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Friday’s Letter from America

Today’s Letter from America by Irene Parker replaces the one that was originally scheduled, that article has been pulled as the company it revolved around has made a settlement in favour of the client. This is a result of the article being sent to the company for comment before publication, we just wish this happens more often.

A Disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street

Three more Seniors Driven into Timeshare Foreclosure

ILG’s stock rose about 5 percent on the news of the deal, while Marriott Vacations — paying $14.75 in cash and 0.165 of its own shares for each ILG share — slid 9.2 percent.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ilg-m-a-marriott-vaca/marriott-vacations-buys-ilg-in-47-billion-timeshare-merger-idUSKBN1I10ZX

Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) plans to take Diamond Resorts public, according to The Wall Street Journal

Sources indicate that Apollo is seeking a valuation of close to $4B for Diamond Resorts

https://seekingalpha.com/news/3347179-diamond-resorts-files-confidentially-ipo

May 11, 2018

Meanwhile, Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare advocates on behalf of Active Duty military in danger of losing their Security Clearance due to timeshare foreclosure. Currently there are five battling this worry, including three members of the Navy, one Homeland Security agent, a defense worker, and a military paralegal. Veterans, from the ages of 28 to 83, including a double Purple Heart recipient, have reported allegations of timeshare fraud on the front of the sale, and difficulty selling timeshares they no longer want or can afford. Several of our veterans are combat disabled.             

Phyllis, Shirley and Marcy would like to share their timeshare experience to warn other seniors. All allege they were a victim of Elder Fraud. Shirley paid one of those “Get out of your timeshare” companies money to get out of her timeshare contract, only to be foreclosed. No one needs to pay anyone to be foreclosed. Now she is being taken to court by Barclays because her purchase was charged to a Barclay credit card. Marcy was called by another “Timeshare Exit” company. The caller said he was an attorney and told her the timeshare company would take her house and her Social Security benefits if she did not pay him $2900.   

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helped Wells Fargo victims when Wells Fargo agents opened bogus accounts. With the roll back of the Dodd Frank act, enacted to reduce mortgage lending abuses evident during the subprime mortgage debacle, happy freewheeling lending days may be here again for timeshare developers. Sources tell us there are few if any CFPB investigations.

Many of the complaints we have received are from timeshare buyers who tell us they had no idea credit cards had been issued and were told charging purchases to their Barclaycard would pay for their maintenance fees. Typically, around 1% of amounts charged can be credited to maintenance fees. Others were not even aware they had purchased a timeshare until they returned home.

Perpetual timeshare contracts, some with little to no secondary market, are signed via a tablet, technology foreign to some senior buyers. Seniors may be less comfortable with electronic tablets used to sign timeshare documents, but even those comfortable with tablet technology have reported it is more difficult to review documents on a tablet. Sales agents demand the buyer buy the same day the offer is presented with little time to review documents. Most report exhausting sales sessions that are aggressive and often last several hours.     

Inside Timeshare has received 421 timeshare complaints from our readers. Given we have received so many stories resembling Phyllis, Shirley and Marcy stories, Timeshare Advocacy Group is embarking on a nationwide media campaign to warn the public not to buy a timeshare without talking to their financial advisor, an attorney, or a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

As a former stockbroker, I have nothing against great wealth. I wish we all had the foresight to grow old with Bill Gates and his stock price, but enormous profits gleaned by predatory timeshare sales and lending, coupled with timeshare exit scams has devastated the lives of hundreds of families, according to our readers, who did not understanding the nature of the developer based timeshare contract. Better Business Bureau reports, AG investigations, DOJ reports, and lawsuits galore support the argument that dream vacations can easily turn into a nightmare. As always, we know there are timeshare sales agents trying to sell honestly and many who are happy with their timeshare.  

Having followed timeshare stocks for three years now, my investing comfort level is with Disney Vacation Club. I have never described myself as a socially conscious investor, but having listened to 421 horror stories, my money is on Disney. Not one Disney member has ever contacted Inside Timeshare and the law firms I have surveyed tell me they have never had a Disney timeshare member seek legal assistance. Disney is a starter stock you can give to your kids and grandkids without regret. The following chart shows respectable profits can be gleaned from investing in Disney.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/03/if-you-put-1000-in-disney-10-years-ago-heres-what-youd-have-now.html

Now on to Phyllis, Shirley and Marcy, three Inside Timeshare readers who contacted us this past week horrified at what is happening to them. I had trouble keeping them straight because they were all making the same comments:

I’m having panic anxiety attacks!

I can’t even read this because I’m having palpitations!

I’m so scared! I don’t know what to do!

Phyllis C, age 67, a California resident, was a Diamond Monarch owner

Phyllis works for a prison. She teaches residents how to sew uniforms for CalFire firefighters. Phyllis was the head pattern maker for OP, a brand I remember well.

By Phyllis

I was asked to attend a breakfast to talk about upgrades on a timeshare I owned. I was told it would last 55 minutes, but I was there for seven hours. Four highly pressured sales people took turns on me, bouncing me into three different rooms. They said my children would be responsible for the timeshare bankruptcy if I didn’t give up my Riviera Beach Club week and buy the new vacation points. They told me I would be personally responsible for my portion of the $32 million dollar Monarch timeshare company bankruptcy debt.

I told them over and over I didn’t want it and that I already owned the timeshare. They said I had to buy into the new program even though I had owned my timeshare forever. They said that I could never get out of it because my timeshare went bankrupt and I had to invest with Diamond Resorts or they would go after my children for payment. I had a panic stress disorder attack. After several hours, I was tired and hungry. In order to get out of there I signed. I am a senior citizen five feet tall. Sales agent Raymond Coppin was a six foot tall man, standing over me stating he was a child of GOD and that he could help me. He said to me “I am a friend. I can tell you what to do only after you sign a contract.” Victoria Borghetto, Hassan Younes, and Steven Ginsberg took turns telling me I had to buy Diamond points. They said using the BARCLAYS BANK CREDIT CARD for shopping would make my points go up and my maintenance fees go down.

I signed a contract to buy 3,300 Diamond points which they charged to a Barclaycard. I never received the card. I never used the card. I had a trial date May 8, 2018 to pay their lawyers in the amount of $3446.04. I have asked and been granted a 60 day continuance hoping I can find someone to help me. Diamond sent a letter stating the timeshare went into foreclosure and I am out of the contract. Since the timeshare and Barclays are together, shouldn’t I be out of paying the bank as well? Diamond already foreclosed on the timeshare I had used and enjoyed for so many years. I paid a timeshare exit company $1,600, but they must have nothing to do with Barclays?

I need help. Could someone give me advice? Can I get someone to go with me and represent me? I am afraid and stressed. Please e-mail me on what I can so as soon as possible. Thank You.

By Shirley K Minnesota, age 74

Club Wyndham

We will not be paying the Barclay card amounts due. We believe we are a victim of Elder fraud. This Tennessee news report interviewing the couple pictured in this television news report is exactly what happened to us. Wyndham opened a Paypal credit line without our knowledge. Furthermore, we feel we were scammed into opening two Barclay cards to purchase 84,000 Wyndham points for $14,879 on April 27, 2017. Mr. Ryan and Ms. Lapping told us the Wyndham points would not cost anything if we charged things to the Barclay credit card.

https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/consumer-alert/couple-goes-to-wyndham-timeshare-meeting-unknowingly-gets-15k-line-of-credit

Branson sales agents:

Gerald Ryan was highly aggressive

Samantha Lapping

I have filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General, the FBI at IC3.gov and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I will be filing a complaint with the FTC and our Minnesota Attorney General.  

We did not know that the Barclay cards had been opened until we returned home. They had run our credit on our personal cards and came back saying, “You have great credit!” They must have opened the cards based on that information.

When I felt we had been scammed, I called and cancelled the Barclay cards shortly after the April 27, 2017 purchase. I thought that was the end of it, but on May 2, 2018 I received correspondence from Pinnacle that said I owe Barclay’s $14,879!  We are getting calls from Pinnacle.

https://www.bbb.org/minnesota/business-reviews/financial-services/pinnacle-credit-services-llc-in-minneapolis-mn-23002292/reviews-and-complaints

I didn’t even know what we bought. They had said if we charged things using the Barclay credit card, then it would all be free because we would not have to pay anything. They said we would pay for the Wyndham points by using the credit card. We were there from morning until about 2:46 PM in the afternoon. I am 74 years old and my husband Ellsworth is 77. Ellsworth is hard of hearing.

The following charges we were not aware of were charged to us.

$5,500 was put on a Barclaycard in Shirley’s name

$9,379 was put on a Barclaycard in Elswsorth’s name

$7,349 Promotional purchase

$2,000 Promotional purchase

$30 Promotional purchase

We were shocked when we received a “Welcome to Pay Pal credit and thank you for an account” on April 27.

I have always paid my bills until this nightmare. I have sciatic nerve problems and I don’t know what to do. I am not sleeping and don’t know where to turn. I am working just to make money to try to end this. There was no time to read anything. I believe this is Elder Abuse and Elder Fraud.

Marcy S, age 70, a California resident, widowed

I owned a deeded week at Ka’anapali Beach Resort

I was contacted by a man who identified himself as Louis Stravricos who said he was an attorney with US Consumer Attorneys Group in San Diego.  His telephone number is 855-627-0795. He said he was calling about my Diamond timeshare. He was aware that I was a Diamond owner and that I owned at Ka’anapali Resort. He sent me a copy of their contract and said I needed to pay him $2900 to get out of the Diamond contract.  He told me Diamond was going to take my house and my children would be responsible for paying all Diamond debts and that they would even attach my wages.  He said Diamond would also take my Social Security payments and my retirement.

I have not paid my Diamond maintenance fees for about three years. I wanted to deed it back to Diamond but they would not take it back. I tried to sell it but no one wanted it. I have Fibromyalgia so it is very difficult for me to travel.

This man that called was horrible. It was very scary. Would you please contact Diamond for me because I do not know what I should do? (We did and Diamond responded) I did not know if he was telling me the truth.

Irene told me that now Diamond has a program called Transitions, a voluntary surrender program. If I was current on my maintenance fees, I would in all likelihood be accepted for Transitions. I heard nothing from Diamond until I recently received a letter that said I was past due on $9,000 in maintenance fees. I cannot pay that.

Four other complaints were reported to Inside Timeshare directed against the same timeshare sales agent and in one complaint, the same vice president of sales mentioned in Marcy’s complaint:  

Complaint #1

The agent 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.  What he failed to advise was that we would have to charge $270,000 annually to earn $2,700 towards our maintenance fees!

Complaint #2

We were Monarch owners. We were told unless we bought more points our heirs would be responsible for maintenance fees.

Complaint #3

The presenter said we were not full members and we should have received a letter to go to full membership. I told them we never received a letter. He then offered a deal that would only be good right then.  He informed us that what we had was worth nothing now and we would have to upgrade to be able to use any benefits because of the bankruptcy.

Complaint #4

We were told at the Capistrano Beach Resort we would not be able to use our Monarch week unless we bought points and that our Monarch week was worthless. We were not told of the option to deed back the week.

Other seniors foreclosed:

Deneice and Louis Vargas – in the foreclosure process

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-21/

Seniors Romeo and Lily Dalisay

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-9/

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you to Irene and our contributors for their story, it makes you wonder how these overpaid company executives can actually sleep at night, I think we all know the answer to that, no conscience, pure greed and a greater love of money than their fellow man!

Unfortunately it all starts with those lower down the food chain, the sales agents, obviously looking to become one of the big boys with their own office!

Well that’s it for this week, Friday is here and the weekend begins, have a good one.

Friday’s Letter from America

In this weeks Letter from America we welcome another new contributor, Robin Law, with a “Buyer Beware Warning” about Bluegreen. This is a story that is not unfamiliar with us at Inside Timeshare, the only difference is the name of the developer.

But first we issue a warning about another company that is cold calling owners in Europe, we have been informed by a UK resident and Diamond member who received a call from this company, Claim Your Claim.

In the call our reader was informed that since Apollo had taken over Diamond, there were only four resorts that they could go to in the whole of Europe!

Now that is very strange, according to the Diamond website they have many more than that, I can personally name at least a dozen.

Our reader was also informed about how they were mis-sold their timeshare and had a valid claim, which this company could help and retrieve their money back! Sounds great, until you start to look at this company.

Their website https://claimyourclaim.com shows no company registration or any other details apart from the address and telephone number on the contact page:

Calle San Francisco Javier, 22d, 38001 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain (which is an aprtment block).

Tel: 0845 621 3233

https://www.google.es/maps/place/Calle+San+Francisco+Javier,+22,+38001+Santa+Cruz+de+Tenerife/@28.4709569,-16.2494615,3a,60y,45.65h,109.17t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s9YYai_iGjgQcg65WwTBsNg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0xc41cb7e58580589:0x9e73f0cfdf824dfe!8m2!3d28.4709875!4d-16.2493926

The Home page gives very little information apart from they are “Specialists” in “Claiming your Claim”, “Peace of Mind” and “Customer Care”.

In the Services section they have four categories, Financial Management, which tells about claiming, Holidays, showing three hotels at rather high prices, Deals, which are low cost resorts and Other Services such as airline tickets, car hire and places to visit.

The About Us section is rather interesting, they state Claim Your Claim work alongside a company formed in 2003 as a subsidiary of an Anglo/Polish Travel Agency based in Krakow Poland. They “boast” 7 offices in the Canary Islands, with their main operation based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Under the heading Our Clients they give the following statement:

Claim your Claim and its associated companies are proud to announce as of 31.12.2017 their customer base exceeded the 70,000 mark, 86% of all their bookings made between 01.01.2013 – 31.12.2017 were for holidays to the Canary Islands, 89% of these were to Tenerife.

Well nothing there about “Claims”, just a load of figures for “Holidays”.

They also give the “Locations” of their offices:

Krakow, Poland, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Mogan, Gran Canaria, Arrecife, Lanzarote, Tazacorte, La Palma.

They also show several “Client Reviews”, this is just one of them, copied and pasted direct from their website:

John Burton

South Sheilds

Wednesday, 20 December, 2017

Thank You

Excellent job Claim Your Claim just received the £20,642 This happened within 60 days as promised from meeting consultant to money paid into our account.

Very well done and many thanks

Not bad is it, from seeing the consultant to getting back over £20,000 all in “60 DAYS”, miracle workers or what!

The only other problem is the website was only registered on 18 January 2018, yet all the client reviews are dated well before that date. So can you actually believe these reviews?

The owner of the website is also hidden by privacy protection, so this along with no company registration numbers, either Spanish, UK or Polish, leaves us in no doubt that this outfit are not what they say they are. A typical “SCAM!”

Now for this weeks Letter from America

A Bluegreen Timeshare Buyer Beware Warning

By Robin Law

May 4, 2018

I believe the timeshare industry has been riddled with deceit, commonplace since before Social Media, but Social Media now allows those who feel they have been defrauded to share experiences. We believe what happened to us, purchasing Bluegreen vacation points, meets the FBI definition of white collar crime, “deceit concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” We check all of the above.

We live and bought in Florida where regulators seem to be in partnership with the timeshare industry, dismissing timeshare buyers who feel they have been preyed upon with, “You should not have relied on verbal representations.” The NY, TN, MO, AZ, and CO Attorneys General have launched timeshare investigations that resulted in settlements.  

We will file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General’s office, but according to Social Media reports, the Florida AG will respond in support of the timeshare developer. Below is the response from the Florida Timeshare Division to one timeshare owner.

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.  

We have reached out to Inside Timeshare and will reach out to other Florida media outlets because the public needs to be warned, to not to believe anything a timeshare sales agent says. Florida probably sells more timeshare products than any other state, yet seems to offer the least enforcement. The last Florida investigation I could find was a Bluegreen investigation in 2012

http://www.myfloridalegal.com/EC_Edoc.nsf/0/1702C8F78E74E8B285257B0B005747D2/$file/Bluegreen+Corp.pdf

Before I share our Bluegreen experience, I found the following results for Bluegreen as reported by Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. Clearly, we are not alone in our grievance. Bluegreen seems to never admit a problem with sales agent deception, yet there are a flood of complaints to be found on the internet. In comparison, there are few Disney Vacation Club complaints.

Bluegreen Consumer Affairs Score 1 ½ stars out of 5

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/bluegreen.html

Better Business Bureau Rating C+

129 customer review

12 Positive

4 Neutral

113 Negative

807 Complaints

2.48 out of 5 Stars based on reviews

https://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/vacation-clubs/bluegreen-vacations-unlimited-in-boca-raton-fl-8195/reviews-and-complaints

4/18/18 a recent Better Business Bureau complaint

This company offers falsehoods and half-truths. We have sunk thousands of dollars into this company, and are repeatedly told that nothing is available at the places or times that we want to utilize our points at one of their resorts. However, if you use Travelocity.com, or other vacation booking websites, the places they claim are not available, are available. We have been told we could sell back our deed at any time. When we contacted the company to do just that, because we are tired for paying for something that is never available, we were told that is not an option. We have been told we can use our points to pay for maintenance fees. When we tried to do that, we were told there is a minimum point requirement to do that, and we did not have enough. We have had nothing but problems and lies from this company. They continue to try and solicit you to purchase more points, yet fail to meet simple requests. In over two years, and thousands of dollars invested, we have been able to use our points one time, and it wasn’t even where we wanted to. We had to settle for what was “available.” The room we had was in a horrible spot (at the back of the resort, with a view of other buildings and parking lots, and noise and filth from construction), and when I asked to move to a different room, was told no other rooms were available, even though I walked by rooms that stood vacant during our entire stay. Guess they had to keep those available to sell on Travelocity. Why make it available to an “owner?” I would never recommend this company to anyone. They care about nothing but lining their pockets. They have zero concern for the happiness of their customer, and are unwilling to make even the smallest accommodations.

Comments

Comment from the Business:

Dear Ms. *** Thank you for taking the time to share your experience! We sincerely apologize to hear of all the difficulties you have experienced in getting on vacation using your ownership, as well as for any misunderstanding surrounding the resale process or use of other benefits. We would be more than happy to help address any of these concerns! So that we can assist you, please send an email to ***@bluegreenvacations.com referencing your BBB review, and making sure to include the names, phone number, and email address associated with your Bluegreen account. We look forward to assisting you further! ~Bluegreen Customer Care

by Business on Apr. 19, 2018

Bluegreen has a long history of consumer complaints

On April 5, 2013, Bluegreen Corporation responded to BBB’s concerns. Bluegreen Corporation does not believe they fail to grant cancellations and refunds where they are factually and legally appropriate. Bluegreen states their company does provide timely cancellations and refunds to those consumers who properly rescind their timeshare purchases within the rescission period. Occasionally, a consumer does not follow the properly prescribed cancellation method contained in the timeshare sales documents. Nevertheless, once the appropriate business area within Bluegreen becomes aware of the request, even when not properly given by the consumer, diligent efforts are made to process the cancellation and refund as promptly as possible. With respect to the purchase of a vacation package, such purchases are accompanied by details of participation which advise a purchaser how to cancel their vacation package and the amount of time they have to do so. Also, in some instances, the consumer may have purchased the vacation package from a third party provider or vendor, and not directly from Bluegreen Corporation.

BBB reviewed this company’s complaints again on July 12, 2013, again on December 11, 2015, and again on August 18, 2016 and found that the pattern of complaints identified by BBB continues.

BBB reviewed this company’s complaints again on September 5, 2017 and found that the issues regarding the cancellation policy have decreased. However, the issues regarding high pressure sales practices, availability, and refund issues still exist.

BBB will continue to monitor the complaint activity of the company and update the Business Review as needed.

Our Bluegreen complaint

My husband and I work long hours in very high demanding jobs. We cannot discuss personal matters during work hours, which made it virtually impossible to talk to anyone at Bluegreen about our dispute. I work as a project assistant at a large engineering firm, and my husband works as a project manager for a general contracting firm in Florida. I cannot take personal calls during the day.   

Bluegreen customer care agent Kimberly arranged to speak with us after hours. The first telephone appointment was arranged, but Kimberly did not call or otherwise notify us that she was unable to make the scheduled call. We felt Bluegreen did not care and that we were not important, but we feel considerable attention is placed on selling points and collecting money not paid. Kimberly eventually contacted me again by email, but just advised that the actions of the Bluegreen agents we experienced are not the way Bluegreen sells. She refused to consider a refund or cancellation. I requested to speak to a manager and was put in touch with Autumn Fechner. All Ms. Fechner offered was a one-time day use pass for Tradewinds, which was in essence, no response.  

The deception we experienced:

We bought 10,000 every other year points at Tradewinds July 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg

Our purchase price:  $13,150

Loan 1: Amount Financed: $11,456 @ 16.99%

We were told Bluegreen would be purchasing the land next door by the end of 2013. They told us that if we purchased Bluegreen points we would have day use privileges because Bluegreen was buying Tradewinds. Since we live not far from Tradewinds, this sounded like the perfect vacation plan. We were told we could use bonus points to rent rooms for $69 or $79, not needing to use our Bluegreen points.  When I tried to book around August 2012 there was no availability. I was told I must have been mistaken about the day use privilege and bonus time privilege when I contacted customer services. There was no mistake. My husband was with me. We know what we were told.

We can’t even read the signature of the sales agent on our contract. The sales agent said they were not allowed to give out personal business cards, which is odd. A sales agent is not allowed to give out business cards?

Tradewinds gave me the name of Barret Shank, Director of Field Administration, Bluegreen Tradewinds Preview Center I. I contacted Mr. Shank via email.  Mr. Shank emailed in response saying Tradewinds is not available for bonus points, only for $99 for promotional purposes. He also said day use is only listed on the back of our charter for very specific places, but not Tradewinds.

We were baited and switched.  Nothing the sales agent advised was correct or ethical.  Timeshare sales deceit and bait and switch is supported by the response of Mr. Shank, and all others involved in the sale and customer care follow up, in response to our complaint. In my opinion, timeshare point sales are a minefield of deceit waiting to happen.

We bought a second time at Tradewinds November 29, 2013. It took a year to find availability for this stay. We were told we had to do an update because the program we purchased one year earlier in 2012 was worthless. We did not want additional points, but attended and purchased fearing what we had purchased was worthless.

We purchased 10,000 additional every other year points November 29, 2013

Purchase price: $10,950

Loan 2: Amount financed $9326.17

I kept saying through the entire sales pitch, we did not want two loans. The sales agent said to complete this sale and then we could combine both loans through Bluegreen.  She said we would just need to call the mortgage department after the sale was completed. When I called the Bluegreen mortgage division as advised, I was told I must have misunderstood because they could not combine the two sales.

I was advised to go to my bank or credit union because they would know how to refinance and that Bluegreen has dealt with multiple customers who refinance because Bluegreen is property. Bluegreen is a right to use product that has nothing to do with real estate. The company should not assume all Bluegreen buyers will be able to refinance. My bank said timeshare is not considered real estate and could not be refinanced. We were stuck with two loans at a high interest rate and what we were told was a real estate investment is not considered property. Bluegreen also told us we owned deeded property. Bluegreen points sold today are not deeded and a lawyer told us our Bluegreen deeds are worthless and not really deeds in the traditional sense.

Florida Timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group settled a class action with Bluegreen and credit reporting agencies, forcing Bluegreen to not report the failure to pay a Bluegreen loan as a foreclosure. Foreclosures are now reported as settled for less.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151222006023/en/Finn-Law-Group-Settles-Consumer-Class-Action

The third time we purchased Bluegreen points was at The Fountains in Orlando August 24, 2014. We were again told it was mandatory to attend an update. It lasted 10 AM to 7 PM. We were told that because we were such loyal Bluegreen customers, they were giving us a special price on all additional Bluegreen investments. We were told Bluegreen points are an investment. They said we would own a coveted property in Dennisport, Massachusetts. After hours of repeated “no”, and multiple sales agents offering additional perks, we purchased once again. All the documents said Bluegreen, but when we received our first bill, it was with a completely different company and had a higher interest rate.   

We purchased 10,000 annual points upgrading to Silver

Purchase price $15,000

Amount financed $13,425

At every sales meeting, we were told it would be easy to refinance a Bluegreen loan and we were also told that we could sell points back to Bluegreen. Every sales person that we dealt with at Tradewinds and The Fountains in Orlando had an almost identical sales script. All sales presentations lasted five hours or longer, with increasingly aggressive sales agents and managers.

Bluegreen’s decision not to grant a refund or cancel our contracts was based on our using the timeshare that we paid for and because we have owned it for so long. We have paid $30,000 for Bluegreen points. Supervisor Autumn Felcher stated she could provide evidence of our deeds. On April 12, 2018 she produced three documents she stated were property deeds. After a review by a lawyer, I was advised that these were NOT real property deeds. I quote, “Resort Title clearly identifies the interest as beneficial interest in the trust. The Cibola deed transfers the interest via a deed but not to you, but to the trust. The Sounding deed does the same. I stand by my earlier opinion that you folks are not deed holders.” Thus, Bluegreen again made untrue statements. In my opinion Bluegreen’s intentions are not to support the customer, whether it is in a response to the BBB, an Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, or the FBI.

The following are self-help groups for timeshare members. This is our attempt to warn the public: Don’t believe anything a timeshare sales agent says!

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 Robin and once again thanks to Irene Parker for her editing, again this is a story that Inside Timeshare is very used to hearing, it goes well with today’s lead about Claim Your Claim.

The timeshare industry is full of rogues, from the timeshare developers right down to the scam companies the industry is responsible for developing. The only way to stay safe and keep your money is to check and check and check again, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

So Friday is here, the weekend beckons, time to relax and enjoy the company of friends, have a good one and we will see you next week with more stories of “A Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

Thursday Roundup: Some News from the UK Courts

In last Friday’s Letter from America we mentioned the Birmingham Crown Court hearing for the sentencing of Dominic O’Reilly & Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, this was to have taken place on Monday of this week.

From information received it looks like EZE Groups legal counsel could not make it and asked for an adjournment before Monday’s hearing. Although it would still have had to be addressed in open court with a new date to be set.

A very strange fact that did emerge is that the hearing has been switched from sentencing to a directions hearing. This could indicate that their guilty pleas may have been withdrawn and a another plea will have to be made in open court. If they do plead guilty then the case will again have to be adjourned and pre-sentencing report carried out.

As we find out more we will publish here.

In another case which was announced on 17 April, against Francis Madden at Bournemouth Crown Court. The case was scheduled to last about six weeks, but news broke yesterday that Madden had pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent trading between May 2012 and February 2016.

The case revolved around his “Holiday Club” companies, where people were invited to attend a “two hour presentation” which actually lasted more than “five hours”. They were sold accommodation which either did not exist or was near impossible to book for thousands of pounds. In most cases the accommodation could have been booked for far less via the internet.

Although clients had been informed that there was a cancellation period, when they did try to cancel they were told in was not possible. It also transpired that the exhausted clients were “frog marched” by staff to a cash machine to withdraw the payments.

Jailing him for a period of 40 months the judge called his conduct “reprehensible”.

It seems now that the authorities are finally catching up with these charlatans as only recently we have seen several jailed at Stafford Crown Court, EZE Group in the dock and some of Mark Rowe’s companies under police investigation.

See link to the Mail Online report:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5682173/Timeshare-fraudster-marched-victims-cash-machines-hand-thousands.html

When timeshare first started it was a very good concept, the accommodation was superb, far better than what was available through the high street travel agent, but something went very wrong. Greed took over.

Some of the first “scams” were the buying off plan schemes, where all you purchased was a hole in the ground and an architects plan. Many of these were never built with hundreds of people losing thousands of pounds.

The industry itself did little to “police itself”, countries laws where these timeshares were being built were not adequate, allowing many frauds to take place, with the perpetrators getting away with millions.

After the “off plan” scams, the industry through how the product was sold was instrumental in the next phase, the resale scam. As timeshares were being sold as “property” which would go up in value, the resale companies capitalised on this. Offering clients the promise of selling their timeshare for more than they actually paid for it, taking thousands to “list” the timeshare for sale and then disappearing.

Now because the laws have been strengthened, especially in Spain, we are seeing bogus claims companies taking thousands for relinquishments and no win no fee claims. Just recently Inside Timeshare has been getting enquiries about one of these companies, RSB Legal. Many have paid them to cancel their timeshare and claim the money back, but they are now no longer trading, they have simply vanished, leaving hundreds of clients out of pocket.

These stories show why you must do your due diligence and homework before going to any presentation, or doing business with any company. Check, check then check again, ask the questions, are they for real, how are they going to claim, can they do what they say they can do, how long have they been trading?

That last comment is probably one of the most important points, a company that has only been trading or registered for say 1 year, yet claims they have got back thousands and helped hundred of owners, is that actually possible?

If you have been contacted by any company or have found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you find out.

Remember doing your homework will save your hard earned cash!

Inside Timeshare would also like to share some great news with all our readers, our last article contributor Joshua Parker and his wife Nichole are the proud new parents of twins. Welcome to the family Matthew Alexander & Maverick Luke.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome once again to the Tuesday Slot with Irene, today we share with you A Timeshare Warning to Military and Law Enforcement by another retired military veteran Joshua Parker, no relation to our very own Irene Parker, this article continues our series of timeshare whoes revolving around veterans.

Over the past few months Inside Timeshare has been highlighting many stories of retired military and law enforcement vets who have succumbed to the sales patter of highly skilled rogues. Some have seen their entire life savings whisked away and now facing financial ruin, all due to the predatory sales tactics of timeshare sales agents.

Inside Timeshare and all our contributors send out the same warning, beware the sales agents!

Following on from another article by one of our new contributors Meryl Reyman, whose article we published on 17 April, it is with great joy we mention her article is now being published in The Spectrum. Meryl has also made it to USA Today, so Inside Timeshare with your help and contributions is certainly making the headlines and bringing the despicable tactics of the timeshare industry to a wider audience.

https://www.thespectrum.com/story/opinion/mesquite/2018/04/30/reyman-beware-nevadas-predatory-time-share-companies/564676002/

Over the past year it has not been just vets that we have highlighted, it is also the elderly who have also been targeted as easy prey. It is not just in the US this is happening, Europe is also seeing the same thing. Inside Timeshare has been receiving many enquiries on how to get out of timeshare and the loan agreements which they have been sold. One of the main culprits in providing these loans is Barclays.

We have in our case books many pensioners who have been coerced into purchasing “investment packs”, all financed by Barclays Partner Finance, arranged by sales agents, even though the purchasers have stated they could not afford it. Yet loans of upto £30,000 have been granted, without even a check on income versus outgoings reports, with only small pensions as their income!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight these practices, along with all the rogue resale, claims companies and fake law firms, it is you the readers that provide us with the information to warn others of what is going on, for this we thank you.

Now for Joshua’s article.

A Timeshare Warning to Military and Law Enforcement  

A Public Service Announcement

Timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of Security Clearance

By Joshua Parker, US Army, Ret, OIF

May 1, 2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is a group of volunteers advocating on behalf of consumers victimized by predatory timeshare lending, sales and marketing. These tactics have caused several members of the military to fear the loss of their Security Clearance. This poses a threat to our national security in that anyone can get hired to sell timeshare points with the intent to see Security Clearances revoked.

If a military member must foreclose, the chain of command considers that member a security risk. A military member in severe financial distress is vulnerable to acts of desperation and is at a high risk for career termination.

Few timeshare buyers are aware the timeshare contract is perpetual, often unable to be sold and accompanied by rising maintenance fees. The timeshare contract is one-sided. Benefits can be changed or eliminated at any time for any reason.  

The most common complaint is deceit and bait and switch. Some examples of what prospective buyers or existing timeshare members have been told:  

  • It’s easy to refinance an 18% timeshare loan or there are special military offers that do not exist. Banks do not finance timeshares.
  • Timeshare points can be easily resold or rented. While Disney Vacation Club maintains some resale value, many timeshares have virtually no resale value. When an owner wants to get out of a timeshare, he or she may go to a timeshare exit company. These services charge money upfront offering to list or sell your timeshare. Members of an organization called Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association (LTRBA) charge nothing upfront to list a timeshare for sale. Check with a member of this organization before paying anyone to sell or get you out of a timeshare.
  • Those desperate to get out of a timeshare may pay thousands in upfront money, relying on a “guaranteed exit” only to be told foreclosure is considered a guaranteed exit. It is not necessary to pay anyone to foreclose.
  • One pattern of deceit is to sell a package that is family-affordable although it is not the package the family needs.  After complaining, the family is told the answer is to buy more timeshare points.
  • Deceit occurs when a prospective purchaser is shown a Presidential quality unit that is not available to them based on what they actually purchased.
  • Another deceitful practice occurs with the upsell of existing owners. Those members are told that additional points are financially advantageous.If the member pursues a contract rescission, they must prove to layers of corporate employees that, in their case, there has been a deceitful or predatory practice. It is the job of those employees to convince the owner/member that he/she has misremembered how the program works. The owner, by persisting with a gauntlet of letters, interviews, rebuttals, and regulatory and law enforcement filings, may convince the company to accede to their case. If there is a predatory lending loan, the owner can include in his/her arguments a reference to the FBI’s description of White Collar Crime, Mortgage Fraud, and Fraud for Profit.
  • Timeshare companies and timeshare sales agents can dodge the state contract rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site, or tell the new timeshare buyer maintenance fee relief programs/ability to sell points will be effective at a later date.

If you or someone you know has a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare http://insidetimeshare.com/. There is never a charge. Those helped are encouraged to make a donation to Whistleblowers of America, an organization seeking justice for active duty military, veterans and government workers. https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

That’s it for today, Inside Timeshare is closing early as it is May Day (Spain has closed down), or as some call it International Labour Day, personally I call it “Early Happy Hour”. See you all tomorrow.

Friday’s Letter from America

Friday’s Letter From America is from Irene Parker, written from Poco Diablo Resorts, a Diamond Affiliated property in Sedona, Arizona. Irene thought our EU readers would like to hear about an unusual travel activity that takes place annually in Sedona, one of the most popular tourist destinations in America, south of Arizona’s Grand Canyon.

Irene said she received good value for her Diamond points. All timeshare members should remember their timeshare math, checking the value of maintenance fee dollars against booking online. Given Poco Diablo’s $13 per night fee for something, and a 13% tax, it was significantly less using Diamond points. She checked into Poco Diablo on Friday the 13th.

Inside Timeshare has been asked by Canarian Legal Alliance to issue the following warning.

A company going by the name of Abogados Lopez (Gran Canaria & Marbell) is contacting clients and stating they are calling on behalf of CLA. In the call clients are told that a settlement has been reached and a considerable sum has been offered.

To finalise the payment  of these funds, a processing fee of 10% is required, this is to be paid by bank transfer.

According to the email after the initial telephone conversation, the processing fee covers the following:

Modelo 214: This is a Tax declaration form, it has to be filled in by their Notary on the clients behalf. It is to confirm that the money awarded by the judicial system is non-taxable, but when is arrives into the clients personal account via bank transfer the client must inform the Inland Revenue.

Modelo 037: Another form which enables their Notary to set up an online verification account in the client’s name.

Modelo 790: Yet another form which gives them authority to enter the clients non-residential NIE number into the fiscal system, attaching it to the clients case file. The client is also told it is only valid for three months.

The attached letter in the email has what looks like official stamps and logos, so it does look very official to the uninitiated.

They are using 2 telephone numbers, one is a Spanish mobile number: 0034 602 657 670 and a UK number with a Chepstow code: 01291 440500, when dialled this number does not connect, another number that has been given is 0034 951 242 867 which is a Malaga number.

Their email address is: [email protected], there is a website but it does not contain any information. The website was registered on 22 March 2018 and is using a privacy service to hide the owners.

The address that Abogados Lopez is using is: Calle Teniente C Castillo, Olivares 12, 35011, Palmas De Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, España.

This is yet another fake law firm and is not working with Canarian Legal Alliance and has no authority from them, if you have been contacted by Abogados Lopez and received any information from them via email, contact Inside Timeshare and we will pass on the information to the lawyers at CLA.

Now for this weeks Letter from America

Our Diamond Resorts Experience at Poco Diablo, Sedona, Arizona

The War In Between, by Director Producer Riccardo Ferrais

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

A documentary about PTSD diagnosed veterans and wolves and why timeshare sales agents should not defraud our veterans

By Irene Parker

April 27, 2018

Tuesday May 1: A Military PSA by Joshua Parker, US Army, Ret, OIF

A Wolf Friendly Resort – Wolf Week April 17 – 22 at Poco Diablo

An unusual resort activity

POCO DIABLO RESORT is a trademark of Poco Diablo Resort, LLC, a limited liability company formed under the Limited Liability Code of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Those who suffer from the effects of a traumatic event can do one of two things – fall victim or channel outward in the fashion of John Walsh, producer and director of the American television show, America’s Most Wanted, advocating on behalf of homicide victims and their families. Joshua Parker is an army combat veteran alleging he was defrauded by timeshare and told by a company vice president, “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say,” Joshua has joined our advocacy efforts reaching out to military publications to warn veterans, and especially Active Duty military, several in danger of losing their Security Clearance due to timeshare foreclosure.  Sales agents, by the words of this vice president, are encouraged to make up outrageous claims to sell vacation points. Inside Timeshare has heard from 42 members of the military alleging they were defrauded by timeshare sales agents.    

Scamming consumers is bad enough, but we find nothing more disturbing than preying on war heroes who have put their physical and mental health on the line to protect all Americans. About a third of our veterans are combat veterans, several 90 to 100% disabled. We believe the reports of the war heroes over the denials by timeshare sales agents, several repeat offenders. According to the FTC:

Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population. https://www.jacksonsun.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/04/06/ftc-releases-2017-complaint-statistics/493425002/

Wolves and veterans

One of the activities during Wolf Week in Sedona was the showing of the documentary, The War In Between. Combat veterans, diagnosed with PTSD and wolves, victimized by illegal trappings, work towards recovery. After the film, we had the opportunity to meet director Riccardo Ferrais and the wolves.

Plan B Founder and advocate with her rescued victims, Chaos and Theory

https://www.planb.foundation/

https://lockwoodarc.org/larc-veterans

Wolf Week was presented by The Plan B to Save Wolves and Apex Protection Project with Presenting Sponsor Poco Diablo Resort an Enterprise of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

Founded by Betsy Klein and Timon Pratt, the Plan B Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation created to support organizations and individuals in their mission to protect, preserve and rescue wolves and wolf dogs through advocacy, education and funding.

From the book Wolfer, by Carter Niemeyer, a Wolf Week guest speaker:

“Carter stands between these waring groups, the furious ranchers and outraged environmentalists, mediating, doing what he has to do, with a heavy heart.”

Nicholas Evans, Author of The Horse Whisperer

Having spent almost three years now listening to reports from families describing how their lives have been ruined after falling victim to predatory and deceptive timeshare sales, I understood the bittersweet experiences wolf advocates experience on a daily basis. We wish we could win them all too, but reluctant regulators and timeshare developers, who care little how points are sold, allow the hamster wheel of recycled timeshare inventory to continue unchecked. The best we can do for some is guide the member and their family through the painful foreclosure process. Despite what “Get you out of your timeshare” ads advertise, there are no guaranteed timeshare exits. We have had members report being charged thousands of dollars, only to eventually be told foreclosure is a guarantee. Most timeshare members have high credit scores and have rarely been late on a payment, but rising maintenance fees, the lack of a secondary market, and rising fraud have spelled disaster for many families. Inside Timeshare US and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ has assisted 406 families, 148 since January 1.

I hear members say things like, “There is never any availability” or “You can always book cheaper online.” My husband and I own 10,200 Diamond points. We used 8,000 points to book two weeks (which happened to be during Wolf Week) at the Diamond affiliate Poco Diablo property. Our first timeshare exchange thirty years ago was at Poco Diablo. Compared to Booking.com, we saved a good bit using Diamond points over booking online. The wolf friendly Poco Diablo resort, of the same name, borders the timeshare Poco Diablo.  

We usually stay at Diamond’s Los Abrigados resort in Sedona, our home resort, but Los Abrigados was not available this year. We own Diamond US Collection points and Premier Vacation Club points. I’m told PVC members pay the highest maintenance fees. When we asked to use the Spa at Los Abrigados, checking the box that said we were PVC members, we were denied access. We explained that the reason we were not staying at Los Abrigados was because there was no availability and that our maintenance fees went toward the spa maintenance. The attendant said they would make an exception this one time, but advised that we would have more flexibility if we gave up our PVC points for Diamond points. After a ten minute lecture, the attendant said, “Maybe I’ll look for another job.” Diamond advertises Poco Diablo as a Diamond property.          

https://www.diamondresorts.com/destinations/property/Villas-at-Poco-Diablo

Our advocates are available free of charge. We have saved more than a few members from the nets of scams. We have assisted hundreds of members with regulatory and, if needed, law enforcement filings. We thank all our advocates for their part in the process, and thank timeshare members for reporting. Without regulatory filings, nothing will ever change. Contact one of these self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced if you need help with a timeshare concern.

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/

Thank you Irene, we all hope you and Don had a very enjoyable vacation, although we do know you were still hard at work on behalf of all those who have contacted us.

If you have any comments or questions about any article published use our contact page and get in touch with us.

Have you had a call regarding your timeshare, be it resale or claims and want to know if the company is genuine, then get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.

Join us again next week when we bring you the latest news on the timeshare world, we also hope to have some news about the EZE Group case at Birmingham Crown Court, where Dominic & Stephanie O’Reilly will be told their fate.

Have a great weekend.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this week’s Tuesday Slot with Irene, we welcome another new contributor, Alicja Tandecka from Poland, with comments from Irene Parker. This story is one with a happy ending, so Inside Timeshare is pleased to share this with you. But first we have a quick look at Europe.

On the legal side, it now looks like we have two courts where the judges have decided to dispense with full trials and issue judgements at the pre-trial stage. Usually the pre-trial is a general review of the case and the judge will then decide to set a date for a full trial.

The Courts of First Instance No 1 & 4, of San Bartelomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas have now in several cases decided that a full hearing is no longer necessary. Their reasoning behind this is very simple, it is a matter of contracts, they are in breach of the timeshare laws 42/98 & 4/12 along with the rulings from the Supreme Court. In these cases the judge has decided to rule and issue his sentence, the last one was issued within three days of the hearing.

This is obviously good news for clients, as it will speed up the legal process no end.

Another lawyer known to these pages has now started to publish the results of his cases, Javier Correa, who at one time worked with Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos of Canarian Legal Alliance. With the news that Javier is now publishing his results does go to prove that what timeshare companies such as Anfi, along with David Cox of TESS stating that these are all fictitious cases is not true. They are a matter of public record, Inside Timeshare even published links to the official website where these case files can be accessed.

News has just been received on the EZE Group case, Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly his daughter, are to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 30 April 2018 for sentencing. This will be good news for all those EZE Group clients who have been taken in by this company. One question which we will ask, is how will Birmingham City Football Club deal with this, after all EZE Group are linked to them and also have a stand named after them?

As we were about to publish , we went to check some details on the EZE Group website, the account has been suspended and cannot be accessed.

More news on this next week.

Now for our Tuesday Slot.

Alicja Tandecka’s Trip to America turns into a Polo Towers

Diamond Resorts Issue Resolved!

The Federal Trade Commission’s Report on Complaints

April 24, 2018

By Alicja Tandecka

My visit to America from my home in Poland to attend an Arbonne conference turned into a travel dilemma after I signed a contract to purchase a Sampler product from Diamond Resorts. I signed a contract to buy 20,000 Diamond Sampler points for $4,000.

Two hours after I signed the contract, I decided I had made a mistake, so I went back to cancel. I was alarmed to read that this Sampler product has no cancellation period, even though I had found on the internet Nevada has a seven day cancellation period. I feel this is a very unfair business practice.

As a foreigner in a foreign country, I did not know where to turn. I reached out to Inside Timeshare and the Diamond Member Sponsored Advocacy Facebook for help. I will be eternally grateful to have found them and their pro bono help in all this will not be forgotten. This is what restores my faith in humanity.

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

As you can see, we were having a great time in America until I realized I had made a mistake buying something I really did not understand.

https://www.facebook.com/alicjatandecka

Irene Parker from Inside Timeshare directed me to the Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy department. I told her about the high pressure sales presentation I attended. Irene explained that Diamond has introduced a program called CLARITY that promises no high pressure and that I should explain to that department what happened.  

When I went back two hours after I signed the contract to cancel, the office was closed. The next morning I went back again and was asked to write down the reasons why I wanted to cancel so the agent could send this to Diamond corporate. The agent I spoke with assured me I would be refunded, but I was worried.

Irene explained that Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates have helped 404 timeshare members because reports indicate there is no enforcement of timeshare regulations in Nevada and a few other states. She suggested I submit an article to Inside Timeshare about my experience. She sent my article to Diamond Resorts for comment to see if someone might reach out to help me end this ordeal. Someone did so my trip to America ends with many new Facebook friends and a timeshare issue resolved!   

Comments from Irene

The Federal Trade Commission released complaint statistics and timeshare made the highest dollar amount. The amount of $1,700 seems low as timeshare member reports from members reaching out to Inside Timeshare include members losing money in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $400,000 or more.

The most common comments:

I’m so embarrassed! I feel so stupid! We haven’t told our kids!

Excerpts from the FTC report:

The Federal Trade Commission has released statistics on complaints and other problems reported in 2017. Some came directly from consumers, while others originated with law enforcement agencies and other organizations, including the Better Business Bureau.

The FTC received 2.7 million reports in 2017, a slight decrease from 2016. However, the amount of money people reported losing to fraud increased 7.5 percent to $905 million. The true numbers are much higher since many people don’t report being defrauded because they’re embarrassed, afraid, or don’t know where to turn for help.

Abusive or fraudulent debt collection calls were the top source of complaints in 2017, representing 23 percent of all reports. Identity theft, led by credit card fraud, and impostor scams rounded out the top three.

For the first time, the FTC broke out the numbers by the age of the person filing the report and the results mirror what the BBB has found in analyses of complaints it receives. Younger people reported losing money to fraud more often than seniors, but seniors suffered a greater dollar loss.

The median loss from all types of fraud was $429. Travel, vacation, and timeshare frauds were the most costly with people losing a median amount of $1,710. The FTC also broke out fraud losses for members of the military and found their median fraud loss to be 44 percent higher than the general population.

Florida had the highest per capita rate of reports to the FTC, at 993 per 100,000 population. Tennessee came in 10th at 649 per 100,000 and Mississippi was 27th at 514. North Dakota had the lowest ratio at 277 per 100,000 population.

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

Inside Timeshare will walk with Alicja until her issue is resolved or foreclosed. We’re checking into whether defaulting on $4,000 will have any great effect on her credit report in Poland or create any problems coming to America in the future.  

More helping hands:

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 Alicja for your contribution, Inside Timeshare and all the team who work with Irene are very pleased to have been of help, we are glad that your trip has ended with a host of new friends and we wish you luck for the future.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns about this or any article published, or need help to decide what to do and who you can trust, then use our contact form and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

 

Friday’s Letter from America

This week Friday’s Letter from America tells the story of army veterans Gad & Noreen Liebmann, it begins with an open letter to the Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, then goes on to explain their experience. They are currently holding a protest outside Diamonds Daytona Beach Resort, the article was edited by Inside Timeshares Irene Parker.

First we have a quick look at Europe.

Yesterday Canarian Legal Alliance published in their news section a case study of a recent trial, nothing unusual there, except this had a rather different twist. This particular trial was dealt with at the pre-trial stage rather than the full trial, the venue was the Court of First Instance No 1 in Maspalomas, the lawyer representing the clients was Judith Diaz Pascual of CLA.

Judith Diaz Pascual (ICALP No 4480)

The pre-trial is a formality where the defending party may argue why the case should not be accepted, it is also a point where the judge will ask if there is a possibility of a settlement out of court. Usually the judge will then decree that a full trial date be set, with the defendants demanding the appearance of the clients.

As there was no agreement that day Anfi, the defendants, asked for a full trial to take place with the clients in attendance, CLA lawyers argued that this was not necessary as the case and infringements of the timeshare laws was based on documentation, so there was no need for a trial or for the clients give testimony. The judge agreed, he stated that he would issue a resolution after the preliminary hearing, three days later the judgement was issued.

The judge concluded that due to the infringements which included, floating weeks and the taking of deposits within the cooling off period, the contract was declared null and void. Anfi were also ordered to repay over 49,000€ which included double the deposit paid, the court also awarded legal interest.

Apparently this is now becoming more common, it is not the first case to be dealt with at the preliminary stage, it will only be a matter of time before more judges decide that this is the best course. After all the cases are based on the contracts and documents, if the timeshare company has sold floating weeks or points, the contract is longer than 50 years and any payment taken within the cooling off period, these are breaches of the law, so why prolong the issue with a full trial?

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/case-study-anfi-speedy-resolution-no-need-trial/

Yesterday we again published information concerning TESS and David Cox, keeping a check on his website, he has still not published anything about any subject since his last defamatory article on 29 March. We just wonder if this could be a sign that TESS is going the same way as those companies highlighted in yesterday’s article?

Now for our Letter from America.

Gad and Noreen Liebmann, Army Veterans

An Open Letter to Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey

April 20, 2018

We are one of 29 Diamond Platinum Member Families Up-sold alleging we were defrauded

A Diamond Daytona sales agent’s response to Gad and Noreen:

While picketing yesterday one of the salesman came down to talk to us. He 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 and using the money earned to help pay our dues.

Inside Timeshare has received 375 Diamond Resorts complaints from our readers, Diamond members alleging they were sold or up-sold by fraud. Families are devastated. Platinum member #29 contacted us April 16, 2018, a disabled Vietnam veteran, age 71. He says they were told by a Florida Mystic Dunes sales agent if they purchased additional points it would take care of maintenance fees. Now they too are forced to foreclose or walk away from their points. We hope AARP takes note.

A Diamond Vice President’s response to Joshua Parker:

“We are not responsible for what our sales agents say”4/5/18

The Diamond CLARITY TM Promise:

Accountability, Transparency and RESPECT for the customer

A Quote from CEO Michael Flaskey:

Clarity seeks to build on Diamond’s already impressive standing with its members. Almost 70% of the company’s sales are to existing members seeking to increase their Diamond resorts vacation memberships,” said Mr. Flaskey.

Mr. Flaskey, We are one of 29 Platinum member families alleging we were upsold by fraud. We have been Diamond members for 20 years, but we made the mistake of believing Brad Leslie at Daytona Beach Regency. So did Sheilah and Thomas Brust. We did not know about Diamond’s official policy, “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.” What kind of accountability, transparency and RESPECT for your customer is that? There are over 1,200 members on our Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook, many alleging fraud.

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

Gad and Noreen Liebmann protesting outside Daytona Regency – Sheilah and Thomas wish they were here but Sheilah is too busy with tax season.   

Sheilah’s article on how to file FBI complaints:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

Josh Parker is an Iraqi veteran. Josh says he was told his points are an investment and would be easy to sell. Now, expecting twins, a high risk pregnancy, they have learned the truth, so will in all likelihood have to suffer through 180 days of endless collections calls. Josh is 90% disabled, a combat veteran. Josh’s YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Our Diamond Experience

By Gad and Noreen Liebmann

My wife Noreen and I have been protesting outside Daytona Regency for the last month. We are Platinum Diamond members. We own 96,000 Diamond points only because we bought an additional 25,000 points to take advantage of a program that did not exist. We are not confused. Sheilah and Thomas Brust are not confused. Sheilah has an accounting background. Sheilah Brust does not get numbers confused.

We had purchased eight Diamond contracts over 20 years and had been happy Diamond members 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. The calculations shown to us were false. Sheilah has a copy of Brad’s “Pencil Pitch” promising her double points. He also claimed that we could recover the cost of the additional points after 10 years. This was also false. Brad made it sound like these were new benefits that could only be obtained by purchasing additional points. Brad said that we would be even on the $70,000 within ten years if we only booked through Value Getaways. When we returned home we learned booking vacations using Valued Getaway and Point Saver were already available to us.

We appealed to the local DRI marketing VP. He was unsympathetic. A call to Michael Flaskey, CEO, who leaves his card at every front desk, got a response from a lady who offered to allow us to give back some of the points we purchased in the past, 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 we didn’t need because of a convoluted scam. We may be older, but we’re not stupid.

We feel we meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch”, in addition to Elder Abuse.

Many Diamond members feel there is no timeshare enforcement in Florida. The Arizona Attorney General opened an investigation after receiving hundreds of Diamond complaints, just in Arizona, accusing DRI of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. They did not turn Diamond members away because Diamond is not responsible for what Diamond sales agents say.”

Veteran Teresa Laird is planning to protest outside DRI Polo Towers. DRI sales agents tried to sell her dad, at age 83, in a wheelchair dozing off, a recipient of two Purple Hearts, $234,000 in additional DRI timeshare points.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

There is little to no regulatory enforcement because the Attorneys General in Nevada and Florida dismiss complaints, also falling back on the oral representation clause, or in Nevada at the Nevada Real Estate Division, “You have no proof”, so there is nothing to stop timeshare fraud.

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.  

We are veterans in our late 70’s and two of 40 active duty or veteran military and law enforcement timeshare members alleging we have been defrauded by timeshare sales agents. Several are in danger of losing their Security Clearance.

Whistleblowers of America, an organization headquartered in Washington DC, seeks justice for Active Duty military, veterans, and government workers. If families are made whole, we encourage a contribution to Whistleblowers.  https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

LICENSED timeshare resale brokers will not even accept a Diamond listing feeling it would be a waste of their time and your money, due to restrictions Diamond places on the use of secondary points LTRBA members feel are too restrictive. Sheilah and Josh contacted Florida LTRBA members. None would accept a Diamond listing. Scammers have no problem taking your upfront money.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

The Florida Timeshare Division, DBPR, and Diamond’s Transition department send members on a wild goose chase to contact a real estate broker, but legitimate brokers won’t accept a Diamond listing, because they are honest.

A Diamond member talked to a Diamond Transition’s specialist:

I tried last night to speak with someone in Financial Services with no luck.  I tried again today as well but the phone just rings and rings. I did speak with Tiffany Davis in Transitions and she said our maintenance fees would have to be paid in order to do the Transitions program.   She then said that I didn’t have to do Transitions – if I wanted to gain anything from my Timeshare that I should speak to a real estate agent to get it sold.   I said I was unaware this could even be done. Tiffany said “Oh, absolutely, if you don’t want to just relinquish it, you can sell it”.

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

Section 5 of the FTC Code states: “Unfair and deceptive business practices are unlawful.”

http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2013/01/fraud-vs-lying-whats-the-legal-difference.html

A fraud is an intentionally false representation made with the intent to mislead the listener, and that the listener relied on “to her detriment.”

The first part means that fraud must involve an intentional lie. If you truly believe you’re telling the truth and end up being wrong, that doesn’t qualify.

That doesn’t excuse willful denial or ignorance of the truth. If you should have known the truth or could easily have discovered it before telling the lie, it could still be a problem.

The second part is about the liar’s intention. A lie that you don’t mean anyone to take seriously, such as a joke or hyperbole, wouldn’t constitute fraud.

When it comes to proving intent for fraud, courts often look at what the liar could gain if someone believes the lie. If the liar benefits from someone believing and acting on the lie, that tends to show intent.

The legal analysis will also rely on context. A lie while you’re trying to sell your house is more likely to result in a lawsuit than a lie told over drinks at a bar. Those are obvious examples, but there are many situations in between where the line isn’t so easy to see.

The third element is whether the lie actually caused harm.

If the listener believed the lie, acted as if it were true, and suffered some kind of injury because of that belief, then there may be some liability for fraud.

Injury can mean actual physical harm or financial loss. In general, emotional “pain” isn’t enough to build a case for fraud.

While fraud could potentially apply anywhere, it’s most commonly brought up in the area of contracts when one party lies about an important part of the agreement.

In general, anything other than a white lie (like how nice your spouse looks) should be avoided. Remember, a lie runs the risk of becoming fraud if you expect the listener to act on the lie. Keeping it honest isn’t just a good personal policy; it’s a sound legal strategy too.

For timeshare buyers, the customer is always wrong because they signed a contract. And no one cares. Inside Timeshare has heard from 131 Diamond members alleging fraud since January 1. The company does not respond to requests for comment.

Thank you Gad and Noreen, you have the support and thoughts of many timeshare owners not just in the US but also from across the great lake in Europe and beyond, also thanks to Irene once again for taking the time to edit these articles.

If you have any questions, comments or need to find information on any company mentioned here or that has contacted you then use our contacts page and we will point you in the right direction. Remember doing your homework saves you money!

Well the weekend is once again upon us and Inside Timeshare hopes that you have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot is not from Inside Timeshares very own Irene Parker, but has been contributed by Meryl Reyman another new contributor, today she highlights the problems in Nevada.

First we have a look at the timeshare world in Europe and the latest court cases.

Last week we published the news of the 100th Supreme Court ruling then the 102nd and 103rd, after publication we received the news of yet two more rulings from Spain’s highest court, bringing the total now to 105

The first is another ruling against Silverpoint in Tenerife, the main points are the illegal taking of deposits and the contract being over 50 years in duration, the sentence which can be seen in the PDF below runs to 15 pages and shows even more infractions of various laws not just timeshare law 42/98.

1st N4 Silverpoint data protected (tay)

The court declared these clients contract null and void, awarding over 34,000€ plus legal interest.

The second Supreme court ruling is yet another against Anfi, at the moment we do not have details on what the infractions were, but the court again declared the contract null and void with the return of over 78,000€ plus legal interest.

These rulings from the Supreme Court are the proof the timeshare companies are losing, despite what they and others may be telling the public.

Going back to the articles regarding the David Cox and TESS allegations against Inside Timeshare and Canarian Legal Alliance, the TESS website and Mr Cox have been very quiet. In fact nothing has been published since 22 March, well, we wonder if Mr Cox can’t think of what to write, after all his ramblings clearly show he is not sound of mind. We leave you the reader to decide on that one.

http://insidetimeshare.com/david-cox-tess-attacking-sundry/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tess-allegations-facts/

Now for our Tuesday Slot by Meryl.

Timeshare Companies, Preying on the Young, the Elderly and Military Personnel, are under your Noses Here in Nevada

section 5

By Meryl Reyman

A retired attorney and former senior executive of a large marketing/advertising agency located in New York City. I am now a resident of Henderson, NV.

A Nevada Timeshare “Buyer Beware” Media Campaign

April 17, 2018

During a recent stay in Las Vegas my husband and I attended a hard sell timeshare sales presentation. After 5+ hours of promises, and a 15 minute perfunctory signing of extensive opaque written documents, we went home with a contract only to discover that very little of what was said over those five hours was in the written documents. We successfully rescinded the contract. Since timeshare sales agents rely on the vacationer not taking the time to review documents, we were lucky that we lived in the area and had time to catch the concealment.  

The FBI defines fraud for profit as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, and bait and switch.” Oral misrepresentation fits the bill. And so does deceit and concealment if new purchasers cannot access the booking website until after the expiration of the rescission period. Many complainants tell us they can’t determine the value of their purchase until they’ve passed the time period to cancel.

Given the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract, the lack of a viable secondary market, and rising maintenance fees, consumers can find themselves stuck in a hamster wheel of “recycled inventory” with points foreclosed or taken back, only to be sold again to the next unsuspecting vacationer.

Of course there are many who use and enjoy their vacation points. I’m sure there are timeshare sales agents selling the product honestly, but the escalations in timeshare company default rates, lawsuits and the number of Attorneys General investigations (TN, MO, AZ, CO, NY, WI) indicate a serious problem. Are we in timeshare haven Nevada going to allow deceit to continue by dismissing families with, “you have no proof”?  

I hope not. If you are in agreement, we need your help.

We are launching this media campaign to alert and educate the timeshare consumer, because the Court of Public Opinion seems to be the only court open if you bought timeshare points in Nevada.  

After our experience I started digging. I learned that timeshare deceit has been ongoing since before Social Media. I have decided to use my skills to advocate for timeshare reform. This is not a one company problem.  In my opinion, and it is the opinion of 44 timeshare advocates from our Timeshare Advocacy Group™, timeshare, and especially the point-based timeshare system, has evolved to encourage and allow sleight of hand, predatory sales.

Timeshare Advocacy Group TAG has had a hard time keeping up with the flood of complaints. TAG has received 136 timeshare complaints just since January 1, 2018. Most of these complainants have reached out to the Nevada Attorney General and the Nevada Real Estate Division, where the timeshare companies and their agents are licensed to do business, to no avail.

Timeshare sales agents know they are protected by their corporate goliath. One vice president endorsed this by responding to one member, “Our Company is not responsible for what our sales agents say.” In actuality, there is proof, if the Nevada authorities would simply aggregate the complaints. They would then see the weight of allegations of deceitful sales practices that, because of their similarity, appear to be orchestrated from the top down.

Some of these predatory practices include:

  • Delaying delivery of important information so that the legal contract rescission period is undermined. Several complainants could not get onto the website until after close of escrow to determine the number of points actually needed to go to their desired destinations.  
  • Luring customers to “owner updates” and “new customer orientations” that are really hard upsell opportunities,
  • Instilling fear by falsely advising that current fees of existing owners will go up astronomically unless they purchase “new program” points,
  • Instilling fear by falsely advising that heirs of the elderly will be saddled with astronomic fees unless they purchase “new program” points,           
  • Holding onto customer ID and credit cards, and their children! One member reported hearing children screaming while customers sat through hours of hard sell,
  • Feeling pressured into high interest rate loans (12% to 18%) and higher interest rate credit cards.
  • Claiming that timeshare points will increase in value over time!! In fact, a class action lawsuit has been filed to fight this “investment” claim. For many timeshare points, there is little to no resale value.

We have a summary report of more than 50 families who have filed complaints against a Nevada sales center. This report is available upon request. Two of the complainants are:

  • Roy and Lillian Simmons, in fear of losing their home, up-sold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments, living on Roy’s letter carrier pension.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_nca6lMA4U&feature=youtu.b

  • Raymond Mori, recipient of two Purple Hearts, 23 years a Marine, at age 83, in a wheelchair, told to buy an additional $234,000 in additional timeshare points. Teresa is sure her parents would have signed if she had not been with them.

Do not believe anything a timeshare sales agent says in Nevada. If you do intend to do business with a timeshare sales agent, make sure they put promises in writing.  

For more information, please contact me at: [email protected] or Timeshare Advocacy Group: https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

Thank you to Meryl for her advocacy efforts. If you or someone you know needs help with a timeshare concern contact one of these self-help groups that Inside Timeshare feels is not industry influenced.

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/

advocate 1

Thank you Meryl for your contribution and also Irene for the editing, we also once again thank all the volunteers who give their time effortlessly to help other timeshare users in trouble.

In this Friday’s Letter From America we will be highlighting the story of Gad and Noreen Liebmann, who are currently staging a protest outside Diamonds Daytona Beach Resort. We are through Inside Timeshare readers and those on the various facebook pages receiving many messages of encouragement and support for both of you. We will obviously be keeping our readers posted as the story unfolds.

If you have any questions, comments about any article published, or need any help in identifying any company that has contacted you, use our contact page and ask Inside Timeshare. We are here to help and point you in the right direction.

stop press 1

News has just come in from the Bournemouth Daily Echo, the trial against Francis Madden, Claire Garland, Keith Furneval and Jean Furnaval, regarding a timeshare fraud which ran for several years has started.

Their company Central Marketing Ltd, defrauded thousands of pounds in selling bogus holiday clubs and other products. The trial is expected to last at least six weeks, for the full story see link below.

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/16164465.Four_face_trial_on_timeshare_fraud_charges/

The Tuesday Slot from Canada

Today’s article from Canada by Patrick Cormier is about Intrawest sales practices to Club Intrawest members.  The complaint in the lawsuit concerns the immediate and extreme devaluation of points after purchase from the developer, providing little to no resale value. Diamond Resorts acquired Intrawest Resorts in 2015 and continues the practices leading to this devaluation.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160129005913/en/Diamond-Resorts-International-Completes-Acquisition-Intrawest-Resort

Diamond Resort members in the US have learned their points are virtually worthless on resale. Many Inside Timeshare readers tell us they have been told points would be easy to resell and points will increase in value. In response to one of our reader complaints, a Diamond Vice President’s response was, “We’re not responsible for anything our sales agents say.”

This is the very reason Inside Timeshare is so important and why every timeshare member needs to be an advocate, reaching out to the general public to warn the general public that timeshares official position in several companies seems to be, “We’re not responsible for anything a sales agent says.” This is indeed a green light to lie. With little to no enforcement of timeshare regulation, timeshare sales and marketing fraud continues unchecked.

https://www.citheownersgroup.org/

Following on from yesterday’s article where we identified the genuine lawyers from their photographs used by the “FAKE” Legalidades Abogados, we have now identified another three from the previous “FAKE LAW FIRM” Manuel Hidualdo Abogados article published in March, both of these are from the Litigious Abogados family of “Fake firms”.

http://insidetimeshare.com/thursday-roundup/

manuel selando hidualdo

The first is the “founder” of the firm, Manuel Selando Hidualdo, the actual person is:

Miguel Ángel Pardo Falcón

Graduado Social Diplomado (1988/1990).

Colegiado nº 924 por el C.O.G.S.S. dese 1993.

Of Bolonia Abogados based at the following address:

Avenida San Francisco Javier, 24, 9ª, 12 – Edificio Sevilla I – 41018 Sevilla

https://boloniaabogados.com/quienes-somos-en-bolonia-abogados/

francisco fralja sobanem

The second one named as Francisco Fralja Sobanem on the “fake” website is in fact a Mexican lawyer called Angel Prieto, who owns his own law practice on the Yucatan Peninsula

Av. Sunyaxchen lotes 56 y 57

Sm 24, Mz 28

Edificio Siglo XXI oficina 209

Cancún, QR

México 77509

+52 (998) 251-7010

http://www.angelprieto.com/attorneys.html

emilio derlanta cantelar

Our third identification is named as Emilio Derlanta Cantelar, but is actually a US Lawyer named David J. Winer, from the law firm Winer & Winer, based at:

Law Offices of Winer & Winer

9 N County St. #100

Waukegan, IL 60085

Tel: (847) 336-9111

Fax: (847) 336-4182

http://winerlawoffice.com/attorneys/david-winer/

Obviously these gentlemen have no idea that their images are being used for fraudulent purposes, well they will do now!

We shall be keeping an eye open for the next incarnation that they come up with, we will also identify any other photo of their so called lawyers with the genuine person.

Now on with our Tuesday article from Canada.

quebec

Quebec Superior Court Authorizes Class Action against Intrawest

Intrawest ULC owns, operates, and manages mountain and beach destination resorts in North America and Europe. The company also manages heli-skiing operations, and golf and beach resort clubs. In additions, it provides resort real estate sales and marketing services for various destinations; rental management services at various resort locations; and vacation reservation services with information on accommodations, air and ground transportation, destination, virtual tours, vacation guides, activities, entertainment, and places to dine. Further, Intrawest ULC engages in real estate development operations. Intrawest ULC was incorporated in 1979 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=361001

April 10, 2018

PATRICK CORMIER·TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2018

https://www.citheownersgroup.org/class-action

On March 20th, 2018, the Superior Court of Quebec released a decision by Hon. Anne Jacob certifying a class action to proceed against Intrawest ULC. The full text of the decision is available here (available in French only). What follows is a summary of key information.

What has been authorized by the court? A lawsuit in reduction of price paid to Intrawest UCL, compensatory damages and punitive damages in relation to alleged illicit sales practice in relation to becoming a Club Intrawest member and to fees that were allegedly not disclosed at the time of purchase.

Who are the potential class members?

Potential class members are individuals that have purchased points directly from Intrawest in Quebec, with the exception of such individuals having sold their points before 2007. So, if you purchased your points from the developer in Quebec and have not sold those points before 2007, you currently stand to be eligible.

What does it mean for a class to be certified? It means that Martin Robichaud will be allowed to proceed in his suit against Intrawest as a representative of a larger class of individuals. Should he be successful, it means that the remedy obtained by him will also be available to similarly eligible class members. By certifying this class action, it means the court believed the four following conditions were met:

  1. The factual context of members is identical, similar or connected.
  2. Allegations appear to justify the remedy sought.
  3. The composition of the class would not make it practical for individual members to individually or jointly sue the defendant.
  4. The representative member (Mr Robichaud in this case) can ensure adequate representation of other members.

What are the facts underpinning this case?

Mr Robichaud’s case is in relation to the purchase of 160 points for a total price of Cdn$30,560 in 2009. At the time, Mr Robichaud (like so many of us) believed, according to the explanations offered at the time of sale, that should he wish to re-sell at a later time, he would essentially recoup his investment. There was also the purchase of 300 additional points on the secondary market also in 2009.

In 2014, five years after the initial purchase, he asked about the repurchase program. He was also informed at that time about the need to sell his points to another member with a minimal price per point failing which there would be no Extraordinary Escape (EE) privileges attached to the points sold.

The circumstances under which Mr Robichaud attempted to sell his points or have the points repurchased led him to believe the 160 points he originally purchased had been severally devalued because of undisclosed facts at the time of purchase and subsequent decisions and actions by Intrawest ULC.

What are the issues raised in this class action?

Mr Robichaud is asking the court to answer many important questions, including:

  • Has Intrawest used prohibited sales practices? Should this be the case, should Intrawest be reimbursing members or should members be entitled to a reduction in the price paid?
  • Should members be entitled to punitive damages because of their alleged breach of the Consumer Protection Act (Québec)?
  • Should members be dispensed from paying annual fees because they do not own the properties?

What is the remedy sought by this class action?

Mr Robichaud believes the points have been devalued by approx 75% because several keys facts were not disclosed to him in accordance with the Consumer Protection Act of Quebec. He also believes he should not have paid the annual fees. He therefore asks the court:

  • A 75% refund of the price paid in relation to the original purchase of 160 points from Intrawest ULC;
  • 100% of the annual fees paid to date for all points;
  • Punitive damages ($5,000).

What are the next steps of this class action?

There are a few additional minor procedural steps before the case fully proceeds. The Volunteers Coordinating Committee (VCC) will keep the Club Intrawest Owners Group (CIOG) posted as details are known to us. We have a good relationship with Mr Robichaud and are already supporting him, for example, by sharing aggregate member survey information.

What are the next steps of the VCC?

We welcome this highly sought after decision as a key milestone that will significantly influence and inform the refinement of our legal strategy. Broadly speaking, the major areas of further analysis are:

  • Assuming the case of Mr Robichaud succeeds, how could the remedy be extended to purchases of points outside of Quebec?
  • Develop a fully informed legal analysis, taking into account the Robichaud class action and its repercussions, and table options to the membership in the form of proposals at a first AGM of the future Embarc Owners Association, a new association in the process of being created by the VCC.

Stay vacationed, but stay aware!

Patrick Cormier, B.Sc., B.C.L./LL.B., CD VCC Team Leader

Related articles:  Club Intrawest v. CanadaMust Pay Millions in GST Back Taxes

Club Intrawest (Embarc)Timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-canada/

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151125005060/en/Diamond-Resorts-International-Acquire-Intrawest-Resort-Club

Thank you Patrick for your contribution, this does show that timeshare owners / members the world over are being subjected to some very dubious practices, we are all in this together, it is only through articles such as this will we ever see any change.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any article published, contact Inside Timeshare through our contact page.

For those readers in Europe, if you have been contacted by a law firm from Tenerife that tells you your timeshare resort / company is being taken to court and you can be in on the action, please do let us know, especially if it sounds like one of those we have been highlighting.

It is through your information that we can research and report as to the legitimacy of these companies, warning others to beware. Remember to do your homework, it will save you in the end.

homework1

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome back, we hope you all had a good Easter Weekend, this week’s Tuesday Slot is from a new contributor Greg Guisti, edited as usual by Irene Parker. But first a little news from Europe.

As you know TESS and the proverbial diatribe writings of David Cox have been having a knock at Inside Timeshare and also Canarian Legal Alliance, well he’s at it again with even more of his malicious and unproven statements.

Also Inside Timeshare is proud to have a good working relationship with CLA, they continually provide updates on court proceedings, Inside Timeshare also provides them with the evidence to help their clients who have dealt with fraudulent companies. A very good case in point is Litigious Abogados, the fake law firms in Tenerife, it is the evidence provided by Inside Timeshare that resulted in CLA issuing the decuncia to the authorities in February 2017.

denuncia
For emlargement of the denuncia right click and open link in new tab.

This time he is taking it to a new level, in fact it has now become one that he has left himself completely proven a liar, yes I did say LIAR!

In his recent rantings he has attributed two quotes to myself, which he obviously has made up as they were never been written by me. We would love to know where he found it, obviously it must be his medication making him hallucinate!

“I was a ‘cold caller’ who made uninvited and intrusive calls to consumers for the purposes of getting them to engage with what I now know to be, criminal timeshare salesman”.

“Having served my time roping in clients who faced aggressive selling practices and unethical practices I was happy to move up the corporate ladder to become a Front-line timeshare salesman in what I know to be a criminal timeshare selling scam”.

Well for those of you who know my writing style, it is definitely not mine.

To be honest, it looks like a script for a new Netflix series, or is he changing career (yet again), this time as the speech writer and “FAKE NEWS” editor for a politician in an upcoming election?

Anyway, these pages must be doing a good job if it is upsetting him so much, our readers Mr Cox, (the name is apt), are still behind us because they know what we have published is the truth. Many of them have been helped to get out of their timeshares, to get their money back through section 75 and just to let you know, unlike you and your company Inside Timeshare has never charged any of them. In fact it has even refused donations from grateful readers!

More on this to come, but back to matters that actually are more important, our article from our latest US contributor.

St Maarten

St. Maarten, Board Elections and Resort Reconstruction

Diamond Resorts

Diamond International will hold their Annual Meeting for the Flamingo Beach Resort owners on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club

Greg Guisti  Flamingo Beach Resort Board Candidate Gregory (Greg) Guisti

April 3, 2018

By Greg Guisti

I, Greg Guisti, age 67, am a Connecticut resident and a board candidate for the Flamingo Beach Resort in St. Maarten. I retired in 2016 having worked for IBM 21 years, ending my career as an account executive. I had total responsibility for technical service which was provided by service areas all over the world. In addition, my responsibilities also included meeting budget, sales and customer satisfaction targets. My success stems from my drive for excellence, listening to client needs. Having been an IBM customer for years, I understood customer expectations.

Timeshare members and owners have an expectation of what a good timeshare should be. I want to share my knowledge and experience as a timeshare owner of five difference resorts, while bringing my professional background to the table. Given the damage done to the island, members are entitled to good communication and feedback as to how repair efforts are proceeding. St. Maarten will take some time to rebuild, so now more than ever timeshare members need a customer orientated member to serve as your pipeline for communication.

Diamond International will hold their Annual Meeting for the Flamingo Beach Resort owners on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club, 7600 Mystic Dunes Lane, Celebration, Florida. At this time voting for a member on the Board of Directors will be held. If you cannot attend you can cast your ballot thru the online proxy voting website they provide. All proxies must be submitted by Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

I encourage Flamingo Beach Club Timeshare Owners to cast their vote. Obviously I would appreciate your consideration of my qualifications by casting your vote for me, but more importantly, let your voice be heard by voting, rather than leave your interest in the hands and discretion of an existing board.

There is only one opening. Other candidates include:

Incumbent Dorothy Albero

Dee Dee Metzcher Carr

Jerry Luby

Christiane Marie-Catherine

Mike Skillingstad

Dr. Basil Vareldzis

Scott Williams

The timeshare industry is evolving towards the points based product, but I am not alone in treasuring my deeded week at St. Maarten, a week that I know will not be an annual battle for availability. It is important for deeded week owners to have their voice heard as we protect the real estate investment we own. We can say we are owners, not just members.  

As to the effects of hurricane damage, rebuilding is going to be a difficult process. It is tough getting workers and materials. I own at Simpson Bay Resort and Mullet Towers on the Dutch side of the island. Restoration is underway at both resorts but the hurricane damage was so bad at Simpson Bay Resort, they have to tear down a couple of their buildings and are not going to rebuild. All owners at those buildings were given the option to walk away or accept points.

I am currently in St. Maarten, wanting to show my support by coming to the island to support their economy. While here I spoke with Mervin LeBlanc, General Manager of the Flamingo and Royal Palm. The Flamingo has multiple buildings. Mr. LeBlanc said they are in the stages of gutting all units, a necessary step to prevent mold. Mr. LeBlanc said it’s going to take a couple years, but I see it happening. Members and owners are going to get their St. Maarten vacation back.  

Diamond has waived maintenance fees at the Flamingo for 2018 but Mr. LeBlanc did not comment on Royal Palm maintenance fees. I am not certain if Royal Palm members will have to pay maintenance fees. There will be no bookings at either resort until 2020.

Diamond provided this update:

March 2018: The initial demolition phase is underway and moving along smoothly. Crews are removing debris and content from each unit, and wire fencing has been installed around the resort to secure the property as a construction site.

https://www.diamondresorts.com/destinations/property/Flamingo-Beach-Resort

For more information, contact:

Gregory Guisti

[email protected]

203-519-8258

Thank you Greg and also to Irene for her usual hard work in getting contributors articles ready for publication.

Remember, do your homework before engaging with any company, not all are genuine, if you require any help in making these checks contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.