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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, this article is based on a report released by the St Louis Better Business Bureau, it is based on their full report published on the BBB website which we have included as a link. The full report carries some very sound advice along with recommendations for Government and the industry. Whether they take note is another matter.

August is the month for Spain to basically close down, so there is no news from the courts, but this little snippet from the RDO website news section and published on 24 July caught our attention.

“We never sleep”

During this particular break-out session the RDO legal panel will provide attendees with an update on a range of issues, including the latest developments in the Spanish Supreme Court rulings and the on-going lobbying programme.

Other issues that will be covered within the session will be ongoing collaboration with UK authorities to take fraudulent individuals/companies to court and new legislation that is being developed to curb the activities of claims companies. Attendees will also learn how ARDA is dealing with similar issues in the US and whether there are lessons for RDO and its members.

Well one thing is for sure, the RDO obviously believe that the Spanish timeshare laws are not good for the industry, with the judges getting it wrong, along with their belief that they will be able to change things in their favour through the lobbying programme. Well somehow I don’t think the Spanish authorities will be looking to changing their laws to return back to the bad old days!

In the end these court cases that are being brought are of the industries own making, if they had abided by the laws in the first place they would not be paying for it now. A very good case to remember is Silverpoint, whose CEO Mark Cushway was at one time also a director of the RDO, this company is being pilloried by the lower courts in Tenerife and the Supreme Court in Madrid.

Why?

Quite simple, they sold a product that flouted virtually every article of Law 42/98, especially with their promise of the “investment” weeks, where unsuspecting purchasers, many of them on the verge of retirement, were sold under high pressure and very misleading sales pitches a promise that these weeks would be sold or rented out. These never materialised and are the subject of many of these court cases. All this while Mark Cushway was one of the directors of the industry trade body, there to ensure that members operated in a legal and ethical manner.

On the legal front, Canarian Legal Alliance has just published their mid year report, it is certainly impressive and really does put the above statement from the RDO in a different light. Follow the link for the full report direct from the lawyers themselves.

https://canarianlegalalliance.com/canarian-legal-alliance-mid-term-successes/

Now on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

A St. Louis Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report

Released July 24, 2018

Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations

August 3, 2018

Inside Timeshare has received complaints against Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Hawaii, California, and Virginia sales centers. Missouri is no worse than the other states. We appreciate the St. Louis, Missouri Better Business Bureau taking timeshare complaints seriously.

From: American Resort Development Association’s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”

From the St. Louis Better Business Bureau report:

https://www.bbb.org/en/us/article/news-releases/18149-dont-fall-for-deception-pressure-and-traps-disguised-as-vacations-a-better-business-bureau-study-of-the-missouri-timeshare-vacation-club-industry?bbbid=0734

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT

  • Tougher law enforcement action. Regulatory agencies have reported receiving an increasing number of complaints about the timeshare industry. Bringing action against any bad actors in the industry could help consumers and deter companies from violating consumer protection laws.
  • New laws. BBB hears from many senior citizens who have been affected by the timeshare industry. Missouri legislators should consider special protections for those 65 and older who enter into agreements with timeshare and travel club companies. An extended right of rescission period could help seniors who may not totally understand what they have purchased. All consumers should receive pertinent information – such as access to websites and passwords – at point of purchase so that they can check potential savings and actual values of timeshares on resale market so that if they decide to cancel, they can take advantage of the rescission period.

(BBB) RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE INDUSTRY

  • More honesty from the industry. The timeshare industry needs to develop and adhere to a set of ethical standards to address widespread reports of high-pressure and deceptive sales practices and to deliver accurate, honest sales pitches to consumers. Reputable companies do not pressure consumers over several hours to purchase services they had little interest in buying or, in some instances, can’t even afford. If presentations are held, consumers should not be detained past the scheduled time or express a false sense of urgency to act immediately. Avoid telling consumers something that will entice them to sign but is later contradicted by your contract.
  • Honor promises. Provide tickets or other promotional items at the time of the presentation. Do not mail them later or make the consumer obtain them from another source.  
  • Do not mislead about timeshare inheritance. Too often misleading statements or scare tactics are used to encourage those who have inherited a timeshare to believe they are liable for it. Don’t misrepresent the law or circumstances for financial gain.
  • Do not require consumers to initial documents “under duress.” Too often, consumers are faced with presentations consisting of long hours; eventually succumbing to high pressure sales tactics.
  • More transparency from the industry. If a consumer is referred  to another company or person to complete the presentation process, be transparent about the process (ie. obligation to sit through a two hour presentation to obtain discounted tickets) and amount of time it will actually take to possibly alleviate someone from their timeshare.
  • Eliminate company mediation. Do not require consumers to mediate through the company’s internal program should a dispute arise. Instead, use neutral, third-party mediation source such as Better Business Bureau or American Arbitration Association.
  • Easier exits. The recent establishment of deed-back programs may be a step in the right direction. More consumers should be able to take advantage of these programs. The establishment of more deed-back programs is likely to lead in a decrease in fraud seen in the resale and exit markets.

Inside Timeshare has received 515 timeshare complaints from our readers, 271 since January 1. All but a handful report their complaint was dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what our sales agents say.” Our advocacy efforts have had an effect. After publishing this last statement a few times, the defense has been changed to, “It sounds like a he said, she said” still relying on the oral representation clause. About 200 complaints were copied to ARDA / ARDA ROCbut were ignored.

If “You signed a contract” – is the industry’s official policy, and the regulator’s position in some states, the public needs to be made aware misrepresentations reported by timeshare buyers will be ruled in favor of the timeshare sales agent. In Florida and Nevada, all our readers’ complaints filed with those state Attorney General’s timeshare divisions have been dismissed with “You don’t have proof.” An upcoming article examines proof and why FBI agents and several attorneys don’t buy this response.

Inside Timeshare contributor Sheila Brust reported, “We were given ludicrous advice from a regulator that is clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality. I was told to contact a licensed timeshare resale broker, but every agent I contacted informed me my timeshare had no secondary market. By steering complaining members to licensed real estate agents, when turned down, members often end up the contacting a scam that will charge the member upfront money promising to sell or cancel their timeshare. Often that promise falls short.”

Inside Timeshare has received numerous complaints against Branson, Missouri sales centers. Our researchers discovered one Branson timeshare sales manager was selling points at the same time he was working for a timeshare exit company named Mutual Release a suspicious name for a company, as mutual release is the form signed when a timeshare issue has been resolved.

Our Advice

DON’T FINANCE A VACATION or any Luxury Item AT 12% TO 19% and don’t believe a word a timeshare sales agent says. As the St. Louis BBB recommends, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association before buying any timeshare. There you will receive straight answers.

 http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

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/

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the positives when it feels like the battle is all uphill. All we can do is reach out to those who feel lost to let them know Inside Timeshare and real advocacy groups are there for them. Consumer and advocacy are two words members should take with a grain of salt, used and abused by scam artists. We are real advocates.   

That’s it for this week, Friday is here and the weekend is about to start, for those in Europe beware the heat wave, especially if you are travelling to Spain, Seville is reported to be facing temperatures of 48º C or 118º F.

Join us next week for more news and views on the world of timeshare, don’t forget if you have any comments, questions or just need to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend and don’t get sunburnt!

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot we publish a revised article on How to File a Complaint, but first a quick word on the article yesterday and the post on Timeshare Talk by Mr William Dobbs. We have had several emails from readers venting there disgust at the use of Ian Smart’s name considering he passed away.

Mr Dobbs you should think very carefully at what you write and who about, to use the name of a deceased person who cannot speak or defend himself is the lowest of the low. I have had emails from his personal friends and family, all demand the removal of his name and for you Mr Dobbs to publish an apology.

It is also clear that you have no idea what you are saying or writing, yes I do know many of the people on that list, after all it is my job to know, but much of it is so out of date it is laughable. One person who you mention as sales at Palm Oasis, has not even been in the industry for at least 15 years and as we stated yesterday, in any industry people will be acquainted with each other. So Mr Dobbs will his family and friends get the apology?

Now on with today’s article.

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (July 17, 2018 revision)

  

Start with the Attorneys General

If necessary, continue to the FBI at IC3.gov

Finish with the Federal Trade Commission, if Section 5 is violated

FTC Unfair Practices

An act or practice is unfair where it

  • causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers;
  • cannot be reasonably avoided by consumers; and
  • is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition.

FTC Deceptive Practices

An act or practice is deceptive where

  • a representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
  • a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
  • the misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/supmanual/cch/ftca.pdf

“I was told that in order to be released from a timeshare I had owned for years, which was a deeded timeshare week, I had to turn the deed into points. Believing the sales agent, on June 19th I bought $12,000 worth of points for no reason. A few weeks after purchase I learned through Social Media the company has a voluntary surrender program.” (Example of an actual complaint)

Inside Timeshare has received 499 U.S. timeshare complaints as of July 16, 2018. All but a handful of complainants allege they had been sold a timeshare by deception. In all but a few cases, the member was dismissed with “You signed a contract” or “It doesn’t matter what the sales agent said.” If timeshare companies would acknowledge that some timeshare sales agents do intentionally mislead the consumer, there would be no need to file complaints and no reason for the existence of member supported advocacy groups.

According to FBI agents and lawyers our advocates have consulted, it is not legal to hide behind fine print, but it takes volumes of complaints to raise a regulator’s eyebrow. The Federal Trade Commission released its 2017 complaint report, listing travel, vacation, and timeshare as one of the most costly frauds at $1,710. Our reader complaints dollar amounts range from $4,000 to $400,000 or more. We wish members were only losing $1,710. Inside Timeshare has received complaints from 61 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement.   

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/

Timeshare Members need to be especially vigilant about “Get you out of your timeshare” firms because many are scams. Some are not. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ (TAG) has a scam research team formed by members who have themselves been scammed. This 15 page US Department of Justice timeshare scam report illustrates the seriousness and extent of the problem, caused by the lack of a viable secondary market. Timeshare company annual and quarterly reports have mentioned a viable secondary market as a risk to investors.    

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

Advocates for reform feel the problems that exist in the industry today are caused by an overreliance on the oral representation clause, iron clad developer based contracts, the lack of an adequate secondary market, and limited enforcement. We don’t dispute there are many who use and enjoy their timeshare and many sales agents who sell the product properly, but here are the most common timeshare complaints reported by our readers:

  • The agent said I could easily sell my points,
  • The agent overstated the value of travel awards to pay for airline tickets, or the use of a travel credit card to pay maintenance fees,
  • The agent said I had to give up my deeded timeshare and buy points,
  • The agent said I have to give up my deed and buy points (or buy enough points to get to the next loyalty level) or my heirs will be burdened,
  • The rescission clause was dodged because the agent said the (bogus) program would not be available until after the first of the year, or we were  not allowed access to the booking site until after the rescission period.

To begin your complaint, raise your right hand.

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

Information Needed to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Down Payment

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Loan Number

Current Loan Balance

Name of Credit Card if one was used to pay the down payment

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

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

Complaints expressing dissatisfaction with general availability will go unheeded as will a request based on not being able to afford the timeshare. If you feel you were deceived, list the reasons why. If there was no deceit, ask for relinquishment. Maintenance fees must be current and there can be no loan outstanding. Just like your personal residence, you can’t go to your home mortgage lender and say you can’t afford it. The difference is you can sell your home if there is an outstanding loan.  

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

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

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

Mark your email to the resort urgent if you are in financial distress. It is best to file a complaint before the debt collectors are hounding. If one of our advocates is assisting the member, the member will report back to us if the issue is resolved. Due to the required non-disclosure, terms and conditions will not be discussed.

Attorneys General

If the resort has dismissed your complaint, the next step is to file a complaint with the Attorney General of the state where you signed your contract. It can take sometimes a month to hear back from an AG but once your complaint has been accepted, debt collectors are not allowed to call. You can find any Attorney General by searching the state name and Attorney General. Some states will direct you to the real estate or consumer division. You should file a complaint with the state Real Estate Division against the agent if the agent was deceptive. Not all states require timeshare sales agents be real estate licensed.     

We have determined, based on reports from our readers, some Attorneys General walk lockstep with the developer, responding to complaints with, “You should not have relied on verbal representations.” Thus, in those states, the consumer is out in the cold and at the mercy of the developer’s decision. In other states, Attorneys General have opened investigations and reached settlements based on a volume of complaints and a pattern of consistent reports of deceptive behavior.

The FBI

Any complaint reported to the FBI should be of a more egregious nature. “They promised me a free cruise but it wasn’t free” is an example of a complaint that is not serious enough for the FBI. Our opening example, describing a buyer told they had to give up their timeshare deed when that was not necessary, would merit an IC3.gov report. To determine if your complaint is serious enough to file an FBI complaint, review the FBI definitions of criminal acts:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

  • The Attorney General’s office where you signed your contract. Most AG complaints can be filed online.
  • The Real Estate Division of the state where the agent is licensed if your complaint is against the agent.
  • The FBI at IC3.gov portal if you feel you were deceived. For allegations of a serious nature you may also contact an FBI field office to file a tip orally. Have your facts and figures ready. The FBI complaint website is called IC3.gov which stands for Internet Crime. This is a bit confusing. IC is the name of the portal. That doesn’t mean it has to be an internet crime. Click IC3 as your choice when filing. Sometimes your local field office will pay closer attention than say Las Vegas, where losing money is a tourist attraction. You can find your nearest field office from this website. https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
  • The Federal Trade Commission is one of the most important agencies to file with, because it is federal. Most states have incorporated a portion of the FTC’s “Unfair and Deceptive Trade Act” in their state law.   
  • The media – the court of public opinion is often the only court available. Inside Timeshare, published in Spain, welcomes member submissions, positive or negative.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for credit card or lending complaints, under the mortgage option (even if no mortgage), selecting the bank involved. Timeshare has dodged this regulatory bullet because most members don’t know the identity of the lender as the timeshare company often services the loan (Timeshare companies are not an option from the CFPB’s drop-down menu). CFPB is the organization that helped Wells Fargo victims. The CFPB lost influence after the roll back of the Dodd Frank act March 2018. The Dodd Frank act was enacted after the abuses caused by subprime lending. The CFPB is still considered a regulator. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s BBB rating can be misleading in that the BBB only rates how efficiently a company responds to complaints. Sometimes the BBB allows you to log in and file a rebuttal. If you file a complaint, a review is not allowed. We have received complaints from members reporting that a company representative called, saying the message is time sensitive, but does not answer the phone when the member repeatedly tries to call back. We suspect this boosts the company BBB rating because the company can report, “We reached out.”
  • Lawmakers – The problem is the timeshare buyer typically does not buy in their state of residence which is why lawmakers don’t seem to take timeshare seriously. Still, any effort to contact lawmakers is encouraged.

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

Depending on the seriousness of your complaint, you may forward your complaint to the firm’s public relations office or firm and to ARDA, the timeshare industry’s PAC, for violating ARDA’s Code of Ethics. ARDA’s Code of Ethics can be found on ARDA’s website. ARDA ROC does not mediate disputes, but ARDA does have a Code of Ethics. Due to lack of response to about 200 of the more serious complaints we sent to ARDA, we do not recommend owners make the voluntary “opt in” or “opt out” ARDA ROC donation on your maintenance fee invoice. Not one of the members we questioned knew what ARDA ROC stands for, yet collectively gives ARDA ROC about $5 million a year. It is the opinion of our advocates, that although ARDA lobbies for the industry and for timeshare members, when the issue at stake is one that is at odds with members, members lose because they have no voice.

You may also forward your complaint to the Association of Vacation Owners. AVO has been tracking our complaints for research purposes. http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-3/

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

Who We Are and Why We Do This

Our advocates are not attorneys and we do not provide legal advice. We have researched regulatory agencies and are here to direct consumers to the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies. The right to file a regulatory complaint is the right of every citizen who feels they have been wronged.  

It’s a good idea to contact a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out whether your timeshare has a secondary market. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Venting on complaint sites has no effect whatsoever but an organized campaign to track complaints and report alleged fraud has already born fruit in the form of Attorneys General investigations and greater public awareness.

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

Contact Inside Timeshare or email Irene Parker at

[email protected] or call 270-303-7572 EST if you are interested in becoming a volunteer. Feel free to call any day of the week from 1:00 to 5:00 PM EST. It’s best to schedule a call. All calls and emails are returned within 24/48 hours.  If your email is not returned, please resend and send a text message.

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

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

http://tug2.net/

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

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

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

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

July 7, 2018 Irene Parker Timeshare Advocacy Group™     

Related article: FTC Section 5

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-12/

That’s it for today, you now have all the information to be able to file a complaint, if you need any help with this or want to know about any company that has contacted you or you have found on the internet, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (May 2018 revision)

Start with the Attorneys General Office

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

May 18, 2018

By Irene Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the FBI,

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two most common complaints reported:

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

How Advocacy Works

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is organized into seven teams:

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

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

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

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

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

How to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Current Loan Balance

Loan Number

Current Maintenance Fees

Name of Credit Card if one was used

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

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

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

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

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

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

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

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

Who We Are and Why We Do This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://tug2.net/

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2018 Irene Parker Timeshare Advocacy GroupTM

 

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

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

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

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

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

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

In this weeks Tuesday Slot, Irene Parker takes a look at an old friend of Inside Timeshare, the National Timeshare Owners Association, which is now known as the Association of Vacation Owners. The CEO is still our old friend Greg Crist, who was also interviewed by Irene.

Before we go on with Irene’s article we once again highlight the many calls our readers are receiving regarding “claiming compensation” for their timeshares. As usual these calls require a meeting at an office to go over the claim. These are usually enticed by the words “No win No fee”.

But once there, the owners are then told the only way to claim is only once the contract has been cancelled. This is where they are then told that to do this it will cost thousands of pounds!

In many cases we have seen the “client” is then told to just stop paying the maintenance fees, then as we have seen with RSB Legal clients 18 months down the line they find that they are not out of their timeshare and now have arrears in maintenance fees.

AS we highlighted yesterday, just from the number of enquiries Inside Timeshare has received, the amount lost buy these clients is well over the £100,000 mark. So we can only guess the amounts for around 2 years of trading with hundreds of clients, the figure must be mounting now into several million pounds!

Just recently it has been announce that a Norwegian TV company is about to start filming a new TV series called Crimeshare. It will be centered around the late Norwegian businessman Bjorn Lyng and his Anfi dream in Gran Canaria. The series will also highlight many others in this murky world including the late John “Goldfinger” Palmer and his Tenerife empire. It is proposed to be aired early next year, we certainly look forward to seeing that. Follow the links below for further information, open with google and use translate.

http://www.canariajournalen.no/Nyheter/Historien-om-Anfi-del-Mar-og-Bjoern-Lyng-blir-krimserie-Crimeshare

http://www.abc.es/espana/canarias/abci-lanzan-serie-nordica-sobre-mafia-turismo-canarias-201805011258_noticia.html

Canarian Legal Alliance has also hit the press, Guiade Prensa or Press Guide has published a short article titled “Leaders in Europe in lawsuits of ‘timeshare’”

This can leave no doubt that despite the attempts of others to discredit this law firm, they are legitimate and are doing what they say. Inside Timeshare has published many articles showing their cases, from the lower courts right through to the Supreme Court, even showing the court documents which are easily verified.

http://www.guiadeprensa.com/app/webroot/razon/tribuna_derecho2018/cla.html

At the end of April it was announced that Marriott Vacations have bought out ILG Inc, for a whopping $4.7 billion. What this will mean for ILG members has yet to be seen, but no doubt our readers from across the Great Lake will keep us informed.

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

https://wtop.com/business-finance/2018/04/marriott-timeshare-business-plans-4-7-timeshare-acquisition/

Now we move on with this weeks article from Irene.

Association of Vacation Owners

Mission Statement

We vow to relentlessly advocate for improvements – from protection and preservation to expansion and enrichment – to the vacation ownership experience. Our commitment to these efforts will continuously strengthen and support the relationships between the vacation-owner community and the industry at large, ensuring the viability of vacation ownership for generations to come.

By Irene Parker

May 11, 2018

Inside Timeshare considered the National Timeshare Owners Association a friend and an ally working toward a better relationship between the timeshare developer and the member. At Inside Timeshare it seems we are frequently at odds, except in steering members away from the nets of timeshare listing, transfer and resale predators. No one should pay upfront money to get out of a timeshare, or list a timeshare, without carefully vetting the person offering to help. Contact Inside Timeshare or AVO before paying anyone to get you out of your timeshare.    

National Timeshare Owners Association is now assimilated into the Association of Vacation Owners AVO.

Excerpts from Perspective Magazine, explaining the metamorphosis:  

National Timeshare Owners Association has a new name: The Association of Vacation Owners (AVO). “We are very pleased to expand our alliances to include credible organizations that share our vision to improve education, engagement and support for timeshare and vacation owners” said Gregory Crist, CEO.

The membership based organization is now seeking industry partners who will commit to the AVO Service Pledge and will vow to relentlessly advocate for improvements in communication, protection, and preservation of vacation ownership.

“AVO is also attracting thousands of vacation owners by continuing its twenty-year history of dedication and focus on providing owners with the tools and information they need to strengthen their ownership experience”, continued Crist.

In March 2018, we transitioned from NTOA to the Association of Vacation Owners (AVO). In that transition we find a stronger mission and one that comes with greater collaboration and partnerships in the VO community including working closer with TAG, ,Timeshare Advocacy Group™. TAG is independent and focused on some very disturbing issues. This is important work and we thank all of you for volunteering such time and energy to TAG and to the community.

AVO is a social purpose organization dedicated to educating vacation owners and advocating on behalf of its owner/members. AVO participates in major industry conferences, is involved in the leadership of the Canadian Vacation Ownership Association (CVOA) and is a consumer member of various industry trade associations including: ARDA, AMDETUR, ASUDESTICO, and C.A.R.E. To learn more, visit our website at AVOworldwide.com or email: [email protected] | Toll Free: (833) 2ASK-AVO

http://perspectivemagazine.com/0703201810424/ntoa-to-become-the-association-of-vacation-owners-avo

I asked Greg what specific areas should TAG and AVO focus on to make the timeshare world a better place?   

“AVO is committed to finding solutions to tough industry challenges like the secondary market. The secondary market, or lack of, is the Elephant in the timeshare room. It is at the top of the list when addressing member concerns so heads our list of top five priorities.”

  1. Resale
  2. Rental and Exchange
  3. Trade and Transfer
  4. Divestment
  5. Redevelopment

Inside Timeshare will be devoting upcoming articles to each of these topics separately, topics meaningful to both owners/members and the developer, albeit from different perspectives. Change is good and members are mobilizing to affect reform. Like any social cause, it doesn’t come easy and it requires meaningful discussion from both sides of the vacation fence. We should all want the same outcome – a Great Vacation!

Members are helping members. If you need free help about a timeshare concern, contact a member of one of these self-help sites Inside Timeshare is convinced is not industry influenced. One member’s recent comment, “I can’t believe I can actually talk to someone!?”

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and also Greg, Inside Timeshare wishes you all the best in your work to improve the lot of timeshare owners, we also look forward to reporting on your successes.

Don’t forget if you are contacted by any company regarding resale or claims and you are not sure who or what they are, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Inside Timeshare also thanks those readers who send in the information to share with others, by working together and sharing information it will help others to keep their hard earned cash in their own pockets and not in the pockets of the rogues.

Friday’s Letter from America

This weeks Letter from America by Irene Parker reviews the results for the First Quarter of this year, judging by these figures the rest of the year is definitely going to be busy. But first we have a look at what has been happening in Europe.

Canarian Legal Alliance announced this week their 100th Supreme Court ruling, this achievement has made Spanish legal history, especially in the field of timeshare litigation. Within days of this announcement, CLA also received numbers 101 and 102 judgements.

The three rulings declared the Silverpoint contracts null and void with over 63,000 Euros being returned to the clients plus legal interest.

There was also a High Court ruling from Tenerife, again against Silverpoint, resulting in the contract being declared null and void with the return of over 14,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest.

No doubt the clients, lawyers and staff at CLA are celebrating.

All this week Inside Timeshare has been running article on the “Fake Law Firms” operating out of Tenerife, identifying many of the photographs of “their lawyers” posted on their websites.

We have shown 2 US lawyers, 2 Australian, several Spanish lawyers, 3 of which are from the same firm, An eminent Peruvian lawyer, Chilean, Columbian and the most surprising of all was the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Argentina.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

First Quarter 2018 Results

April 13, 2018

By Irene Parker

Helping

First quarter results are in. Inside Timeshare received 116 US timeshare complaints since January 1. Remarkably, there have been nine positive outcomes (loan cancellation and/or refund) and eight resolutions – relinquishment or an answered question resolved the dispute. Timeshare resolution within three months is unusual. This fast-track resolution saves the timeshare member legal fees and the timeshare developer legal or arbitration fees.  We have kept many members out of the nets of “guarantee you a timeshare exit” scams created by the industry when licensed timeshare resale brokers won’t accept a timeshare listing, if they consider the timeshare worthless on the secondary market. Scammer listing agents will take your money and run, not caring if your timeshare sells.

Inside Timeshare has received 381 timeshare complaints since we began tracking complaints late 2016, so 116 complaints received since January 1 is an extraordinary jump in complaints (or readership). Timeshare members contacting Inside Timeshare have witnessed little interest from Florida, Virginia, California or Nevada Attorneys General timeshare divisions, assigned to enforce or not enforce timeshare regulations. Regulations may be in place, but seem to be little enforced. The Florida Timeshare Division dismisses timeshare members with, “Verbal representations are hard to prove,” and Nevada dismisses criminal allegations with, “You have no proof.” Based on one such response received by one Florida resident, we now know why the Florida Department of Business Practice and Regulation DBPR only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from 2012 to 2014. One of our advocates is researching more recent numbers through FOIA.

Our members disagree with ARDA’s assertion:

From ARDA’s Code of Ethics: http://www.arda.org/ethics/

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”

Regulations are one thing. Enforcement is another. However, Attorneys General who have initiated and closed investigations against timeshare developers in 2016 and 2017, achieving settlements, did not buy into “You have no proof” or “You signed a contract.” These Attorneys General include: NY, CO, AZ, TN, MO, WI, NC, and the Florida DBPR, sources say, is investigating The Berkley Group (Vacation Village).

Timeshare members have been reaching out to the FBI, because most allegations meet the FBI definition of white collar crime “deceit, concealment violation of trust, bait and switch.” One FBI agent contacted and met with one of our Diamond Advocacy Facebook members.

Updates from a few of our advocates:

Josh Parker, US Army, Ret, OIF

Josh says they were told DRI points are an investment and easy to sell. Now expecting twins, they have learned there is virtually no secondary market for DRI points. Josh was told by a DRI Vice President, “We’re not responsible for what our sales agents say.”  

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezkJ7GlJN4U&feature=youtu.be

Teresa Laird, on behalf of her parents, Raymond and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori age 83, 23 years a Marine, disabled. Raymond Mori earned two Purple Hearts, now facing timeshare foreclosure. Teresa says she asked DRI to cancel a Sampler trial product sold to her parents, but says instead the company by phone sold Mr. and Mrs. Mori another 17,000 points, saying they took care of it by attaching it to another program.

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

Angela Sandstede on behalf of her parents Roy and Lillian Simmons, Mr. Simmons a Navy veteran, retired letter carrier, upsold into foreclosure, now in danger of losing their home. Their monthly DRI payment is $2,750 a month. They live on Mr. Simmons letter carrier pension.

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

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-16/

Sheilah Brust: Worked for the New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations – Upsold by the same Daytona sales agent as Gad and Noreen Leibmann pictured below.  http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

Richard Sokolowski: Arizona Real Estate

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-43/

Greg Jennings: “My Name is Recycled Inventory”

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-15/

Eron Grant: Catholic School Guidance Counselor http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-40/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMk_45zRzk&feature=youtu.be

Gad and Noreen Leibmann: Navy Veterans

Gad Noreen

This is our “How to File a Complaint” form (Contact Inside Timeshare for assistance – we may be in Spain but are only a click away)

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-16/

Section 5 of the FTC Code: The basic consumer protection statute enforced by the Commission is Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which provides that “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce…are…declared unlawful.”

  1. Consumer Protection

“Unfair” practices are defined as those that “cause” or [are] likely to cause substantial injury to consumers which is not reasonably avoidable by consumers themselves and not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or to competition” https://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/what-we-do/enforcement-authority

We know the members above have suffered substantial injury. The gray area is “not reasonably avoidable” so the answer is a determined and pervasive media outreach to educate the general public on the fact that when they buy a timeshare product, they are signing a perpetual contract, with rising maintenance fees, and virtually no secondary market. Not one of the 381 families that have reached out to us since late 2016 knew this. Contact Inside Timeshare or a non-industry influenced self-help group if you need help with a timeshare concern.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you Irene and all those volunteers who give up their time to help others, the world of timeshare needs people like you.

If you have any comments or questions about any article published or just need some help in  deciding which company is genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare through our contact page. We will help point you in the right direction, Remember doing your homework will save you money in the end.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week for more news and information on the murky world of timeshare.

weekend cat

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the Easter edition of Friday’s Letter from America, by Joshua Parker, Sheila Brust and Richard Sokolowski, edited by Irene Parker.

Just as we were getting this ready to publish, Josh has been informed by the Florida Timeshare Division, they will be initiating a new investigation into his complaint. Josh and Nicole’s first complaint that they were told their Diamond points are an investment and easily sold, had been closed. They are now expecting twins and cannot afford the timeshare, Josh is a combat veteran who has seen service in Iraq. So at least some good news before we start.

Normally we have a roundup of news from Europe, but that was published yesterday, so straight on with our Letter from America.

Timeshare is a Highly Regulated Product?

Earth to ARDA Part II

Another Open Letter to ARDA CEO Howard Nusbaum

Robert Clements, Lobbyist and General Counsel

Peter Roth, ARDA media

By Joshua Parker, Sheilah Brust and Richard Sokolowski

March 30, 2018  

consumer1

From: American Resort Development Association’s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”  

Diamond Resort members Sheilah Brust, Joshua Parker, and Richard Sokolowski have learned there is no timeshare regulation and there is no timeshare enforcement for us. We have been filing complaints with every regulatory agency known to an American citizen and all we get is a passing of the buck to another department or agency. In addition, we have been given some ludicrous advice from regulators that are clearly out of touch with timeshare consumer reality.

Sadly, we agree with Eron and Irene. We think ARDA’s Code of Ethics is meaningless. Like Eron and Irene, we are professionals.

Sheilah Brust: Worked for the New York Governor’s Office of Employee Relations

My experience speaking with an FBI agent and what I learned about the process    

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

Josh Parker: Army combat veteran, Sergeant

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/

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

Richard Sokolowski: Arizona Real Estate

Earth to ARDA by Eron Grant and Irene Parker – Part I

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-40/

Eron’s YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMk_45zRzk&feature=youtu.be

Sheilah Brust: So far the only light on the horizon is the FBI. Through Social Media members are talking to other members. No one doubts there are those who use and enjoy their Diamond points. I enjoyed my Diamond points as a Platinum member until we were pitched a program that does not exist. We weren’t confused. The numbers were easy to understand. Gad and Noreen Liebmann are enjoying their retirement by protesting outside Diamond’s Daytona Beach Regency Resort. We were both up-sold by the same Diamond sales agent, Brad Leslie, the same program that does not exist, and still Diamond will not listen.

Protest

According to Facebook postings, the FBI has been responsive and agrees our allegations constitute fraud – deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch. In our opinion, Diamond, in effect, endorses and approves of these tactics by maintaining the position the customer is always wrong. Hospitality agents from the Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department automatically respond, “Sorry you signed a contract” and the emailing of your initials on fine print rewards bad behavior with a commission check.  

Josh: I was advised by Hector Tapininge at the Florida Department of Business Practice and Regulation DBPR to call a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association.

http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

Like Sheilah, I learned licensed timeshare resale agents won’t even accept a Diamond listing feeling the resale market for Diamond points is non-existent. I almost signed up with a scam until finding our Advocacy Facebook.

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

When I informed my reviewer that licensed resale brokers won’t accept a Diamond listing; he said he was aware of this. In other words, send the consumer on a wild goose chase that often leads Diamond members into the nets of scams.

How many timeshare buyers knew they were buying a lifelong timeshare product that could not be sold? As a veteran, I can tell you no service member would ever buy an unsellable asset. The Diamond contract states you can sell your points. Since you are dealing with a licensed real estate agent, it is logical to assume the timeshare can be sold, especially since we were told Diamond points are an investment.

Given so little enforcement and regulation, our mission is to reach the general public to make sure they know they are spending thousands of dollars, signing a perpetual contract, with rising maintenances fees and no secondary market.

Veterans, Active Duty military and law enforcement and government workers are encouraged to support Whistleblowers of America, a nonprofit in Washington DC that seeks justice.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Sheilah: I was contacted by Mr. Alan Parkinson, Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement, Division of Consumer Services.

Mr. Parkinson recommended I contact DBPR, the same Florida Department of Business Practices and Regulation Josh contacted. We saw how much good that did with the response Josh received. I will follow up and we will all continue to report on our progress or lack of. I too spoke with licensed resale brokers. I was told even timeshare companies that do allow a secondary market; the net to the consumer is often negative after commission. I was told I could list a deeded week I own, but it would end up costing me money to get rid of it. Consumers defrauded, are left with a perpetual contract, rising maintenance fees and no secondary market. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Richard Sokolowski: I tried to file a complaint against Diamond Resorts with the Nevada Attorney General’s office. They won’t do anything if I did not buy from a Nevada sales agent. I can’t believe a consumer complaint can’t be filed against a company headquartered in Nevada.

I was also told to contact an attorney. Diamond is the only major timeshare with a class action ban, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is known to be pro-industry. Diamond hires the arbitrator. If the arbitrator rules against the member, the member can be ordered to pay Diamond’s legal fees; and that amount can be higher than the disputed amount. Besides, Diamond has armies of lawyers and outside law firms. They can outspend the average citizen. I’ve talked to lawyers. Getting a lawyer will do nothing to stop predatory and criminal business practices.

Sheilah: According to Josh, this response from the Florida Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement is useless.

Ms. Brust,

By way of introduction, my name is Alan Parkinson and I am the Bureau Chief for the Bureau of Mediation & Enforcement, Division of Consumer Services.  I have received your concerns and would like to take a minute to respond.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has a Timeshare and Condominium division that can likely address many of your concerns regarding the sales practices and issues you have with Diamond Resorts.  If your issue is with the purchase and contract for the timeshare, they would be the appropriate agency to speak with. You can contact them through the link below:

http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/  

 

If your issue is outside of those parameters then you may consider filing a complaint with us so that we can reach out to them and asked that they address your concerns.

www.floridaconsumerhelp.com  

If you any questions please feel free to contact me directly.

Alan Parkinson

Comment from Irene

The Florida timeshare division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints filed from April 2012 to April 2014, in contrast with the Arizona Attorney General’s office that opened an investigation after receiving 400 DRI complaints and, according to a source, received 500 additional complaints after the press release. The AZ AG has issued an Assurance of Discontinuance, accusing the company of violating the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. Diamond did not admit wrongdoing.

From Eron’s March 9 article:

Inside Timeshare will be following Platinum Diamond members Roy and Lillian Simmons as they make their way through Vacation Ownership’s highly regulated industry. Mr. and Mrs. Simmons are worried about losing their home, up-sold at age 69 and 70 to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. They live on Mr. Simmons letter carrier pension.   

Roy and Teresa Mori, Mr. Mori a recipient of two Purple Hearts, remains devastated. Based on the response daughter Teresa Laird reported to us from a hospitality agent working for Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy Department, the company doesn’t care if sales agents have allegedly ruined their lives. “Sorry, you signed a contract” after being sold 17,000 MORE points over the phone by a Las Vegas company representative after daughter Teresa called to explain the Sampler or trial product should be cancelled. In the middle of her archeology thesis, she is making signs to protest outside Diamond’s Polo Towers.  

In response to a draft sent for comment, Josh received this response from DBPR:

Josh’s responses to Ahmed Y. Kassoo  are in bold

Thank you for contacting the division regarding your concerns. Please note that the division is not authorized to comment on or give its opinion of or approve any articles written by any individual which he or she intends to publish in any form including at various websites or in other publications.

I understand.

Since the division does not regulate the operations of real estate brokers, we are not aware of their criteria with regards to offering real estate listing and marketing services.  As a courtesy and for information purposes only, we provide the web site information of licensed real estate brokers (LTRBA) who specialize in selling timeshare interests and vacation club membership in Florida.  We neither recommend nor endorse a particular broker.

I understand, but why is nothing done about Diamond sales agents allegedly selling vacation points as an investment, yet the points are worthless the moment the contract is signed, should the buyer need to sell. LTRBA members will accept a listing for any major timeshare EXCEPT Diamond Resort, so not only is there no resale value when they are selling the points as an investment, they are the only major timeshare company that can’t be listed with them. Our Diamond Advocacy Facebook of over 1,100 members is flooded with similar complaints, the BBB has over 1,000 complaints and the AZ AG received over 900 complaints, yet the Florida AG timeshare division sends you to LTRBA? Can you see how frustrating this is? Not only is there no regulation or enforcement, Diamond victims are sent on a wild goose chase.     

Please note that it is always safe to employ a licensed real estate broker who are prohibited from collecting advance fee for listing the timeshare for rent or sale, except when permitted by law, and who are strictly regulated by the state.

What does this have to do with Diamond members if the LTRBA members won’t list their points? They feel Diamond has restricted the use of points purchased on the secondary market to the point it does not exist; it’s a hamster wheel 1. Lie to sell 2. Force foreclosure (I know of over 30 active duty and retired military and law enforcement alleging they were defrauded by Diamond, Bluegreen and Vacation Village, seven are concerned they are going to lose their Security Clearance, one lost his air unit command) 3. Take back the points 4. Resell to the next victim. With so little enforcement or regulation, there is nothing to stop timeshare sales agents from using and abusing the oral representation clause.    

If they cannot help the owners, they will let them know upfront and will not waste their time and money to advertise their properties which they know are not marketable. They will not give a false hope unless they are sure they can sell the timeshare.  Despite your statement that “resale market is nonexistent”, please note that timeshare interests do sell in the secondary market, however, buyers are selective and only buy those timeshares which they consider to be in high demand at choice locations. Therefore, it is not true that the timeshare resale market is non-existent.  If it was, these brokers won’t be able to survive.

One of them told Shielah they survive because they get paid a commission even when the seller ends up with a net loss. We don’t hold that against them, but that’s how they survive.  

An owner is free to select any entity to market his/her timeshare interest or club membership.  However, based on the history of complaints we have received, we have learned that many owners have been burned by the individual and entities who take their money and run without providing the promised services based on false and misleading claims.

Exactly, I rest my case. The industry is the cause of the scams because desperate consumers who feel, know, they were defrauded, are easy prey for professional liars.  

I hope this information was helpful

No, I’m sorry. It was of no help. It is my opinion the reason there is so little enforcement and regulation is because Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is influenced by the timeshare PAC ARDA. I will be researching through FOIA how much money she has received in campaign contributions and other means.    

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

If you have any other question or concern, feel free to contact us at your convenience. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to address your concerns.

Thank you. I would like to speak with you. My wife and I have been defrauded. I am a combat veteran, 90% disabled. My wife is pregnant with twins. We bought this because we were told it was an investment and that the points could be easily sold. I know many other members who would appreciate your help, like Eron, Sheila Richard and Gad mentioned in the article.

How many consumers need to contact DBPR to convince DBPR some timeshare sales agents in Florida are engaging in criminal practices?  Irene said Bluegreen has as many complaints as Diamond, but they have their own Advocacy Facebook.

Josh Parker

If you are having a timeshare nightmare, contact our Facebook or one of the non-industry influenced, self-help Facebooks and website listed below.

star

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 to all our contributors and we hope we see more positive results in the weeks ahead. If you would like to share your story with others, contact Inside Timeshare.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter and don’t eat all the eggs in one go!

easter egg

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to the Tuesday Slot with our very own Irene Parker, this week Irene explains the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook and what it stands for. Since its inception it has been growing its membership base on a daily basis, it is also becoming an influential force in US timeshare. But first a quick look at some news in Europe.

The UK news has been dominated recently by the death of a former Russian double agent and links to the murder of another Russian Businessman, but what has this to do with timeshare I hear you ask?

Well, according to the Daily Express and a story they published on Friday 23 March, police are also re-examining the murder of John “Goldfinger” Palmer, who many of you will remember from the Brinks Mat bullion robbery, but most of all for his timeshare empire in Tenerife.

John Palmer was found dead at his Essex home in June 2015, but it was not until around a week later they discovered he had been shot. According to the Express police are looking into his international associates, especially his connection with money laundering for a former associate of the Russian President. So the story of John Palmer continues, see link below for the Express story.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/936107/Russians-kill-John-Palmer-British-gangster-linked-Boris-Berezovsky-death-re-examined#

Once again Inside Timeshare warns readers of the fake law firms and claims companies that keep springing up. As always the call tells the owner their timeshare resort / company has been taken to court or are about to be taken to court, that there is a significant amount of money being held and just waiting to be paid out to them.

The next step is to have this money released, there is usually a tax that has to be paid to the court, or even that you need to get a Spanish NIE number, which they can get for you, obviously for a fee. Most of the time the money has to be paid by bank transfer to an account of a named individual. Don’t pay it!

If you are paying “tax” or costs for a service, you would not be paying into the account of a named person, would it not be the tax office, court or a named company?

Remember, once you have paid by bank transfer, the money will have disappeared and you will never get it back. Now for this weeks article from Irene.

What is the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook About?

advocate 1

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

By Irene Parker

March 27, 2018

A Comment on gun violence in America

There were a lot of voices being heard throughout America this past weekend, teens voicing their feelings about gun violence. Whether you are for or against their position, one can’t help but admire their courage, determination and persistence.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/march-for-our-lives-huge-crowds-gather-for-rally-against-gun-violence-in-nations-capital/2018/03/24/4121b100-2f7d-11e8-b0b0-f706877db618_story.html?utm_term=.6143e61d44d4

You can succumb to being a victim or you can use your experience to foster a greater good. Charles Thomas and I have listened to 366 US timeshare members express their anger since we began counting late 2016. We have received 101 US Diamond member complaints since January 1. Many of the families are outraged alleging they were sold by sales agents employing deceitful bait and switch tactics. Many members have been helped, but only after endless rebuttals, regulatory and law enforcement filings, and media outreach. Still, any timeshare company can just say no, knowing there is little timeshare regulation or enforcement.    

Inside Timeshare supports families through the 180 day foreclosure process. The vast majority of those going through this painful process are responsible citizens who have rarely been late paying a bill. The timeshare contract is perpetual, there is virtually no secondary market. There are DRI Facebooks that have some exchange of Diamond points from member to member. Families in foreclosure:

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

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

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

Greg Jennings: http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-15/

Roy Simmons: http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

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

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

Josh Parker: http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/

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

There are several others facing foreclosure who have not published an article. Three of the above are concerned about losing their Military/Law Enforcement Security Clearance. Four are disabled veterans, two 90% to 100% disabled.

Diamond Resorts has been responding to member complaints. About 100 of the 345 DRI complaints have been resolved through relinquishment, loan cancellation, refund or foreclosure. http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-37/

One advocacy silver lining is that members foreclosed do not have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Like America’s teens raising their voices demanding change, foreclosed members can remain outfront and vocal advocates.

What the Diamond Resort Owners Advocacy Facebook is not:

The Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook is not a complaint site. If members join only to express displeasure, they are better served by posting on Trustpilot or Tripadvisor. While venting may make a person feel better, ranting on a complaint site will do nothing to change what we feel are predatory and criminal business practices, as defined by the FBI. Sheilah Brust wrote this article about her experience reporting her complaint to the FBI. Sheilah can now advise others. Sheila has not signed a non-disclosure agreement. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-14/

There has been no response from ARDA challenging their Code of Ethics. Timeshare members need to research what the “Voluntary ARDA ROC “donation” is doing on their maintenance fee invoice.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group was launched by a small group of advocates that has grown to a solid group of 44 advocates concerned about the volume of timeshare complaints found on the internet directed against Wyndham, Bluegreen, Diamond Resorts, Vacation Village and a few others. The only timeshare that seems to have almost no complaints is Disney Vacation Club. TAG feels timeshare members should have a safe place to get straight answers about their timeshare concerns and be provided with assistance when regulatory and law enforcement fillings are called for.  

Book worm

We hope lessons learned by consumers who purchased a timeshare product they did not understand will reach the general public so  prospective timeshare buyers know what questions to ask before buying or upgrading a timeshare.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

Our Advocates are here for support. The only reasons for removing a member from our Diamond Resorts Advocacy Facebook are:

  1. A member will be removed if they are insulting or disrespectful to another member.
  2. If a transfer, listing agent, or “get you out of your timeshare guaranteed” company solicits a member, they will be immediately removed. Karen Krokosh wrote this article about her experience with Sell My Timeshare Now and is now researching member complaints of this nature. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

Members need to be aware that there have been reports of timeshare members being charged thousands of dollars for a guaranteed exit, only to learn the exit company considers foreclosure a guarantee. No one should sign up with anyone demanding upfront money, even an attorney, without checking with us because we have learned there are some lawyers with questionable business practices.

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

We support our members from their first Facebook post through resolution. This is our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

Inside Timeshare is part and parcel of the Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook. Timeshare Advocacy Group™  was formed hoping timeshare members will look beyond just their own timeshare company concerns. We feel there are some deceitful and predatory timeshare business practices so ingrained; they are endorsed and encouraged from the top levels of the management down to the person who responds with, “Sorry you signed a contract.” Checking with the FBI we have learned many of the complaints reported to Inside Timeshare meet the FBI’s definition of White Collar Crime – deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. See Sheilah’s article for more information about the FBI.

Other self-help Timeshare Support Groups, in our opinion, not industry influenced,

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

We don’t mind if industry insiders or Diamond employees join our Facebook as long as they are respectful. In fact, we encourage this hoping they will confront the serious problems we have uncovered. It would be great if we could all just get along. I have always said, “Half a problem goes away when confronted.”

happy kids

Thank you Irene and also a big thank you to all the volunteers who give up their time to help others, between us we are changing the face of timeshare.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other article published, or just need information about any company that has contacted you or you are thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome once again to Friday’s Letter from America, this week is Earth to ARDA, it is an open letter to Mr. Clements, Mr. Nusbaum and Mr. Roth, it is jointly written article by Eron Grant and Irene Parker. Inside Timeshare can also report that the US team have had three resolutions this week. Diamond  is Listening. So well done all the US volunteers.

justice2

This week has been a rather busy one for the courts in Spain, with three sentences from the Courts of First Instance, two from the High Courts and ruling number 90 from the Spanish Supreme Court.

Anfi have had three judgements against them this week two at the Court of First Instance and one at the High Court. In the first two, Court Number 3 at Maspalomas, GC found for the clients, declaring their contract with Anfi null and void. This case was highlighted in the Tuesday Slot with Irene on 6 March.

The second case, held at Court Number 4, again in Maspalomas, another Anfi member had their contract declared null and void. Ordering the return of over £15,000 plus legal interest.

In the High Court Number 5 in Las Palmas, the judge again declared an Anfi contract null and void, with the return of over £14,000 plus appeal legal fees and interest.

In the same court another timeshare company Airtours has had one of their contracts declared null and void, with the judge ordering the return of over 12,000€ plus legal interest.

At the Court of First Instance Number 4 in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, Club la Costa has been ordered to return over £19,000 including legal fees and legal interest. The contract was also declared null and void.

In the Spanish Supreme Court in Madrid, another historic ruling, bringing the total number made by the Highest Court to a whopping 90!

This was against the Tenerife operation Silverpoint, again the contract was declared null and void with the return of over £10,000 plus legal fees and interest. There will be full article on this and another Supreme Court ruling next week, so keep an eye on these pages.

All these case have been brought on behalf of the clients by the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, no doubt the clients and the lawyers will be celebrating this weekend.

cla-brochure

In other news, we had an enquiry into another company contacting Club Class members, this call was from a Madeline Swann of Gateway Services, apparently based in Telford. In the call she is telling the client that there is a payment due from the banks for being mis-sold his Club Class membership. All he needs to do is pay a certain amount by bank transfer to a Santander account to have the money released.

Haven’t we heard this one before?

On searching for this supposed company nothing came up, no company house records, nothing. So if you get a call from this Madeline Swann or anyone else saying they are from Gateway Service, do let us know. Remember, there will not be any money waiting for you from the banks or the courts.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

Protest photo

This photo was posted on a Diamond sponsored member Facebook page, but removed. If you see these members at a resort near you, please send them to:

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

Earth to ARDA: WE GIVE – ARDA ROC – A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. BLUEGREEN DOES TOO

TO: Robert Clements, Lobbyist and General Counsel, Regulatory Affairs,

Howard Nusbaum, ARDA CEO,

Peter Roth, media contact

From: American Resort Development Association‘s Code of Ethics:

According to ARDA’s website – “Vacation Ownership is one of the most highly regulated vacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.”

Inside Timeshare will be following Platinum Diamond members Roy and Lillian Simmons as they make their way through Vacation Ownership’s highly regulated industry. Mr. and Mrs. Simmons are worried about losing their home, up-sold at age 69 and 70 to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments. They are one of 23 Diamond Platinum members alleging they were fraudulently up-sold into financial disaster. Roy and Lillian Simmons first submitted their demands to Diamond’s Consumer Advocacy Department on January 8. Tuesday’s article describes what happened:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

Next, they filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau the end of February. The BBB closed their complaint in two days because a Diamond Hospitality agent from the Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department responded, “They signed a contract.” As Mr. Simmons describes on the YouTube, they were told Diamond shares were going to go up and split and they could make $3,000 to $4,000 a week renting Hawaii points because Hawaii points are so valuable. Mrs. Simmons is too devastated to have taken part in the YouTube production. Fortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Simmons have a daughter. On March 6, their daughter Angela filed a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov against three Diamond sales agents, one in Hawaii and two in Orlando. She also filed a complaint with the FTC. Today she will refile a complaint with the BBB again asking, “What?”

You can file a complaint with the weakened Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but since companies like Diamond and Bluegreen service the timeshare loan, members don’t even know the name of the lender unless the borrower has a lower credit score. Quorum Credit Union handles the lower score people. You have to select a lender from the CFPB drop-down menu. Timeshare companies are not an option.

Onward with complaints, they will file with the Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota and Nevada Attorneys General. The Florida Timeshare Division only acted on 110 out of 2,360 timeshare complaints from April 2012 to April 2014. Then there’s the state real estate division in Florida and Hawaii against Diamond’s Hawaii sales agent John Jessup and Florida sales agent Rafael Carerra.

If Diamond won’t help them, it’s possible the Simmons will lose not only their vacation points, but also their home, according to their daughter Angela. Angela said the $2,700 a month Diamond loan is a significant portion of their retirement income. It’s doubtful any of the filings will have an effect. Angela is surprised all of this is like a ten hour a week part time job.

Like Kevin and Brenda Hopkins, the Simmons are supported by Whistleblowers of America, an organization dedicated to seeking justice for military and government workers.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Kevin and Brenda Hopkins describe their extraordinary sales pitch:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-39/

Some Peasants Revolt

By Eron Grant and Irene Parker

Friday March 9, 2018

meeting in office

Mr. Clements, Mr. Nusbaum and Mr. Roth,

We are educated professionals, two among thousands demanding accountability, transparency and respect. Two of 44 Timeshare Advocacy Group™ advocates who have listened to 326 Diamond members allege predatory sales tactics that has caused financial disaster for hundreds of families, the possible loss of Military Security Clearances, ruined vacations, ruined honeymoons, damaged credit reports, members alleging they were over promised and oversold on availability, the ability to sell points, pay maintenance fees with programs that do not exist, the ability to rent points and the ability to lower interest rates, as in the case of Active Duty Navy members Amanda and George Jones. http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

Lawmakers are beginning to listen, a few Attorneys Generals are listening (not Florida or Nevada), regulators are listening, and the FBI is listening. ARDA is not listening.     

Sure, there are 9 million happy timeshare owners who own and enjoy their timeshare. They might not have been affected by a life crisis, only to learn their timeshare has no secondary market, or been sold or up-sold by a deceitful bait and switch. By your own accounting, 83% of timeshare owners are happy. That leaves 1,530,000 members that are not happy. Over 900 Diamond members complained to the Arizona Attorney General’s office accusing Diamond and their sales agents of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act. Complaints to our Advocacy Group have not diminished since Arizona Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. The AOD is linked at the bottom of the press release.

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

Early complainers consisted of over 1,000 British Diamond members crying foul.

DRIP Enjin: http://drip.enjin.com/

Our Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy Facebook launched by an economics professor has over 1,000 members. It’s hard to find Disney Vacation Club complaints.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

Here’s what happened to Mark and Eron   

YouTube produced by Doctor and Ms. Mark Grant

Our Timeshare Nightmare of a Lifetime

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FMk_45zRzk&feature=youtu.be

My husband Mark and I have kids. We are working professionals. We said we need to travel close to home. Our Diamond sales agents said, “No problem!” Grapevine, Texas Great Wolf Lodge sounded great! It was a bait and switch….

Most people don’t pull their kids out of school to take them to Great Wolf Lodge, so we searched Friday to Monday three nights:

April 6 – 9 Family Suite (6)

19,700 DRI points required @ $.22.5 maintenance fee $ = $4,432 for three nights.

As opposed to Booking.com April 6 – 9 Family Suite

 $819.97

101.67 ($33.89 per night service fee)

106.59 (13% tax)

$1,028.23 for three nights

This is not an ARDA’s Code of Ethics concern? I ask again:    

red dress

What ARDA Code of Ethics?

The ARDA Code of Ethics was designed to encourage an honest and fair competitive landscape for the vacation ownership industry, while upholding the highest forms of integrity, dignity and propriety.

Let’s review this Code. I actually read it.

Code of Ethics: Frequently Asked Questions

Question:  Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Answer:  ARDA and its members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation ownership. To demonstrate that commitment, all ARDA members as a condition of membership must agree to comply with the ARDA Code of Ethics. The Code consists of not only general conduct requirements, but also specific requirements for members to adhere to when transacting with consumers, standards for disclosure of information to the public, rules regarding resort management, base guidelines for resale activities, as well as administrative procedures for interpretation and enforcement of the Code.

Note from Eron and Irene: Diamond points have no resale activity. We think this is something a consumer might like to know before signing a perpetual contract.

Question:

What can be done to a (an ARDA) member whose actions are in violation of the Code?

Answer:  If a member is determined to be in violation of the Code (of Ethics), ARDA may take the following actions:

  • Privately or Publicly Admonish the Member
  • Prepare a Letter of Censure
  • Place the Member on Probation
  • Suspend the Member from ARDA Membership
  • Terminate the Member from ARDA Membership

Note from Eron: In addition to Diamond members giving ARDA ROC a million dollars a year, Diamond President Ken Siegel sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors. Diamond members are billed $7 for a “voluntary opt-out” donation from members who in all likelihood cannot even tell you what ARDA ROC stands for. I know I had no clue what the letters ARDA ROC stand for.    

Question:  Who do I contact if I have questions about the Code?

Answer: After reviewing the provisions of the ARDA Ethics Code, if you have questions, please call 407-245-7601 and ask to speak to the ARDA Ethics Administrator, or e-mail [email protected].

Note from Eron: After waiting 4 months for a response from Julie Schwartz (not Lobbyist and General Counsel Robert Clements because he would not take my call), I’m not feeling optimistic about making a phone call to ARDA’s Ethics Administrator. The fact you have to email customer service is not a good sign.

Note from Advocate Irene: I have sent ARDA about 100 of our most grievous complaints from Diamond Resorts members, seniors in fear of losing their home, military members in fear of losing their Security Clearance, alleging they were victims of fraud for profit. Not a word other than through the timeshare grapevine, “She’s writing articles for people.” No I’m not. I edit articles submitted to Inside Timeshare.

Inside Timeshare has received 340 reader complaints, 78 since January 1. Our Diamond Advocacy Facebook page has over 1,000 members, Bluegreen members’ Facebook 800 (they are trying to keep their membership below 800).

Question: Does ARDA support the consumer?

In our opinion, only when the issue at stake is in line with developer’s wishes. One Advocacy Group banned ARDA from attending their meetings after a 2015 Florida bill was passed making it more difficult to get out of timeshare contracts due to nonmaterial errors.  

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-roc-donation-in-maintenance-bill

If the wishes diverge, lobby dollars go to work:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html

Question:  What does ARDA do with the information it receives from the general public regarding the potentially unethical conduct of its members?

Note from Eron: Nothing – My non-response from Julie Schwartz, ARDA-ROC Consumer Support representative serves as an example:

Answer:  ARDA does not mediate or arbitrate individual disputes between consumers and ARDA member companies. When we receive information regarding a potential violation of the Code we forward those complaints to the company for their consideration and resolution.

Note from Eron:  Who sits on your board and gives you a million dollars a year.

It is then up to the respective parties to resolve any potential dispute. Information submitted by the public may be used by ARDA to act against members when there is a consistent pattern of business practices that are in violation of the code.

Note from Eron: What about the 900 Diamond members who complained to the Arizona Attorney General? Better Business Bureau lists over 1,000 complaints.

Don and Irene Parker’s Diamond experience:

Like Eron, we purchased points for a specific location, New York City. Our daughter lives there. Like Eron, we learned it would cost approximately $8,500 in  Diamond maintenance fee dollars to stay one week at the same hotel, same time for $950 through an online booking service. I checked year round.

Next, we attended a predatory sales presentation at Diamond’s Grand Beach in Orlando. I spent three decades in sales selling everything from pianos to stocks and bonds. I know a predatory sales agent when I meet one. Thoroughly disgusted, we went back to our room at Mystic Dunes, turned on the television, and saw the Queen of Versailles, a FOX News Property Man segment about Jackie and David Siegel, the owners of Westgate timeshare building their 90,000 square foot home. We were in the process of moving from Kentucky to Venice Florida, so it just seemed natural to write an article called “The peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles” describing wealth out of touch with reality.

http://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

One true benefit of owning Diamond points has been developing relationships with other professionals, over 1,000 of us, who have bonded together like a band of brothers and sisters, to fight widespread timeshare corruption we feel is so ingrained in the timeshare industry, it is accepted and considered normal, kind of like #metoo or sexual abuse, as happened at Michigan State. Look how long that went on.

At least timeshare members are finding each other now, no longer silenced and isolated. When timeshare members need a voice, they can contact Inside Timeshare. We can help.

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/

 

If you need any information about this or any other article, company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or advertising in the press, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

It pays to do your homework and due diligence before engaging with any company, not all are what the say.

Have a great weekend and join us next week.

weekend

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

This week’s Tuesday Slot with Irene has been submitted by Angela Simmons Sandstede, as you will see the story of what her parents have been through is not a happy one, it is another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”.

First some European timeshare news.

Yesterday, the Court of First Instance Number 3 in Maspalomas announced yet another Anfi Contract null and void, the judge sitting on the trial was new and this was his first ever timeshare case. He awarded the UK clients £11,923 for the purchase price along with £13,248 for double the deposit paid within the cooling off period. The clients have also been awarded their legal fees and legal interest. Again this judge was following the rulings by the Supreme Court.

The case was brought on behalf of these clients by Canarian Legal Alliance, the lawyer representing them is one of their newest and youngest lawyers Eduardo Álamo, who only obtained his law degree in 2014, he then went on to study extra courses in 2015 and became a member of the Las Palmas Bar Association in 2016. Definitely a lawyer to keep an eye on.

eduardo

Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been receiving enquiries about a company called RSB Legal, these readers have paid this company for relinquishment and to lodge a claim on a no win no fee basis. Unfortunately they are are unable to contact them.

In another twist it has just come to light that another company Stanton Mortimer which we believe are linked to RSB run by Ricky Walker, Kevin Walker, Kevin O’Connor and Matt Lowe have now shut down and seem to have disappeared with many clients making criminal complaints.

RSB have also been the subject of many discussion forums, the one below goes back to late 2016.

http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5510732#topofpage

If you have dealt with either of these companies contact Inside Timeshare and we will give you information on what you can do.

Now for this weeks article.

March 4 – 10 is NOT Consumer Protection Week for Timeshare Members – Part I

An Extraordinary Diamond Investment Opportunity that Wasn’t

Part II – Friday “Earth to ARDA” by Eron Grant

couple

By Angela Simmons Sandstede on behalf of my parents

Please help my Mom and Dad Diamond Resorts, AARP, ARDA, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, and Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin

March 6, 2018

I am writing this article because my mom and dad had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. When my mom, who is diabetic, started slipping into a diabetic sugar shock during a sales presentation, the Diamond “Hospitality” representative at Mystic Dunes, Randy Siegel, told my parents to sign papers to lock in a price per point. What they really signed October 2017 was a purchase agreement to buy a Sampler (trial) package for $3,995. They already owned 78000 points. Why would they need a trial program? Diamond refunded all but the down payment. For this they had to sign an NDA? But guess what – this was nothing compared to what happened next. If you do the math, there is no alleged about what happened.  

Roy and Lillian Simmons, ages 69 and 70, Minnesota residents

My dad is a Navy Veteran

Our YouTube: You have to listen to the YouTube for this to make sense

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

My parents, Roy and Lillian Simmons, had been loyal and happy Diamond Platinum members for almost 20 years. By 2014 they had purchased three or four US Collection Diamond vacation point packages ending up with 27000 US Collection points. In 2014 they bought 25000 Hawaii points transferring their US Collection points to the Hawaii Collection now owning 52000 Hawaii points. Everything was fine up to this point.  

The horror began in 2015 when they were told they needed to transfer from the Hawaii Collection to the US Collection, buying 25000 more points for $151,192.  Now they owned 77000 US Collection points. Why back to the US Collection?

In Orlando Florida Diamond sales agent Rafael Cabrera told my parents they should not have bought Hawaii points. They were transferred from the Hawaii Collection back to the US Collection. The reasons:

  • Maintenance fees will go up because Hawaii is so expensive
  • They have hurricanes in Hawaii so they can have special assessments

March 31, 2016 they went to Diamond’s Ka’anapali Beach Resort in Hawaii. There they met with DRI sales agent John Jessup. Mr. Jessup told my parents they should transfer the US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection to take advantage of a remarkable investment opportunity my dad described on our YouTube. It was remarkable, but it didn’t exist.

Transferring 77000 US Collection points back to the Hawaii Collection involved a weird 1000 Hawaii point purchase and transfer fee costing $32,840 or over $32 per point. You have to buy some points to transfer from one side of the ocean to the other. In other words, they were charged $32,433 for the non-existent investment opportunity. Diamond points, according to member reports, sell for $3 to $4 per point. Sales agents are quick to point out the list price is $9 going up to $11.     

According to my dad, he was told:

“Hawaii real estate is so valuable! Diamond can’t buy any more property. The “shares” are going to split! You can double your profits! You can get $3000 or $4000 a week for renting out your points!” said Mr. Jessup. “Being able to pay for maintenance fees and rent points is what sold us,” explained Mr. Simmons.

“I don’t know anything about Hawaii special assessments?” Mr. Jessup added.  

http://www.poipuowners.org/News.html

YOU CAN’T SELL OR RENT DIAMOND POINTS UNLESS YOU RENT TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY. DIAMOND DOES NOT ALLOW RENTING FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES. THERE IS NO SECONDARY MARKET FOR DIAMOND POINTS.

My parents are about to lose their house over this! Their monthly Diamond loan payment is $2,750 per month.  

My mom and dad live mostly on my dad’s pension from the US Post office plus Social Security. My mom teaches piano part time. My dad works part time as a substitute in a school kitchen. They were able to manage 52000 points before the last fraudulent up-sell but can in no way afford 78000 DRI points.

Three Barclay cards were opened – two in my mom’s name and one in my dad’s name to charge the down payment. The interest rate jumped to 13.9% for the Hawaii points, but was 9% or 10% previously. When filling out the Barclaycard application, the sales agent crossed off with a black marker all their credit card/Diamond loan expense information, I assume so they would qualify. “We don’t need that information. We just need your home mortgage and car,” he said. I just found this out as well. Mr. Jessup also suggested my dad pay off the Diamond loan by taking the money out of his retirement plan. “I worked as a Financial Advisor. This would only be an 8 to 9% penalty,” Mr. Jessup advised. When my dad spoke to a real Financial Advisor, he was told taking money out of his government retirement plan would have cost over 40% in taxes and penalty.  

My mom is so stressed over this pathetic attempt to make them STAY VACATIONED she is losing her health and so upset she could not participate in our You Tube. Her sugar levels are worse, affected by stress.

Through Social Media I have learned this “ping pong” upsell is a common and deceptive false claim – sales agents working for the same company telling members you should not have bought this or that collection, depending on what side of the Pacific Ocean you are on. You don’t have to be a senior citizen to get confused about the back and forth transfer up-sells.

hands in hand

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

Diamond at first acted like they cared. I reached out to Diamond Resorts Consumer Advocacy January 8, 2018. They asked for income verification because of the up-sell dispute. My dad sent income verification three times, but they couldn’t find it even though it was faxed. Each time Diamond’s hospitality agent would say they didn’t receive it, but then would say they did. Then they told my parents they were making over $100,000 a year. My parents did not even make that much money when my dad worked for the US Post Office.

A Better Business Bureau report was filed the end of February. A few days after filing, the Better Business Bureau closed out the complaint because Diamond responded, “They signed a contract.”

The FBI advised a recent Diamond member, those who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in addition to filing at IC3.gov and orally through the FBI’s public access line calling your local FBI field office (#4 then prompt #3 white-collar crimes). Contact Inside Timeshare if you have questions.

With all the complaints Inside Timeshare is receiving and passing over to the US team, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Irene and her other volunteers are inundated with formulating complaints ready for filing with the FBI, as we get results we will be informing you on these pages.

Remember, if you don’t know what to do whether it is similar to the above story, or you have been contacted by any company or just found a company on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice available. It will also help if you let us know if you are US or European based, this way we can point you to right team.

us-eu-coop

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

THE FBI FOCUSES ON SCAMS TARGETING THE ELDERLY

WHY TIMESHARE BUYERS NEED TO REPORT ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD

Reported 22/2/18

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/elder-fraud-charges-announced

All of the schemes have one goal: to trick and deceive senior citizens into turning over their hard-earned savings.

A coordinated law enforcement action aimed at those who prey on senior citizens has resulted in charges against more than 250 subjects who collectively victimized more than one million mostly elderly Americans.

“The Justice Department and its partners are taking unprecedented, coordinated action to protect elderly Americans from financial threats, both foreign and domestic,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “Today’s actions send a clear message. We will hold perpetrators of elder fraud schemes accountable wherever they are.”

Using a variety of scams, criminals charged in the nationwide sweep caused losses of more than $600 million. The cases, which spanned the globe and claimed victims in every U.S. state, include criminal, civil, and forfeiture actions and were coordinated through local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and international partners.

Elder fraud “is a serious and growing threat,” said David Bowdich, acting deputy director of the FBI, who attended a press conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., with other federal law enforcement partners to announce the results of the nationwide sweep and to encourage victims to come forward.

Last year, the FBI opened more than 200 financial crime cases that involved elderly victims, Bowdich said. The investigations covered a range of crimes, from investment frauds to reverse mortgage scams. Often, the cases involved “outright theft by people the victim should have been able to trust, to include their attorneys, financial advisers, and, even more egregious, their guardians and caregivers.”

Ten Testimonies from Rick Casper Customers

#10 A surprise $170,000  1099c this tax season

Elder Abuse Part II

Elder Abuse Part I by Gay Hart-Brewer

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-38/

Gay’s Story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99xK55mTZRo&feature=youtu.be

Consumer Protection Week March 4 – 10

Rick Casper said there was a meeting and the new people that bought Diamond (Apollo Global Management) said since there were so many members wanting to sell back points, Diamond was now allowing this, but in order for us to sell our points back to DRI we would need to buy more points.

The new payment is $2,276.05 and almost equals our net income

The old payment on the Hawaii points was $413.

Retired Army, age 69, taught 21 years biological, nuclear and chemical defense

Roy Simmons, another veteran speaks out about timeshare sales

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

Rick Casper complaints reported to Timeshare Advocacy Group™

By Irene Parker  

February 27, 2018  

Inside Timeshare has received 315 Diamond Resorts complaints since we began counting late 2016. Ten are Rick Casper complaints. Inside Timeshare reached out to Diamond Resorts for comment but they did not respond. ARDA has been copied on all serious allegations reminding them of their Code of Ethics. ARDA has never responded. Diamond members donate $1 million a year in “voluntary” “opt out” donations on maintenance fee invoices to ARDA ROC. When questioned, not one member could tell me what ARDA ROC even stands for.  

The FBI has advised us, timeshare buyers who feel they were a victim of bait and switch of a serious nature (like the members reports in today’s article allege), to file a complaint at IC3.gov and to file a complaint orally by contacting their local FBI field office (prompt #4, then prompt #3 white-collar crimes)

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

rick casper

Rick Casper

Danny Wolfer

We begin with number ten, the most recent Rick Casper complaint, because this complaint is particularly timely as April 15 looms, the deadline to pay income taxes in the US. When a loan is forgiven it is reported as “forgiven debt”, a form of income, so Mr. Wolfer’s $170,000 1099c is worrisome, to put  it mildly.

A lawyer I spoke with, who asked not to be identified, said you can negotiate with the timeshare company as part of the settlement, not to issue a 1099c. In this case Mr. Wolfer worked through one of those “get you out of your timeshare” companies, but I can find very little about the firm he worked with and their website was not accessible. Foreclosure might have been the better choice. I’m not an accountant, but according to Creditcards.com, there are six exceptions to paying income taxes on forgiven income. Timeshare debt is not one of them.   

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/1099-c-tax-form-questions-answers-1282.php

Timeshare Master Closers typically earn $1 to $2 million per year in income. As a former stockbroker, I am not against earning and gathering great wealth, but not in a fashion described by those listed below. I will believe a veteran or an active member of the military or law enforcement over a timeshare sales agent any day. We have referred 31 active duty military, served, or retired military and members of law enforcement to Whistleblowers of America, an organization dedicated to seeking justice for military and government workers. http://insidetimeshare.com/tag/whistleblowers-of-america/

Ten Rick Casper complaints

#45 (10) Danny Wolfer, age 70, 100% disabled, Vietnam veteran

(2/23/18 complaint) The first #, #45, is the order Rick Casper appears in 45 Polo Towers/Cancun Resorts Las Vegas complaints directed against several agents. The second number is 1 – 10 Rick Casper Complaints.

In 2016 we went to Vegas and stayed at Cancun resort. We met with Rick Casper. We were already platinum members at 50,000 points but Mr. Casper said if we could do this upgrade it was possible to use our points to pay the maintenance fees, but maintenance fees increased after the upgrade from $5000 to $16,000. I had been in the hospital with congestive heart failure so not thinking clearly and we were kept for five hours. When we got home we realized what happened. Rick Casper said it would cost $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take a year to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it.

I ended up paying a company $1500 in Branson MO that helps get people out of time shares, which they did; but now DRI has issued me a 1099c which has to be claimed as income. It’s for around $170,000. I’m 71 years old. I feel like they (Rick Casper and the “get you out of your timeshare company”) took advantage of me. I would have been better off foreclosing.

#1 (1) Age 68 Coast Guard veteran Platinum upsell by Rick Casper:   We had purchased eight DRI contracts, disputing only the last upsell because Rick Casper told us he would sell points for us if we had to, but we had to purchase these last additional points. We asked if we could combine the nine contracts for easier accounting. Rick Casper advised us not to combine contracts as it would be easier for him to sell in small lots like, for example, when people want to upgrade from gold to platinum. Gold is 30,000 points and Platinum is 50,000 points. We purchased 20,000 points July 2016 for $55,200. When we attempted to contact Rick Casper the email went to DRI VP Dan Percy who said Rick Casper is not receiving emails. (Almost resolved so not identified) http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

#8 (2) A stage 4 cancer victim was told to buy more points by Rick Casper as they would be able to sell the points to help pay for medical bills and Rick Casper told us he would be able to help sell them. (Resolved after numerous rebuttals)

#13 Age 60 (3) $117,000 loan – December 29, 2016 – Rick Casper said DRI never allowed you to sell points. This will allow you to sell points. He knows real estate people to get $5 on resale for DRI points. New members are paying $9 so if you buy at $4 it is easy to sell. He had contacts he could set us up with. We were given Rick’s personal email at the sales presentation. Rick Casper said only Legacy owners can sell points. When we attempted to contact Rick Casper he said he could no longer use his personal email and that VP Dan Percy would handle us from now on. (Resolved)

#14 Age 69 Gulf War veteran disabled (4) $142,000 Loan – Couple did not know until they returned home that Rick Casper January 22, 2017 had sold them $142,000 worth of DRI points and had charged $17,000 to a Barclaycard for the down payment. (Resolved) http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

#17 Age 61 (5) my complaints are against Rick Casper. I told Mr. Casper April 2016 I was not able to use all the points I had because I lost my best friend I used to travel with and no longer desired to travel like I did before. I had 50,000 Diamond points prior to meeting with Mr. Casper. I explained I owned more points than I can use. He told me the 50,000 points I currently owned were worthless but if I bought an additional 25,000 points I would be able to sell any of my points for $2 to $4 per point. He called this an exit strategy. Mr. Casper said on at least four occasions I was eligible for a “Pool Party” upgrade that would provide an exit strategy. He said the program was about to expire so I needed to write a sentence that said I wanted to do this and he would get the purchase approved. I never received a copy of the sentence. The purpose of the purchase, according to Mr. Casper, was to make my existing points more valuable. Mr. Casper went on to explain that this exit strategy would allow me to monitor and sell points. He mentioned that he is a family man and does not want to pass his points and maintenance fees on to his kids. He repeated several times “this is your exit strategy”.  I was referred to VP Dan Percy who said he would get back to me. (Resolved)

#20 Age 66 (6) $75,000 July 2016

Sales agent Rick Casper

Mr. Casper said on at least four occasions I was eligible for a “Pool Party” upgrade that would provide an exit strategy. He said the program was about to expire so I needed to write a sentence that said I wanted to do this and he would get the purchase approved. I never received a copy of the sentence. The purpose of the purchase, according to Mr. Casper, was to make my existing points more valuable. Mr. Casper went on to explain that this exit strategy would allow me to monitor and sell the points. He mentioned that he is a family man and does not want to pass his points and maintenance fees on to his kids. (Resolved)

#21 Samuel Melendez Age 69 (7) October 2016

Army veteran, 21 years taught biological, chemical and nuclear defense

http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

I am asking for our loan to be cancelled for our last purchase of 107,500 points from Rick Casper at Polo Towers. We previously purchased 50,000 Hawaii points in November 2016 and had no complaints with Diamond.  Having bought point three times we did not expect a Diamond sales agent would outright lie.

In Las Vegas at Polo Towers we met with Rick Casper and told him we were afraid of passing our points on to our children. Rick Casper said there was a meeting and the new people that bought Diamond (Apollo Global Management ) said since there were so many members wanting to sell back points, Diamond was now allowing this, but in order for us to sell our points back to DRI we would need to buy more points. He said we would have to pay off the loan before Diamond would buy our points back. He said he had to transfer our Hawaii points to the US Collection points.

Mr. Casper said to put down that our income was $120,000 each on the loan application. I said that was not true. Rick Casper said to put it down anyway. I asked Mr. Casper if I would need to pay the maintenance fees. He said we would not have to worry about that. After we got home we received a bill for $17,500 for maintenance fees. He did not explain that the $15,000 would be placed on the Barclaycard which was put on Delores (age 81) card.

November 2015 50,000 points purchased for $121,650 in Hawaii

10/21/2016 $163,525 for 107,500 points purchased from Rick Casper

Down Payment $15,000 Amount financed $151,078.93

Equity from 65,000 points transferred from US $128,196

Loan Balance: $143,931.27 as of October 2017

The new payment is $2,276.05 and almost equals our net income

The old payment on the Hawaii points was $413

#22 age 56 (8) $132,000 August 2017

Sales agent Rick Casper

“The main benefit that he presented was the ability to convert points directly into cash at $0.30 per point. If at any time during the year we had leftover points we could be reimbursed for those points in cash.  All we had to do was contact Dan Percy and he would process the transaction and put the money on our reloadable Visa card.” I continued to ask questions about each benefit so that I would be certain.  I worded questions differently to see if I would get the same answer.  I threw out this scenario; “If at the end of the year I have 30,000 points still sitting in my account, you’re telling me that I can get reimbursed cash for these points at $0.30 per point.”  His response; “Absolutely – You contact Dan Percy and he will load $9,000 onto the Visa card.” We purchased 40,000 points to get us to the level of “Super Platinum”. (Resolved)

#44 (9) Referred by one of the 1 – 10 above supposed to call us soon.

We seek to provide Diamond Resort 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/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

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

Timeshare Advocacy Group™Members Helping Members tired of “Kind Regards”

aa

Inside Timeshare receives on a daily basis complaints such as this, not just from the US but also from Europe, these type of sales practices need to end. The timeshare industry is destroying itself, if this keeps up there will no longer be an industry.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other article published, or you just need some advice on any company that has contacted you or even thinking of doing business with, then contact Inside Timeshare for the best advice available.