Browse Tag

Litigious Abogados

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams Pt 2

Over the years we have seen various changes in the scams surrounding timeshare, from the development of resorts in the beginning then the resale scam to the latest of the fake law firms. Once the timeshare is purchased then the never ending problem of who to trust emerges. Today we have a brief look at how these scams have changed, the only thing that ties them together is they want your hard earned cash.

The first scams to take place in what should have been a good product was the off-plan purchase. In the early days when timeshare resorts were proliferating, those on holiday were lured to the presentation deck or showrooms to be sold “The Dream”. These “UP’s” or “Unit Prospects” as you are known, were usually picked up off the street by the OPC’s or the touts with the scratch cards, every single person given these cards would win the Star Prize. Then taken to the deck to claim it and sit with a “rep” for the presentation.

They would be shown architects plans and artistic impressions of what the resort would look like, what facilities it would have and the standard of the apartments. Usually photos of existing resorts would be shown to enhance the quality that you would expect. It was also sold as an investment, you were buying into property or real estate, which would go up in value. In essence you were buying a share in your very own holiday home.

A proposed date for completion would be given and then the hard sell kicked in, for just a small deposit you can secure the week and apartment of your choice, if you could not afford the full price a payment plan or finance could be arranged. After all it would be some time before you would be able to use the resort as it still had to be built.

Unfortunately, many of these resorts were never actually completed or even started, what you purchased was a hole in the ground and “The Dream”. Many of these sales took place in destinations such as Portugal, Spain and its Islands. This did give these countries a very bad reputation.

It must also be remembered that these schemes tended to be run by criminals who needed to launder their ill gotten gains from criminal activities in their own countries. That was the start of the word “Timeshare” becoming synonymous with scams.

Once timeshare was established, the resale scam began to appear, many of these were based on the Costa del Sol which had many timeshare resorts. Call centers were set up, usually in apartments and hidden, remember there was no internet at that time, so making checks was virtually impossible.

The caller would introduce themselves and ask if you still owned the timeshare, once this was established the question of have you thought about selling, as the prices of timeshares was increasing. After all the purchaser did think they owned property!

After establishing what the owner had paid and what they owned, the agent calling would come up with a wonderful story of how they had sold recently for almost double the original purchase price. Once the owner had been hooked with the greed factor, then the agent would be needing a payment to list the property for sale. That would be the last you heard from them or your money.

The next move in the resale scam was the guaranteed buyer, or the corporate buyer, these tended to be the Discount Members Holiday Clubs, such as Designer Way Vacation Club and Club Class Concierge.

These originally worked in 2 ways, the pick up off the street or cold line, the call center targeting timeshare owners through lists. The cold line didn’t generally target owners, but once at the presentation they would establish that you did own timeshare.

With the telephone targeting of timeshare owners, they would be told that there was a buyer who was looking for timeshares, usually a corporate buyer. Once you agreed that you would be interested in selling they would invite you to their offices in Spain with free accommodation, to attend a meeting.

Once at the meeting the corporate buyer turned out to be a sales agent for the holiday club, they would take the timeshare off your hands but to do so you had to purchase membership into the club. You would get a discount for the timeshare and in many cases what was known as Cashback, which was another con in itself.

It the turned out that the discounts promised never materialised, the excuse was always the same, sorry not available on those dates. It also turned out that in many cases several year down the line the timeshare company started for non- payment of maintenance fees. The timeshare had not been disposed of as promised.

Thankfully the main culprits have been closed down, but there are still some about, resale scams still exist, but from what we have seen they are mainly targeting French and Belgian owners and are based in Marrakech.

We now move on to the claims sector which has really started to take off since the first Supreme Court rulings against timeshare companies.

Some of these are very sophisticated frauds, such as those of the Tenerife based family of fake law firms which we have dubbed the Litigious Abogados Family. Their method is very well put together, they even have some excellent fake court and procurator documents.

First they contact the owner, (in some cases the timeshare is no longer owned), with the story that the timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you can be in on the case. You are likely to receive thousands in compensation, but you do have to pay a fee to the procurator. Once paid, give it a couple of weeks and you are then notified that the director pleaded guilty and you have been awarded a substantial amount. Unfortunately there is a tax to be paid, which is 20% of the awarded amount, to back this up the unsuspecting timeshare owner is sent fake court documents showing the sentence and a photocopy of the cheque they will receive. Yes you guessed it there was no trial and you have just lost thousands.

Another ploy is the so-called firms calling themselves lawyers or claims companies, the pitch is simple, you have a claim which they will do on a no win no fee basis, great no legal fees upfront. There is one snag though, you need to cancel the contract first, but guess what they can do the relinquishment for you. All you have to do is pay upwards of £5000 and you will be out, then they will start the claim for you.

In some cases these companies have also used the “bait and switch” tactic to sell their own product, “Leisure Credits” (think Monster Credits) which is a discount club (very similar to the holiday club), again not worth the paper the contract is written on.

What we have seen with these particular schemes from many of our readers is simple, they have never received any money for the claim and they are now being chase for around 3 years of back maintenance. Their contract have never been relinquished.

We have seen this with one company that has gone out of business, RSB Legal. They operated for about 3 years so must have taken hundreds of people for tens of thousands of pounds. It must also be said that the UK authorities such as Trading Standards as well as the police are investigating many companies.

Yes, for the poor timeshare owner it is a very perilous world, a veritable minefield where thousands are lost on an almost daily basis, with very little hope of ever recovering what has been paid.

There are some genuine law firms and claims companies, these will not tell you that you have a claim if you don’t, it is not in their interest to take on cases which are not valid. As for relinquishments, many resorts will not deal with third parties, Ona Group, MGM Petchey, MacDonald Resorts, Diamond, Club la Costa and many more, they will only deal direct with the member. Then in most case the fee they charge is usually far less than what you would pay these other companies.

It now remains to be seen what form the next phase of scams will take, these crooks will always find an angle, after all they do want your money!

So the moral of this tale is doing your due diligence and plenty of homework, if you don’t know where to start, then use our contact page. We are here to give you free advice and point you in the right direction.

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we publish another Veterans “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, with the introduction by Irene Parker. As with many of the other articles published on Inside Timeshare this is a story from the Veterans own personal experience, these stories have become all too familiar with us at Inside Timeshare, not just from Veterans but also serving members of the armed forces and law enforcement. But first some other news.

It looks like Diamond Resort International have yet another legal action filed against them, this was filed by Labaton Sucharow LLP, on 23 July 2018, on behalf of their clients Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Pension Fund, under the Securities Exchange Act 1934.

Once again this is a Class Action lawsuit, which others who may be affected being invited to join, further details can be obtained from: www.labaton.com. (See link below).

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/07/25/1542302/0/en/Labaton-Sucharow-LLP-Files-Securities-Class-Action-Lawsuit-on-Behalf-of-Diamond-Resorts-International-Inc-Investors.html

There is another new name has come up on the radar, Martinez Notarias with lady called Victoria Holmes contacting consumers who had dealings in the past with our old friends Ramirez and Ramirez. She claims that they can recover along with compensation what the consumer paid, now the worrying aspect is she knows exactly how much was paid, which only leads us to conclude that she is either working with Ramirez or has managed to get hold of all his old records. We actually believe that she is working with Ramirez.

She sends out to those interested Non Spanish residents tax exemption form, which is downloaded from the internet, once the form is completed it then has to be faxed not posted back. There is no website but there is an email [email protected] which is just a normal Gmail free account,  the telephone numbers being used are:

(+34) 603208693 Spanish mobile

Fax: 070 1197 2107 The code 070 is a personal number.

Personal numbers allow a person or businesses to give out a single phone number, then redirect their incoming calls to different locations as and when they choose. 070 numbers can also be used as temporary numbers. For example, somebody selling a car through classified adverts could set up an 070 number to receive enquiries then disable the number after the car has been sold, rather than publishing their real home or mobile number. So this is not a very good sign!

Another new “fake” Procurador has also been flagged, CARLOS RIHOM IGRAIM, with the website:

http://procuradores-igraim.com

The website was only registered on 25 June 2018 so is only just over a month old, yet according to the website they have been established since 1973 and have over 40 years experience. The email they use is [email protected] which again is not linked to the website but is another free email provider such as gmail or yahoo.

The address they give  Calle Yamun 23, Edif. Ifuami, Oficina 328D, Santa Cruz, 38009, Tenerife, when checking this address on google maps, guess what, nothing comes up!

It appears that this “Procurador” is also part of the Legalidades Abogados setup, (Litigious Abogados family). Remember unless you have instigated any legal action, any call to tell you that your timeshare company is about to be taken to court and you will be in for substantial compensation, it is all a lie, they are after your money and that is all.

Now for this weeks article.

Timeshares Affecting the Lives of our Veterans

Another Veteran Family

A Tahiti Village Timeshare Experience

July 31, 2017

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare reached out to Tahiti Village. I talked to a Tahiti reservation agent. He was very nice, explained Consolidated was bankrupt, and that we would need to contact Soleil Management as to their response to this article submitted by a Tahiti owner, who wishes to remain anonymous. The Tahiti agent took my information and said he would forward to Soleil.  We did not hear back.

By a Discouraged Tahiti Village Member

Inside Timeshare can forward comments to this Tahiti member requesting anonymity.

Nevada and the businesses and agencies operating within it have no intention to do anything about timeshare fraud, so I hope the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please Share my article on your Facebooks to let people know about timeshare business practices and to seek answers to questions you should ask before signing any timeshare contract. If you don’t, you may find yourself stuck in a timeshare trap as we are.

I am writing this article to let people know about our Tahiti Village timeshare experience. I hope to warn other people to ask the right questions, so they don’t find themselves saddled with a timeshare they can’t get rid of. We made our last payment December 2017. I last heard from Tahiti Village in April. We have always had good credit, but now, as seniors, we face foreclosure.

I retired from a ATT & T, so I understand customer service. Our experience with Tahiti customer service has been disappointing. When I wrote good comment cards, Tahiti would respond, but when I submitted our concerns, Tahiti ignored those comments.  

When searching the internet, I found this email address from a member seeking other members who wish to pursue a class action lawsuit against Tahiti Village:  [email protected]

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-scam/las-vegas-nevada-89119/tahiti-village-scam-shannon-deceptive-sales-lies-and-misrepresentation-of-facts-l-1432118

Tahiti Village has a Better Business Rating of A+ despite two of two negative reviews.

https://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/resort/tahiti-village-vacation-club-in-las-vegas-nv-77371/reviews-and-complaints?section=reviews&reviewtype=negative

We have been Tahiti Village timeshare members since 2008. We enjoyed our Tahiti experience for several years until 2015 when we were steamrolled into purchasing an upgrade. By 2012, things had changed. Once when we checked in, we discovered our unit was nasty, the carpets were worn, the couches ripped. One year there was a bad smell in the master room. They just sprayed deodorizer, which did not help. The next year the microwave did not work. As we were checking out they brought the microwave. This is what our maintenance fees are supposed to cover.

Pressure to upgrade ensued. After one presentation, we felt like we had been held hostage after a four hour sales. We ended up upgrading from a fixed to a floating week with RCI. Since then, many things have happened that have turned what was a bearable irritation into an unbearable nightmare. In addition to seeing the fees rise, we now realize we were pressured into purchasing a timeshare product that we never really wanted in the first place. It is a timeshare product not worthy of what we are paying.

My husband, a Navy veteran, served his country for 20 years. Our Armed Forces Vacation Club benefits far exceed this timeshare. We paid Tahiti our hard-earned money for a product that has never lived up to its billing and has been a source of much stress.

As we explored ways of getting rid of our timeshare, it became apparent that many things we were told were not true, including

  1.    The timeshare is an investment that would appreciate in value,
  2.    We would be entitled to tax breaks,
  3.    We could rent the timeshare to pay maintenance fees,
  4.    The timeshare would be easy to resell, assisted by Tahiti.

So, after 10 years of paying for a timeshare that we were told would appreciate in value, could be rented and could be sold for a profit, we are left disappointed and angry. You can sell a house, even with a mortgage, but it seems there is no way out of a timeshare trap.

At times I stayed at Tahiti without my husband. If he was not with me I was treated markedly poorer. I felt that this is because they would always try to upgrade us if we were staying there together. When my husband was not with me, the customer service was worse, and the rooms were of a lesser quality. If we had a problem, even when staying together, reception would tell us they would look into our concern without ever doing so. One time,I asked for a first floor room because my daughter was on crutches and we ended up with the furthest room on the fifth floor. It seemed the only time we were treated with respect was when they wanted more money. This has been a source of irritation through the years, but not enough to warrant action.

When I wrote directly to Tahiti Village Resort asking to be released from this timeshare, I received no reply. I wrote to Soleil Management. They told me that they were not responsible for any misrepresentations that may have happened at the presentations because they were carried out by Tahiti Village Resort and they were merely the managing agent. Tahiti Village Vacation Club also said they were not responsible for any wrongdoing.

I wrote to ASNY, who claimed to be the developer and seller of the resort, as well as the managing agent for Tahiti Village Vacation Club. They said they were not responsible for any complaints about the quality of our stay and we should contact Soleil Management. They then proceeded to give me the usual spiel about how I signed the contract and they were innocent of any wrongdoing perpetrated by the sales staff. They also said that because we had been customers for 10 years, we had no case so would no longer correspond with us. (Inside Timeshare comment: Where have we heard this before?)

According to Ripoff Report, Tahiti is also known as Consolidated Resorts but have learned Consolidated filed for bankruptcy protection:

https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc/las-vegas-california-89145/tahiti-village-consolidated-resorts-soleil-llc-tahiti-village-soleil-management-awsuit-479999

Why is the length of time we owned the timeshare be relevant if we always believed our timeshare was an investment that could be sold if need be? It wasn’t until we wanted to get rid of the timeshare did we learn we had been lied to. If you are in a dead-end relationship and your partner decides to go one step further and punch you in the face after 10 years, should you have no recourse?

So far, we have filed a complaint with the BBB and had our complaint dismissed before any real dialog took place. The Nevada AG referred us to the Real Estate Division. We filed with the Real Estate Division, who said they could not help.

In my opinion, Nevada, and the businesses and agencies operating within it, have no intention to do anything about this so I’m hoping the court of public opinion will be more effective. Please share my article on Facebook to let people know about our Tahiti Village experience and to warn potential buyers to do their homework before buying any timeshare.

Comments from Irene

The public, especially the military, need to be aware that a decision to sign a timeshare contract means signing a contract in perpetuity, often with no secondary market. Maintenance fees have a tendency to increase, so the timeshare can easily become cost prohibitive, even when there is no loan outstanding. Attorneys General investigations and settlements are appreciated, but seem to be only financial speed bumps in the life of a timeshare company. There has been no federal enforcement.

When a timeshare has little to no secondary market, even if you spend $100,000 or more, there is a good chance you might not be able to sell it or even give it back. Scams abound, promising to get you out of your timeshare or your money back. A few of these companies are legitimate, but several readers have reported they did not receive their money back, even when the timeshare returned to the developer due to foreclosure.    

Inside Timeshare has received timeshare complaints from 63 active duty and retired military and law enforcement personnel. Some of the active duty members are concerned about losing their security clearance due to timeshare foreclosure.   

Whistleblowers of America is an organization dedicated to seeking justice for veterans and Active Duty military. WoA presented a Timeshare Advocacy Group™ report to a Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs March 14, 2018. We hope lawmakers will wake up and do something about this. If a timeshare member is helped by our efforts, we encourage a donation to Whistleblowers of America.

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org @whistleP2P

601 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, D,C.

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group™ which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Thank you to our Veteran for their story, they also wished to remain anonymous, also thanks to Irene for the hard work you put in to edit and write the introductions for many of these articles. In Friday’s Letter from America we will be publishing the Better Business Bureau Timeshare Report, which also has some very interesting recommendations to the industry.

If you have any questions, comments or even would like to have your experiences shared with others, then contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page.

Have you been cold called by a company offering any service from resale, claims or relinquishment, or even found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing you due diligence and homework will save you your hard earned cash.

Another New Name for Litigious Abogados Family

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

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

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

Telephone number are:

Freephone: 08008021916

Tenerife: 0034 822680087

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is no telephone number only an email:

[email protected]

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

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

Bank Details Procurator

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

Fake Court Document

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start the Week

We ended last week with the news of the 115th ruling from the Supreme Court, plus the news that judges in 3 courts at Maspalomas all made the same judgements in 4 cases against Anfi. All these were in accordance with those set down by the Supreme Court. This leaves us in no doubt that the law is very much set in stone.

Today is Memorial Day in the US, this is the equivalent of the UK’s Remembrance Sunday held in November, although some in the US may have lost sight of its meaning, lost in a sea of Memorial Day sales at auto dealers and shopping malls.   

“But at its heart, Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for those who have died serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.”

The history of Memorial Day

https://parade.com/479467/tamrabolton/memorial-day-what-the-holiday-really-means/

“This is not Veterans Day, it’s not a celebration, it is a day of solemn contemplation over the cost of freedom.”

Our favorite quote, out of 17 quotes, as it applies to our veterans helping veterans and active duty military and law enforcement, alleging they were fraudulently sold or up-sold a timeshare, best describes their efforts.

“Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.”Mary Roach

https://parade.com/670587/lindsaylowe/17-memorial-day-quotes-on-sacrifice-gratitude-and-patriotism/

Inside Timeshare has heard from over 50 veterans and active duty military and law enforcement. Decorated war heroes join Timeshare Wars, hoping the industry will acknowledge the harm done to those who have sacrificed their physical, and sometimes mental health, to protect even those who seek to do them financial harm. The consequences of predatory timeshare sales and lending can be devastating, as described by many military families reaching out to Inside Timeshare, asking for help.

   

It would seem that the “fake lawyers” AG Abogados, part of the Litigious Abogados family may have stopped cold calling, but the scam has now moved on the familiar cheques has been sent, but the envelope is open and the cheque is missing.

The same story which we reported last year, the only difference is that the gang of Romanians has now been replaced by Ukrainians!

There is now a new law firm which has been charged by the court to investigate and sort this out for the clients, Elias Elisa SA, yet another fake law firm. (See link below for the previous article).

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-plot-gets-thicker/

Just to remind you, the courts do not send cheques through the post to payout clients, these “firms” are all fake. With this new phase of the scam underway, it is more then likely that the website will soon be down, so we just wait and see what new name comes up. If you get a call from a “Law Firm” that tells you your timeshare company is being taken to court and you can join in the action, contact Inside Timeshare and let us know.

Inside Timeshare has also received several enquiries about a new firm that has started contacting timeshare owners, Harrison Moorcroft Litigation Limited, based at Harlow Enterprise Centre Kao Hockham Building, Edinburgh Way, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2NQ.

This company was registered on 9 October 2017 at Company House, with the registration number 11001924, so a fairly new company.

According to their website, they are not going after any timeshare company, but the banks that issued the finance agreements and the credit card companies.

https://www.harrisonmoorcroft.com/

Some parts of this post have been removed due to information which has come in since publication. It does look like they will be working in the interest of consumers.

With the proliferation of claims companies setting up it is making it very difficult for timeshare owners to know who to trust. Stick to the basic rules and remember, can they prove what they say, especially if the have only recently been registered as a company. If they claim to have links with well known law firms etc, check with them to verify the claim. We have seen too many companies claim they are working closely with known lawyers and companies, only to find out it is a fabrication. ,

If you are unsure on how to make any checks, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction. Remember do you homework and stay safe.

Friday’s Letter from America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to File a Timeshare Complaint (May 2018 revision)

Start with the Attorneys General Office

Timeshare Advocacy Group™

May 18, 2018

By Irene Parker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the FBI,

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two most common complaints reported:

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

How Advocacy Works

Timeshare Advocacy Group™ is organized into seven teams:

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

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

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

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

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

How to File a Timeshare Complaint

Name (s) and age of member

Phone Number

State of Residence

Member Number

For each contract in dispute:

Where Purchased and Date of Purchase

Number of Points Purchased

Sales Agent and Sales Agent ID# (if available)

Purchase Price

Amount Financed and Interest Rate

Current Loan Balance

Loan Number

Current Maintenance Fees

Name of Credit Card if one was used

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

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

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

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

MOST IMPORTANT – Purchase Timeline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary of Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agencies

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

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

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

Who We Are and Why We Do This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://tug2.net/

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

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

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

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

May 18, 2018 Irene Parker Timeshare Advocacy GroupTM

 

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

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

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

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

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

More Photographs Identified

This week Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the “Fake Law Firms” which are part of the Litigious Abogados Family, today we publish more identities of the genuine people whose images have been used.

amador-ganeca-logo

We start with Amador Ganeca Abogados, when you enter the website the first photo you see is of the “founder” called Amador Ganeca, this gentleman is in fact the founder of Yáñez & Asociados Abogados, Álvaro Yáñez.

This law firm is based in Bogotá, Columbia, it has been in existence for 35 years.

amador-ganeca-fw

http://www.yanezabogados.com/en/firm/

There are another four “lawyers” pictured, so far only one has not been identified, the first is known as Simone Maengas Arlovaz, very similar to the name used for the image of Joshua Valentine in yesterday’s article, Simono Maenga Arlovas, from Amador Galeca Abogados.

The actual person is Alejandro Aparicio Ferrer, of the Valencia based firm Aparicio Consulting Juridico – Económico.

simone-maengas-arlovaz-wm

We then have Balthazar Hermid Nisbemas, again a very similar name Balthather Hirmod Nisbelam, from the same Amador Galeca website identified as the Australian lawyer Steve Cardell.

The actual person is Diego Muñoz one of the founding partners in the Muñoz Tamayo & Asociados, from Bogotá, Columbia. He is also President of the Colombian Legal Services Chamber of the ANDI Association, so another very eminent person whose image has been used illegally.

balthazar-hermid-nisbemas-wm

The last one from this “fake firm” is Domingo Varlotes Biriendel, whose is actually  Dr. Augusto Arbaiza Perito Grafotécnico Abogado – Criminalista, a distinguished lawyer in Peru’s Capital Lima. The original photograph was probably lifted from the website below.

domingo-varlotes-biriendel-wm

http://www.arbaizaabogados.com/

We now move to Amador Gareca Abogados, this website is no longer accessible, which is not surprising as we did highlight this “firm” in June 2017.

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigipus-abogados-family-gets-bigger/

The image and name used for the founder of this “firm” is Armando Garcia, none other than the above named Álvaro Yáñez, of Amador Ganeca Abogados.

The next image is named as Agustin Bigote Pringata, it is in fact the Azerbijan Ambassador to Argentina Rashad Aslanov, the photo is actually doctored from the official photo of him presenting his credentials to the Argentinian President Mauricio Macri.

armando-gareca-abogados-agustin-bigote-pringata  Argentina President

https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/2735370.html

Once again the same image used on the Amador Ganeca website for Simone Maengas Arlovaz, is named here as Domingo Barlotes Miriendel, who is Alejandro Aparicio Ferrer, of the Valencia based firm Aparicio Consulting Juridico – Económico.

http://aparicioconsulting.es/en/equipo/alejandro-aparicio-ferrer

The last is named as Juan Firmid Mantadiz, but again the same image is used on the Amador Ganeca website, using the alias Balthazar Hermid Nisbemas, it is once again Diego Muñoz.

As you can see, the creators of these “fake firms” have been very creative with choice of names and the careful use of images, using ones which look distinguished and trustworthy. Obviously a lot of effort went into searching for the images, but this really does go to show how you cannot trust everything you see on the internet.

If you have been contacted by any company or are thinking of taking on any services regarding your timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare, we will be happy to point you in the right direction in finding the genuine firms from the “fake”.

 

Fake Law Firms Using Real Lawyers Photographs

Following on from our previous articles regarding the “fake law firms” we today highlight two more and identify the actual persons whose images have been used.

The first is, Abogados Canarias which is part of the Litigious Abogados family, we have now found new identities from the photographs they have used on their website as their lawyers.

abogados-canarias-logo

http://abogados-canarias.com/civil-law/

The first is the so-called founder of the company Manuel Cilavoz Varintos, who is in actual fact Carlos Magnanini the Global Account Manager for the Argentinian company Clarke Modet & Co Argentina SA.

abogados-canarias-manuel-cilavoz-varintos-300x300

https://www.clarkemodet.com/en/experts/carlos-magnanini.html

Another photograph on the website named as Fernando Siltal Crostena is actually another Argentinian, Doctor Jaime Leonardo Kleidermacher of A. Kleidermacher Abogados & Consultores. He graduated from the University of Buenos Aires in 1986.

abogados-canarias-fernando-siltal-crostena

http://www.kleidermacher.com/integrantes.html

The photograph of Juan Cretedos Dolabaris has not been fully identified, but it is believed to be an Italian lawyer called Pasquale Frisina Roma. The search for this one continues.

The third lawyer pictured Manolo Derban Ferolita has so far not been found on any searches.

Another of the “fake” law firms is Amador Galeca Abogados, which we highlighted in September 2017.

amador-galeca-300x191

http://amadorgaleca.com/civil-law/

The so-called founder of this company is named as Amador Malodan Galeca, he is in fact Emilio J. Zegrí Boada, from the Spanish law firm Zegri + Olivar, based at Avenida Diagonal, 606, Principal 1ª 08021 Barcelona.

amador-malodan-galeca-243x300

http://www.abogadospenalistas.es/abogados/

Another lawyer whose image is being used is named as Simono Maenga Arlovas, he is in fact a young but distinguished lawyer named Joshua R. Valentine, from the law firm Caulder & Valentine based at 1157 E Marion St Suite 4 Shelby, NC 28150. tel:704.470.2440 .704.754.8401 (fax).

simono-maenga-arlovas

According to his profile on the firms website he is a very highly educated young lawyer:

https://www.cauldervalentine.com/josh-valentine

Education:

  • Charlotte School of Law
  • J.D., Magna Cum Laude
  • Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review
  • Certification and Concentration in Employment Law
  • Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society
  • Order of the Crown
  • Pro Bono Honors
  • CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process and Contracts
  • Full Scholarship
  • Gardner-Webb University
  • B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude
  • Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA
  • Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society

Bar Admissions:

  • North Carolina State Bar
  • South Carolina State Bar
  • United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina

We now have two lawyers from the Amador Galeca website from the same law firm, Clarke Kann Lawyers from Australia, this firm has two offices based at Level 7, 300 Queen Street Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia and Level 4, 9 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000 Australia.

On the “fake” website they are named as Manuel Pralge Namblib who is actually Joseph Najem a Consultant based at their Sydney office:

manuel-pralge-namblib-300x300

http://www.clarkekann.com.au/people/joseph-najem

Then there is Balthathar Hirmod Nisbelam, who in fact is Steven Cardell, a Partner in the firm and based in Brisbane.

balthathar-hirmod-nisbelam-300x300

http://www.clarkekann.com.au/people

So there we have it, not only are these “fake” firms forging official documents, using official logos illegally but also using photographs of genuine lawyers without their knowledge, although they will know by the end of today.

Inside Timeshare is here to help you get to the truth, if you have had any contact from any of the companies named in these articles use our contact page and let us know. Remember these are not genuine law firms, they exist only to take your hard earned money from you.

 

Lagalidades Abogados: Update on Fake Lawyers Names

In last Friday’s Letter from America, we began with another new name in the family of “fake” law firms that started with Litigious Abogados, this one is called Legalidades Abogados.

Friday’s Letter from America

legalidades-abogados-logo

Civil Law

 

Over the weekend one of our regular readers informed Inside Timeshare that one of the photographs of the new lawyers was familiar to him, he also provided a name. On investigating the name provided it turns out the pictured lawyer is one:

Dr DR. ABELARDO ENCINAS SILVA, an eminent lawyer in Peru on Constitutional law, sitting on the CÁTEDRA DE DERECHO CONSTITUCIONAL GENERAL, (CHAIR OF GENERAL CONSTITUTIONAL LAW).

pablo-Ibernas-cavosa-legalidades-abogados-300x201
Photo from the Legalidades Website
Dr Abelardo Encinas Silva
The Genuine Dr Abelardo Encinas Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below are a couple of links showing Dr Abelardo:

http://drencinascatedra.blogspot.com.es/2015/12/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n93jdSQTO80

Since finding this out Inside Timeshare has identified the other photographs that Legalidades Abogados have downloaded from the internet and posted in their website with new fictitious names.

The next one is a Chilean lawyer Gabriel Palma Cruzat is a member of Palma Abogados.

gabriel-lindeno-miraldo-203x300

http://www.elmercurio.com/legal/noticias/opinion/2018/01/09/prevencion-de-delitos-en-las-empresas.aspx?disp=1

http://www.capital.cl/capital-legal/2018/01/04/146883/el-balance-de-la-ley-de-responsabilidad-de-personas-juridicas/

As you can see from the links above he is also a prominent lawyer.

Last but by no means least we have these three lawyers all from the Law firm Bufete Rodreguez-Monsalve, with offices at the following locations:

Madrid, Valladolid and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and abroad, with offices in Miami, Warsaw, Bogota, Lima, Kiev and Moscow.

bufete660-k57C-U212994882737HpF-575x323@Norte Castilla
The genuine lawyers

Below are links to their website and a newspaper article about their new office published in El Norte de Castilla:

http://www.rodriguez-monsalve.com/es/

http://www.elnortedecastilla.es/valladolid/201703/23/resuelve-dudas-juridicas-nuevo-20170323125458.html

This leaves us in no doubt that Legalidades Abogados are truly a “fake law firm” not only forging legal court documents, illegally using official logos, but also using the photographs of some prominent lawyers.

It now makes us wonder what other lawyers have had their photographs used in this way on the other websites involved with this fraudulent outfit, Inside Timeshare will obviously now be continuing with the research and trying to identify those on the other websites. We will keep you informed.

If you have been contacted by this firm or one of those we have previously highlighted, do not take any notice of anything they say, do not pay them any money, you will only lose it. For further information contact Inside Timeshare.

watching

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, in this article by Irene Parker with a contribution from Mike Finn of Finn Law Group, we look at the Timeshare Tax Trap.

The Orlando Sentinel has also published an article about Diamond and Orange Lake Resorts sueing Mike Finn, they accuse him of using  “false and misleading” claims in his ads. The article also mentions that Mike is cited by many publications as a successful cancellation attorney who along with other groups monitor timeshare companies, they go on to name the National Timeshare Owners Association and also Inside Timeshare. Mike is a regular contributor and offers valuable insights into the law for Inside Timeshare For the full article click on the link below.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/brinkmann-on-business/os-bz-orange-lake-timeshare-finn-20180404-story.html

But first a new warning from Europe, one of our long standing regulars has been contacted by a new “law Firm”, yes you guessed it, another new name in the Litigious Abogados family from Tenerife.

legalidades-abogados-logo

The new name is Legalidades Abogados, using the same address we have seen before:

4, Calle de S. Francisco, Santa Cruz, 38002, Tenerife

Freephone: 0800 862 0995

Tenerife Tel: 0034 822 250 502

email: [email protected]

email: [email protected]

Once again the address is genuine and shows 2 lawyers plaques on the wall, neither are this one. The email addresses are also not linked to the website, but are ones you can register for free at consultant.com.

According to their website http://legalidades-abogados.com/ they were founded by  Alberto Kalimro Galvera, on Monday 19th July 1990. Again this date in 1990 was actually a Thursday, so once again not very much attention to detail there. They also still insist they have over 15 years presence on the internet, not bad since the website was only registered on 15 March 2018 with the registrant hidden by a privacy company.

After the initial call they send an email which is signed by Angelica Imolintos Lesterno from Departmento Legal. Also attached is a letter of 3 pages with many official looking logos, it is signed by another new name Pablo Ibernas Cavosa.

Here are the new lawyers names and photos, once again probably downloaded from the internet, without the knowledge of the actual persons.

alberto-kalimro-galvera  luciano-emanca-domeras  pedro-arenolde-verandel  gabriel-lindeno-miraldo-203x300  pablo-Ibernas-cavosa-legalidades-abogados-300x201

From left to right: Alberto Kalimro GalverLuciano Emanca DomerasPedro Arenolde VerandelPablo Ibernas Cavosa.

 

In this long winded letter, they go on to say that it is a “no win no fee” arrangement, but as we know from past experience the next stage will be a fee is required for the Procurador. After this there will be a fee to pay “tax” to release the money from the court.

Once again we remind you to be very wary on companies that make these wonderful claims, especially with a “no win no fee” arrangement. Do your homework, you know it makes sense.

Now for this week’s Letter from America.

The Timeshare Tax Trap – A 1099 Loan Forgiveness Tax Liability

$170,000 Diamond Timeshare Points Purchased for no Reason

Timeshare Attorney Mike Finn, a former C.P.A., weighs in

Tax Time

By Irene Parker

April 6, 2018

Two Inside Timeshare readers contacted us alarmed, because they received an IRS 1099 form, informing them of a timeshare tax liability. For one family, this meant possibly an additional $170,000 in income. This would have been bad enough, but the already Platinum Diamond Resort member said they purchased the points to participate in a program that did not exist.

Timeshare members have learned there is little to no timeshare enforcement of timeshare regulations in some states, so by relying on the oral representation clause, timeshare sales agents are allowed to say anything to sell vacation points. The Nevada Real Estate Division has routinely replied to timeshare buyers, “You have no proof,” according to member reports. Today’s family is one of eleven families complaining about the same sales Las Vegas sales agent.

A reminder no one should pay upfront money without checking with us or one of the advocacy self-help Facebooks and websites listed below. Lack of a secondary market for timeshare points gives rise to a flourishing community of scam artists.

This former Diamond member says DRI sales agent Rick Casper, working out of Polo Towers in Las Vegas, told him to buy more Diamond vacation points to eliminate maintenance fees. He and his wife wanted to talk to someone at DRI because they were struggling to pay maintenance fees on the 50,000 DRI points they already owned. This member is a 100% disabled Vietnam veteran, having been exposed to Agent Orange. The former member did not contact us to complain about Diamond Resorts. He wanted to know if there was anything that could be done about the 1099. I did ask why he purchased additional timeshare points from Rick Casper, given Inside Timeshare has received 11 identical complaints about the same Las Vegas sales agent over an 18 month period.    

In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’s Cancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr. Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take a year to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for the maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this; but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 which has to be claimed as income. It’s for around $170,000. I’m now 71 years old. I would have been better off foreclosing.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 114 Diamond Resorts members since January 1. By publishing these accounts we hope to inform new timeshare buyers, and existing members upgrading, that the timeshare contract is perpetual, maintenance fees increase, and in most cases there is little or no secondary market.

Buyer Beware Active Duty military and law enforcements are especially affected by a bad timeshare purchase. We are assisting seven in fear of losing their Security Clearance. The ages and branch of military service of the 11 Rick Casper customers, who report being financially devastated as a result of their Polo Tower purchase, include:

  1. Age 69, Army, retired, 21 years
  2. Age 70, 100% disabled, Army, Agent Orange
  3. Age 68, Coast Guard veteran
  4. A stage 4 cancer patient, age 40s
  5. Age 60
  6. Age 69, Gulf War veteran, on 25 meds
  7. Age 61
  8. Age 66
  9. Age 56
  10. Mary Pfeifer, age 72, new complaint not unresolved
  11. Denise Hodgkins, age 56, new complaint, unresolved

I asked my CPA about the 1099. She said they would have referred the tax filer to a tax attorney, so the problem is not that simple. As usual, we went to timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group. Mike provided an article about this important topic on his Learning Center.

https://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/tax-time-contract-cancellation-timeshare-developer

An excerpt from Mike’s article:

Loan forgiveness

The 1099 form is referencing a large amount which may very well be taxable income! Unlike a mortgage balance forgiven, which would have been spread out over the life of the loan, this possibly taxable sum has been reported to the IRS in one lump sum! Say the amount reported is about $25,000. Say further that your tax bracket is 20%. Your new added tax bill is $5,000, and it’s due April 15th!

So, does this tax form receipt mean that the recipient is stuck with the tax bill for the so-called income? Well, possibly.

Consult with a tax professional before you assume that your receipt of a 1099 form from a timeshare developer automatically means you’re staring down significant tax liability. Understand we are not providing tax advice, merely a possible position that we believe is quite tenable and worth exploring with your own tax advisor. Although it’s accurate for me to state that I was a Certified Public Accountant, it is much more important to note that my C.P.A. licensure has long ago lapsed (because I didn’t choose to keep up with the annual professional education courses necessary to retain my certification). Please take your tax preparation advice solely from your own qualified tax return preparer.

Every tax filer is unique, with differing facts and circumstances. I am not offering, nor should you interpret my comments, as tax advice.

Historically, over the past half dozen years or so, hundreds and hundreds of Finn Law Group clients have received IRS 1099 forms, both 1099A’s and 1099C’s.  The receipt of these forms creates confusion.

I point you to IRS form #982. This is the form that the IRS advises should be filed along with the income tax return itself as a form of supporting schedule, which provides notification to the IRS that the amount presented to them via a 1099 is being acknowledged, but further, that the amount listed should be excluded from the taxpayer’s gross income. The myriad of possible reasons provided on the 982 Form are in and of themselves confusing and difficult to understand. I’m therefore providing my readers what I suggest may be appropriate reasoning in concluding that, in many cases, there should be no “income tax penalty” imposed after successfully negotiating a release of contract with your timeshare resort.

Allow me to provide my argument as to why some forms of debt forgiveness may well be construed as taxable income, and then differentiate the negotiated act of cancelling a timeshare contract and why this transaction therefore logically should be treated differently.

Since “income” generally means a measure of accretion of wealth or value added to your worth, then the cancellation of a debt, when that debt was incurred when you received something of value, should be counted as income because the elimination of the debt liability plus the retention of the item acquired when the debt was incurred increases your net worth. Under this definition of added wealth, the taxing of same would be quite logical.

Applying this argument to the cancellation of a timeshare contractual obligation and its related underlying indebtedness, it’s immediately evident that the cancelled owner has retained absolutely nothing of value. They’ve surrendered their interest in exchange for a debt and/or contract cancellation, but after the transaction they have absolutely no accretion of net worth.

Indeed, they’ve lost anything previously paid on an ‘asset’ they no longer own, so any argument that they’ve achieved and retained income or anything of value because of the contract cancellation is simply not accurate.

In terms of taxpayer reporting requirements, the issue becomes murkier when you apply it to timeshare transactions. Whether or not the industry will ever acknowledge that the resale value of a timeshare interest is minimal at best, what we can establish is that it would be extremely unusual for anyone other than the resort developer to acquire the timeshare interest at foreclosure, and therefore the liquidated basis of the interest will nearly always be zero, or at best a nominal value at foreclosure. Also making the timeshare transaction more complex in terms of following the instructions of either IRS form 982 and/or publication 4681 relating to this issue is determining whether the underlying debt should be viewed as “recourse” or “non-recourse,” given the propensity of the developers to utilize non-recourse based non-judicial foreclosures to recover the interest the greatest majority of the time.

I’ve attempted to avoid becoming overly technical in terms of specifically advising of taxpayer reporting other than to suggest very generally that the filing of the IRS form 982 will most probably be required. Lastly, I do strongly recommend utilizing a professional tax return preparer, as these forms are not at all intuitive.

I earnestly wish that I could offer something less complex to help provide absolute answers to this prominent issue, but I do feel that this is important because the financial ramifications are potentially high.

Respectfully provided,

Michael D. Finn, Esq.

Michael-D-Finn2

Thank you, Mike, for the timeshare accounting lesson. One question I had is,

What is the difference between a 1099 A and a 1099 C?

http://www.koontzassociates.com/pages/know-the-difference-between-a-1099-a-and-1099-c/

Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these self-help groups if you have a timeshare nightmare. We know there are many that use and enjoy their timeshare, some having not faced a need to sell it, or were lucky to purchase from a sales agent that sold the product as the product is intended.

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/

Deceptive

Elder Abuse:

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

All of the schemes have one goal: to trick and deceive senior citizens into turning over their hard-earned savings. Last year, the FBI opened more than 200 financial crime cases that involved elderly victims, Bowdich said. The investigations covered a range of crimes, from investment frauds to reverse mortgage scams.

Thank you Irene for this weeks article and also a very big thank you to Mike Finn for his contribution.

Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments on this or any article published, also if you need any information about your ownership or any company that has contacted you or you are thinking of doing business with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Friday is upon us the weekend beckons, we hope you have a great and relaxing one. See you next week.

weekend 1

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Maarten

St. Maarten, Board Elections and Resort Reconstruction

Diamond Resorts

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

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

April 3, 2018

By Greg Guisti

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

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

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

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

There is only one opening. Other candidates include:

Incumbent Dorothy Albero

Dee Dee Metzcher Carr

Jerry Luby

Christiane Marie-Catherine

Mike Skillingstad

Dr. Basil Vareldzis

Scott Williams

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

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

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

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

Diamond provided this update:

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

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

For more information, contact:

Gregory Guisti

[email protected]

203-519-8258

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

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