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Supreme Court

beware scammers

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams

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

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

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

off plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cashback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sec 75

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

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

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

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

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

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

whois

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

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

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

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

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

homework

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene


Here we are with another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week it is all about “Whistleblowers”, those who decide they need to tell the inside truth about companies, organisations or even politicians. Inside Timeshare has highlighted this topic before, without them we would never know the truth. But first a quick look at Europe.

We started this week with a warning about the scam involving clients of Ramirez and Ramirez, our old friends from the Costa del Sol, this one had an unusual twist as it involved the Supreme Court in Portugal. We are used to seeing letters supposedly from Spanish Courts, maybe because they have been highlighted this so often the “fraudsters” have decided to take a different angle.

There is still no news on the sentencing of Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, last year they pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court, they were sent to the Crown Court for sentencing as the powers of the Magistrates Court were deemed insufficient due to the severity of the offences. When we know what they receive we will let you know.

We are still receiving emails from clients of the Mark Rowe companies being investigated by the South West Police, Regional Organised Crime Unit, that they have been contacted by the Police and are making statements. This is obviously a huge investigation and will take some time, we will keep you informed of any developments.

To finish off the European news this has just come in from the courts in Maspalomas.

The Court of First Instance Number 4 has issued their latest sentence against Anfi, The judge has declared the CLA clients contract null and void and ordered the return of over £26,000 plus legal Interest. This is another blow to Anfi and the CEO’s claim they are not losing in the courts!

Now for the Tuesday Slot with Irene Parker.

United in Speaking Truth to Power

remember vets

A borrowed headline from Whistleblowers of America

Press release

February 20, 2018

Introduction by Irene Parker

The Whistleblowers of America press release below describes alleged misuse of power. Seekers of justice and fair play seek to change corporate and/or government corruption. Deceit can become ingrained and accepted. It becomes the norm until those brave and determined enough to fight back, strike back.

Vivieca Wright Simpson, VA’s third-most-senior official, altered language in an email from an aide coordinating the trip to make it appear that Shulkin was receiving an award from the Danish government, then used the award to justify paying for his wife’s travel, Inspector General Michael J. Missal said in a report released Wednesday. VA paid more than $4,300 for her airfare. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/veterans-affairs-chief-shulkin-staff-misled-ethics-officials-about-european-trip-report-finds/2018/02/14/f7fbc020-0c3a-11e8-8b0d-891602206fb7_story.html?utm_term=.e6c8f81cab95

Inside Timeshare has connected 31 active duty and retired military and law enforcement members, alleging they were a victim of timeshare fraud for profit. Whistleblowers of America is dedicated to seeking justice for this population.  

Five members of our military and law enforcement group are worried about losing their security clearance, including two who have published articles:

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

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

I have highlighted the following excerpts in red from the Whistleblowers of America press release below, noting similarities between what VA workers and timeshare victims confront when power and wealth seek to destroy individuals and families by way of corporate greed and misuse of power.

First, several VA employees noted that their cases have lasted from three to eight years while investigations continue – far greater than the 6 months it took to investigate Shulkin. However, some have reported that the OIG never even responds to their complaints.  They have called repeatedly, but their reports of fraud have not been investigated.

It takes at most a day to buy a timeshare, but weeks, months and sometimes years to cancel a timeshare contract. There are endless rebuttal emails responding to timeshare contract fine print experts (also known as customer service representatives), regulatory and law enforcement filings, YouTube interviews, and media outreach.

Such has been the case with reports of homelessness numbers being underreported

Non-disclosure agreements and private and binding arbitration rulings have effectively swept timeshare corruption under the rug, but recent Attorneys General actions, Social Media, and lawsuits are saying, “No more.”

One whistleblower said, “If you don’t have photographs, they don’t investigate.”

If a fraudulent timeshare presentation is recorded, or the victim works for the media or for an Attorney General’s office, or has a family member working in these fields, resolution is quickly achieved.  

Another whistleblower in the Philadelphia Regional Office laments that the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is being used to fire employees over production.

One timeshare company initiated the recording of Quality Assurance sessions, announced as a consumer protection. The QA session occurs after a two to eight hour hard sell sales presentation, basically a nodding, initialing and signing session. The sales session where the crimes are committed is not recorded and members have reported the recording of the QA session being used against them and some buyers coached on how to “pass” QA because they didn’t get “the letter” (that was never sent).

Several other whistleblowers report that once they are terminated or forced to resign, they can no longer afford to pay costly attorney fees. These out of pocket expenses can soar above $100,000 before settling.

The timeshare industry counts on this, knowing the amounts involved will not withstand the time and expense it takes to litigate. State enforcement is spotty at best. Federal enforcement, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is ineffective because members often can’t even select a lender when filing a complaint because payments are made to the timeshare company that services the loan, and timeshare companies are not a choice from the CFPB dropdown menu.  

A Washingtonian whistleblower familiar with the Shulkin attorneys’ fees reports that their insurance rate is $275 an hour, but other whistleblowers report spending $500 an hour on attorneys while the government lawyers defend the perpetrators of the wrongdoing.

Timeshare members are sometimes at the mercy of arbitrators, hired by the timeshare company. Arbitrators charge $400 to $500 and have a reputation of being pro-industry. If the arbitrator rules against the timeshare member, not only are they liable for the timeshare debt, they can be assigned to pay the timeshare developer’s attorney fees.

Whistleblowers have lost their homes and college tuition for their children.

The first article we wrote was about the Saldana family, transferring a $30,000 loan balance to a home equity loan, forfeiting $60,000 in timeshare points back to the timeshare company, left with no vacation, a $30,000 home equity loan, and a high school graduate starting college that year.

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

United in Speaking Truth to Power

whistleblowers

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org

601 Pennsylvania Ave, South Tower, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20004

#USTOO: Whistleblowers United in Seeking Justice WoA is a nonprofit organization assisting whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation after having identified harm to individuals or the public. Together, we can speak truth to power.  

Washington, DC, Feb 13, 2018 – USA Today reported on February 12, 2018, that the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that Secretary David Shulkin inappropriately accepted gifts and travel expenses for his wife during his visit to Europe last July. After this story posted, Whistleblowers of America (WoA) was inundated by VA employees outraged by the different standards by which their leadership is held versus the scrutiny they endure.

Shulkin has hired lawyers Justin Shur, Eric Nitz, and Emily Damrau to rebut the OIG findings related to the wrongdoing.

First, several VA employees noted that their cases have lasted from three to eight years while investigations continue – far greater than the 6 months it took to investigate Shulkin. However, some have reported that the OIG never even responds to their complaints.  They have called repeatedly, but their reports of fraud have not been investigated.  

Such has been the case with reports of homelessness numbers being underreported at medical centers in the Midwest and 14,000 disability claims lost out of the Oakland Regional Office.

One whistleblower said, “If you don’t have photographs, they don’t investigate.”

Another whistleblower in the Philadelphia Regional Office laments that the new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is being used to fire employees over production.

Allegedly, one employee with 28 years of service has been served a proposed termination notice for recently missing production standards. However, these production standards have been a sore point with Congress over the last decade as numerous Veterans Service Organizations have testified that quality should beget quantity and for Raters to “Do it right the first time.”

Even when the OIG finds in their favor, many whistleblowers still suffer the consequences of retaliation and must take their cases to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) for further adjudication.  One whistleblower who could no longer tolerate the stress of months of retaliation, resigned before hearing back from OAWP.  

Several other whistleblowers report that once they are terminated or forced to resign, they can no longer afford to pay costly attorney fees. These out of pocket expenses can soar above $100,000 before settling.

A Washingtonian whistleblower familiar with the Shulkin attorneys’ fees reports that their insurance rate is $275 an hour, but other whistleblowers report spending $500 an hour on attorneys while the government lawyers defend the perpetrators of the wrongdoing.

While it may be affordable for a VA Secretary to hire three counselors to battle his own OIG, most VA employees who report wrongdoing are GS 12 – 15s.  They quickly run through their family savings and retirement funds to fight whistleblower retaliation and if they do not reach settlement and damages, then the financial losses have impacts for several years. Whistleblowers have lost their homes and college tuition for their children.

And for those who are not terminated, remaining employed often means being marginalized to lesser assignments, lost pay or advancement opportunities, privacy invasions, poor performance evaluations that mar personnel folders, which then obstruct their ability to compete for other gainful employment. Even attempts at Alternative Dispute Resolutions that can resolve conflicts at the most internal levels are fraught with impartial mediators, lack appropriate decision-makers and can be non-binding, so costly when final arbitration is still needed at a higher level. Whistleblowing has been labeled “career suicide.” When you are not the VA Secretary or other senior leader, life gets tough when harmful disclosures are made to the OIG.

WoA is a 501C3 that provides peer support to whistleblowers because retaliation has consequences that can result in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, divorce, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide, as USA Today once reported in the case of psychologist, Chris Kirkpatrick.  He died by suicide after reporting overmedication of patients at the Tomah VA Medical Center in Wisconsin and was fired.

Contact:

Jacqueline Garrick, Executive Director

www.whistleblowersofamerica.org

202-309-1870

jackie@whistleblowersofamerica.org

Thank you Irene and Whistleblowers of America, a very interesting article.

If you have any information regarding the practices in the sale of timeshare and want the world to know the real truth behind the industry, then Inside Timeshare welcomes any information you can share.

Been contacted by a firm and want to know who they are, or if they are genuine? Then contact Inside Timeshare for honest, truthful and impartial help and advice.

 

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

It’s Friday, so time for another Letter from America with Irene Parker, but first a look today’s major news in Europe.

El Diario a prominent Spanish daily newspaper published the following article today (see link for full story).

The article reports on the current legal actions against Anfi and tells of the 1.35 million Euros they have had to repay to consumers, in the execution of around fifty judgements. It also goes on to say that there are over 395 live cases at court with a value of over 27 million Euros, with over 100 having had decisions in favour of the consumers. Some of these are firm decisions with the sentences yet to be executed, others are awaiting confirmation.

With even the Spanish press publishing articles such this, it does make the claim by Anfi that they have not lost or the Supreme Court has got it wrong rather flimsy!

In fact on Tuesday yet another sentence was announced by the Court of First Instance against Anfi, again the clients contract was declared null and void with the judge ordering Anfi to return over £20,000 plus legal interest

(if using google. Right click on the article for a translation to English)

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/tribunales/Grupo_Anfi-condenas-negocio-timesharing_0_739477033.html

The same article has also been published in Canarias7, one of the major Canary Islands Newspapers.

https://www.canarias7.es/economia/turismo/anfi-paga-ya-1-35-millones-por-condenas-YK3590405

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

 

The 3 Rs or F of Timeshare Revisited (first published in three parts)

Timeshare Resolution, Relinquishment, Refund, Foreclosure

Magnify

By Irene Parker

February 16, 2018

There are many who use and enjoy their timeshare, but rising maintenance fees, high interest rate loans and higher interest rate developer issued credit cards can spell financial disaster, especially when an individual or family is hit with an unexpected life crisis. Not one of the more than 300 Inside Timeshare readers who have contacted us realized the perpetual nature of the timeshare contract (in the US), or that their timeshare had little or no secondary market. It is not uncommon for a family to have spent $100,000 or more on a timeshare.

There is rarely a need to pay anyone, or any firm, money to get you out of your timeshare. Special circumstances, like being in the middle of buying a house, may result in a referral to one of the law firms we know and trust, if the timeshare company refuses to help the individual or family.   

Our “How to File a Complaint” form explains a process that takes time, determination and effort, but when it works, it costs nothing. We say when, because we don’t win them all. No one does, not even lawyers. “We can guarantee you release!” boasts the exit timeshare ad. We have had reports of people paying scammers large sums of money for a guaranteed release, only to learn the guarantee came about because of foreclosure or non-payment.

Our complaint form: http://insidetimeshare.com/file-timeshare-complaint-revised/

The goal:  Convert from angry, desperate, overwhelmed and confused into empowered. Timeshare Advocacy Group™   has 44 core advocates and 10 technical support advocates to help you. All of our Advocates are unpaid.

The First R: Relinquishment

dont like

Some timeshare companies offer voluntary surrender programs, but relinquishments are not guaranteed and there cannot be an outstanding loan or delinquent maintenance fees. It is difficult to determine how many surrenders requests are granted, compared to the number of surrenders requested.

There is nothing wrong with deeding back a timeshare if you have used and enjoyed the timeshare for several years. However, if you find out just days or weeks after purchase that you bought a timeshare not matching what you were promised, walking away from even $5,000 doesn’t seem right.

Before relinquishing, check with a member of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association to find out if your timeshare can be listed with one of their 64 members. http://www.licensedtimeshareresalebrokers.org/

LTRBA members charge nothing up front, so they don’t waste your time or money by listing a timeshare that, in all likelihood, will never sell.

The Second R:

refund

A refund is not easy to come by, but in cases of serious and obvious fraud; a refund can be achieved.  Inside Timeshare has heard from so many members alleging fraud, we can sometimes guess the name of the repeat offender sales agent before we are told. The fact that some of the same agents are committing the same “fraud for profit” over a period of years is telling.

The complaint process begins with a petition to the resort. Anticipate a knee jerk “you signed a contract’ reaction. Next, begins the filing of regulatory and law enforcement agency complaints. This is where our advocates are ready to assist because just figuring out online forms can be daunting. Check our complaint form for the list of appropriate agencies to contact.

Eron Grant has become our resident ARDA Code of Ethics analyst. In all likelihood, timeshare members are not even aware they are collectively giving $5 million a year to ARDA ROC. ARDA stands for American Resort Development Association and ROC Resort Owners Coalition. The money comes through “voluntary” opt-in or opts-out donations. This $3 to $10 amount, which varies depending on the resort, appears on all maintenance fee invoices purchased in the U.S. if the developer is an ARDA member.

Despite our advocates and members forwarding a volume of complaints to ARDA, questioning ARDA’s Code of Ethics, there has been no response. Inside Timeshare has learned two of the worst alleged offenders each give $1 million a year to ARDA ROC, surely a disincentive to enforcement.   

Here’s Eron’s article: Why Does ARDA Have a Code of Ethics?

red dress

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.  http://www.arda.org/ethics/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-14/

Litigation can take years and often the amount of money at stake doesn’t justify the time and expense litigation requires. Some developers have a class action ban, forcing arbitration. There are many critics of arbitration, including 19 Attorneys General like Minnesota AG Lori Swanson, as reported by Chris Parker.  

“The right to have your dispute resolved before a jury of your peers is as American as it gets; it’s a fundamental core American democratic principle,” says Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson. “To think that millions upon millions of consumers are forfeiting their fundamental right to have their day in court because of fine print in a contract….”

“Should a dispute arise, arbitration forces consumers out of the court system and into arbitration where appeals aren’t allowed, corporations historically wield a huge advantage—when not outright rigging the system—and details of misconduct are kept private,” writes Chris Parker, a reporter for City Pages

http://www.citypages.com/news/the-plot-to-kill-consumer-protection/451334393

Timeshare buyers should check immediately after signing a contract to see if they can opt out of the arbitration clause. Probably only a lawyer would think to do so.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-arbitration/

Timeshare developers know the industry is virtually unregulated and that they are protected by the oral representation clause. However, as we have stated in several previous articles, according to the FBI and attorneys we spoke with, it is not legal for a company to hide behind the fine print, providing sales agents the means to say anything they can come up with to sell points.      

The most common deceit and bait and switch complaints

  • The agent said I could sell my points.
  • The agent said my points were an investment, so easily sold, at a profit.
  • I can turn in points to pay maintenance fees but no such program exists
  • The value of airline and other travel awards is zilch. A common complaint is being told you can use a credit card to offset or pay maintenance fees in their entirety, when a member would have to charge $200,000 to pay an annual $2,000 maintenance fee.
  • The interest rate is 18%. They said I could get better financing but I can’t.

The Third R

resolved

It doesn’t happen very often, but there is the possibility the member just doesn’t know how to use the booking system. Blanket statements like “You can always book online cheaper than using timeshare points” are not accurate. My husband and I are Diamond owners. We have often booked two weeks in Sedona or Orlando for less than it would cost booking online using our points.

One amusing complaint was a buyer whose complaint was that they bought a trial program, but they were promised a lifetime membership. I explained, in the case of the timeshare company they bought into, the last thing they wanted was a lifetime membership. I encouraged them to become a Secret Shopper since they were not locked into perpetual maintenance fees.

 foreclosure  Foreclosure

This is the least pleasant outcome, but foreclosure is not the end of the world. Timeshare Advocacy Group has a foreclosure support group, with members offering each other tips on how to withstand the grueling up to 180 days or more of collection calls. Calls are relentless and members have reported many violations of debt collection consumer protection laws.  

We’re working on a document for those who experience foreclosure to provide to credit rating agencies or lenders, detailing the patterns of complaints listed on Better Business Bureau reports, Attorneys General Settlements, and Assurances of Discontinuance and lawsuits. There will be a hit to your credit score of course, but if you feel you are a victim of fraudulent timeshare sales practices, provide the rating agencies or your lenders with the reason why you refused to pay off a timeshare loan or credit card. Lenders are human. Many will take this into consideration.

I asked timeshare attorney Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group some questions about the foreclosure process for an article we published previously. Mike’s answers are worth repeating. Some common questions:

Will the timeshare company try to ruin my credit for non- payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike Finn: Generally no credit reporting on maintenance fees, yes they do on “mortgage” payments. Most timeshare property owner associations, which are separate non-profit entities, do not report non-payment of maintenance fees largely because they don’t maintain subscriber contracts with the credit reporting agencies. However, once referred to collection, those agencies do maintain subscriber relationships and that’s where the issue becomes relevant.

Can or will members be taken to court for non-payment of maintenance fees loans or both?

Mike: Can yes, will, maybe not so much

Do they place liens for non-payment of loans?

Mike: Yes in the sense that they do pursue foreclosures, yes for maintenance fees as well.

Do they place the lien just on the timeshare? In other words, does the lien apply just to the timeshare, or does the lien apply to a member’s primary residence as well?

Mike: The word ‘lien’ can be utilized in more than one way. In the timeshare world it typically means the security interest filed against the timeshare itself by virtue of nonpayment of maintenance fees. Only the timeshare interest itself is impacted by that kind of lien, not the owner’s property beyond the timeshare. A mortgage lien on the timeshare caused by non-payment of the initial purchase price can, under certain circumstances, become a judgment which could be satisfied by going after the defaulting party’s personal assets. This very rarely happens, but it has happened, so we can never, say never.

Is it advisable to just stop paying fees without the aid of an attorney?

Mike: It really does depend on your ability to endure collection calls, letters threats, and a foreclosure on your credit report is quite damning, it will make refinancing or new residential purchases an issue for about 5 years. Rarely will they sue for deficiency balance.

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/learning-center/can-a-timeshare-hurt-my-credit-score

http://www.finnlawgroup.com/english/learning-center/page-12

Remember, “I can’t afford it,” is not a valid reason to cancel a loan for a timeshare any more than it is a reason to be able to cancel your home mortgage loan. You can’t go to your home mortgage lender and ask them to cancel your home mortgage because, “I can’t afford it.”

Our Advocates, bringing experience and expertise from all walks of life, are here to evaluate and work together to help you put your timeshare in the rear view mirror, if that is your goal.

Our mission

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Let’s keep working together to improve the industry.

fix prob

That’s it for another week, remember if you require any information about any article published or any company that contacts you, Contact Inside Timeshare and we will get the information for you.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

weekend cat

letter-from-america

Friday’s Letter from America

In today’s Letter from America, Scotty Black another service veteran tells his own story of his “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”. These stories are becoming all too common at Inside Timeshare, with readers contacting us on a daily basis. But first we have a look at what is happening in Europe.

As we have reported on many occasions, Anfi deny that they are losing cases and that no one is getting paid out, well we would like to share with you a press release from Canarian Legal Alliance.

One of their clients won their case at the High Court in las Palmas, Anfi appealed to the Supreme Court, the judges in Spain’s Highest Court confirmed the sentence and ordered Anfi to pay back double the amount of the deposit paid during the cooling off period, which is prohibited by law.

This particular client has now received into their own bank account the sum of 37,979€, this leaves us in no doubt that regardless of what Anfi claim, they are losing and clients are being paid.

c2

CLA also issued the following figures on cases for this past week.

  1. In the Courts of First Instance in Gran Canaria and Tenerife there have been 5 rulings in favour of their clients against Anfi and Silverpoint.
  2. In Tenerife, the High Court ruled once again against Silverpoint.
  3. There were also 3 Rulings in favour of their clients at the Supreme Court in Madrid, these were again against Silverpoint.
  4. In total, CLA clients have been awarded a massive 402,552.19€ Not bad for just one week.

Staying with Anfi, several of our readers have enquired about another letter sent by the Anfi CEO, in this he stated that any contract signed between January 1999 and January 2001 had a 2 year window for adaptation. The law referred to is 42/98, this was passed in 1998, it became effective on 5 January 1999, so the question is why would  resorts and developers be given a 2 year period to change?

Surly the period between the law being passed and coming into force is the window to change?

What would be the point of setting a date for the enforcement and then allowing things to continue as before?

These are questions that need to be answered, Inside Timeshare has asked for clarification on this and is waiting for an answer. We will publish in full when it is received.

More readers have informed Inside Timeshare that they have received a letter from the Police regarding the following Mark Rowe companies:

  • Monster Travel (known as Monster Group/Monster Rewards)
  • SellMyTimeshare
  • Complete Internet Solutions
  • Hollywood Marketing

These are being investigated as we reported previously by the South West Police, it looks like a major criminal investigation, if you have had any dealings with any of these companies you can contact the Police at the address below.

South West Police ROCU. DC 4624 Katie Andrews. PO Box 37, Valley Rd, Portishead,Bristol. BS20 8QJ

Now on with our Friday’s Letter from America.

A Letter to Timeshare Developers and ARDA

Law Enforcement, Military and Lawmakers

Our Mission to Stop Timeshare Crime – Front and Back

EW

February 9, 2018

By Scotty Black, M.S. Criminal Justice, former Navy

Promissory Note $65,741.14 @ 14.4309%

How I got here

  • Purchased 5000 timeshare points October 2014 Scottsdale AZ CA Collection
  • Purchase price $13,000
  • October 13, 2016 in Hawaii we bought 15,000 additional points
  • Name of sales agent Brian Holmes
  • Purchase price is $75,710
  • $4500 on a resort issued Barclaycard used for the down payment
  • Monthly payment $1,037.84
  • Maintenance fees $4,006.22

I am one of 22 active duty, retired military, law enforcement agents, feeling victimized by timeshare. For my family, I would describe timeshare as a parasite killing its host. Like Amanda and George Jones, I’m worried about losing my security clearance. Like, Lela Renea, I work in law enforcement. Like Kevin Hopkins, I am military trained in Electronic Warfare. I never imagined we would need that training to fight in a Timeshares War. Kevin is retired Air Force. I served in the Navy. My primary job was Electronic Warfare, but partly due to my attitude, I was sent often to security, so I ended up assigned to the Special Security Force, Battleship Missouri. The fact that this is the second complaint in a matter of weeks from an electronic warfare veteran and that there are 22 of us working, or having served to protect our country, filing timeshare complaints, is telling.

Kevin was featured in this article on January 30 unidentified, but as Kevin has since received his automatic knee-jerk, “Sorry, you signed a contract” denial, Kevin has been identified and has joined the ranks of Inside Timeshare Contributors.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-8/

Kevin’s sales agent managed to work in every oral misrepresentation possible into one presentation. He’s working on an upcoming article about his experience.  

Timeshare companies have negatively affected national security with their fraudulent sales practices. Active duty Navy Technicians George and Amanda Jones could be forced into foreclosure. They say they were assured by two sales agents in two separate states they could lower their 18% loan interest rate by contacting finance companies offering a lower rate or a military rate. “Just Google it,” their sales agent said. Banks do not finance timeshares. Consumer credit issues can cause a revocation of security clearance. Jeff is in the process of writing to the Commandant of the Marines.

Jeff Diehl, former Marine, purchased a timeshare at Vacation Village

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-30/

Lela Renea, a detective, who purchased a Bluegreen timeshare

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

Amanda and George Jones, active duty Navy, purchased a Diamond timeshare

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-3/

We have summarized our reports from our 22 unit members and have reached out to Whistleblowers of America, an organization that seeks justice for military and government employees. If you are not drowning in timeshare loan payments, credit card payments and maintenance fees, consider a donation.

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Here’s what happened

In Hawaii, October 2016, we asked our timeshare sales agent Brian Holmes what would happen in the event we could no longer make payments. As we were told in Arizona, we were told again points could be rented and that we would be able to sell the points, likely at a profit, especially since we purchased them at such a low price – a price so low because “a sales staff member forgot to file the declination of purchasing more shares in a previous presentation…!”

meet

We were told Hawaii points are a good investment. This sticks in my mind because my wife had to write a statement to that effect, so the purchase at such a low rate could go through. As for the potential of profit, we were told there is a land-usage moratorium on how many places and percent of the land can be built on in Hawaii so this would also make the points appreciate, even with a speculation of over $10 per point. We were told we would need to sell points through the secondary market but that would be easy.

We have since learned our vacation points have no secondary market and that renting points through a third part website is not allowed. I contacted members of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association. Not one I spoke with would even accept a listing for our Diamond points feeling the restrictions placed on the use of secondary points renders the points worthless. Since LTRB members, unlike some scam timeshare exit companies, do not accept an upfront fee, it’s a waste of their time to accept a listing.  

In Scottsdale, at an “owners update” early September 2017, long after the issuance of the Arizona Attorney General’s Assurance of Discontinuance, we experienced yet another highly aggressive sales presentation. The length of the presentation was a violation of the AOD. We complained repeatedly that we wanted to leave. We were told it was not a sales presentation and they would not try to sell us points, but after the 55 minute presentation we were paired with a sales agent for at least two hours.  My wife had broken her foot on resort property the prior day and was in pain. She had to keep her boot elevated. They still did everything they could to keep us from leaving. I still was experiencing symptoms from a car wreck that had required a hospitalization. We were both on painkillers.  

Ultimately, I contacted Irene Parker and our Timeshare Advocacy Facebook group.

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

Irene suggested I contact Diamond’s Consumer Advocacy Department, which I feel has nothing to do with consumers. The “hospitality” agents are fine print detectives, in my opinion.

Irene explained about Diamond’s new Quality Assurance program, CLARITY, launched after the AOD was issued. CLARITY is reported to be about accountability, transparency and respect for the customer, but as Irene predicted, our Hospitality agent referred us to the oral representation clause. I ask what purpose CLARITY serves, other than a piece of paper to hand out to provide a false sense of security, making it seem like the company cares about false promises made by sales agents.

Researching timeshare in general, I have come to believe many timeshare sales agents employ tactics that meet the FBI’s definition of white-collar crime, Financial Institution Fraud, defined as “deceit, concealment, violation of trust and bait and switch.” Timeshare buyers who feel they were victimized should file complaints with the following agencies:

  1. The Better Business Bureau
  2. The Attorneys General (The AGs where you signed, where the firm is headquartered, and where you live)
  3. State Real Estate Divisions against the individual agent
  4. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  5. The FBI (if as serious as mine at IC3.gov and orally through a field office public access line #4 prompt, then #3 white-collar crime prompt)
  6. The FTC if you have any energy left

Other agencies that investigate multinational and cross-border financial institutions

We know criminal actions on the part of timeshare sales agents extend beyond any one resort, except for Disney Vacation Club. Somehow they manage to show a profit without resorting to deceit.

mickey mouse

Hopefully, timeshare executives and lobbyists will read this. We know one lawmaker has.

http://insidetimeshare.com/lesson-timeshare-companies/

If you need help, call us.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

 

Thank you Scotty for sharing your “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, we find it appalling that veterans are being treated like this, facing foreclosure and ultimately losing the valued and hard earned security clearance after years of loyal service. All we can say is shame on the the sales agents and even more so on the developers for allowing their sales agents to behave in this despicable manor.

News has just come in from Madrid, the Supreme Court has issued another sentence this morning against Silverpoint, this is now 89 rulings made against various timeshare companies by Spain’s Highest Court.

The latest ruling has awarded British clients of CLA a massive £36,000 including £8,000 which is double the deposit paid within the mandatory 14 day cooling off period, plus legal interest. The contract has also been declared null and void, so congratulations the these happy ex-timeshare owners and great well done to the staff and legal team at CLA.

Today we have received another email from yet another victim of Ramirez and Ramirez, it seems he is upto his old tricks again. The last we heard from him was in April 2016, (see link below).

The pitch is the same, the consumer is contacted and told that their claim has gone through, there is a substantial amount, in this case over £31,000 waiting for them at the court. All they had to do was pay £1,498 to Ramirez to get the payment underway, then they were told they had to pay £2,560 Tax  to the Agencia Tributaria (Spanish Tax Office) and the money will be released.

Please be aware this is one experienced conman, there is no money waiting for you at court, there is no tax to pay to release this ficticious money. Unless you have instructed a lawyer to act on your behalf through the courts then there is no claim.

The Resurrected!

That’s it for this week, a very big thank you to all who sent in valuable information which will always help others and to those who have contributed to the articles from our Cousins across “The Great Lake”.

Remember, if you have any questions about any article published or just need advice on whether to do business with any company, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a good weekend.

weekend

 

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this week is part 2 of her Timeshare Tips, with some more legal comments from Mike Finn of Finn Law Group. But a few updates from the timeshare world in Europe.

Yesterday’s article focused on the new company Centaurus Mediation SL and the possible links with Silverpoint, well, not long after publishing, news arrived from Madrid and the Supreme Court. Yet two more rulings against Silverpoint.

In the 87th ruling by Spain’s Highest Court, the clients contract with Silverpoint was declared null and void, the court also awarded over £56,000 plus double the deposit amounting to over £69,000. The court also awarded all legal fees and legal interest.

Within minutes of this announcement, the Supreme Court released the 88th sentence, once again it was against Silverpoint.

In this case the contract was once again declared null and void with the client being awarded over £18,000 plus £2,000as double the deposit with legal interest.

As stated in yesterday’s article, a contract being declared null and void by the court means that it should never have existed, does not exist and all has to revert to the state it was in before the contract was signed. So if you do get a call from Centaurus Mediation, with the caller saying the only way to get out is for them to do it, remember it is just another ruse by Silverpoint to fleece you of even more money.

In Gran Canaria, Anfi was on the receiving end of two Court of First Instance sentences, both of these were heard in the court situated in maspalomas.

The first case in court number 2, Anfi was ordered to return over 16,000€ plus legal interest, with the contract declared null and void.

In the second case in court number 1, over £10,000 plus legal interest was returned to the client along with the contract being declared null and void.

With news like this coming out of the courts on an almost daily basis, how can these companies continue to deny any wrongdoing and that they are not losing in the courts?

It just goes to show the arrogance of timeshare companies who for too long have got away with malpractices on a grand scale.

Now on with this weeks article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Tip #2

Don’t Pay Upfront Money to get you out of Your Timeshare

Define “Upfront Money”

crime buster

By Irene Parker

February 6, 2018

A Williamsburg lawyer guilty of her role in a conspiracy to fraudulently transfer hundreds of timeshare units was sentenced today to 50 months in …

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

Florida statute does not allow anyone to receive upfront money to get you out of your timeshare.   

http://centralflorida.app.bbb.org/newsearch2.asp?ComID=073300175003582)

the State of Florida – the collection of advanced listing fees from Florida residents, regardless of the location of the property, and owners of Florida timeshares is prohibited. Section 721.20(6), Florida Statutes, prohibits the collection of any advance fee for the listing of any timeshare estate or timeshare license, and requires that any seller of a timeshare plan be a licensed real estate broker, broker associate or sales associate as defined in Section 475.01, Florida Statutes.”

So what are “Upfront Fees” and how are they getting around it?

Like timeshare rescission periods, upfront fees can be dodged. Exit companies accomplish this by charging a listing or ad fee, market analysis, a subscription fee, an advertising cost, you name it. Attorneys charge retainers, but not all attorneys are created equal, as mentioned in our opening statement.

I asked Mike Finn of the Finn Law Group about this as, like all lawyers, Finn Law Group charges a retainer. Given the difficulty, few lawyers will accept a timeshare case on contingency. Timeshare developers know this of course, and know the time and money it takes to litigate is cost and time prohibitive.

According to Mike,

There really isn’t a legitimate way around the no upfront fee issue in a legitimate licensed real estate broker scenario. The one exception is when a seller wants to have more advertising in place than is generally offered by a particular broker and the seller authorizes upfront funds to be specifically applied to a third party marketing provider.  This is rare and usually occurs in the commercial market.

The licensing statute (Florida) is F.S. 475.01 Definitions. The salient details include “(a) broker…for another…and for a compensation…sells…offers….negotiate the sale…purchase or rental…any real property or any interest in or concerning the same… holds out to the public…engaged in the business of…buying,selling…real property of others…or who directs or assists in the procuring of sellers, purchasers, … which does, or is calculated to… result in a sale”

In case you’re hung up on the real property aspect of the definition, “The term broker also includes any person or entity who undertakes to list or sell one or more timeshare periods…”

So, to my way of thinking this company (the one we asked about) is not a licensed broker and if the state actually cared about the enforcement of their laws, they would have shut this, and other similarly situated organizations down long ago.

One of my favorite sources of information is NOLO as you can actually chat with a real lawyer! They have useful information and you won’t be bothered by those pesky “Get You out of Your Timeshare!” ads.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-timeshare-foreclosure-right-cancel-laws.html

mice

In a strong arm attempt to make sure we vacation, powerful lobbyists and the industry have worked hard to make it difficult to get out of a timeshare contract. The exception is if there is no loan, in which case the timeshare company will “take back” your points and resell as “recycled inventory” on a “case by case” basis. Most timeshare members contacting Inside Timeshare allege they were duped into high interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards, sometimes popping out on site like toast from a toaster. In our opinion, the industry refuses to admit they are causing the exit scams by allowing deceit on the front end of the sale and by not allowing a secondary market.

Deceit on the front of the timeshare sale does not discriminate, but often the elderly are victimized, as they tend to have more time and money. Timeshare members over 55 need to reach out to AARP.  

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/

The $70 billion a year flowing into Florida in tourist dollars may contribute to why this deceit has not been exposed. I have interviewed a dozen former sales agents, managers, and even a few executives, who call it “Pitching Heat” or “No Heat No Eat.” Nice people.

Social Media is here to stay. Timeshare members like never before can share experiences. They are no longer silenced and isolated. One of our advocates sent this published report to us, posted on TUG Timeshare Users Group. (Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association member Judi Kozlowski has provided commentary for our Inside Timeshare articles)

In the timeshare resale market today, it is pretty much a guarantee that you will encounter an upfront resale scammer if you are attempting to sell or rent your timeshare. Sadly these scams have become so popular, they are regularly listed in the top 10 scams by Attorney Generals offices and the BBB year after year!

Hopefully you have read the TUG Scams and Fairy Tales advice article, but if not and you are the victim of an upfront fee scam, your options are limited but they at least exist!

STEP 1: SEND A LETTER DEMANDING A REFUND

In many cases, the squeaky wheel always gets the grease, so if you are persistent in calling and emailing and sending actual letters, you stand a chance of getting a refund!

This sample letter was provided by Judi Kozlowski, a licensed timeshare resale broker who has been in the industry for many years and fights to shut down these scammers with her organization the . Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association

We urge anyone who is the victim of an upfront fee scam to follow all the steps detailed below after sending this sample letter if you do not receive your refund or a reply in a timely fashion!

SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND TO A TIMESHARE UPFRONT FEE SCAMMER:

Dear (Insert Business Name Here),

We will be reporting you to the following people if you do not return our money. What you have done is fraud.

  • The Attorneys General Office in (the State you live in), (the State the timeshare is in) and the( State the Scammer is in).
  • We are also calling the police in (same as above, both locations).
  • We are going to report you to our (VISA/MC/AMEX/Discover) and have them report your fraud to your merchant account.
  • We are going to the following sites to report your scam:
  • Timeshare Users Group Forums
  • ARDA.org
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Ripoffreport.com
  • Every social media page we can find with your name on it (facebook/twitter/linkedin)

We do not want any phone calls from you. All we want is our money returned. You have lied, misled and committed fraud. We demand a refund to our credit card immediately and will be disputing this charge with them immediately.

Note: While TUG certainly cannot guarantee the success or failure of the above letter, it certainly gives you an option in which to attempt to obtain a refund from the company that scammed you out of the upfront fee. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! Remember, these companies mislead and lied to you in the first place, if your initial request for a refund goes unanswered or is denied, this letter may be a last resort for you to get your hard earned money back!

This posted by jayjay on RedWeek

2009 – that’s how long this has been going on!

Someone that’s been taken by any upfront fee scam company in the state of Florida needs to copy and paste that statute and then report the scammers to the law ASAP ….. my mission is to put every upfront fee resale/rental timeshare company completely out of business …. this is certainly a good way to start.

Bottom line, never, ever pay a timeshare resale company an upfront fee in the hundreds/thousands of dollars to list your timeshare in a database that no one will ever see …. you’re throwing your money away AND you’ll never hear from them again.

https://www.redweek.com/forums/messages?thread_id=16239

Inside Timeshare received timeshare member complaint number 302 today, 44 since January 1.

If you have a timeshare concern, contact Inside Timeshare or one of these US member supported, non-industry influenced Facebooks and websites:

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/

sos

Timeshare member Karen Krokosh reached out to Sell My Timeshare Now and here’s what happened to her:

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-5/

Thank you Irene and also Mike Finn, thanks also to all who have contributed to this weeks article.

If you have any questions or require any information on this or any article published, please contact Inside Timeshare. We are here to provide the best and informative information possible.

old tricks

Centaurus Mediation SL and the Silverpoint Link

Centaurus Mediation SL is a new company based in Tenerife, it is engaged in cold calling timeshare owners, cold calling is not in itself illegal, but it is the nature of the calls and the owners being targeted.

The company was registered in Spain on 31 October 2017, with the website registered on 2 November 2017, yet according to them they have already achieved the following successes

  • 327 Mediations
  • 151 Relinquishments
  • 97 Successful Claims
  • 64 Agreed Terminations.

Not bad going for a company that is only 3 months old! (PDF Company records) below

CENTAURUS MEDIATIONS SL, SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE

The sole administrator is Caroline Hiberry (obviously just a front name) who has featured as the administrator to several other “dubious” companies

As for the owners being targeted, they are all Resort Properties / Silverpoint owners, not really a problem until you realise that Centaurus Mediation has all the details of these owners including the facts they have either started legal action or have already done so against Silverpoint.

This leaves us with some very important questions, where has the data come from, who has supplied it, and what data protection laws have been compromised?

In our mind, there are only these explanations, either the data has been stolen from Silverpoint, by a member of staff, or Silverpoint have set up these companies and provided  their membership database.

The latter seems the more probable, especially when you find out the nature of the calls.

In the call, one name that has come up is the agent known as James, he explains that his company can get them out of their membership from Silverpoint, that Excel have now taken over and that no one will ever get any compensation. The only way out is to let Centaurus to do it for you. Obviously this is going to be for a fee.

In another call, the agent knew that the client had already won their case at the Supreme Court, that they would get nothing and the only way to cancel the contract was for Centaurus Mediation to do it for them, as the court have no authority to cancel the contract.

This is untrue, the courts have declared the contracts null and void, there is nothing to cancel, having confirmed with Canarian Legal Alliance that the enquiry received was a genuine client of theirs, they confirmed that the contract had been declared null and void. They were asked to explain what this means.

Very simply, null and void means that it never existed, that everything reverts to the state before the contract was signed, the timeshare reverts back to the company, all money paid by the consumer is then returned. The contract and agreement never existed.

So what do we make of all this, here we have a company contacting specific timeshare owners, using a database that could only have come from Silverpoint, a company that has sold packs of weeks as investments that never materialised. Now this company is demanding payment to get the owners out of their contract, using very dubious methods and tactics.

Sometime ago Inside Timeshare also reported that Mark Cushway and Silverpoint had been negotiating with Timeshare Claims Solutions now known as Claims Solutions Group in Aberfeldy Scotland, to supply their client list and TCS or CGS would carry out the relinquishments.

So now we have a report that Silverpoint have set up two companies in Tenerife , Centaurus in Los Cristianos and another in Playa de Las Americas, the name of which has yet to be revealed. We also know they have closed their sales decks, that two names have come up in conjunction with running the new office for Centaurus, Carl Jenkens and Ruben Miller.

We must admit, they have been very clever in keeping any documentary link separate and difficult to find, but anyone with any sense would see through the client database. After all if a company was illegally using your client data, would you not take legal action?

So we now ask the question what is the reasoning behind all this?

Over the years Resort Properties / Silverpoint have been raking in the profits from their “investment” program, many people have been taken in by it, many have lost everything, others are still paying the price. Since January 2017, the Supreme Court has ruled on about 30 cases against them, declaring all contracts null and void and returning in many cases double the amounts originally paid by consumers. The lower courts are also ruling on an almost daily basis.

Silverpoint have obviously decided the only way to avoid any further litigation and huge losses is to allow people to get out, but why not make some money out of them first! We have had them once, lets have them again!

If you have been contacted by Centaurus Mediations SL or any other company using the same technique, let us know the details and we will publish the information here.

Need any help or advice on checking a company that has contacted you or you may be thinking of doing business with, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

end jan

End of January Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

spots

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

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

CAB Arona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lisa ann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tues

The Tuesday Slot with Irene

Welcome to another Tuesday Slot with Irene, this weeks article is the first of a series which will cover some useful tips on how and who to file a complaint with, but as usual a quick look at Europe.

beware

Yesterday Inside Timeshare published an article about Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited based in Lowestoft Suffolk, with the website

https://www.timeshares-unlimited.com/

Registered to the “infamous” Antoni “Toni” Muldoon.

On the website they show 4 logo’s, RDO, RCI, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance, according to the website they claim to work closely with CLA, even having “cut & paste” copies directly from the CLA news section.

Inside Timeshare has had confirmation from the RDO, Expectations Holidays and Canarian Legal Alliance that they have no knowledge or ties with the said company or website. RCI have also been informed, but as yet no reply has been received, but it is safe to assume that they have not given any permission for their logo to be used.

This just goes to show that you cannot believe what you see or read on the internet, just because a website shows a logo or states they work closely with a company or organisation that it is true. Always do your homework, check any company fully before engaging in business, check that their claims to work with or are affiliated with others is genuine.

It would also appear that Anfi is once again on the offensive, this time they have been sending out emails to UK members regarding a recent BBC TV program Rip Off Britain. In this program they travelled to Tenerife to investigate a “fake” law firm, one that Inside Timeshare has been investigating and reporting about for the past 2 years.

Although this is laudable, it is the tone of the email that is the problem, rather than actually naming the “fake” law firm, it has been left open and vague, giving the impression that all law firms dealing with timeshare claims are not genuine.

It is obvious from past emails from the CEO José Luis Trujillo, that the aim is to discredit the Arguineguin law firm Canarian Legal Alliance. These lawyers have been instrumental in securing 84 Supreme Court rulings against various timeshare companies, with 39 against Anfi alone.

On the point of the “fake” law firm in Tenerife, Inside Timeshare was asked to provide CLA with any evidence it possessed, to augment their own, as some of their clients had been contacted by this Tenerife outfit. Our evidence along with that from CLA was then handed to the Guardia Civil along with a denuncia, this is now under investigation.

It has also been a little quiet at the courts so far with only one sentence being reported, once again Anfi are the culprits.

The Court of First Instance in Maspalomas declared another Anfi members contract null and void, ordering that over 55,000€ which also includes a double deposit be returned to the client, the court also awarded legal interest.

It does make you wonder who is telling the truth, Inside Timeshare leaves you the reader to decide based on the evidence presented.

truth meter

Now on with this weeks article from Irene Parker.

Timeshare Tips

Due to an Escalation in Volume and Criminal Nature of Complaints

White collar

By Irene Parker

January 28, 2018

IT Timeshare Tips #1

Inside Timeshare has received an astonishing number of reader complaints. Since January 1, 38 timeshare members have contacted us. Since we began counting late 2016, 291 complaints. The majority voice allegations that clearly meet the FBI definition of white-collar crime, Financial Institution Fraud.

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

Timeshare members should only contact the FBI if the allegations are of a serious nature. For example, “They promised me a cruise, but when I went to book it, it cost $1,000” is not a serious enough allegation. A free cruise that turns out not to be free is a frequent complaint, but would be best reported to the Better Business Bureau in the form or a complaint or a review.

Here is an example of a complaint that has been reported to the FBI and to BBB:

We were sold vacation points fraudulently by XXX sales agent SXXX MXXX Jan 2017 at GBO Resort. We went to a sales presentation. We met with sales agent S M, and told him our biggest complaint was the maintenance fees. Mr. M told us if we bought 3000 more points, to get to 5000 points, we would become Highest Loyalty Level members and we would be able to sell back points to pay maintenance fees at $.50 per point.

Criminal Complaint #1: The Highest Loyalty Level requires 50,000 points

Criminal Complaint #2: There is no program to sell back points to pay maintenance fees

He said, “You do this at the end of the year”

Criminal Complaint #3: By telling the victim to wait until the end of the year, and by not allowing access to the booking site until after the contract rescission period, the agent and/or company can dodge the rescission period.

He said this would be enough to pay all our maintenance fees.

This was what really sold us on the program.

Mr. M also said beginning in January of 2018 there would be a “cash out” option where XXX Timeshare Company would offer to buy our timeshare if we were not happy, we would probably take a loss, but we would be free and clear.

Criminal Complaint #4: There is no buy-back program

Thank you for using the Better Business Bureau’s Online Complaint System.

busted

As this is an active complaint, we will not publish the name of the timeshare member, the timeshare company, or the sales agent, to give the company a chance to make this victim whole again.

Most importantly, do not respond to anyone who private messages you, calls or emails offering to help you get out of your timeshare. Contact Inside Timeshare or your Facebook admin if you are contacted. Teams have been established to gather information to make a determination as to whether the company is legit. Most are not.

There is no federal enforcement other than timeshare advocacy groups. State enforcement is spotty at best. Contact Inside Timeshare or one of these U S advocacy groups we know not to be industry influenced.

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

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

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

Thank you to Irene and all those who proofread and edit the drafts, this article should prove to be very helpful to many of our US readers.

If you require any information about this or any article published, or just need help to decide who to trust and how to check them out, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember to do your homework and stay safe.

calm homework

Mark of excellence

A New Member to EGTBW (Rewritten)

Back in June 2016 Inside Timeshare published the following article, it started with a “Spoof” Trade Body which Inside Timeshare had just become a member of. Due to some of the articles we have published recently it was decided to republish this article as a warning that even “Trade Bodies” cannot be relied upon to give consumers the best advice or even tell the truth. (The article has also been amended from the original).

Although the article starts with some humour the message is very real, we hope that you enjoy reading it.

Inside Timeshare is proud to announce that it has been invited to become a member of the prestigious trade body EGTBW. This is the European Guild of Timeshare Blog Writers, it is affiliated to the IATBWG, the International Association of Timeshare Blog Writers Guilds.

Becoming a member means that Inside Timeshare must adhere to the Code of Conduct and Ethics of this Organisation.

  1. Members must not attack, make detrimental comments or otherwise demean any organisation that is a member or affiliated to EGTBW or IATBWG.
  2. Members must adhere to the laws of the EU, or the country of registration. Unless we can get away with it.
  3. The EGTBW and IATBWG will not mediate in any dispute between a member and non-members.
  4. If any organisation or entity has a complaint about a member of this organisation it must be taken directly to the member concerned.
  5. Any member may lie or spread false information about any non-member, citing freedom of speech and expression.
  6. If any action is taken against a member, both organisations will fully support that member, no matter what it has done wrong.
  7. Members may display both the EGTBW and IATBWG logos on all promotional material, correspondence and websites.

This Logo is a sign of quality and is a kite mark of excellence.

So there we have it Inside Timeshare has paid its £20,000 a year membership fee for the full protection and backup of these prestigious organisations. It now means we can do what the hell we like, so there!

If this was not a joke it would be farcical but unfortunately this is all too real in timeshare. On a daily basis we see owners and members being treated in the most disrespectful manner, we have also seen numerous court cases against the timeshare industry for breaking legislation.

There is an organisation that is supposed to be the trade body of this industry The RDO, (In the US it is ARDA), but it is its own members that are breaking the rules. What do they do about it? Not a sausage.

rdo-logo

This organisations own code of conduct states that members should adhere to any legislation and laws regarding the sale of timeshare. Yet we see illegal contracts still being sold, deposits being taken on the day, all in breach of EU Directives which are supposed to be in each member state’s laws.

The industry funds this organisation and it does its bidding, it will not even investigate its members when a complaint is made by an owner or member. They say that you must deal with your own resort/company.

They also believe that the press does not research the stories they publish, creating even more of a slur on the industry. Following is a direct quote from their own website under why join the RDO:

“Vacation ownership has been the victim of poorly researched press attention. These articles and broadcasts can cause serious and lasting damage to the reputation of the industry. RDO works on behalf of vacation ownership companies to clear up any misinformation, accusations of sharp business practices and to actively encourage the education of journalists and travel bloggers.”

“We believe that this work directly benefits all businesses in the industry by maintaining buyer confidence in holiday ownership. Additionally, RDO members have the added marketing advantage of being able to display the RDO logo on their marketing material. The RDO logo is a Kite Mark of quality for the holiday ownership industry and enables RDO Members to offer additional peace of mind to their customers.”

So a prestigious journalist such as Tony Hetherington has poorly researched his articles. (It must be pointed out that MacDonald Resorts have not been RDO members since 2005, but these articles highlight a problem that is rampant throughout the industry).

tony hetherington

thisismoney

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2346500/TONY-HETHERINGTON-I-escape-nightmare-sun.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2698355/TONY-HETHERGINGTON-Even-death-not-rid-timeshare.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2527546/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Timeshare-boss-relents-spite-fighting-talk.html

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1323162/TONY-HETHERINGTON-Death-doesnt-bring-end-timeshare-fee.html

So these are poorly research are they?

On another point, there have been numerous rulings made by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the timeshare laws, Anfi (an RDO member) have been on the receiving end of these rulings, having contracts declared null and void and huge amounts having to be repaid to consumers. Anfi believe the court has got it wrong, the RDO it seems agrees with them!

For many, timeshare has become a burden, the membership base is aging, new younger members are not being attracted to the concept, hence many sales offices are closing and staff being laid off. Yet those that want to get out of their membership are being held to “ransom”, they can’t sell (no resale market) and can’t get out without paying huge amounts for the privilege.

What does the RDO do about this problem of getting out of the timeshare?

It enhances its “Code of Conduct” for so-called “legacy” cases, or those sold in perpetuity. The rules are not really very helpful and are as follows:

  • In the event of the death of a joint owner, the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare if they wish and additionally, the beneficiaries of a will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
  • A timeshare owner who has been declared bankrupt may hand back the timeshare without charge.
  • If a sole owner or either of the joint owners is suffering from a long-term illness that prevents them from travelling to their resort for the foreseeable future, the timeshare interest may be surrendered.
  • In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO member. In such cases any surrender fee shall not exceed a sum equivalent to 3 years current maintenance fees.

(Notice it states “Subject to the agreement”)

As the industry trade body, should not the RDO back up these owners and make sure their members act in an ethical manner.

What of TATOC in all this?

tatoc logo

No surprise here, they back the RDO plans to the hilt, after all they are funded by RDO members who pay them to be members of TATOC, all so they can display this organisation’s logo. Oh sorry, it is another sign of prestige, you can trust us we are members of The RDO and TATOC; just look at our logos!

Since this article was first published TATOC has now been totally discredited and forced into bankruptcy. (Search TATOC in the search bar for previous articles). For years this organisation run by the infamous “Harry or is it Henry” Taylor, duped timeshare owners into believing that it was a credible organisation out to protect timeshare owners. It has now been proven that this was not in fact the case, in fact TATOC’s backing of MacDonald Resorts move to transfer their fixed week owners to the infamous points system and become members of a vacation club rather than owners, is a prime example.

We started this article with a spoof, the only thing is this spoof is real when it comes to timeshare. The industry is in decline, its reputation has been sullied, it only has itself to blame, the past greed and belief that they could get away with anything has finally caught up with it. Consumers no longer believe the “sales pitch”, they can see it is not value for money, members see their resorts being rented out to non members on the internet, usually for less than their maintenance fees. Yet the industry and the Trade Bodies cannot see the writing on the wall because they still believe they are right!

Inside Timeshare will continue to highlight any bad practice and report any news within the world of timeshare. If you have any questions regarding your ownership/membership, or need to know which company to deal with, contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

 

not happy

The Natives are Restless!

Here we are the start of the year, maintenance fees have been paid and the complaints from Anfi members are already on the discussion forums. What are these complaints about?

Very simple, availability.

For those with Floating Weeks they don’t seem to be able to book the times they want, even though they are trying to book at least 10 months in advance. Makes you wonder what they have paid for!

One poster has stated they have been trying to book for October, November or December and require 2 weeks, nothing available, fully booked.

Another comment actually says it all.

“What’s the point of having a week at Anfi when you can’t book anything as it’s already booked up?”

One owner of around 17 years has had the same problem since they changed from a fixed week to the floating system, they are now so fed up that they are not getting what they want, they want out.

So what is the problem, why are these people unable to get the dates they require?

Simply put, it is the floating weeks and points systems, with the original fixed week, fixed apartment system you were guaranteed the holiday at the time you originally chose. You could exchange your week for a different one by using the internal exchange system or even using one of the major exchange companies such as RCI, Interval International or Dial an Exchange.

The resort could only sell 51 weeks of each apartment, so that put a cap on the number of owners / members. With the floating weeks and points systems you become a member of a vacation club, with a limitless number of members, or more members than apartments and weeks available. Hence no availability.

This is the main reason the Supreme Court has ruled that these systems of floating weeks and points are illegal, there is no substance or guarantee of getting what you have paid for or been promised. Yet you are still obliged to pay each and every years maintenance fees!

These are just comments made on public forums, you just have to wonder what the complaints are like on the closed groups.

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=anfi%20del%20mar%20public%20group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2366863977/permalink/10155571590663978/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2366863977/permalink/10155573707503978/

Have you had problems such as this, whether at Anfi or any other resort that uses the floating weeks or points system, if so Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you.

If you require any information or advice on any of the articles published then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.