travel. Ultimately getting our entire purchase for free, he called it a “401-V”. He said he would lock the price for one year in case we decided to get more points later to utilize our “401-V”. We have since learned Diamond points are virtually worthless on resale.
The forms were long and extensive. We asked for time to review the documents but were pressured into signing “today” or not get the price per point offered. After seven hours, my husband got upset and left. Eric followed us to our room insisting that we sign. We thought that Eric must be telling the truth, because if he wasn’t, there would be some sort of regulation. We incorrectly put our faith in Eric.
We were referred to ARDA. ARDA’s advice leads members to scams, as licensed brokers will not even accept a listing for Diamond points, feeling the restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points excessive.
Virginia Beach, August 2017
The sales agents in Virginia were also very high pressure. They told us what we bought in Arizona was not worth it for us and that we had to purchase another 8500 points in order to keep the price of less than $4 per point. The agent said that after that day the price would be higher. We did not buy. Being deceived into attending the presentation, under the guise that we were getting an education toward our membership was unfair and deceptive. The insistence that we had not purchased enough points made us so angry we did not buy.
Maui, Hawaii, February 12, 2018
We purchased an additional 5,000 points and switched our US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection to total 13,500 Hawaii Collection points.
Purchase price $56,510.00
Down payment of $2,731
Amount financed $47,713.00
We met with sales agent Sequan R. This again ended up being a hard sell when we told him that we were expecting more of an educational meeting. He said he would give us all the education we need as he had left the company to give independent conferences to teach people how to maximize and exit a timeshare through “Timeshare Confidential Seminars,” but said Diamond hired him back to the sell side of the industry. We were again told “You can’t travel to where you want to go with what you have.” We have since learned that 8500 points were enough points to meet our needs.
Sequan told us we could use a program called Club Combinations at least six times a year to rent out to generate income that would offset the cost of our mortgage. Sequan also told us that we are lucky that the agent in AZ locked in the price because points have already gone up to $8.00 per point so we could already sell points and double our money. Sequan said that many more high income level people are coming into this resort for the investment which is why the company started the rental program. He said at that income level people want to see a good return on their investment. I told Sequan I did not have time to spend on rentals because I work a lot of hours. Sequan said that the company would appoint someone to help us so we could start to offset our cost right away. I asked Sequan what if they don’t help us. He gave us his cell number and said to call him if that happens. We called Sequan but there was no person by that name.
Later we called and asked how to rent out our club combinations listings. We were told there was no such program. There was no such thing as a rental program or selling of points for a profit.
Most buyers are on vacation without funds available for a large purchase, so end up signing off on high interest rate loans. We went into debt to invest in Diamond’s timeshare points.
We had hoped for great vacations and the ability to sell some points for profit as had been explained. Diamond’s motto “Stay Vacationed” for us means being held hostage. This vacation nightmare has become a major stress in our lives. Filing regulatory complaints is like having a part time job. I am a registered nurse and have spent many years working hard. My husband has worked hard for 40 years. We trusted the timeshare salespeople as we would trust any real estate broker, relying on the ethics of the real estate industry. It was a mistake.
Please do whatever you can to pass this bill and not allow ARDA, a paid lobbyist, to change your minds!
Thank you to Fran for sharing her timeshare experience. Inside Timeshare sent a draft of this article to ARDA. They did not respond. Of the 717 families who have reached out to us reporting unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, 99 are veterans and active duty service members. Several of the veterans are disabled, five Agent Orange disabled.
Proposed Florida HB 435, in which developers are worried about members deceived by timeshare exit companies, is supported by ARDA. A recent Florida whistleblower lawsuit was filed on behalf of ten former Wyndham sales agents. The actions of deceptive sales agents also harm honest timeshare sales agents.
IMPORTANT LINKS CONCERNING ARIZONA HOUSE BILL 2639
Preparing a narration for a governmental agency or a timeshare loss mitigation department is difficult for some due to age related issues or language barriers. We’re here at Inside Timeshare, along with our Supporters, to listen and educate. Contact us or one of these self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced if you experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
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.
Thank you Irene and Fran, it is now down to you the readers to do your bit and make your voices heard, this bill is to protect you the consumer, do not let the industry that has walked over you for years do it again.
In Spain, the law is on the side of the consumer, the industry is being taken to the cleaners after years of predatory selling, with many other European Countries with timeshare resorts looking to follow Spain’s lead. This is a result of the European Union issuing several directives on what timeshare is and how it should and should not be sold, which each state having to place this into their own laws, Spain was by far the strongest in its implementation. It took many years to get to this stage, but at least the consumer has the full protection of the law.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish a press release about the Arizona House Bill 2639, a bill designed to give consumers the protection they need when purchasing a timeshare. As usual ARDA (American Resorts Development Association) is opposing this bill, this release is a call for all consumers, timeshare owners and non-timeshare owners to voice their support for the bill.
The story from Paul Burrows is the same as before, Eze Group member has been awarded a specific amount of money, but to get this they first have to pay a fee of £695. This will be held in “TRUST” at an unnamed High Street Bank, the client will then receive their money in 10 days.
Now for our Letter from America
Time-Sensitive in Advance of Arizona House Bill 2639 Vote
We Need Your Voice
ARDA Opposes Arizona House Bill 2639, Which Offers Consumer Protection
On the heels of perceived unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices that have left many families financially devastated, 13 Arizona representatives have proposed the creation of Arizona HB 2639 in an effort to safeguard consumers from entering into a perpetual contract, often buying a product they have not even had a chance to try before purchase.
Buyers often enter into timeshare contracts when on vacation, are encouraged to review documents after they return home from vacation, sometimes long after the rescission period has ended – leading to confusion, anxiety and costly fees that can last years.
Arizona House Bill 2639, aimed at alleviating some of those problems, was approved by a committee in a 7-0 vote, but is strongly opposed by the timeshare lobby group American Resort Development Association (ARDA), an industry-supported PAC.
Provisions in the proposed bill offer safeguards for timeshare buyers. We ask that consumers voice their support for this bill by emailing the representatives listed below.
The proposed bill includes:
Purchaser is granted a 14-day rescission period. The closing, as evidenced by delivery of the deed or other document, is prohibited before the 14 day calendar period expires.
After the end of the rescission period, the first use of the timeshare interest concludes; “first use of the timeshare interest” means the first time the purchaser or third party transferee stays in a timeshare pursuant to the purchase agreement.
The seller can charge up to a 10% cancellation fee. Seller may charge regularly scheduled maintenance fees for one year.
The purchaser may cancel the purchase agreement and relinquish all the timeshare interest within one year after the purchaser signs the agreement.
At least ten years after a purchaser purchases a timeshare, a purchaser who has paid the entire purchase price and current annual fees may terminate the purchase agreement without cause.
A request can be denied only if it does not meet the criteria described.
The bill also requires disclosure to alert the purchaser that the contract may be of a perpetual nature.
Please contact the following representatives in support of this bill. There have been numerous Attorneys General investigations, BBB complaints and lawsuits describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The following individuals are the bill sponsors; we urge you to call and write to them to voice your support.
So there you have it, a bill to protect consumers being opposed by the industry because it does not fit in with their own agenda and curbes the power they have held over consumers for years.
It is now down to you the reader to exercise your right to lobby and have this bill past to protect all consumers. The industry has had its own way for far too long, they need to be brought down and be regulated by independent regulation.
On The Tuesday Slot we shall be publishing more about this bill, so join us then.
If you have any comments on this or any other article, or if you have any information regarding any company that you are suspicious of and believe it is a scam, then use our contact page and get in touch.
Have a great weekend and remember to do your homework on any company that contacts you.
Inside Timeshare has had more emails regarding Claims Assistance Bureau Ltd, the cold calling company contacting Eze Group clients with tales of money being awarded by the courts and court cases within the next few weeks. The original warning was published on 18 February.
Well it would seem that they have changed their name in the calls to Claims Advice Bureau UK, which from our research there is a genuine company called Claims Advice Bureau (UK) Ltd, with the Company Registration Number 05518043 and the registered address:
So they have now hijacked a genuine company so when you do your searches on the internet, you will find them and be taken in.
Inside Timeshare has spoken with the director of this company today so they are now aware of the situation, we shall be sending them all the details that we have. So hopefully these “fraudsters” will get caught.
As we know, these people with the name Harry Evans, Claire Bruce , Mel Rhys and have concocted some very believable stories that they are acting as intermediaries for the courts. Which we know would never happen.
As you can see these are standard gmail accounts which do not link to any company website, which should always cause alarm bells to ring.
The latest story from Harry Evans, which is then backed up by Claire Bruce in an email, this time there is a case underway in the Madrid Courts against Eze Group, which we do know is not the truth. But according to Harry and then backed up by Claire in the email, they will have the clients money of over £15,000 back in TEN, YES, TEN days! Wow, that is very fast work, Inside Timeshare has never known any payout to be that quick, they are obviously great miracle workers!
If you have been contacted by Harry Evans, Claire Bruce, Mel Rhys under the name of Claims Assistance Bureau or using the name Claims Advice Bureau UK, then contact Inside Timeshare with all the details, we will ensure that it goes to the right authorities.
JUST REMEMBER DO NOT BELIEVE THEM AND DO NOT PAY ANY MONEY!
Need help or advice on any company the has contacted you, that you have found on the internet or in any publication and want to know if they are genuine or a fraud?
Do you have a problem with your timeshare and want to know what options are available to you?
Then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will give you the best advice possible, all free of charge.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week Irene Parker looks at the question which is rather unique to the US, it is something we in Europe do not have a problem with. Irene also includes a very good explanation from Attorney Mike Finn.
The Timeshare Tax Trap
By Irene Parker
February 26, 2019
Inside Timeshare has heard from 719 timeshare families. Of the 719, 98 are veterans and active duty service members. All but a handful allege unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. The most common complaint is being told you can pay your maintenance fees using points when programs as described do not exist. Others report being assured their timeshare could be sold only by purchasing additional points.
It’s bad enough to be lied to, suffer the frustration of groveling before customer services representatives who dismiss your complaint with “You signed a contract,” then undertake the arduous process of filing regulatory, and in some cases, law enforcement complaints. After you think it is finally over and done with, you get one of these 1099Cs in the mail after your timeshare loan has been cancelled, Blood pressure rises again.
We can’t give tax advice, so we rely on professionals to point you in the right direction. We published information on how to dispute phantom income last year on April 6. Given we have already received many questions about this pesky form this current tax season, we are publishing earlier this year hoping to calm our readers before receiving an IRS form 1099-C.
Here’s the word from the professionals:
1099-C: Cancellation of Debt
At the time the seller/borrower obtained the loan to purchase or refinance the property, the loan proceeds were not included in taxable income because the borrower had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation to repay the lender is forgiven or cancelled, the amount that is not required to be repaid is considered income by the IRS. The lender is required to report the amount of the cancelled debt to the borrower and the IRS on Form 1099-C, when the forgiven debt is $600 or greater.
Excerpt from attorney Mike Finn’s Learning Center article on timeshare loan forgiveness:
The 1099 form is referencing a large amount which may very well be taxable income! Unlike the mortgage balance forgiven, which would have been spread out over the life of the loan, this possibly taxable sum has now been reported to the IRS all at once, in one lump sum! Say the amount reported is about $25,000. Say further that your tax bracket is 20%, a rate on the lower end of the scale. Your new added tax bill is $5,000, and it’s all due by April 15th!
Consult with a tax professional before you assume that your receipt of a 1099 form from a timeshare developer automatically means you’re staring down significant tax liability.
Please understand we are not providing tax advice, merely a possible position that we believe is quite tenable and may be worth exploring with your own tax advisor. Although it’s accurate for me to state that I was a Certified Public Accountant, it is much more important to note that my C.P.A. licensure has long ago lapsed (because I didn’t choose to keep up with the annual professional education courses necessary to retain my certification). Please take your tax preparation advice solely from your own qualified tax return preparer.
Every tax filer is unique, with differing facts and circumstances. I am not offering, nor should you interpret my comments, as tax advice.
The receipt of these 1099 forms creates confusion.
I point you to IRS form #982. This is the form that the IRS advises should be filed along with the income tax return itself as a form of supporting schedule, which provides notification to the IRS that the amount presented to them via a 1099 is being acknowledged, but further, that the amount listed should be excluded from the taxpayer’s gross income. The myriad of possible reasons provided on the 982 form are in and of themselves confusing and difficult to understand. I’m therefore providing my readers what I suggest may be appropriate reasoning in concluding that, in many cases, there should be no “income tax penalty” imposed after successfully negotiating a release of contract with your timeshare resort.
Allow me to provide my argument as to why some forms of debt forgiveness may well be construed as taxable income, and then differentiate the negotiated act of cancelling a timeshare contract and why this transaction therefore logically should be treated differently.
Since “income” generally means a measure of accretion of wealth or value added to your worth, then the cancellation of a debt, when that debt was incurred when you received something of value, should be counted as income because the elimination of the debt liability plus the retention of the item acquired when the debt was incurred increases your net worth. Under this definition of added wealth, the taxing of same would be quite logical.
Applying this argument to the cancellation of a timeshare contractual obligation and its related underlying indebtedness, it’s immediately evident that the cancelled owner has retained absolutely nothing of value. They’ve surrendered their interest in exchange for a debt and/or contract cancellation, but after the transaction they have absolutely no accretion of net worth.
In terms of taxpayer reporting requirements, the issue becomes murkier when you apply it to timeshare transactions. Whether or not the industry will ever acknowledge that the resale value of a timeshare interest is minimal at best, what we can establish is that it would be extremely unusual for anyone other than the resort developer to acquire the timeshare interest at foreclosure, and therefore the liquidated basis of the interest will nearly always be zero, or at best a nominal value at foreclosure. Also making the timeshare transaction more complex in terms of following the instructions of either IRS form 982 and/or publication 4681 relating to this issue is determining whether the underlying debt should be viewed as “recourse” or “non-recourse,” given the propensity of the developers to utilize non-recourse based non-judicial foreclosures to recover the interest the greatest majority of the time.
I’ve intentionally attempted to avoid becoming overly technical in terms of specifically advising of taxpayer reporting requirements other than to suggest very generally that the filing of the IRS form 982 will most probably be required. Lastly again, I do most strongly recommend utilizing a professional tax return preparer, as these forms are not at all intuitive.
I earnestly wish that I could offer something less complex to help provide absolute answers to this prominent issue, but I do feel that this is important because the financial ramifications are potentially high.
Once again, thank you to Mike Finn for his experienced advice. Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a timeshare concern or a story to share. If we don’t know the answer we will find someone who does.
Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:
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.
Thank you Irene for this article and thanks to Mike Finn for his contribution, as usual you explain things in a way that us mere mortals can understand.
If you have a problem with your timeshare, have been contacted by any company offering you what looks like a very simple solution, but are not sure if they are genuine, than use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we have had more emails from concerned readers regarding Claims Assistant Bureau, a company we highlighted only last week.
As we know, this company is calling timeshare owners along with those who have had dealings with Eze Group, they claim they have been appointed by the courts to tack down owners who have had money awarded to them and is being held by various courts.
According to Harry Evans and then back up by an email from Mel Rhys, Regency Shores Holdings SL (Eze Group), have recently been in court in Tenerife. The court is now holding a substantial amount which Claims Assistant Bureau will be able to get back for you, for a fee that is.
Another fact is they also claim that they are backed up and guaranteed by The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, The Bank of Spain and the High Court of Madrid.
Another reader who we spoke with was very suspicious, as the person on the phone was contradicting himself so much it set off alarm bells. Below are the company details along with a link to the article publish on 18 February.
14 Victories in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi
1 High Court judgement against Anfi
2 First Instance victories against Silverpoint
2 High Court victories against Silverpoint
1 First Instance against Holiday Club Finland
1 First Instance against Club La Costa
In all these 21 sentences the contracts were declared null and void, the total claim value has yet to be released, but it is believed to be very substantial.
In further news from the Courts in Maspalomas, another 8 cases have been sent for sentencing at the pre-trial stage. It appears the judges are dispensing with the need for a full trial, which is only good news for the clients. This will result in cases being concluded in a much faster manner, with payouts being much quicker.
Obviously it will not be long before other courts in Spain start doing the same thing, it is obvious now that the laws put into place to protect consumers are solid and are being enforced by the courts.
Have you been contacted by any company mentioned in any of our articles, or one that you have found on the internet or even from an advert in a newspaper or magazine?
Do you want to find out if they are genuine and not sure how to do this?
Have you been told you have a valid claim and want to know if it is true?
Then use our contact page and send us a message, we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today Inside TimesharesIrene Parker reports on a Lawsuit filed on behalf of 10 former Wyndham employees. This suit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblowers Act in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division. This follows on from a previous article first published in 1 December 2016, where Whistleblowers exposed timeshare sales tactics, it was also where we reported on Trish Williams being awarded $20 million by a San Francisco jury for unfair dismissal after she exposed Wyndhams tactics. But first the latest news from the Spanish Courts.
The Hope family are now timeshare free and will soon be able to enjoy the money awarded, as the law firm Canarian Legal Alliance has already begun proceedings to enforce the sentence and have the money paid out as quickly as possible.
On the subject of enforcing sentence, one Norwegian family have now been awarded 49,226€ with their contract with Anfi Resorts being declared null and void, on the grounds that it did not include any tangibility and was detrimental to the consumer.
After enforcement of sentence proceeding by their lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, this money is now safely in the clients own bank account.
So contrary to many posts on various forums and claims by timeshare companies, clients are receiving payment, so congratulations to both families.
Now for today’s article.
A Lawsuit Filed on behalf of 10 Former Wyndham Employees
Filing #82214691 filed 12/17/18
Timeshare Exit Team Responds to Manifesto
Arizona Timeshare Bill to Safeguard Timeshare Buyers Opposed by Timeshare Lobbyists and Developers
By Irene Parker
February 22, 2019
A lawsuit was filed under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (Florida Statute 448102(3)) on behalf of ten former Wyndham employees in the Judicial District of Pinellas County, Florida Civil Division against Wyndham Vacation Club. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents. Plaintiffs allege that they objected to and refused to participate in illegal timeshare sales practices. This lawsuit parallels the former Wyndham California sales agent Trish William’s lawsuit in which a jury awarded Ms. Williams $20 million November 2016.
According to the Florida statute, “An employer may not take any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee has….Objected to, or refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation.”
Florida House Bill 435, introduced by Freshman Representative Wyman Duggan seeks to protect timeshare members from unfair and deceptive sales practices perpetrated by timeshare exit companies.
The timeshare industry lobbyists and developers lump legitimate law firms and lawyers in with lawyers employing questionable business practices, with a goal to prevent members from seeking any legal counsel if they feel they experienced unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices.
Timeshare Accountability Group™maintains a member need not retain a law firm or an exit company. Our Supporters answer questions about regulatory filings as the process can be daunting. However, some members do not have the time or temperament to withstand our process, which we admit is arduous.
In Manifesto Part I the author compared third party exit companies to Ponzi Schemes. This prompted a response from Timeshare Exit Team:
“For the past seven years, as Timeshare Exit Team has grown from a local, Seattle-based company to a national brand, we have remained focused on honesty, integrity, and transparency. We exit burdened timeshare owners legitimately by facilitating transfers, voluntary deed-backs to resorts, or using attorneys to litigate against timeshare developers when necessary, and offer a 100% money-back guarantee. To date, we have successfully exited 16,000 timeshare owners. Our goal is not just to provide a valid exit for owners who find themselves with no realistic solution to get out of their timeshare, but also to transform the industry. For that reason, we are proud to be a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare. In solidarity with our Coalition partners, we are pushing for a Consumer’s Bill of Rights for timeshare owners–and would-be owners–that seeks to create a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract, to lengthen rescission periods to 14 days, to force full disclosure in timeshare presentations, and to give timeshare owners booking rights over the general public. Our passion is to be able to serve every single one of our clients AND to support those who wish to keep their timeshare, but just want a level playing field with the developers.”
Given Timeshare Accountability Group™recommends not paying anyone to get out of a timeshare, we find ourselves an unlikely ally with Timeshare Exit Team as we are also a founding member of The Coalition to Reform Timeshare.
There are many timeshare exit scams, but there are also many scam timeshare sales agents. Inside Timeshare has heard from 705 families reporting allegations our ten Wyndham former employees say they were forced to employ or be “starved out” of their jobs.
In the Wyndham lawsuit, plaintiffs were employed by Wyndham’s Florida Clearwater Beach Resort which opened in 2017. Plaintiffs include eight former sales agents, a business operations coordinator and a community marketing agent. Plaintiffs say they were enticed by a supposed once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of the opening sales team where they were promised yearly profits in excess of $500,000.
The allegations described in this December 2018 class action read like a broken record to Charles Thomas and me. We hear on a daily basis, identical complaints from timeshare buyers from a variety of timeshare companies. Many were existing members who trusted the company, buying more points in order to be eligible for programs that did not exist, like the ability to sell back points to the company. Timeshares have virtually no secondary market.
We also have received many complaints from timeshare buyers who said they did not realize a credit card had been opened or charged. They report being told to “fill this out so we can determine if you are eligible” when in actuality a credit card was opened and charged. Electronic signing doesn’t help as initials are stored and then, tap, tap, tapped to completion.
According to the Wyndham December 2018 complaint, allegations (edited for brevity) in violation of Florida statutes, include:
18. Plaintiffs allege supervisors regularly instructed them to intentionally confuse and mislead buyers or “wear them down” so they would buy property.
19. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to misrepresent the price of the timeshare through the use of point charts, specifically Wyndham’s “Clearwater Beach Resort Points Chart” fraudulently showing buyers the “RCI Points Chart” which depicts substantially cheaper points – in many cases less than half the actual cost.
20. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the timeshare was an investment.
21. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that the property was not a timeshare.
22. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently misrepresent to buyers the effect of completing a credit application. Plaintiffs were instructed to advise buyers that the credit application would only be a “soft hit” or that it was not a credit application at all.
23. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently alter the buyers’ income level on their credit application, if needed, for them to be approved for credit financing.
24. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise buyers that Wyndham would buy back their property if they were not satisfied with it.
25. Supervisors intentionally preyed upon the elderly in the use of unethical and illegal sales tactics.
26. Out-of-state residents not eligible to purchase Clearwater Beach Resort properties directed plaintiffs to fraudulently advise such buyers to purchase “ClubWyndham Access” that would give them access to other Wyndham properties, and that they could transfer their interest to Clearwater Beach Resort, even providing a form letter explaining this, knowing it was not true.
27. Potential buyers were told the property was not a timeshare, but a “vacation ownership.”
28. Supervisors routinely overstated availability due to Wyndham renting out rooms, reducing availability.
29. Supervisors directed Plaintiffs to fraudulently advise timeshare owners on their refinancing options advising existing owners that they could keep making the same monthly payments and pay off their loan by the same time, when in actuality repayment terms were simply extended.
30. Supervisors instructed Plaintiffs to do “whatever they have to do” to close deals, even if it was unlawful or unethical.
The suit also alleges unlicensed real estate agents engaged in the unlicensed practice of real estate by selling properties to buyers.
Plaintiffs say they complained numerous times to supervisors, Human Resources, and eventually to corporate attorneys and investigators. Plaintiffs stated at least one supervisor stated he would “starve out” Plaintiffs that objected and/or complained if they did not do what he told them to do, or would fire them. Plaintiffs were constructively terminated. According to the complaint, one supervisor advised Plaintiffs to “forget everything (they) just learned” as they would never make a sale that way.
According to attorney Tom Roebig of Florin Roebig trial attorneys, representing the Plaintiffs,
“All too often corporations think that an employee who reports wrongdoing is trying to start trouble, when they’re really just trying to protect the company and other innocent victims. Unfortunately, as we can see here, all too often the employee is punished for doing the right thing.”
Allegations from the Trish Williams lawsuit:
In the Trish Williams lawsuit, the elderly were also targeted. Allegations in the Trish Williams lawsuit include:
1. The effect or even existence of a credit card application;
2. That current owners could increase their points at no cost;
3. That Wyndham would buy back points or property in certain circumstances;
4. That monthly payments would be reduced when they were simply being extended;
5. That current owners were making smaller payments than they were, in an effort to persuade them to purchase more points;
Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations made this statement about unscrupulous timeshare exit companies’ sales practices:
“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of.”
Having heard from 705 timeshare families, 98 active duty service members or veterans, alleging unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices, we contend both sides of the timeshare sales and exits are problematic.
Arizona has proposed a bill (linked above) to safeguard timeshare buyers against practices alleged in the Wyndham lawsuit, numerous Attorneys General investigations, Better Business Bureau complaints, and other lawsuits. We will be reporting on this bill in an upcoming article.
Thank you to the bravery and courage it takes for employees and former employees to “Hold the Powerful Accountable” and as I can personally attest – it’s not easy! I look to Whistleblowers of America (WoA) for supportbecause you can’t do it alone. WoA is a nonprofit that seeks justice for veterans, active duty service personnel and government workers. A veteran introduced me to WoA.
Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced:
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.
Contact Inside Timeshare if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share. We know there are honest agents who refuse to buy into the “pitching of heat” which means telling consumers anything they can think of to get a potential buyer to sign on the electronic line. They too are harmed by the actions of sales agents with questionable business practices.
Thank you Irene and to all other contributors this week, with your help we are able to give others a glimpse of what is happening in the world of timeshare.
Please use our contact page if you have any comment or questions on any of the subjects covered on Inside Timeshare.