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Litigious Abogados

beware scammers

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams

Today we look at how timeshare scams have changed over the years, from the original sales to resale, holiday clubs and now for claims. You will be surprised at how they have developed, we will also give you some useful information on what to look for when either searching the web or being contacted.

When timeshare was first being marketed on a large scale during the 1980’s and the boom years of the 1990’s the most common scam was known as the “hole in the ground”. This is where the unsuspecting tourist while on holiday was picked up off the street by the touts with the scratch cards, taken to a resort with a sales deck and subjected to a rather lengthy presentation.

Nothing new there, the difference with this presentation was that the resort the potential client was at, was not what was being sold. That resort had not yet been built, it was in the planning stage, the client was being offered to buy “off-plan”.

off plan

These apartments and weeks would be sold at a discounted price, for example a studio may go for around £2,500, much cheaper than the ones on the resort they were visiting. Many signed up for these timeshares, only to find out later that the resort was never actually built, the marketing company had disappeared along with their money.

It was then towards the end of the 1990’s that the resale market began, many timeshares were sold on the basis that they were real estate, you were buying a portion of the bricks and mortar, so it would go up in value.

One of the early resale scams was started and run by the infamous Toni Muldoon from the Costa del Sol. He had a string of companies, one was known as Platinum Properties.

The scam played on greed, owners would be cold called and asked if they had thought about selling their timeshare. The pitch was very simple, there is a shortage of new timeshares and the prices of second hand ones was increasing due to demand.

The unsuspecting owners would be asked what they owned and what they had paid, the callers would then explain that those were in high demand and fetching very good prices. For example, an owner would say they paid around £5,000 for theirs, yes you guessed it, they would be told that those were now going for about £7,000 on the resale market and going up in value.

Now for only £1,500 Platinum Properties would list this for you, if they were not able to sell this within the 12 months of the contract, the deposit would be returned. That deposit would also be returned once the sale had gone through, as the buyer would pay all the costs. Many took up this offer and that was the last they ever heard from the company again.

Eventually Toni Muldoon was caught and received a 2 year sentence which was then suspended, he was eventually jailed in the UK for other non-timeshare related scams and has been release on parole. He has now set up 2 websites, one relating to timeshare (claims) the other called Scam-Busters. The question is can a leopard change its spots?

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His business became the model for all the other resale companies that sprang up during the early 2000’s.

The next incarnation of the resale scam was the classic “bait and switch”, this is where the client was told they had a buyer for the timeshare, usually a “corporate buyer”. All the seller needed to do was visit the resale office on the Costa del Sol or wherever and attend a meeting with the buyer.

But, there was no buyer, the meeting was a presentation for one of the new Discount Holiday Clubs. These were the  new way to holiday, free from the yearly and rising costs of maintenance fees. The pitch was they would take over your timeshare leaving you maintenance free, but to do this you had to buy a membership to their club. Again these varied in price depending on the length of the membership.

Those prices were obviously inflated, as they would then give a massive discount to take into account the price of your timeshare. For instance, the owner would be told that a 10 year membership would cost £15,900 but they would give you £6,500 for the timeshare, leaving the cost of membership at £9,400.

Another twist to this was the cashback scheme, this was a voucher made out for a large sum to cover the cost of the timeshare plus some of the membership fee, that had to be registered and in 36 months or so you would go through the reclaim procedure and receive at least 75% of the certificate value.

cashback

Incentive Leisure Group and their Designer Way Vacation Club along with Club Class Concierge were the major players in this particular scheme. Both eventually were wound up by the UK authorities.

The next system to emerge was based on the above, this time they were leisure credits, which “could” be used to get discounts on all sorts of goods and services, not just holidays. The same tactic was used, get the client to a meeting and the only way to get out of the timeshare was to purchase the leisure credits and join our scheme!

The most well known are EZE Group, whose owners are awaiting sentence at Birmingham Crown Court and Monster Credits. The latter is now under investigation by the Police after raids by Trading Standards.

We now move to the latest in this long list of innovative frauds, the claims business.

Since the first Supreme Court ruling in March 2015, these have mushroomed, they take on many various forms, from fake law firms to claims management companies.

The pitch varies from firm to firm but one thing is clear, everyone has a case and can claim!

The most sophisticated fraud is one Inside Timeshare has been following for over 2 years, the group of “Fake” law firms we have called the Litigious Abogados family operating out of Tenerife.

Theirs involves clients being told the case has been filed and they can be part of it, all they need to do is pay a certain amount and they will be included in the case being heard within the next month. All the documents look very convincing, even down to very good fake court documents. For more on this search for Litigious Abogados.

There are also many firms operating out of the UK, these are offering “no win no fee” claims, but in order to do this you need to have your timeshare contract cancelled, known as relinquishment. This involves a fee, this can be anything from £4,000 to £8,000 depending on the company. (Beware of this, many have found that after 3 years or so they end up getting demands for maintenance arrears).

sec 75

Once you have paid for the contract to be cancelled, then they will file a claim on the “no win no fee” basis. This does not involve a court case, (once your contract has been cancelled, you cannot take the case to court), it is a Section 75 under the Credit Consumer Act 1974. As you can imagine this is not going to work, the credit card company will deny the payment stating that you have had use of the product and therefore are not eligible.

Section 75 covers, not received the goods or services paid for, company has gone bankrupt, fraudulent transactions. This would not cover the misselling of timeshare, the contract can only be declared illegal in a court and at present the laws only apply to timeshares purchased in Spain.

Now, it can be very difficult to decide which company is genuine and which is not, this is where you need to do your homework.

Some very basic tips are, how long has the company been registered, this can be found out by doing a company search, this will also tell you if they have changed name. If the company has only been registered for say 1 year, then how do they account for their claims of helping hundreds of people, especially if they have testimonials dated several years before they were registered. Also just because a company has a registration, that does not prove they are genuine, anyone can register a company for very little outlay.

Another factor is the officers of the company, the director and secretary, these may be just front people, not the actual owners of the company.

What about the website? Who is it registered to and when was it registered?

whois

Some websites are registered under privacy registrations, these are using a privacy company to register the site for the person. This should set the alarm bells ringing, what have they got to hide?

Payment methods is also a very useful giveaway, any genuine company should have credit card facilities, at least that way you are covered if anything does go wrong. Do not use your card via any method such as PayPal, this is a third party and invalidates your rights under Section 75.

Companies using only bank transfers should be viewed with caution, especially if the transfer is to be made in the name of a private individual. Steer well clear of any company that asks for payment by any other means such as Western Union.

These are just the very basic rules, if in doubt do not do anything, if you require any help in checking the validity of any company that contacts you or one you have found while searching the internet, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember do your homework and keep your hard earned cash safe!

homework

sermon-o-what-a-tangled-web

A Tangled Web!

This first piece of information from one of our readers, (although the same information has been received in the past), concerns the “FAKE” law firm in Tenerife Abogados Canarias, part of the ongoing fraud known as the Litigious Abogados family.

This particular reader had been contacted by this outfit with news that their timeshare company was being taken to court (as usual), that they could be part of this action. All they needed to do was pay a fee for the procurator to file their case with the rest.

abogados-canarias-logo

Luckily this reader decided to search the internet about this “law firm”, lo and behold found the article published here on Inside Timeshare, they then contacted us for further information, which as usual we gave free of charge.

We even warned them that this “FAKE” law firm would say that Inside Timeshare are the scammers! Not bad considering none of our readers are ever charged for any information or help given.

Well they decided to accept the return call as arranged, Yes you guessed it, they told the reader exactly what we had warned. They even told them that they had taken Inside Timeshare to court SIX TIMES last year!

Well myself and my lawyers memories must be going, as we can’t remember going to court ONCE, let alone SIX times.

Just to let you know at Abogados Canarias, all information supplied by our readers has and will be passed to the authorities to augment the denuncia made in February 2017 against your original “FAKE” law firms!

Another piece of interesting information has been supplied by our readers, this time it is concerning Diamond Resorts, it would appear that they are upsetting many of their members. (Well nothing new there!)

It now transpires that any members family using as guests, below that of Platinum is going to have to pay to use the WiFi, Swimming pool and other facilities on the European sites!

Apparently, the cost for using the pool is around £6 per day per person, not going to be a cheap holiday then, considering the extortionate maintenance fees associated with Diamond. It makes you wonder why you pay the high cost of membership in the first place along with the ongoing annual fees, when this happens?

Also is this just another ploy to “Upgrade” members to Platinum?

give us money

According to the information provided, it has nothing to do with Apollo, as they are only an “Investment Company” and has nothing to do with the day to day running of Diamond!

Hang on they Own Diamond, surly anything that Diamond management do which upsets the members, bringing bad publicity to the public eye, will have a detrimental effect on the share prices and thus on the “Investment”?

Well, all we can say is, timeshare is not the great thing is used to be, it has become nothing more than a money making machine that does not care about you the member. After all they got your money to join, they now get your money each year and if they can find another way to get more of it, they will!

We now move on to Silverpoint with another update.

We published recently the article on Centaurus Mediation SL, contacting Silverpoint members offering a relinquishment service, it also seemed that they were using the members data supplied by Silverpoint. We also stated that there was another company which had also been set up but no name had yet come forth.

The latest information provided by yet another reader is that Excel have taken the marketing contract from Silverpoint due to their bad practices. (Something we have known for years).

Apparently this was told to our reader by a representative from another company called Aspirantco, which we believe is part owned by Excel.

Excel is the management company behind all the resorts.

Aspirantco SL was registered 23/08/2017 with the company address given as Avda San Francisco 6 – Centro Comercial Pasarela, 38640 – (Arona) – Santa Cruz De Tenerife. The registered administrator is named as Carl Alan Jenkins, who is believed to have worked with Mark Cushway and Silverpoint for around 10 years. With the sales office apparently located at Port Royale another resort run by Excel and across the road from the Beverly Hills Club.

(Below is the PDF link to company details)

ASPIRANTCO SL, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE

Could this be the one?

From other information supplied Mr Jenkins is also Project Director for a Tenerife Real Estate Company called Homes Under the Sun, which does not appear to have any known ties with the timeshare industry.

Further information has been uncovered on 12 companies in the UK where Mark Cushway is the registered director. 10 of the companies were registered on 24 June 2016 and 2 registered on 29 July 2016. All have the same registered address for the director as 1 Bedford Row, London, England, WC1R 4BZ.

All the companies have the same name apart from a number attached such as TLCC-20 LIMITED (10250781) and TLCC-52 LIMITED (10250807).  The occupation given for Mark Cushway on the entries is Leisure and Real Estate, with his country of residence as Spain.

All companies are listed as 55209 – Other holiday and other collective accommodation, it is also interesting to note that the registered offices are given as Twin Lakes Country Club, Near Arnside And Silverdale Aonb, Tewitfield, Lancashire, LA6 1JH.

Link to Directors from Company House

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/3h5jf615-FnVKDHNzhQzpquyuSY/appointments

As the old saying goes, “What a tangled web we weave”!!!

We leave you the reader to decide where this may just be going, we obviously have our suspicions. We also thank all readers who have contributed information.

If you are contacted by any of these companies Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, or if you need any information, help or advice on any company that you may be thinking of doing business with get in touch and we will point you in the right direction.

end jan

End of January Review

So that is the end of the first month of this year and what a month it has been, if this one is anything to go by then we are going to be in for a busy year. So let’s have a quick look at some of the main events.

We start with two stories published this week, the first is a quick update on the website of Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited.

Yesterday RCI thanked Inside Timeshare for reporting the use of their logo, they confirmed that it is being used illegally and their legal department had been informed. Today when checking the website the RDO and Expectations Holidays logo’s had been removed, unfortunately the Canarian Legal Alliance logo and copied news section are still showing. CLA have been informed.

It has also come to our attention that Antoni “Toni” Muldoon also has another website:

http://www.scam-busters.co.uk/

Supposedly to help people being scammed by the likes of him, one does have ask the question, is he the reformed character he makes out to be or is this just another way of getting your money?

spots

Regarding the Anfi letter to UK members and the use of the BBC program Rip Off Britain, we had the opportunity to see the program for ourselves, the “lawyer” named on the program was one Emilio Leyes Catillianos at the address Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, is the very same one that Inside Timeshare first reported back in July and September 2016.

That address is actually for the Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, similar to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

CAB Arona

This particular “lawyer” was part of the Litigious Abogados setup, which is one of those Inside Timeshare provided evidence to CLA for their denuncia to the Guardia Civil in February 2017, (see link to CLA website to view a copy of the denuncia):

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/fraud-alert/

The sad thing is the program is too late to highlight this as the website has already gone and been replaced with many new names, the latest was published here on 8 January, Abogados Canarias, with the main “lawyer” named as one Manuel Cilavoz Varintos. I would say that their research team has a lot to learn or is the program just there for entertainment purposes?

Since the start of this year the US articles many written by Irene parker, has resulted in 38 complaints received by Inside Timeshare and dealt with by our US team (all volunteers). Since we began actually counting the number of complaints received at the end of 2016, the US team led by Irene has dealt with 291 complaints. Again what does the rest of the year hold in store?

Also at the beginning of the month we reported that Trading Standards had raided several offices of the Mark Rowe owned companies which include Sellmytimeshare.tv ABC Lawyers and his Monster Credits enterprise. We have now been informed that South West Police are contacting clients of his various companies, so it certainly looks like a major criminal investigation is taking place.

We are also still waiting to hear about the sentencing of Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, this was supposed to take place this month at Birmingham Crown Court.

Another article published this month was Spanish Timeshare Laws Simply Explained. This was in response to many enquiries from timeshare owners who had been contacted by various firms stating they had a claim, or their timeshare company was being taken to court and they could join in the case. The main point of the article was unless your timeshare was purchased in Spain you will not have any claim, it also pointed out that even if you did purchase in Spain your particular contract may be legal and therefore there is no claim.

Inside Timeshare also welcomed Lisa Ann Schreier with her first article. Lisa is a well known figure in the US, she is also the author of the book Timeshare for Dummies, we look forward to more contributions in the future.

lisa ann

These are just some of the stories published this month, we end with news just in from Canarian Legal Alliance.

It looks like they have had a tremendous start to the year as they announced that they have received favourable judgements in 14 cases against these resorts:

Anfi, Silverpoint, Puerto Calma, Palm Oasis and Diamond International.

These cases have been heard in various courts around Spain, ranging from First Instance, High Courts and Supreme Court. The latest being a Supreme Court ruling against Palm Oasis making the total figure for rulings from Spain’s highest court to 86!

The total amount awarded by the courts in these cases is staggering 267,224.25€ so there are some very happy ex-timeshare owners.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to all the articles this month and all the readers who have supplied some of the information which has helped in the research.

Again if you have any questions about any of the articles published or need any help in determining if the company you may be thinking of doing business with is legit, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

Here we go another Friday’s Letter from America, this week Irene Parker explains reporting a crime to the FBI, regarding timeshare complaints. To us in Europe this appears a little excessive, especially when we take the situation with timeshares purchased in Spain. But in the US, consumers do not seem to have the same protection as those in Europe.

Now for a round up of European news, once again Anfi have been ordered by the High Court in Las Palmas to return over 36,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest to an ex client. In this case the contract was again declared null and void, the main infringement of the timeshare law is once again the contract duration of over 50 years, or what is known as perpetuity. This point has been the subject of many rulings from the Supreme Court.

Still on the subject of Anfi, a Norwegian journalist and Anfi member is starting to ask questions about the accounts for Puerto, Monte and Gran Anfi. It would seem that they are owed huge amounts from Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts.

At present Inside Timeshare is looking into this and will publish in the near future, suffice it to say, from the copy of the post received, it looks as though there is a substantial amount outstanding. This journalist also asks the question if this is the reason for the lack of maintenance and upkeep at the resort?

More on this subject as and when we get the confirmed information.

Amador Galeca, one of the “Fake” law firms which springs from the Litigious Abogados family has been active again, with Inside Timeshare receiving many enquiries as to if these are genuine.

Once again, these firms are not genuine law firms, they have in place a very elaborate fraud, designed to fool owners into believing they have cases at court. Search Litigious Abogados in the search box, there you will find the story going back around two years.

The unfortunate aspect of this is the frequency with which they change the names of the law firms and the websites. This makes it very difficult for the authorities to keep up on their investigations. The one thing that does help, is the fact the websites are all the same except for the names.

In the end, it is up to you to check if they are genuine before paying these companies, it is no use after you have made the bank transfer, that money is long gone. This is the reason for creating the urgency, with stories such as the director is pleading guilty and the trial is in 3 weeks, so you need to hurry if you want to be part of this claim!

Now on with this week’s Letter from America.

How to Report a Crime to the FBI

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By Irene Parker

January 19, 2018

There has been a change in strategy in reporting to the FBI if timeshare members feel they meet the definition of white-collar crime, financial institution fraud defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.”

I’m still recovering from the comment Anthony Davis posted January 11 in response to one of my articles. Anthony wrote that he recorded a timeshare sales presentation. Anthony is an army vet, 90% disabled after serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coincidentally, someone who works in law enforcement contacted me just after I spoke with Anthony, informing us they wanted to donate a GoPro Hero 5 Session camera. My husband and I picked up the camera and drove to Orlando to meet Anthony and Ashley. They came to Orlando because they said they were required to attend a mandatory timeshare presentation scheduled for January 13th. This was their second required new member orientation and they had to bear the air and Uber expense to travel from Tennessee to Florida for two days, just to attend the orientation. Armed with our new GoPro, we recorded an interview with Anthony and Ashley. We also recorded the recording of the orientation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phUjnrIG3bI

The next morning, alarmed at what I had heard on the recording, I contacted the FBI. It took a while to explain the significance of this recording, because the FBI is not as familiar with timeshare as they are with say, terrorism, but the agent took the time to understand. At the end of our conversation agent #2222 (I did not ask permission to use his real number) concluded timeshare members need to call their local FBI field office and report orally through the FBI public access line, selecting option #4, white-collar crime. I thought he was going to dismiss me by sending members to the Attorneys General Offices! Here are the FBI field offices:

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

Previously, FBI agents had advised me to direct members to the IC3.gov portal. This is the FBI’s online complaint site. Filing at IC3.gov is similar to filing an online AG complaint. Timeshare members who feel they have been a victim of deceit and bait and switch should still file with IC3.gov, in addition to filing orally with your local FBI field office. Here’s the IC3.gov link:

https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

From the FBI website (my comments are in italics)

Mortgage fraud is a subcategory of Financial Institution Fraud. It is crime characterized by some type of material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to a mortgage loan which is then relied upon by a lender. A lie that influences a bank’s decision—about whether, for example, to approve a loan, accept a reduced payoff amount, or agree to certain repayment terms—is mortgage fraud.

Inside Timeshare US has received 278 timeshare complaints from readers. Of the 278 complaints, 263 allege that what happened to them meets the definition of white collar crime, “deceit, concealment, violation of trust, bait and switch.” Several timeshare members have reported timeshare sales agents advised them to falsify information, or the agent on their own falsified information, discovered when the member compares what they signed at the time of purchase to the document the timeshare company provides to the member after they asked for a document when pursuing a complaint.

The FBI and other entities charged with investigating mortgage fraud, particularly in the wake of the housing market collapse, have broadened the definition to include frauds targeting distressed homeowners.

This includes distressed timeshare members as a timeshare loan is considered a mortgage and is reported as a foreclosure, the same as a home mortgage foreclosure. However, timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group did sue Bluegreen and managed to get foreclosed knocked down to “charged off” on behalf of 11,000 Bluegreen members and, going forward, Bluegreen no longer reports their timeshare point “take backs” as a foreclosure. Foreclosure is the most damaging hit to a credit report, and according to Mike, timeshare companies tend to pick the most damaging category to report.  

There are two distinct areas of mortgage fraud—fraud for profit and fraud for housing.

  • 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.

Timeshare member can relate to this definition! We have compiled three repeat offender summary reports. One of the reports describes highest loyalty members being up-sold to buy more points because they will be able to pay maintenance fees or sell points when no such program exists.

The FBI seeks to maximize its impact on the mortgage fraud and financial institution fraud as a whole through collaboration.

For example, the Bureau operates Financial Crimes Task Forces within several field offices throughout the country that act as force multipliers in addressing large scale financial fraud schemes. Comprised of federal, state, and local regulatory and law enforcement agencies who work together on a daily basis, these tasks forces have been an effective way to merge valuable resources of participating agencies.

By leveraging the skills, knowledge, and resources of various government agencies and private industry, the FBI and its partners are able to bring more perpetrators of fraud to justice.    

Common Mortgage Fraud Schemes (I selected those pertinent to timeshare)

  • Foreclosure rescue schemes: The perpetrators identify homeowners who are in foreclosure or at risk of defaulting on their mortgage loan and then mislead them into believing they can save their homes by transferring the deed or putting the property in the name of an investor. The perpetrators profit by selling the property to an investor or straw borrower, creating equity using a fraudulent appraisal, and stealing the seller proceeds or fees paid by the homeowners. The homeowners are sometimes told they can pay rent for at least a year and repurchase the property once their credit has been reestablished. However, the perpetrators fail to make the mortgage payments and usually the property goes into foreclosure.

The DOJ places timeshare exit scams complaints second only to debt collection complaints. Timeshare exit scams flourish when timeshare companies do not allow a secondary market. This is a 13 page DOJ report on timeshare exit scams:

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

One new timeshare term I learned is “Viking Ship” comparing fraudulent timeshare transfers to the term used to describe how Vikings put their dead on a ship, set fire to it, and shipped it out to sea.

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

Loan modification schemes: Similar to foreclosure rescue scams, these schemes involve perpetrators purporting to assist homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments and are on the verge of losing their home by offering to renegotiate the terms of the homeowners’ loan with the lender. The scammers, however, demand large fees up front and often negotiate unfavorable terms for the clients, or do not negotiate at all. Usually, the homeowners ultimately lose their homes.

Foreclosure is a guarantee, but you certainly don’t need to pay anyone to help you foreclose. These scams say foreclosure meets their promise of a guarantee!

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

Law rights

Thank you to our FBI field offices for even listening to us as no one else is. We appreciate the efforts of Attorneys General but they are limited in their scope. Federal enforcement is needed.

If you need help with a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or contact one of these U.S. advocacy groups we endorse, feeling they are truly member supported, not influenced by industry.

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/

There we have it, timeshare consumers in the US now have another way of fighting back, things across the Great Lake are a little more complicated for timeshare consumers than in Europe.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other article published, contact Inside Timeshare, we will help you get the best advice possible.

Have a good weekend.

weekend cat

consumer alert

Another New Name to the Litigious Abogados Family

Once again information has come to Inside Timeshare on another name to add to the family of “fake Lawyers” in Tenerife which is part of the Litigious Abogados family, Abogados Canarias.

abogados-canarias-logo

Their website

http://abogados-canarias.com/

Was registered on 8 November 2017 and is under a privacy registration through GoDaddy.

There are also a few new “lawyers” names to add to the previous ones, along with new faces, these are:

Manuel Cilavoz Varintosabogados-canarias-manuel-cilavoz-varintos-300x300

Manolo Derban Ferolitaabogados-canarias-manolo-derban-ferolita

Juan Cretedos Dolabarisabogados-canarias-juan-cretedos-dolabaris

Fernando Siltal Crostenaabogados-canarias-fernando-siltal-crostena

According to their website, the firm was founded on Monday 2 July 1990, by Manuel Cilavoz Varintos, which is again the same precise date as all the others. Which is not surprising as the websites are identical apart from the name of the law firm, the lawyers names, emails and address, even the logo is very similar to previous ones.

4 Calle de S. Francisco, Santa Cruz De Tenerife

 

This address is genuine, but according to google street view the plaques on the wall for the two lawyers offices situated there do not show these names. So once again could the actual law firms located there know that their address is being used?

They show 2 telephone numbers, the freephone number which is UK, but through the internet can be answered anywhere in the world. The other looks like  a Santa Cruz de Tenerife premium rate number.

Freephone: 0800 802 1662

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 680 088

Again the email addresses given are for the free email service consultants.com so are not even linked to the website.

email: varintos-uk-claims@consultant.com

email: abogados-canarias@consultant.com

The procedure is the same as all the other “fake firms” which have been highlighted in the past, your timeshare company is being taken to court, usually within the next few weeks, you can be part of this case, but a fee will need to be paid to the Procurador.

Within weeks of this being paid you will receive a document stating that the director (could it be one of the old names or possibly a new one), pleaded guilty and the court has awarded you a substantial amount. You may also receive a copy of the court cheque with your name on it and the amount. But again to release this money taxes will need to be paid, usually around 21% of the awarded amount.

Once this has been paid, if the old scam is running the same, you will receive an envelope posted from Tenerife airport, this will have a copy of the court document awarding you the money. The problem is the envelope will be open and the cheque missing.

As in the previous scams, another company will be in touch stating they have been appointed by the court to investigate the missing cheque and get the money back from the bank. Just wondering if the cheque has been cashed by that gang of Romanians again?

Obviously, this new company will also want paying before they can work on retrieving the money for you.

Remember, unless you have instructed a law firm of lawyer to start proceedings on your behalf, you will not have a case in court. Also cases do not get heard that quickly, most will take around 14 months to actually get to court.

There is also the point of taxes to be paid on the awarded amounts, this is not true, there are no taxes to be paid. As for the Romanian gang cashing the cheques, courts do not issue cheques, we wait to see if they are still using the bank Banesto, which has not existed since 2012!

We will keep you posted as new information comes in.

Today Rip Off Britain highlighted this group of “fake lawyers” in their programme, they showed the address used by Litigious Abogados which Inside Timeshare highlighted back in September 2016, Calle Duque de la Torre, 29 Arona Casco 38640 Arona Tenerife. As we stated at the time this office is for the Oficina del Servicio de Atencion Ciudadana, which is the equivelent of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

All the addresses that the various incarnations of this company has used are for other legitimate law firms or Council Offices. Obviously when a search is done on the internet such as Google Earth, they show up as genuine addresses.

It must also be noted that Canarian Legal Alliance has made denuncias to the Police on this matter as several of their own clients have been taken in by them. Much of the information they have supplied to the authorities has been from the research Inside Timeshare has provided. This matter is subject to an ongoing investigation and is being taken seriously by the Guardia Civil.

Search Litigious Abogados in the search box for all articles relating to this.
If you have been contacted by this or any other “law firm” and want to know if they are genuine, contact Inside Timeshare, we will check them for you and point you in the right direction.

Stay safe, do your homework and double check any company that contacts you with a wonderful story that your timeshare company is about to be taken to court.

homework

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America: End of Year Review

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America, the last one for 2017, this week Irene looks at the past year from across “The Great Lake”, while we look at the past year in Europe.

Our first article of 2017 was about the family of fake lawyers from Tenerife, Litigious Abogados, it highlighted a new firm called Abogacia Española, which happens to be the name of the official website to check the validity of lawyers registrations. This was a very good move on the part of this well planned out fraud, as it did give an air of legitimacy when you did a web search.

Since then, we have seen many incarnations of this fake law firm, although the names have changed, one thing hasn’t, that is the nature of the fraud. They are still duping consumers into believing that they have a case at court, then to be part of it you need to pay the Procurator fees. That is only the start, it get even more sophisticated. Search Litigious Abogados for the full story.

Another firm that was the subject of our attentions was Keys Concierge, another credits based lifestyle company. It turned out that the director was one Franz Marcus Deutsch, an old associate of Mark Cushway of Silverpoint. In fact this new company was the latest product which would be peddled by Silverpoint, soon to change their name to Signallia Marketing Distribution SA.

While we are on the subject of Silverpoint, It was announced in April that Silverpoint were withdrawing their membership to the RDO, (Resorts Development Organisation) and would no longer be selling timeshare. Hence the product Keys Concierge, which does not appear to fall into the realms of timeshare laws.

This was a great blow to the RDO, as Mark Cushway was not only a director, but Silverpoint was also a major contributor. Funds this organisation could ill afford to lose. It has since come to our attention that the RDO is to form a partnership with ARDA (American Resorts Development Association). This particular organisation is well endowed with contributions and is very strong in the world of lobbying for its members. So it begs the question is the RDO going to be taking on board the tactics of ARDA?

tribunal supremo

Staying on the subject of Silverpoint, January was a momentous time on the legal front, with the Supreme Court making their first ruling against this company. This was the case of Mrs Shirley Wilson and her long battle against the selling tactics of Silverpoint.

Within a week the highest court in Spain ruled three times against Silverpoint, opening the doors for many more cases against them. Since then the rulings have been coming in thick and fast, leaving no doubt that what they had been selling was illegal.

February brought the news that Alberto Garcia had “stepped down” from Mindtimeshare and that the RDO would not be renewing the contract with that “Consumer Association”. Alberto Garcia for many years had been running the RDO’s “Enforcement Programme”, attacking any company which threatened the timeshare industry. This has now been given to Kwikchex and the “Timeshare Taskforce”, run by Chris Emmins.

Throughout the year, Inside Timeshare has been following the AnfiTauro Beach Project”, this has been a story that has now seen the former head of the Coastal Authority being charged with falsifying official documents and wrong doing in public office. No doubt we will see his trial sometime in the new year.

This project was to build a man made beach at Tauro, with the building of hotels and a shopping center. This was given to Anfi to run for 50 years, the Government of Gran Canaria is now seeking in the courts to remove these concessions in the light of the evidence of malpractice. This story is not over yet.

Anfi have been on the receiving end of many Supreme Court rulings since March 2015, they however have continued to deny any wrongdoing and inform their members that they have not lost any cases. In fact they have embarked on a campaign to attack Canarian Legal Alliance, trying to sow seeds of doubt among their clients. Below is a link to a video showing the National Spanish TV news on TVE 1, in this clip, one of the CLA lawyers explains the Supreme Court rulings. For the National Television to broadcast this item shows that CLA is doing what they say and that Anfi is trying to divert attention from this.

Another story we have been following is that of Los Claveles in Tenerife and the battle for control of the resort. Again this is an ongoing story which at present seems to be dragging on. It revolves around the selling of Wimpen to ONA Grup, who were the managing company of this resort. Their contract has been ended but they still seem to be trying to run the resort against the wishes of the Owners Committee.

There has been a lot of argument on this issue, with some very nasty consequences, it is clear that this issue is not going to be resolved in the near future. It may also end up being a rather costly one with only the lawyers benefiting.

In July we published a rather different article on the timeshare world, this was a positive one, featuring a company that we have not been able to find any adverse comments or complaints. It is off course Disney.

This is a shining example of how the timeshare industry should operate, fair, truthful and with the consumer in mind. There again, it is what we expect from an organisation which prides itself on putting people first.

This same month also saw a very big shake up in timeshare, TATOC, (The Association of Timeshare Owners Committees). This was run by one Harry Taylor, who was very much a mouthpiece for the industry rather than those who his organisation purported to represent.

image1 (1)
Howard C. Nusbaum, ARDA President and Chief Executive Officer Handing the cheque to Harry Taylor for $30,000 Published May 2017

After a long reign TATOC finally went into liquidation, with Harry Taylor and TATOC being totally discredited. For years this organisation has duped not only timeshare owners but also organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau. Any owner that went to CAB with a problem would be recommended TATOC as the place to go. Little did CAB know that this organisation was funded and basically run by the industry. All we can say is good riddance to a very bad and foul smelling egg!

There have been so many articles it is difficult to review them all, but Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of the most dodgy companies that have emerged over the course of the year. These articles have saved many readers considerable sums of money, we intend to continue with this.

But before we go on with Irene’s roundup of the year from the US, we finish with the news of yet three more sentences issued by the courts. On 27 December the Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared yet another Anfi contract null and void with the client being awarded over 29,000€ plus legal interest.

On the same day the High Court in Tenerife announced another ruling against Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and the client in this case being awarded over £9,000 plus legal interest.

There then followed on the 28 December another Supreme Court ruling from Madrid, this was number 82! Again the company was Silverpoint, with the contract being declared null and void and an award of over £23,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.

These cases were brought on behalf of clients of Canarian Legal Alliance, so this does show this law firm is doing what they say.

CLA Logo

Now for the year from a US perspective.

What Timeshare Members Can Look Forward to in 2018 and what

I wrote looking forward to 2017 on December 26, 2016

2018

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

By Irene Parker

December 29, 2017

Our Advocacy Group did not have a name one year ago, or a Facebook page. Our advocacy Facebook page was launched February 2017 and Timeshare Advocacy Group™ April 2017. As I write this, our advocacy Facebook page has 706 members. We encourage industry observers, as long as they are respectful.  

Back in February, I remember scrolling down my Facebook feed, a pianist, waiting with nervous flute, oboe, trumpet, and bassoon middle school students for our competitions to begin, when I suddenly saw a post called “Diamond Resorts Owners Advocacy” launched by an economics professor. This Facebook page was launched in response to a draft article I had written and distributed, requested by a few former timeshare sales agents who felt the practice of “pitching heat” to sell vacation points needed to be addressed and brought to the attention of the general public. Based on reader responses, only Disney Vacation Club seems to disavow this sordid selling technique.  

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

Our professor also prepared this mission statement for our DRI advocacy group, but as our Inside Timeshare readers started to reach out to us asking for help with timeshare issues concerning other timeshare companies, I borrowed our DRI mission statement and generalized it to apply to all timeshare companies.

We seek to provide timeshare members and owners 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.

April 2017, a former Diamond sales agent contacted me, urging me to write a press release as she was worried Diamond members were not aware of the Arizona Attorney General’s $800,000 DRI settlement and the Assurance of Discontinuance announced December 23, 2016. There was a May deadline to file a complaint.

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

This former timeshare sales agent said we needed a Facebook page so that readers had somewhere to respond. I didn’t even know how to use Facebook until I got mad at timeshare July 2015, but I struggled through the establishment of a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ page, delighted to find a butterfly with a “Knowledge Speaks, but Wisdom Listens” quote by Jimi Hendrix. My first concert I attended in high school was Jimi Hendrix, second row, in front of the mic.

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

I expected my new creation to last for a month or two, until the press release ran its course, but it continues to receive views. We consider this Timeshare Advocacy Group™ Facebook a clearinghouse of articles written about all timeshare companies and are grateful to all our volunteer admins for both Facebook pages.

Now a look back to what I wrote December 26, 2016 with updates

Timeshare Lawsuits 2017

By Irene Parker, December 26, 2016

2017

Our Inside Timeshare mission is to offer timeshare owners accurate reporting on both the good and bad aspects of timeshare today. While we admit we bear more to the negative side of timeshare reporting, this thirteen page report from the US Department of Justice listing timeshare scams explains why:

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

The other reason is because the industry is not well regulated. Timeshare owners do not have the level of organization or funds necessary to compete with timeshare developer lobbyists. Lobbyists used to primarily direct their efforts towards influencing lawmakers, but more and more efforts are now being directed towards influencing US Attorneys General:

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

Looking to 2017, we need to look back and reflect on timeshare’s unresolved and continuing legal battles. Timeshare developers, former timeshare sales agents and  solicitors, timeshare owners, federal and state regulators and advocates continue to weigh in on possible changes that will make timesharing more owner friendly and less predatory.

Will the final piece of this legal and regulatory puzzle result in a less aggressive and deceptive industry – or will practices continue unabated and unchecked resulting in more of the same?

conference

 Westgate Update 12/29/17: After the presidential election the CFPB dropped the Westgate investigation. President Trump is close friends with the Siegels, Westgate owner David Siegel was seen campaigning next to the candidate in 2016. That’s Mr. Siegel to the left of Trump. Charles Thomas reported on the timeshare the Trump family is launching in Scotland, reported as a golf course in the US during the campaign.  

trump

Here is King David’s house

https://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2017/03/09/the-queen-of-versailles-jackie-siegel-i-may-want-a.html

But back in 2016

“Westgate is facing lawsuits in several jurisdictions and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Investigation. Allegations include fraudulent and deceptive business practices ranging from high pressure sales tactics, failure to honor timely rescission requests, elder abuse, illegal debt collection practices and impermissible telephone solicitations.” The Capitol Forum June 27, 2016

https://www.buzzfeed.com/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times?utm_term=.pbyQ8MPbx#.pmA2BeVyM

Colorado Attorney General

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman is investigating Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-us-attorney-general-exposes-deceptive-tactics/

Wyndham $20 Million

Former Wyndham sales agent Trish Williams was awarded $20 million for exposing deceptive sales practices. While the amount will probably be reduced on appeal, it sends a message that courts and juries are listening.   

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html?_r=0

Hyatt

Candace Czarny and two other former Hyatt timeshare agents would like to see the industry improved. They are in year five of a class action alleging deceptive practice.  

http://insidetimeshare.com/whistleblowers-expose-timeshare-sales-tactics/

The Manhattan Club Update: Remarkably, New York AG Eric Schneiderman managed to ban the owners of The Manhattan Club from working in the timeshare industry and achieved a $6.5 million settlement. Rarely is wrongdoing admitted. However, attorney Douglas Wasser, representing TMC owners, said “Hundreds of members will be helped, but there are over 14,000 members.” Even a settlement this size will do little to curtail predatory marketing and sales practices. The investigation took years.  

Back in 2016  

Attorney Douglas Wasser represents 30 Manhattan Club defendants.

“To my knowledge there has been no dismissal of any Manhattan Club proceeding at this point.  The NY Attorney General investigation is proceeding, and the motion to dismiss a currently pending class action suit has been adjourned to January 5, 2017 for now. Three prior class action suits at the Manhattan Club have been dismissed.  But, at least for the time being, the current class action still survives,” Mr. Wasser reported November 15. 2016

http://www.reuters.com/article/manhattan-club-ruling-idUSL1N18U0DL

 Marriott Vacation Club Racketeering Update: Most disturbing of all, political and legislative maneuvering in Florida resulted in a change in the definition of timeshare, seemingly in an attempt to circumvent the merit of the case, according to attorneys involved with the case. That was not the end of it. We will hear more about this case in 2018.  

“The Marriott racketeering lawsuit seeks to abolish Marriott’s points program, which attorney said is unique among timeshare companies. It also seeks the return of fees and costs paid by buyers.” Paul Brinkmann reported October 13, 2016 for the The Orlando Sentinel.  

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-marriott-timeshare-racketeering-20161013-story.html

Diamond Resorts Update: A judge ruled in favor of arbitration in the billion dollar lawsuit filed against the company, and Congress reversed the CFPB ruling that would allow class actions. Diamond Resorts is one of the only timeshare companies to have a class action ban in their contract, forcing arbitration. Arbitration is binding and private. Lawsuits filed are public record.  

A recent class action was filed against Diamond Resorts:

https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/348667-diamond-resorts-class-action-high-pressure-timeshare-sales-deceptive/

Matt Daniel Finazzo, et al. v. Diamond Resorts International Club Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-02256, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

holI don’t mean to be the Grinchess that stole Christmas, so to end on a positive note,

People are listening!

Charles Thomas and I are hearing from people all over the world who are joining forces to work towards:

⦁ A legitimate secondary market

⦁ Less aggressive and deceptive selling

⦁ Less predatory lending

Thank you from timeshare owners to our regulators and lawyers working to protect us. Since last year we have found a few more self-help groups we are confident are on the side of the timeshare member and are not industry influenced.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

So that is 2017 in a nutshell, if this coming year is anything like the last we will be seeing many more stories like these.

Inside Timeshare thanks all those who have contributed to the articles and also to all the readers and those who have contacted Inside Timeshare for help and advice. If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of using but need to know about them, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

We wish you a prosperous New Year, enjoy your celebrations and we will be with you in 2018.

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Another week over and another Friday’s Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a very quick look at two cases announced this week.

Silverpoint have once again been on the receiving end of another Supreme Court verdict. They have declared the client’s contract null and void, ordering the return of over £43,000 plus legal fees and legal interest.

In this verdict the court stated that the contract lacked specific information required by law, such as a specific apartment number, date and location. It is quite clear that the Supreme Court has on more than one occasion clarified the law.

In another case heard at the Court of First Instance in Palma de Mallorca, Altres Vacances have been ordered to repay the client over 58,000€  plus legal fees and interest, with the contract being declared null and void.

This court has followed the Supreme Court rulings on the length of the contract, the law is very clear on this point, the contract must be no longer than 50 years. They must also contain specific information as required by law.

abogados-ag-250

Once again, we have to warn about the “fake” law firms operating out of Tenerife, part of the Litigious Abogados family, another reader has been in contact with the new firm Abogados AG, with Armando González Areca named as the main “lawyer”.

They state that following a “groundbreaking ruling on “Tuesday 19 March 2015” (very precise date), against Diamond Resorts International SL, one of the the directors, once again Andrew Cooper, has pleaded guilty to the indictment of the Spanish Civil Code. They also state that the High Court of Santa Cruz de Tenerife have declared 28 of their clients contracts null and void, seizing all the personal assets of Mr Cooper in Spain and the Canary islands.

Now according to this “law firm” they will be lodging the case against Diamond Resorts International Sl and Mr Andrew Cooper on the 7th November 2017, this will heard on Tuesday 21st November, very quick indeed, they must be very well in with the judges!

In the case of our reader, they no longer own any timeshare with Diamond, they got rid of that years ago, so there is no basis for any claim. Beware the claims that you have a case, if you no longer own you don’t, even if you do own you may not have a valid claim. Before engaging with any company that states you do have a claim, check and check again.

See the full letter below, pdf.

Abogados AG

So now on with this week’s letter.

Another Bluegreen Member Alleges a “Bait and Switch”

Sometimes Called “Pitching Heat”

cross fingers

By Irene Parker

November 3  

Back in July, Inside Timeshare published an article by Lela Renea, a detective who alleged she was deceived by a Bluegreen timeshare sales agent. Camyell Pratt, another Bluegreen purchaser, alleges she and her husband were also deceived.

The FBI definition of White Collar Crime, Financial Institution Fraud, is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Inside Timeshare has received 179 complaints from readers, of which 164 allege they were victims of a timeshare bait and switch. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime

Lela Renea is a detective. Camyell understands bad debt. She assists in collecting back taxes for a Virginia County government office and understands the repercussions when someone does not pay what they owe. But what if the contract agreed to was purchased under conditions of fraud?

In timeshare, that doesn’t matter thanks to the clause that appears in every timeshare contract – “I did not rely on any oral representation to make my purchase.” In other words, any complaint that begins with “The salesman says” can be conveniently dismissed.

Bluegreen is certainly not the only timeshare company Inside Timeshare has reported on concerning questionable sales tactics by some agents:

A jury awarded Trish Williams, a former Wyndham sales agent, $20 million. Ms. Williams described TAFT days – tell them any blank thing on slow sales days.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/25/business/my-soul-feels-taller-a-whistle-blowers-20-million-vindication.html

Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against Diamond Resorts accusing the company of violating Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act.

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

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an Assurance of Discontinuance against The Manhattan Club. Of note, The Manhattan Club admitted wrongdoing, unusual in corporate America.

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $6.5 million settlement with the owners and operators of the Manhattan Club, a timeshare in Midtown Manhattan, over the sponsor’s repeated false promises to potential and current share owners.

The settlement is the largest in recent history for the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau. Under the terms of the settlement, the operators of the Manhattan Club, acknowledge that they repeatedly misled shareowners about the club’s reservation process, their ability to sell back their shares, and the details of the club’s state-approved offering plan.

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-65-million-settlement-midtown-manhattan-timeshare-scammed

Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Missouri Attorneys General took action against other timeshare companies.

As we’ve said before, the abnormal becomes normal, whether it be predatory timeshare sales or sex abuse in the Catholic Church or Hollywood. Victims are messengers to be beheaded or silenced and isolated through non-disclosure clauses. To my knowledge, except for The Manhattan Club, timeshare developers have not even acknowledged deceit on the front of the timeshare sale, despite thousands of internet complaints and lawsuits too numerous to mention.

Current and former timeshare sales agents and managers are also speaking out. As one manager explained:

I watched every day, agents selling for double and close to triple what it was supposed to be sold for but management laughed and congratulated them.  The maintenance fees statement about buying more and using that to pay your maintenance fees was a practice that was encouraged but be careful.  Some of the agents would sell the program for $98k when it was only in the 50k range.  One of the guests came back to cancel but the agent said no worries I have it packed 40k but I’ll give then 15 off and still make a killing!   It made me sick because these particular guests were in their late 70′ early 80’s.  I asked the agent if he had a conscience and he just laughed…if you can get them to pay more you’re a hero!!  They have the money!!  Deception actually goes back further than that.  We were told to pack the price for a trade in and imply that it was what they got back for their TS… we sold it for the regular price….they got nothing for their TS!

Some companies are trying to do the right thing. Bluegreen has been listening and taking appropriate action in some cases. Diamond Resorts has opened a Diamond Consumer Advocacy Department that pledges to help members from day one and has launched a program called CLARITY which promotes accountability, transparency and respect for the customer.

Instead of beheading the customer’s, legitimate attorneys, volunteer advocates and journalists, why won’t the timeshare developer not identify and drain the swamp of predatory sales agents? After receiving 179 complaints from our readers, at times we can guess the agent by the con.         

cartoon fraud

Camyel and Jayson Pratt

Camyell and her husband Jayson endured an eight hour Bluegreen timeshare sales presentation at Harbor Light in South Carolina. They were promised:

4000 points plus 6000 points plus two RCI weeks

Availability to a variety of resorts

What was delivered?

For 4000 points, according to one of our Advocates, also a Bluegreen member, the member can book a studio in winter on the wrong side of the weather report.

After filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, Bluegreen did offer to credit Camyell the additional 6000 points promised. Camyell declined, deciding she did not want to have anything to do with a company that would resort to such tactics. Nevertheless, Bluegreen credited the family 6000 points anyway.

Camyell said they were given no paperwork after they signed the contract, told the contract needed to be processed. They were given a booklet about Bluegreen and the timeshare exchange company RCI.

Let’s see how Camyell’s complaint compares to Lela Renea:

  • Lela was told if she purchased more points her maintenance fees would stay the same. The maintenance fees have increased from $560 a year in 2015 to about $700 a year for 2017.
  • Lela was told she would receive a free cruise, but after all the fees and charges it cost as much as if she had booked it herself.
  • Lela was told the Barclaycard had a low interest rate of 5% when in actuality it was 25%.
  • Lela was not told she was entitled to 4000 bonus points. The points expired before she was aware of them.
  • Lela was promised availability she says does not exist.
  • Lela was showed a Presidential Suite that was said to be comparable to all Bluegreen accommodations.
  • Lela was not aware she had purchased so few points it was almost impossible to find adequate availability.

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-11/

Timeshare members have had enough. Timeshare has been employing tactics former timeshare sales agents call “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat” for too long.

Like so many of our readers have complained, Camyell was not allowed onto the booking site until after the contract rescission period. When she did finally gain access, she was informed she was not within the booking window and did not have enough points to book the stay she desired and says she had been promised.

Here is our advice for those not knowing where to turn:   

  • Prepare a written complaint and request for resolution. Submit to the resort.
  • If the resort denies the request, file first with the Attorneys General of the state where you signed a contract, where you live, and where the timeshare is domiciled. Some Attorneys General are influenced by lobby dollars, so don’t be discouraged if your complaint is denied. There is still merit filing “for the record” because the Attorney General’s lack of concern can be quantified and reported. Some states refer you to a different department.
  • File a complaint with the state real estate division against the agent (ID #) if you feel the sales agent is at fault.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission because every state has incorporated some part of the FTC Consumer Fraud Act into their respective state consumer protection act.
  • Report your grievance to ARDA http://www.arda.org/ethics/ – this organization is the American Resort Development Association – Resort Owners Coalition. ARDA ROC does not resolve individual member disputes, but they do have a code of ethics that should be enforced. When the needs of the member and the developer diverge, lobby dollars go to the side of the developer, so think twice about the “voluntary” opt in or opt out donation to an organization that may not always be targeting your best interest.    
  • The FBI definition of White Collar Crime – Financial Institution Fraud – is “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch”. File a complaint with IC3.gov if this is the case. IC stands for Internet Crime, but your complaint does not have to involve the internet. That’s just the FBI portal for complaints. https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime
  • File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although this agency has been vastly diminished due to the rollback of the Dodd Frank Act. According to a banker I spoke with recently, they are still the regulators. File with this agency only if a credit card played a part or there is a loan outstanding.
  • Reach out to local and national media. This is by far the most important and effective tool. Typically, timeshare buyers don’t buy a timeshare in their state of residence, so state lawmakers have expressed little interest and can also be influenced by lobby dollars. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/taking-names-scott-maxwell/os-gov-rick-scott-signs-bad-timeshare-law-20150617-post.html
  • Become an Advocate for change by assisting other members with the process outlined above. Encourage others to act.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The ⦁ BBB does not resolve complaints. They merely report how efficiently a company responds to complaints so ratings can be misleading.

None of the above agencies will act on behalf of a specific individual, but a volume of complaints can prompt an investigation.  

chat

If you or anyone you know has a timeshare story to share, or needs help with a timeshare issue, contact Inside Timeshare or one of the following self-help Facebooks:

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

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

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

 

There we have it, Friday is here, the weekend is about to begin, have fun and don’t forget, do your homework before you deal with any company. If you are in any doubt, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

friday cat

scam alert phone

Monday Starts with New Warnings!!

Welcome to the Monday post, once again over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received many more emails enquiring about companies offering timeshare services. Most of these have been regarding claims, or compensation that is waiting for them at court.

As usual the same old names crop up, but there have been a couple of new ones, Regal Finance Company being one of them. As we had not heard of these before, a quick check on the internet and lo and behold Mindtimeshare has placed a post about them (10 Oct).

It is the same old story, owners are called by this company, from the Security and Fraud Prevention Department, they are told that a case has been through the courts against companies that have “ripped” him off in the past. Guess what? The money has been awarded to him and is waiting at the court.

Unfortunately there are fees to be paid around 10% of the awarded amount before this money can be released.

true false

There is a company registered at Company House called Regal Finance Company Limited, according to the records this company has been registered since 1955. The address given on company records is:

Fourth Floor, Park Gate, 161-163 Preston Road, Brighton, East Sussex, England, BN1 6AF

It is highly likely that this registered company is unaware that a fake company is using their name, so when you do a search of company house, you will believe that you are talking to a legitimate firm.

Also the searches of the named directors and secretaries, have not shown any link to any previous timeshare related company.

The telephone number given by the caller is:

01273358408

This number has already had several mentions on the various who is calling websites, all saying the same thing, “This number is ringing asking to send money for release of payment for timeshare refunds”.

The email address is:

RegalFinance@consultant.com

Which is a common scam email address, which has been commonly used in the past Nigerian scams, just like gmail and yahoo it is a free service. So one point to consider is if the company does not have a website with an email linked to the domain name, or is using consultant.com or any other email, then you should be very cautious.

Here We Go Again!!!!!!!!

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Another one of our regular readers have informed us that it looks like the family of “fake” lawyers Litigious Abogados have another new name  Abogados AG and website:

http://abogados-ag.com

This website was registered on 28 August 2017, so is only just 2 months old. Again registration details are through GoDaddy and hidden by a privacy registration. It is also exactly the same as all those that have come before, stating the firm was established in 1990, that they have had over 15 years presence on the internet.

The head of this “Fake” law firm is one Armando González Areca, along with a few new “lawyers” names:

Manolo Lantanoz Juantim

Simone Deltaba Yenarsol

Juan Pelardom Erminilso

The Boss

Armando-González-Areca-243x300
Armando González Areca aka Amador Malodan Galeca
Manolo-Lantanoz-Juantim
Manolo Lantanoz Juantim aka Simono Maenga Arlovas

 

Simone-Deltaba-Yenarsol
Simone Deltaba Yenarsol aka Manuel Pralge Namblib
Juan-Pelardom-Erminilso
Juan Pelardom Erminilso aka Balthathar Hirmod Nisbelam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the same photographs of them from the previous website Amador Galeca Abogados.

The address they show on the website is:

4 Calle de S. Francisco, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Canary Islands

When this address is checked, it does exist, with two plaques on the doorway for Abogados, but the names do not look like the one here. So once again, do the genuine Abogados at this address know that it is being used by a “fake” law firm.

The telephone number given are a UK Freephone number:

0800 802 1487

A Spanish Number they say is Madrid:

910 601 672

But when we checked the prefix 910, it did not show as Madrid, but did show up as one which will cost you a small fortune to call.

So now all we wait for is news on what name the “Procurador” is going to take and which bank account they will be using.

Once again these two posts clearly show how careful you need to be, do not take what you are told at face value, check and double check, if you are unsure as to their validity, don’t do anything. Especially send them any money.

If you need help in checking any company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction, after all that’s what we do day in day out.

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The Tuesday Slot

Since we published last week’s Friday’s Letter from America, Inside Timeshare has received some very good news from one of our readers. It was concerning the “FAKE” law firm Amador Galeca Abogados, this reader had paid them by bank transfer to start “legal” proceedings against Royal Sunset Beach and Andrew Cooper. When she became suspicious, she found our articles on this group, which are part of the Litigious Abogados family of “FAKE” law firms.

We advised her to contact her bank and see if they could stop the transfer, this she did. Thankfully her bank has managed to do this and the money is now safely back in her account.

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She then received another call from this “law firm” asking why she had stopped the transfer and why she was not going to continue with the “case”. She told them in no uncertain terms that they were a “scam”, to which they replied, have you been reading the Inside Timeshare Blog? They are the ones perpetrating the scam!

Well, it is certainly a great scam, considering Inside Timeshare never receives or asks for any payment for any help or advice we give. To be a scam there must surely be some financial motive.

The only ones perpetrating a scam here are Amador Galeca Abogados along with all the other fake law firms this lot have produced. If Inside Timeshare is wrong in what we publish we ask this very simple question, YOU ARE SAYING YOU ARE A LAW FIRM, SO WHY HAS INSIDE TIMESHARE OR OUR LAWYERS NOT HAD ANY NOTIFICATION OF YOU TAKING ANY LEGAL ACTION FOR PUBLISHING FALSEHOODS?

The simple answer is, YOU ARE THE FAKES, YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ARE DEFRAUDING VULNERABLE ELDERLY TIMESHARE OWNERS. THE AUTHORITIES ARE ONTO YOU AND WE WILL KEEP ON PUBLISHING ABOUT YOU AND EVERY NEW WEBSITE, FAKE LAWYERS NAMES THAT YOU COME UP WITH. THAT IS OUR PROMISE TO ALL OUR READERS!

Now on with this Tuesday’ article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Lending Decisions

As Compared to Prenuptial Agreements

AB

By Irene Parker

October 10, 2017

Mesmerized by the thought of endless vacations, while on vacation brain, staring at a finger pointed to a low monthly payment, the last thing on the mind of a timeshare buyer is “What type of lending, if any, should I select in the event my decision to spend thousands of dollars for a vacation plan does not work out?”  

The decision made about how to finance a timeshare purchase has a dramatic impact on what happens if a buyer learns later they made a mistake.

Hopefully, you didn’t make a mistake. There are timeshare companies that work hard to keep up industry standards and provide a viable, if limited, secondary market.

Last week we published an article about timeshare Foreclosure. Out of 160 US timeshare complaints Inside Timeshare has received, the majority are about high interest rate loans and even higher interest rate credit cards. The toxic and compounding effect of this combination can spell financial disaster. It can mean the down payment is financed at around 25% and the loan 12% to 19%. Many tell us they were told any bank would refinance a timeshare at a lower interest rate only to learn banks do not finance timeshares. Comments include, “Banks would be crazy not to finance your timeshare. It is worth $500,000!” when it was worth nothing on the secondary market”. One complaint even stated specifics – the name of the bank, the term and an interest rate of 6%.  

At the last timeshare presentation I attended, the sales agent told us, “When you get home, take out a home equity loan. No one would finance at our interest rates.” However, transferring to a lower interest loan like a home equity loan may not be the right decision either.

Inside Timeshare published its first Nightmare on Timeshare Street article one year ago. The family was struggling to pay maintenance fees. As so many of our readers have reported, a common solution, as suggested by unscrupulous sales agents,  is to sell the existing member more points as this will afford them maintenance fee relief or the ability to sell points. Unfortunately, the programs were non-existent. Fortunately this family walked away from this deal. Unfortunately, they had taken the financing advice and took out a home equity loan transferring the loan to a third party lender. When the kids said they wanted nothing to do with timeshare, and the maintenance fees escalated, they were forced to deed back $60,000 worth of vacation points and were left with a $33,000 home equity loan and a high school graduate starting college.

Should timeshare buyers ever consider third party lending?

Savage

Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group says NO!

Mike posted this comment after reading “Foreclosure, Is it Survivable?”

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-foreclosure/#comment-10000

Another tremendous and informative article! I think the one major, major admonition I have for anyone, client or not, who has purchased a timeshare with developer financing and may want to reconsider the merits of the purchase (and, of course, assuming the rescission period has passed), do not, I repeat, do not under any circumstances, attempt to re-finance the purchase via a home equity line or a transfer to a lower interest credit card, or, for that matter any other methodology that has as its objective, re-paying the developer with other third party money.

For that matter don’t even think about using your own funds either! Assuming you soon may conclude that you do not want to continue with your timeshare obligation for whatever reason, legally based or economically driven or a combination of both, you will come out much better in the long run (no matter the developer’s interest rate) if you are left dealing with the developer as your creditor, as opposed to any other third party you opt to transfer that debt to! If you have any sort of legal argument that the resort debt was accompanied by any sort of misrepresentation or fraud in its inducement at time of contract of purchase, you will lose the benefit of that position with any other third party creditor save the resort!

Respectfully,

Mike Finn

This leads me to the comparison I made in today’s title, comparing a timeshare lending decision to a prenuptial agreement. Being in love is a little like being on vacation. A marriage often starts with a vacation. With love all around, the idea of signing an agreement that casts doubt on the “till death do us part” seems distasteful.

From what Mike Finn says, if you must buy a timeshare, begin with a negative end in mind. Buy it on the developer’s high interest rate nickel because in-house loans are easier to cancel. For my part, if this is the appropriate strategy, then a timeshare should never be purchased. Would I buy our timeshares again knowing what I know today? Yes, I would buy Port Elsewhere in the Ozarks and Maui Hill fixed-week timeshares again. Ambiguous right-to-use programs I think not.

Can we stop unethical timeshare business practices?

I doubt it. In Florida alone, $70 billion a year flows into the state in tourist dollars. Lawmakers, some influenced by lobbyists, have turned a deaf ear. Regulation is by design at the state level, disguising and diminishing the scope of the problem.  For some industry players, the culture of deceit on the front end of the timeshare sale is so ingrained it is the established norm. Until the problems associated with perpetual contracts with no secondary market and deceitful and overly aggressive sales tactics are acknowledged and addressed, buyers should consider carefully the choice between buying a timeshare and booking online. To my knowledge not one timeshare company has ever admitted wrongdoing.

The following self-help Facebook pages offer members a safe place to express concerns and share experiences. Petitioning a timeshare company can be frustrating and intimidating. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you have a positive or negative timeshare experience to share.

We 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/

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

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

we can help

Thanks Irene for that article, also our thanks to Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group for your contribution.

Inside Timeshare welcomes contributions to our pages from you the readers, we are also looking for more contributors from Australia, Asia, Mexico Central and South America, India and anywhere that timeshare consumers exist. Let us all get together and share our experiences, the industry will only change when we all speak with one voice.

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letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday

Welcome to Friday’s Letter from America on Thursday, yes that is correct, we are publishing a day early as we are travelling to the US on Friday.

Inside Timeshare is visiting our American colleagues, with Irene and Don meeting me at Orlando airport, while there we have arranged to meet with several attorneys including America’s very own Timeshare Crusader Lisa Ann SchreierWe will also be meeting many other people and hopefully having a few cold beers.

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Inside Timeshare is also pleased to announce a new collaboration, for sometime CLA International based in Dubai, has been getting their website up and running. They have been following the articles published on Inside Timeshare and have asked if we would run their news section.

They wanted an independent voice rather than their own take on things, Inside Timeshare has agreed to supply those articles, so many of the articles regarding international timeshare news we publish will be posted on their website. These will be from the many contributors who are now writing for Inside Timeshare. We also hope to add more from the following areas:

India (Goa), Thailand and the surrounding Asian area, Australia, Mexico, Central and South America, we welcome any contributor who would like to publish their experiences, news and views on the world of timeshare. You can contact us via our contact page or direct to admin@insidetimeshare.com

contribute

Update from Europe

Once again, Inside Timeshare has heard from another reader who found our articles on the Litigious Abogados family, namely Amador Galeca Abogados.

The reader had a call regarding their timeshare at Royal Sunset Beach, with the name Andrew Cooper again being named as the director being taken to court with all his personal property and assets being seized. For a sum of just under 1000€ they could be part of the case.

The reader then made a bank transfer, but then decided to check out the name Andrew Cooper, finding our previous article. When the reader contacted us we explained how the scam operates, they immediately informed their bank and the bank is now trying to stop the transaction.

The reader explained that when her husband became too ill to travel Royal Sunset actually took back the timeshare, so they no longer owned. Because of this there would not be any basis for a claim in any court.

This story just goes to show once again, before you pay any money, check who you are dealing with. Hopefully the readers bank was informed in time to stop the money being transferred.

stop think proceed

We started the week with verdict from the courts against Palm Oasis (Tasolan), the following day the Supreme Court ruled on another case against Silverpoint in Tenerife, that made 64 rulings from this court on timeshare. In this case the court again declared the contract null and void, awarding over £99,000 plus a double deposit of £6,082 including legal fees and legal interest.

Then yesterday Wednesday 4 October the High Court in Tenerife ruled once again against Silverpoint and awarded over 67,000€ plus legal fees and interest to the client. This was then followed by the news the Supreme Court had just issued another sentence against Silverpoint, bringing the total number of cases won at this court by Canarian Legal Alliance to 65.

Now on with Irene’s article where she recounts our first meeting and her visit and interview with Canarian Legal Alliance. We have certainly moved on since that first meeting.

Canarian Legal Alliance and Inside Timeshare

The meeting of minds

Irene with CLA
Irene Meeting with CLA Staff Sept 2016

By Irene Parker

October 5, 2017

We are judged by the company we keep, so shortly after submitting my first article to Inside Timeshare my husband and I flew to Gran Canaria, Canary Islands to meet Charles Thomas and his Canarian Legal Alliance friends. It was not an easy trip since we boarded the wrong plane in Madrid and ended up in AMSTERDAM!

We stayed at Diamond Resorts Cala Blanca resort on Mogan. A Diamond sales agent in the US actually introduced me to Charles by sending me one of his articles. The staff at Cala Blanca could not have been nicer. I talked quite a while with the manager as he was the head of a resort employee union of sorts advocating on behalf of refugees he felt were being treated unfairly at a resort on the other side of the bay. One of the sales agents working at Cala Blanca and a friend of Charles is one of my Facebook friends.

In today’s timeshare world you can’t be too careful. Attorneys come in all ethical shapes and sizes. In addition to meeting Charles, I was able to meet with the CLA office manager Csilla, named business person of the year for Gran Canaria, several intake workers showing sincere compassion as they listened to timeshare accounts over the phone, and a few CLA lawyers. Since this July 2016 video clip CLA has achieved several more victories for EU timeshare clients – 65 Supreme Court victories to be exact as of October 4, 2017. Watching this video for the first time, I remember thinking if Cristina ever decides she doesn’t like law, she could find a job in the motion picture industry.

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-latest-updates-video/

Timeshare today seems to have lost all sense of direction. True, we hear primarily from the disgruntled, but developer lawsuits flying back and forth between timeshare developers and transfer agents has left many timeshare members in a state of confusion. Who do you trust?

I trust CLA and am honored to have been asked to have my Inside Timeshare articles featured on the new CLA International website with Charles webmaster of the news tab. Our Diamond Resorts member sponsored Advocacy Facebook administrator and Economics Professor Michael Nuwer and Australian Contributor Justin Morgan submitted their comments for this article about the Apollo Global Management buyout of Diamond Resorts.

http://clainternational.ae/2017/09/28/who-is-apollo-what-is-apollo-two-diamond-member-consumer-advocates-offer-their-opinion/

Timeshare members need help. It has been widely reported many aging baby boomers (like me) are desperate to be released from timeshare. Some timeshare companies have launched surrender programs, like Wyndham’s Ovation program, but the vast majority of members contacting Inside Timeshare succumbed to high interest rate loans and credit cards. Thus, they are not eligible for voluntary surrender programs. Often they are forced into foreclosure. The problem is exacerbated when the member alleges they were deceived into buying a timeshare or upgraded for maintenance fees relief or buy-back programs that do not exist. Out of 157 complaints received (as of October 4), 143 allege deceit on the front end of the sale. The others can’t afford rising maintenance fees.

From our humble beginnings, as more members started helping other members, we called ourselves Timeshare Advocacy Group™ as members turned anger and disbelief into action and advocacy. Timeshare Advocacy Group™ started as an afterthought. A former timeshare sales agent contacted me and said they wanted to do a press release in Arizona. We needed a place where readers could respond.

Irina Allen stepped up to the plate. She is our Facebook page administrator.

admin lady new

Irina (Irene) Allen purchased over $500,000 worth of timeshare points to share with family, friends and clients. On the advice of a sales agent, Irene opened a RedWeek account and posted one ad to rent some of her points. She gave up this idea after she never got paid for the rental. Rentals are not allowed, according to company rules, but there are hundreds of rental ads anyway. She also was accused of opening an Airbnb account. Irene says she has never had an Airbnb account. She was expected to pay $2,400 per month in mortgage payments and $29,000 in maintenance fees for a year while her account was suspended. Resorts are exempt from the rule for promotional purposes. Thus, the resort was able to rent out Irene’s points at Irene’s expense.

At Timeshare Advocacy Group™ members also help members with regulatory filings and media outreach. We have Wyndham, Bluegreen and Diamond members working alongside former Hyatt, Westgate, and Diamond timeshare sales agents in an effort to reform an industry badly in need of reform. In addition to timeshare members, other Advocates, like blogger Lisa Ann Schreier, lend their support. Lisa Ann and Charles are both former timeshare sales agents.

In America, it’s not easy these days for opposing sides to talk to each other, but every once in awhile there is a glance of a Republican sticking their toe over to the Democratic side of the aisle. It is our hope there will be a day when developers will take the time to listen to what critics have to say instead of only focusing on ambulance chasing unscrupulous transfer and listing agents. It is my belief, until the deception on the front end of the timeshare sale is acknowledged and addressed, the court of public opinion is the only court open for the beleaguered and often financially devastated timeshare member learning their contract is perpetual and the secondary market limited at best. For some timeshare companies, there is no secondary market. What other investment or product exists that holds the buyer of a product hostage?

Charles Irene

Charles is winging his way to America tomorrow, so let us know if you will be in the Orlando area October 8 – 12. Or, let Charles know the next times you happen to be on Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.

I am a former stockbroker and financial planner. After I retired from the brokerage business, I became a CASA Supervisor, writing court reports for Family Court on behalf of children in foster care. I have always had a problem turning my back on anyone who considers themselves a victim. There are many ways to volunteer time in retirement. Join us in our efforts to enhance timeshare accountability and transparency.

http://insidetimeshare.com/what-a-volunteer-does-for-nothing/

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That’s it for this week, tomorrow will be a long day as it is Gran Canaria, Madrid, Miami then to Orlando. I know Irene and Don have set aside a couple of days to show me some of the sights, so it will not be all work and no play!

We will however be trying to publish some articles while over there, so keep an eye on these pages.

Have a great weekend

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