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.
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”
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 …
Florida statute does not allow anyone to receive upfront money to get you out of your timeshare.
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.
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.
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
- Better Business Bureau
- 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.
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:
Timeshare member Karen Krokosh reached out to Sell My Timeshare Now and here’s what happened to her:
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.