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SEPRONA

end month

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta, as well as colleague of the CEO Mark Cushway. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

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

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

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

 

letter from america

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Friday’s Letter from America, this week Eron Grant submits her open letter to ARDA (American Resorts Development Association), for those in Europe that is the RDO. She explains her experience at the hands of a sales agent and asks why does ARDA have a code of ethics if these agents and resorts ignore it? Very good point, the same can be said of the RDO.

First a roundup of this week. For August it has been quite a full week for Inside Timeshare considering that the courts are closed so no news on that front. We began with the ongoing story of the fake law firms in operating out of Tenerife, yes, that family called Litigious Abogados, bit of a sorry story this one.

Unfortunately, the gentleman in question didn’t find our previous story in time, he was totally taken in by the documents and smooth legal talking of this crowd. It began with the usual pitch, that his timeshare company had a case against them ready to go to court and he could be part of it. He duly paid the initial Procurador fees, then a few weeks later he got the great news that he won the case and the court had awarded him thousands in compensation, brilliant!

Now it was only a matter of paying 20% of the award to the tax man to release the money, this done he was told his cheque was on the way. The envelope arrived with the court papers, but no cheque, the envelope had been opened and the cheque missing. After contacting the “Law Firm”, another company contacted him saying the court had appointed them to investigate and get his money back, apparently this Romanian gang had stolen the cheque and cashed it. Don’t worry, we will get the money back from the bank. First you have to pay us 10% of the amount.

Compensation_Cheque-page-001

Then in what can only be described as a further insult to injury, he was told he owed the property tax on a property he owned in Spain, his NIE Number had expired plus he had outstanding fines for a traffic offence. But we can sort this out for you and get the money released, for a fee.

This has lost him thousands of pounds and has caused him great stress. So beware, it may sound good and look genuine, but it rarely is.

On Tuesday, we published the ongoing story of Tauro Beach, the flagship project from Anfi, this time it was a couple of independent research journalists, Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer. In their article, published in the UK paper The Guardian, they investigated the importation of the sand for this man made beach, brought in from the Western Sahara in breach of UN sanctions and European Court of Justice rulings.

This investigation is still underway by various authorities, the main one being SEPRONA, the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil.

Wednesdays article was from Irene Parker on the Welk Resorts case against Timeshare Exit Team. It highlights the dire need for a proper secondary market and a fair exit strategy for those who do not wish to sell.

In this article we opened with news that the TATOC Help Line had closed, we also published a link to a very good in depth report on the importation of sand from Western Sahara and a little of the history from that region. This was written by Ed Timon Editor of The Canary News, an english language newspaper in Gran Canaria.

Yesterdays article was entitled, Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare, in this piece we showed that even old friends will attack each other for your money in this business. It told the story of a company owned by an ex manager of another company, who is now in the business of supposedly claiming compensation against his old employers. Unfortunately, his history and publicity is not as squeaky clean as he would like you to believe, we leave that to your judgement.

So on with this week’s letter.

Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

Woman what

Members are beginning to wonder

ARDA’s Answer from ARDA’s website

ARDA and its members are committed to the highest standards and ethical behavior in vacation ownership. To demonstrate that commitment, all ARDA members as a condition of membership must agree to comply with the ARDA Code of Ethics.

The intent is that all member activities subject to the Code are designed to be honest and fair, and are conducted with integrity, dignity and propriety.

By Eron Grant

August 4, 2017

Part I – My letter to ARDA

Part II – ARDA’s Code of Ethics

Part III – List of Inside Timeshare member articles that question the Code

Mr. Clements, General Counsel and Lobbyist for ARDA,

My husband and I feel we have been deceived by Diamond Resorts International, and ask for your assistance in getting justice for our victimization.

In November of 2016 we stayed in one of DRI’s timeshare resorts in Sedona, AZ through our Interval International membership. While there we attended a DRI sales presentation. The hotel concierge gave our family of 4 a $150 gift card to a local restaurant for our thanksgiving meal, and in return we were to attend a 90-minute sales presentation. The presentation ended up lasting 6 hours, with our sales agent becoming agitated when we said we needed to leave due to my husband’s golf tee time. This violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics of “Information”.

The sales agent, Karen Calvano, empathized with us about our inability to stay in resorts unless located close to home which is in Houston, TX. She said she knew Interval International did not have many resorts in our area, but that DRI had many resorts, and we would certainly be able to find resorts in Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana. As it turned out, DRI’s resorts in our area are owned by affiliate resorts rather than DRI and costs approximately more points than we were sold. This violates ARDA’s “Exchange Program” in which we were over promised on the likelihood to exchange for Diamond’s inventory in our area.

When I looked on the Diamond member website recently, Diamond’s Great Wolf Lodge affiliate property in Texas was available for 26,911 to 66,467 points. If we multiply 26,911 by 20 cents which is the typical cost of maintenance fees, it would cost $5,382 for a one week stay. Booking.com had the same Family Suite available for the same week for $1,700. This is not an unusual scenario. I have searched various times throughout the year.

We attended DRI’s “Event of a Lifetime” in January, 2017 which we were told was our member orientation. The “orientation” turned into a high pressure sales presentation quickly with misleading information regarding redeeming our points for 30 cents per point if we paid to upgrade our membership to platinum. When my husband, Dr. Mark Grant, asked to see the price per point in writing, the sales agent pointed to his own written notes to show us that it was legitimate. My husband pointed out the documented literature which showed the amount at 10 cents per point, and the salesman quickly dismissed us to the next sales agent.

According to the ARDA Code of Ethics, this sales agent violated the ethics standard of “Avoidance of False and Deceptive Statements”.

Mr. Clements, as you can tell from the brief account I have written, we are in a rough situation with devious minded people who have not followed ARDA’s Code of Ethics, and should therefore be forced to let us out of our contractual agreement.

We appreciate your consideration, and assistance!

Sincerely,

Eron Grant

Response from Diamond

I am responding to your concerns regarding availability in Texas and Louisiana. While Diamond Resorts does not own or manage any properties in these states, we do have affiliate agreements with several resorts. These properties offer us limited inventory each year to offer to our members to book with their points. Inventory is typically limited, and prices are set by the properties themselves, and not by Diamond Resorts. These properties are offered on a first come, first served basis in addition to the Diamond Resorts properties covered under your contract.

Diamond Resorts does offer a property in New Mexico, the Villas de Santa Fe. If you would like assistance booking at this property, please let me know and I will be happy to assist.

My Response

My concerns with Karen Calvano stating “DRI has several resorts in TX, LA, and NM” is that when we asked her to show us the properties she said, “Oh we can’t do that right now, but we can do that later.” After 6 hours of being with her, we were exhausted and never did see the properties.

We explained that we are owners with Marriott and members of Interval International already, so affiliate properties through DRI really don’t help us. Plus, the value of your affiliate properties is ridiculous. How does this help us?

questman1

I would like for Mr. Clements or someone at Diamond to explain to me why this does not meet the definition of White Collar Crime: Deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch. In my opinion, there is no doubt what we were offered and what we received meets this definition and violates ARDA’s Code of Ethics.  

Ethics Code of the American Resort Development Association

adopted by the Board of Directors April 7, 2014

  1. General Ethics Standards.  
  1. Disclosure.

With respect to the sale, resale or marketing of a Vacation Interest, the Member shall:

  1. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer regarding the Vacation Interest and all material terms and conditions of the offer of a Vacation Interest.
  2. Provide fair, meaningful and effective disclosure to the consumer of all material terms and conditions of all other products offered contemporaneously with the Vacation Interest, including exchange programs, incidental benefits, financing, short-term products and exit programs.

The Full Code: http://www.arda.org/ethics/

audience

Note from Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from many angry timeshare members, including Bluegreen members. Here are just a few of the many members who have contacted Inside Timeshare wanting their voices heard.

This is our DRI Advocacy Facebook page which respectable sales agents and corporate personnel are allowed to join. We hope the folks at Diamond, Bluegreen and ARDA will take the time to read member stories. We promise you will learn a lot.

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

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

Member articles

Michael Nuwer and Justin Morgan

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-australia-no-read-correctly/

Alan and Debbie Callner

http://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-article-america/

Detective Lela Renea a Bluegreen member

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

David Franks Chapter 2 (Chapter 4 upcoming)

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-10/

Karen Garello Secret Shopper June 22, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/works-industries-not-timeshare/

Romeo and Lily

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

Dr. Jeffries

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-7/

Angela Johnson

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy-group-update/

Neina Orrillo

http://insidetimeshare.com/diamond-in-the-news-again/

Barclaycard and Member stories May 17 2917

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-barlcaycard-us/

Marjorie Menacker

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street-client-experience-diamond/

Eron Grant May 12, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-4/

Nancy Callahan April 24, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/another-nightmare-timeshare-street/

Betty Burmeister and a Filipino Family April 13, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/anatomy-timeshare-foreclosure/

Laurie Sabbagh Secret Shopper March 17, 2017 Clarity Review

http://insidetimeshare.com/friday-review-news-across-ocean/

A Military Family March 6, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/consumer-protection-week-usa/

The Hurleys January 25, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-advocacy/

Irina Allen January 13, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-news-across-atlantic/

Kathie Old December 6, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/call-change-us-timeshare-industry/

Wyndham Trish Williams $20 Million Whistleblower Jury Award December 5, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/wyndham-whistleblower-update/

The Peasant of Venice and the Queen of Versailles November 7, 2017

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

Sylvia Saldana and the Barclaycard October 25, 2016

http://insidetimeshare.com/irene-parker-write-barclay-card-usa/

right wrong

Thank you Eron Grant and Irene for this weeks contribution, these are your stories, they are published so you know what is going on in this murky world called timeshare. If you have a story you would like to share or have any comments Inside Timeshare would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or even need to know if you are dealing with a possible “scam” company, get in touch with us. Even if we don’t know the answer straight away we know where to look and can point you in the right direction. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry, doing your homework is essential, even more so in today’s timeshare world.

So it only leaves us to say, it’s Friday, have great weekend.

fridaycat

Tauro beach gone

Tauro Beach: In the UK News.

It would seem the debacle that is the Tauro Beach Project, which was supposed to be a “flag ship” project for Anfi has now hit the international press. The UK’s Guardian Newspaper has published an article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent research journalists on the story of the sand that has been used.

The Guardian

Many months ago Inside Timeshare published the story that this sand was imported from Western Sahara, that it is under investigation by SEPRONA, the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil. Anders over the past few months has been in contact with us and we have happily passed on information we had, so it is with pleasure that we publish todays story with the link to their article.

Tauro Beach: Latest Development

Inside Timeshare has been following the story mainly from the perspective of the timeshare angle, but we have also published the latest stories from the local residents. The fact that recently the entrances and pathways to the area have been blocked, making it very difficult for the residents to get to their properties.

Anders and Rowan have taken a different tack to this story, they have concentrated on the illegalities of importing products from an area which is under occupation and is in breach of UN resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice.

It has been the contention of many in Gran Canaria that this sand was brought here illegally and was dumped without being treated, Lt Germán García SEPRONA’s Chief in Las Palmas stated  “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” something that has angered environmentalists. No one knows for sure what effect this could have on the local environment. Only 300 meters from the beach is an undersea area which is protected, it contains plant and animal species unique the area and found nowhere else in the world. Apparently this area has already been affected, to what degree is not quite known.

gc-seprona

This whole story from the start has been one of pure greed, no thought for the local residents, no thought for the environment, just the thought of building and making money! This story is not going away, the investigations are ongoing, so it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out. When it does, we are sure there will be charges to follow.

Here is the link to Anders’ and Rowan’s article in the The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

Enter Tauro Beach in the search box to see all articles published on Inside Timeshare and follow the story.

If you have any thoughts or comments on this subject Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, we will be keeping in touch with Anders and will pass on your comments.

 

end-year

2016 End of Year Review

So here we are at the end of another year and what a year it has been, it started with the relaunch of Inside Timeshare, bringing you truthful information and news you would otherwise not get.

One of our first articles explained what fly buys are, the fact you would get a cheap holiday but be subject to attending a presentation. At this you would be pitched a holiday product of some sort, be it a holiday club or timeshare. The article also warned of the pitfalls of not attending the presentation, either being charged the full accommodation price and in many cases being removed from the resort.

We also highlighted many “scams” that timeshare owners have been subjected to over the years including many new ones. The latest being the article on Litigious Abogados (see links). We also showed how some of the so-called resale companies operate, giving you the reader the information to make an informed choice.

http://insidetimeshare.com/1059-2/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-update/

http://insidetimeshare.com/litigious-abogados-latest-information/

CLA Logo

Another theme Inside Timeshare published was the on-going woes of Anfi, the first article titled: “The Great ANFI Battle of the Partners”, explained the story of the two partners in the Anfi empire, the Lyngs and the Cazorlas. We then published the story of legal history being made with the very first Supreme Court ruling, this was the case of the Norwegian lady, Mrs Tove Grimsbo and her battle with Anfi. The case was brought on her behalf by Canarian Legal Alliance.

Since that auspicious occasion, Canarian Legal Alliance has gone from strength to strength, securing 36 rulings from the Highest Court in Spain, 29 of these have been against Anfi. Others have been against TasolanPalm Oasis and Holiday Club Puerto Calma, with the ruling against Puerto Calma confirming the Fractional did indeed come under Timeshare Laws. This resulted in around 243,000 Euros being returned to a British client.

There have also been 24 High Court and 21 Local Court rulings against various timeshare companies including Resort Properties / Silverpoint and Club La Costa. Some of these Courts have been in Maspalomas, Arona, Barcelona and Fuengirola. There are approximately 800 live cases in various courts and over 2000 clients. The total claim value is around 80 million Euro, with 117.208.00 Euros reclaimed per month, there are on average 2 to 3 cases per week being heard.

(These figures are what we have on file, there have obviously been more cases, but we have yet to receive an update).

This is certainly an impressive achievement by this law firm, who has in the past suffered from some very negative press instigated by the industry itself. Inside Timeshare congratulates the whole team at Canarian Legal Alliance, including the clients who in some cases have waited years for these results.

Another series of articles have been about MacDonald Resorts and the ongoing battle of Mrs B, now known as Mrs Price. It is a case that has riled us at Inside Timeshare, who are fighting on her behalf. The story revolves around MacDonald Resorts refusal to accept that she no longer owns a timeshare at Dona Lola in Spain, continuing to harass this 87 year old via a debt collecting agency Network Credit Services. This harassment has included threats of court action to recover a debt that is not owed, this case has been referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight this case until MacDonald Resorts abandon the chase for money. It must also be noted that the RDO, which is the industry trade body has also washed their hands of this company.

In the April article “The Resurrected” a warning was issued about an old company from Fuengirola had come back to life. It is the story of Ramirez and Ramirez, who several years ago were very active in deceiving many timeshare and holiday club members out of thousands for bogus claims. It must be said that very little has been heard of them since.

Mark of excellence

We have also had a few light hearted moments, although they did come with a serious message. In the spoof article “A New Member to EGTBW”, it explained about the trade bodies for the timeshare industry operate. This was extremely fun to write and gave many people a good laugh, the only problem was that it was actually based on fact.

http://insidetimeshare.com/new-member-egtbw/

Back in July we started to publish the ongoing story of the Tauro Beach Project, the fact that irregularities had been uncovered and an investigation had been started by the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA). As the story unfolded the Head of The Canarian Coastal Authority had been dismissed and is now awaiting trial for wrong doing in public office and forgery of official documents. Then in August we published the story of the local inhabitants and their homes being flooded, this instigated further investigations which also include the local mayor. The story continues. (search Tauro Beach for further information).

We also teamed up with Irene Parker in the United States, she has provided some valuable information and interesting articles on the world of timeshare across the Great Lake. Below is her latest article.

What Timeshare Owners Can Look forward to:

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?

round-table

Westgate

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 suing Highlands Resort, Sedona Pines and twelve other defendants for deceptive trade practices.

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

Attorney Douglass 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 Racketeering

“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

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.

holidays-are-hereI 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. Human leverage and a clearinghouse of information exchange is the answer.

inside final small

So that is the end of 2016, we hope you will join us in 2017 and also help us to get the news out to others. Without your information many of the articles, particularly on possible scam or bogus companies will not be published. So from the Charles and Irene, we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

happy-new-year

hot-off-the-press

Tauro Beach Project: Canarian Government Revoke Anfi Concession.

The newspaper La Provincia on 27 November 2016 has published news on the ongoing problems with the Tauro Beach Project, it has been announced that the Canary Island Government is to revoke the concessions awarded to Anfi for the development of this area.

la-provincia

This comes after the investigation started by SEPRONA, the Guardia Civil  Nature Protection Service into irregularities into the licences and permissions that were granted. We have already seen the head of the Coastal Authority, Jose Maria Hernandez, dismissed from his post and facing charges for “Breach of Trust” and Forgery of documents. This case has been declared admissible by Court No3 of San Bartolome de Tirajana. Also an investigation is underway into the Mayor of Mogan, over her involvement.

It transpires that Anfi are being stripped of the concession and being accused of starting the work without providing the correct paperwork. They have also been accused of encroaching on land that was not part of the original project and not completing the project correctly. It appears that they have only laid sand on a fraction of the beach, 1300 sq meters and not the 3811 sq meters as agreed. Environmentalist are also up in arms as the 70,000tonnes of sand imported from the Sahara has not been treated. This according to them means it could contain “invasive species”, which could have a detrimental effect on the local environment.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

The current permits allow Anfi to develop the beach area, building hotels, commercial center and beach services for profit, with the concession running for 50 years. Because of the infractions uncovered, the licences and permits will be revoked, with initial proceedings being heard at the local court of San Bartolome de Tirajana.

This is certainly a huge blow for the Anfi Group and the new 50% owners Lopesan. The financial consequences of this could be huge, it may mean that Anfi will have to spend to put things right, but it also means they have lost the huge investments already made in the project.

It now remains to be seen what will happen next, will there be more charges as the investigation continues?

How is this all going to affect Anfi as a whole, will it mean an increase in maintenance to help cover the losses incurred in the project?

As the investigation goes on, Inside Timeshare will bring you the news as it comes out.

Click on the PDF links for the La Provincia article:

costas-abre-expediente-al-grupo-anfi-para-revocarle-la-concesion-de-tauro-la-provincia-diario-de-las-palmas

costas-open-file-to-the-anfi-group-to-revoke-the-granting-of-taurus-the-province-diario-de-las-palmas

Follow these links for more information:

https://m.facebook.com/notes/gran-canaria/surprise-tauro-beach-so-dodgy-the-government-is-taking-it-away/1664104110273792

https://youtu.be/txEIuzIT7M4

http://insidetimeshare.com/first-prosecution-tauro-beach-project-filed/

http://insidetimeshare.com/mayor-mogan-investigation-anfi-tauro-beach-project/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-project-latest-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-tauro-beach-project-people-flooded/

If you have any questions about this story, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to answer them. If you have any information about this or any other subject Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

new tauro beach

Mayor of Mogan Under Investigation into the Anfi Tauro Beach Project.

Continuing on from the article published on 7 October, regarding the first prosecution of the head of the coastal authority, Nueva Canarias Mogan issued another twist.

 

It now looks like the Mayor of Mogan, Onalia Bueno is now under investigation for granting a licence which apparently had expired. It now looks as if unlawful acts have been committed in the execution of the regeneration work at Tauro Beach. This work is being carried out for the Anfi Group, who have plans to build new hotels and a shopping mall as well as a marina with around 500 berths.

Onalia Bueno laying the first sand (right)

We know that the local residents have bore the brunt of the problems, with homes being flooded by the tides back in August. They have also lodged formal complaints with the Guardia Civil in respect of the damage caused.

 

This whole project to create a manmade beach, does appear to have been beset with what might be called irregular procedures, the granting of licences after the work had started and falsifying documents after the fact. It was the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Unit (SEPRONA), who originally instigated the investigation and made this public.

gc-seprona

It would seem that this is only the tip of the iceberg, with possibly more prosecutions to come as the investigation progresses. Inside Timeshare will keep you posted as this story develops.

 

https://www.facebook.com/Nueva-Canarias-Mog%C3%A1n-185892306754/?fref=nf

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/first-prosecution-tauro-beach-project-filed/

 

thoughts

My Thoughts Today: End of September

The end of another month is upon us, it started with the announcement of a new company and website based in Scotland called Timeshare Solutions Group. This company was registered only in June, with the website registered in February, there was very little information as to who they are or which law firms they were working with. The service they provide is timeshare claims and disposal, citing the Spanish Supreme Court rulings which have made some contracts illegal. It is still not clear if they are linked to the Tenerife based Solutions Group, which have been around for several years.

 

Another story to hit the news this month once again involved the Anfi Group, it was announced the Lyng family had sold their 50% share of Anfi to the construction and hotel group Lopesan IFA. It was reported that Lopesan paid 41.3 million euros, which does seem to be a bit of a bargain. There again, with the woes that Anfi are going through, is it surprising? There is the investigation into irregularities in licences and permissions granted for the Tauro Beach project, which is being conducted by SEPRONA, a branch of the Guardia Civil. Then we have all the Supreme Court rulings which are costing Anfi a fortune in claims. These stories are not over yet and we wait for more to be revealed.

seprona

 

 

 

 

 

 

September has also been very much an American month, with articles by Irene Parker being published. These articles show what is happening across the great lake (or the pond as our American cousins call it), starting with the Letter from America: News From Across the Great Lake. In this article Irene sent an open letter to Stephen J Cloobeck of Diamond, it was her response to his letter to members on the Apollo acquisition.

 

This was then followed by the article on resale and transfer, it included an article from Tom Tubbs, who is on the advisory board of the National Timeshare Owners Association. It highlighted a subject which timeshare owners in Europe have also experienced, that of rogue resale and transfer companies. It also explained how this operates in the US, with a new company called Timeshare Transfer Registry, they keep a check on who and what companies the timeshares are being transferred to. But as he says the “scam” still goes on.

 

In More News From Across the Pond, we published a piece highlighting the Fox News programme The Property Man: Bob Massi. He is a Las Vegas attorney with a reputation as a determined advocate of consumer rights. This was followed by an article with an update to the real estate regulations in the US.

property-man

 

 

 

 

Then there was the visit of Irene Parker and her Husband, Inside Timeshare had the pleasure of playing host to their visit. For Irene it was her first time on the island and was very much a fact finding mission for her future articles. We spent much time comparing notes and learning from each other the problems that many owners have on both side of the Atlantic.

 

During her visit, Irene met the lawyers and staff of Canarian Legal Alliance, which she has followed from the US. While meeting with one of the lawyers Cristina Batista, she was able to get the history of the Supreme Court Rulings and how it is affecting timeshare in Spain. From there she then met with the staff at the admin office who look after the clients. As she said to Inside Timeshare it was an eye opener, stating that on her return she would share what she had learnt with other colleagues battling to help owners.

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It was was not all work, and we all enjoyed several evenings with good food and company. Her last day was a trip to El Faro de Maspalomas, for a little shopping and to see for herself the Lopesan hotels. This ended with a superb lunch at a beach side restaurant. We will be publishing her articles as they appear.

 

Other articles published this month included a warning of a text message to Diamond owners. This informed them of the Supreme Court rulings, but it is not clear where they originate from, the telephone number is an untraceable “burnt” phone, linked to a facebook page with no details.

 

There was also more news from the Supreme Court with an incredible sum being awarded to one UK client. In this judgement the court stated that fractional ownership did indeed come under the timeshare regulations, it awarded £235,542 against Puerto Calma Holiday Club Finland. More announcements followed with a ruling against Palm Oasis Tasolan SL and a ruling against Silverpoint in Tenerife.

 

After an enquiry about the RDO, we published the article The RDO: Does it Protect Consumers? This article laid out what the RDO is and who it actually serves, it is a subject that has been covered in previous articles. But it is always good to republish, especially in the light of recent events.

 

So that is September, we wait with baited breath for the events to unfold during October. With all that is going on it should be an interesting month.

 

If you require any information about any article published, contact Inside Timeshare and we will find you the answer. Have a good October.

fast payout

CLA Client Receives Payment from Anfi.

Yesterday 30 August 2016, Canarian Legal Alliance announced that one of their clients has received the money awarded by the courts.

 

CLA Logo

Earlier this year the client had a favourable decision by the High Court Number 3 of Las Palmas, this was once more against Anfi. This court again used the Supreme Court Rulings in reaching their verdict. The Client will receive over 33,000€ plus interest and legal fees, CLA reports that the client is still yet to receive this interest and legal fee payment as it is dealt with separately.

 

It appears that these cases are not only getting to court quicker, but the payments are being received by the client in a much speedier manner. This is proof that the rulings made by the Supreme Court are having a profound effect on the lower courts.

miguel1
Miguel Rodriguez Cabellos Senior CLA lawyer representing the clients

This is obviously another blow for the Anfi empire, with more cases still in the pipeline including over 100 still to be heard at the Supreme Court. What with all the legal wrangles over the Tauro Beach Project, in which work has been suspended pending the investigation by the Guardia Civil’s Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA). Also there is the matter of the complaints made to the Guardia Civil by the residents of Tauro for damage caused by the floods on 4 August. There is no doubt another court case will be in the offing for compensation.

seprona

 

 

 

 

 

 

Along with the news which was published by La Provincia about the Anfi boss Santana Cazorla, who is reportedly taking “refuge” in Morocco, things are not looking that good for Anfi. So this again begs the question of where is all this going to leave Anfi and above all you the members?

 

The past is certainly starting to catch up with this company, who are no strangers to controversy, Inside Timeshare has highlighted some of these in past articles. (see links at the foot of the page).

 

If you would like more information on these judgements and how they may affect your contract, Inside Timeshare will try to answer any questions. These Supreme Court rulings also apply to other timeshare companies, and we will be happy to give you the information as to how they may also affect you.

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-tauro-beach-project-people-flooded/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-project-latest-news/

Anfi Boss Cazorla Going to Morocco: Is it Retirement or Escape?

 

 

thoughts

My Thoughts for Today: End of August.

So here we are, the end of August and what a month it has been, we ended July with the breaking news about the Anfi Beach Project at Tauro. It was announced the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) had begun an investigation into irregularities in the permissions that were granted.

Playa-Anfi-Tauro-Canarias-Ahora_EDIIMA20160716_0223_18

This resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Coastal Authority, it appears the investigation which is ongoing may result in more dismissals and may even end in charges being brought. Inside Timeshare has been following the case as more information came to light, on 1 August Ben Magec of Ecologists in Action called for “the immediate shutdown and sealing” of the project, pointing out that it was having a detrimental effect on the nearby Special Area of Conservation.

 

Then on 5 August, Inside Timeshare published the story about the floods that occurred the day before, posting a video made by one of the local residents. At the time the flooding occurred it was a high tide, this would not have been a problem when the beach was in its original state. The rocks and pebble beach which was much higher than the sand beach, created a natural defence, with the rocks breaking up the waves. Without this natural defence the sea just rolled over the beach, flooding several homes.

 

August 8th, we published further videos of the flooding and photographs of some of the damage caused to homes of the local residents. The Bomberos (fire brigade) spent considerable time helping to pump out the water from these homes, but damage to many appliances such as fridges and washing machines was considerable. The local population then made denuncias (official complaints) to the Guardia Civil, who are now investigating. One comment from a resident was who was going to pay for the damage, they also felt they were being ignored that they were “desperate, nobody pays attention to us”.

CLA Logo

On 9 August it was announced that Canarian Legal Alliance had just won their 18th Supreme Court Victory, this took the rulings by the Supreme Court against Anfi to an incredible 17. In this particular case the court awarded over 45,000€ plus interest and legal fees to the client. Again the court stated that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and taking deposits within the 14 day cooling off period illegal. So another happy client of Canarian Legal Alliance.

 

Then on 15 August another win for a client of CLA, this time at the High Court in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. A staggering 66,907€ plus interest and legal fees were awarded to the client, also their contract was declared null & void. The High Court cited the Supreme Court rulings in making this judgement, showing that the judgements from Madrid are having a profound effect on how the lower courts rule.

 

The following day we published an article on the argument that is raging between TESS (Timeshare Exits & Support Services) and the Monster Travel Group. It highlighted two articles published on the TESS website on the same day, in this Tess pulled no punches in the accusations laid against Monster Travel. It also made a scathing attack on the sales staff, particularly what TESS called the “Taylor Twins”, again TESS pulled no punches.

eldiario

Then it was published in the Spanish press that the boss at Anfi (one of the part owners) Santana Cazorla was moving to Morocco for “retirement”. El Diario headlined it as Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. Inside Timeshare published this story on 17 August, in the article the questions asked are what had prompted this news. One only has to see the problems of Anfi with the court cases being brought by their members, then to cap it all the accusations and investigation into the Tauro Beach Project.

 

Just to move away from Anfi for once, Diamond Resorts announced that they had sold off their interests at the Garden Lago resort in Mallorca. The ONA Group now run Garden Lago, they also have interests at the  Cala de Mar and Cala Pi resorts, also in Mallorca. It also highlighted one member who bought because they loved it there, now Diamond have no interests there, the only way for them to use the points they own is to use them on exchange, or book direct with the resort. With this last option they would have to pay the going rate as their points would not be used.

 

19 August, CLA announced another victory at the High Court in Las Palmas, the British couple Mr & Mrs Hammond had their contract declared null & void. They were also awarded a full refund including interest and legal fees, it was not stated how much this was.

 

So in all, August has turned into quite an eventful month, it remains to be seen what September will bring.

 

If you have any questions relating to any of these articles please contact Inside Timeshare and we will do our best to answer them. It only remains for me to say have a great bank holiday weekend and I hope the weather is just as good for you to get the BBQ´s out.

bbq man

breaking news

Anfi Boss Cazorla Going to Morocco: Is it Retirement or Escape?

El Diario a Spanish Daily newspaper has today published news that Santiago Santana Cazorla, the 50% shareholder of the Anfi Group is moving to Morocco for “retirement”. Their headline is Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. (see links at foot of page).

eldiario

Cazorla himself puts it down to starting a new phase in his life with new business projects, but within the business world it is seen very differently. Some of the explanations are somewhat different, it is widely believed it is down to the endless succession of problems he is facing, not only within his company but also it seems his private life.

 

It is known that he has had many conflicts with his brother Manuel, and various lawsuits have taken place. One is still in process, this involves a corruption scandal known as the Gondola case, it has been ongoing for around ten years at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This case has been in the hands of around a dozen judges and several prosecutors.

Santiago Santana Cazorla
Santiago Santana Cazorla

 

 

 

 

 

His involvement with Bjorn Lyng began during the development of Anfi Tauro, Cazorla purchased 50% of the Anfi company as Lyng needed investment for his Project of Anfi Tauro. This has presented many disputes between the partners over the years, the most notable was the lawsuit brought by the Lyngs over the misappropriation of funds. The Lyngs instigated criminal proceedings at The Court of Instruction No 3 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana, after it was discovered that around 9 million euros had been diverted to the Cazorla company Hermanos Cazorla, it was said that these funds were used to pay private debts. This money had to be replaced to avoid criminal proceedings so is basically on hold.

 

It has also been suggested that Cazorla is selling off his 50% share of Anfi, it is rumoured that Alfredo Morales may be the buyer, this has been sparked off by the relationship between him and the Director General of the Anfi Group José Luis Trujillo. Morales is also a shareholder of Binter Canarias, the Canarian Airline. This will no doubt please the Lyng family to be rid of Cazorla, after all on many occasions they have tried to oust him from the board, which he controls (see link Battle of Partners).

ANFIDELMAR, (MOGÁN), 30-08-2006, FOTOS: SANTI BLANCO. ENTREVISTA A JOSÉ MANUEL SORIA, PRESIDENTE DEL CABILDO DE GRAN CANARIA.
José Manuel Soria during his stay at Anfi

It is the projects at Anfi Tauro and now the Tauro Beach project that has been the cause of many of his headaches. The first notable scandal was the Salmon case, this involved the then head of the Canarian Government José Manuel Soria and involved his trip with Bjorn Lyng, flying by private jet to Austria for a concert and then on to Norway for salmon fishing. Hence the name of the case. Then staying as a guest at Anfi del Mar also courted controversy. At the time the Anfi Tauro Project was about to undergo considerable streamlining, permissions would not be granted unless this happened. Just after this trip and holiday at Anfi the project was given the go ahead by the government in its entirety, with no streamlining. A reporter then made a denuncia against Soria for corruption, the judge in the case due to certain senior Anfi management testimonies found no case to answer. Again this caused major uproar in the press and in local communities.

 

Now we have a possible corruption scandal about to erupt over the Tauro Beach Project, which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting over the past few weeks (search Tauro Beach). The project involves the creation of a man made beach, boardwalk, shopping center and marina at the Barranco de Tauro, this is being constructed by the Cazorla Construction Company on behalf of the Anfi Group. It involves the importation of 70,000 tonnes of sand from the Sahara, it has also caused many problems for the local residents. It was only at the beginning of August the high tides began overflowing the beach and flooding local homes, had there been a storm at sea coupled with the high tide the situation would have been worse.

gc-seprona

The Guardia Civil Nature Protection Unit (SEPRONA) have  instigated an investigation which resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Canary Islands Coastal Authority José Maria Hernández Leon. The local residents of Tauro have also made formal complaints to the Guardia Civil over the flooding, which the Guardia are now investigating. This particular episode is still in the early stages and may cost the Anfi Group dearly.

 

So the question has to be asked, is this “retirement” or is he fleeing in order to escape the consequences of his actions? After all he is no stranger to scandal, accusations of corruption and lawsuits. The Anfi empire is certainly in disarray, with the scandal erupting over Tauro Beach, then there is the matter of all the court cases for mis-selling and illegal contracts. They have already lost millions of euros in the past year alone, also having 17 Supreme Court judgements against them, with hundreds more in the pipeline.

 

Could it be you the members of Anfi who may just be more victims in all this, what happens if these scandals become full blown court cases? Will you be lumbered with special levies to cover lost money or will you just lose your membership? Only time will tell.

 

If you have any questions or comments about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them for you.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/topsecret/Santana-Cazorla-refugia-Marruecos_6_549155083.html

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

 

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