Start the Week: Are They Genuine?

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, today we have a look at how to spot a possible scam, what to look for and the warning signs to be aware of. Over the past months, there have been numerous new “fake” law firms, claims and exits companies appearing, with Inside Timeshare issuing many warnings. Unfortunately, many timeshare owners have been taken in by them only to find they have been scammed after they have paid.

One of the first points that you should consider is the initial cold call, although cold calling is not illegal, you should be very cautious about who they are and how they have your details. What information are they holding, do they know what and where you own, do they also know about any previous contact with “fraudulent” companies? These are usually telltale signs that the data they hold may have been obtained illegally, either it has been stolen from the timeshare resort or has been passed on by other fraudulent entities, usually the same people behind the new company.

During the call it is up to you to do the questioning, what is their full company name, where are they registered, do they have a company registration number and can this be verified. This point does not guarantee they are legitimate, anyone can register a company for very little outlay, just because they are registered does not mean they are not scammers.

What is the company address, is it a permanent office or one of the virtual offices often used to register short term companies. How long has the company been registered, does this correspond with what you are told, such as they have been operating for say 5 years, yet the company was only registered 1 year ago!

Does the company name appear on any searches, or does it show many companies with the same or similar name?

Many of the new cold callers are using names of genuine law firms or variations of them, even down to a similarly named website. A good example of this point is one article published last week on the law firm Cabrera Ayala Abogados, where a genuine lawyer’s details are being used. Even down to the address being very similar. The other example is of a Spanish Registered Lawyer and UK Registered Barrister, Jeremy Scudamore, both of these can be seen on the links below.

https://insidetimeshare.com/wednesday-news-another-new-fake-lawyer-and-more-woes-for-anfi/

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-catching-up-with-the-news/

What is their website, is it a new one or one that has been operating for a number of years, When was it registered and for how long? Is the registrant hidden by a privacy protection service, hiding the people behind it? Again another point to give concern. 

What telephone numbers are they using, have they appeared on sites such as Who Called Me, and what comments have been made?

Are they landlines, mobile or VOIP used mainly on internet telephone systems from third-party providers?

Does their email address go to the website or is it a free email service such as Gmail, Yahoo or ones that we have seen regularly with our friends the Litigious Abogados Family from Tenerife, such as consultant.com or europe.com?

Any email that is not directly attached to their website is usually a very good sign of a scam operation.

On the website itself, does the website show any company details, such as company registration numbers, Solicitors Regulation Authority registration, for Spain are they registered with their local Colegio de Abogados?

If they are processing claims they may also need to be registered and regulated under claims management with the Financial Conduct Authority. This does depend on the type of claims management they are undertaking. Do they have an FCA registration number?

Even if this number appears on the website, it does not mean they are registered, especially if they are a new company. They may have applied and only have “temporary” approval, permanent approval is not given straight away, there is a period where the FCA will be investigating them before they finally approve full authority, this can take at least one year.

On the website, is the information shown correct, how is it written, does it look like it has been cut and pasted from another “legitimate” website?

How is it written, is it full of spelling and grammatical errors, are they trying to use legal terms to make it look like a genuine law firm?

What services are they offering, is it a fully legal claim which will for Spanish purchased timeshares need to go through the Spanish legal system with a genuine and registered Spanish lawyer?

Or, are they offering a relinquishment first (for a fee) and a “compensation” claim on a no win no fee basis?

How do they expect you to make a payment?

Do they have Credit Card facilities, if so who is the payment made to, is it the company that is carrying out the work or a third party?

If this is the case you may not be covered by Section 75 of the Credit Consumer Act 1974 under the third party payment rules. As an example, you pay company A, the work is supposedly carried out by company B, which does not do the job, you have no claim against either party. Third-Party Rule.

Another point to consider is the use of third party payment companies using your credit card, these are money transfer agencies such as PayPal and Transferwise. Using your card to pay using these methods also invalidates your rights under Section 75.

If you are requested to make a payment by bank transfer, who is the payment being made to, is it a company account or to a named private individual?

Lastly, have they sent you any documents, do they look genuine?

Many of these fake documents including court rulings have been published on Inside Timeshare over the years, some are exceptionally good, especially if you have no experience of any legal documentation. There will always be telltale signs, the most common for court documents is the “case number”, these can be checked and verified, with our experience we can tell them to be fake at a glance. You unfortunately may not be so lucky.

Example of a Fake court document sent out by the Litigious Abogados Family.

These are just the basic rules to be safe when dealing with either cold callers or any company you may have found on the internet. If you require any help in verifying these companies, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

REMEMBER, DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST BEFORE PAYING ANY COMPANY!

Friday’s Letter from America: Should Sales Presentations be Recorded?

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, as you can see from the title, Adam Siler, Bernadette and Tiffany Renee give their views and stories answering the question of why they believe sales presentations should be recorded. As those of you who have been following Inside Timeshare over the years will remember, we have published numerous Nightmare on Timeshare Street stories on how people have been duped by sales agents. Some of these articles can be found on the links at the end. Inside Timeshare would also like to remind all our readers to sign the petition from Bernadette for Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey to remove his video which many who have been through the Diamond mill find offensive. Please take the time to sign it, no matter where in the world you are, many voices, one message.

https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

Why Timeshare Sales Presentations Should be Recorded

See the source image

By Adam Siler, Bernadette, Tiffany Renee

April 16, 2021

Adam Siler, Air Force Veteran

[email protected]

I learned that a timeshare buyer can’t rely on the ethics or words of a sales agent or manager. If the signing is recorded, don’t accept any reason as to why you should not bring up something promised during the sales presentation. Record the sales session in states where legal without obtaining consent. It’s no surprise that recording without the other person aware is not legal in timeshare mecca Florida. 

Even if you are savvy enough to record your sales session and easily resolve your dispute, the company will release you “without liability.” That’s the same thing as saying it doesn’t matter what the sales agent says. Despite evidence in my sales agent’s handwriting, illustrating a 7% financing that he promised to help me obtain, I was informed that it doesn’t matter what he promised because I signed a contract. 

A recent sixth complaint was directed against my Florida timeshare sales agent. The complaint was reported by a member who attends presentations to report deception. This makes the sixth complaint since 2017. The first was reported by an active-duty Navy couple.

My efforts are focused on veterans and active duty service members. An active duty service member can lose their security clearances over a timeshare foreclosure. Service members should think carefully before buying a product with little to no resale value as they can be deployed at a moment’s notice. Given the ease of entrapment, high-interest rate timeshare lending should be deemed off-limits like Payday loans. Below are four pages of articles about veterans and active duty service members hurt by their purchase of a timeshare.

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-75/

Tiffany Renee

My mom called me a number of times during their 11 hour sales session. She told me they could not leave because the agent had taken their IDs. They were falsely told that my brother and I would be liable for increasing fees should something happen to them. They forfeited their two deeded weeks and lost over $30,000. Now they are receiving collection letters threatening to add legal fees and collection agency fees. 

In their 70s my parents had no choice but to default. Their maintenance fees increased from $2,000 to $6,000 after converting to points. My parents were no match for a “QA” agent who served a four-year jail term for burglarizing seven homes, some while occupied. He had other criminal charges over the years. The timeshare company blamed my parents, saying they sounded fine on the recorded closing. That’s why you need to record your sales session.    

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-74/

It’s important to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and other appropriate regulatory agencies. The Florida Attorney General only forwarded our information to the timeshare company, and in turn, forwarded the company’s denial, but if no one filed complaints it would seem there are no problems.

At a Florida HB 435 workshop held in Tallahassee March 12, 2019, Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare complaints in 2017, about the same number in 2018, and 700 complaints filed in 2019 through March 12, 2019. Ms Butler said about 50% of the complaints involved senior citizens with the majority in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

(Irene Parker attended and reported)

Bernadette in Oklahoma

We did not record our sales presentation. On three occasions in Las Vegas, Hawaii and Missouri, we were not informed of the company’s voluntary surrender program. We attended a meeting only to learn how to be released due to my husband’s chronic and debilitating health problems. Each time we were told we would need to purchase additional points to gain release. 

I was shocked to be told by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office that I should get a lawyer. A YouTube featuring the Missouri Attorney General, the Washington Attorney General, and the former Arizona Attorney General describes attorneys specializing in timeshares as “storefront clowns.” 

The company only offered us their voluntary surrender program FOR THE ORIGINAL CONTRACT I FIRST ATTEMPTED RELEASE. We had no loan before the three up-sells. In frustration I launched this petition:  

https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-the-story-of-bernadette/

Articles About or By Veterans

Calvin Wardrick, a disabled Army Veteran, explains how timeshare companies and timeshare exit companies feed off each other. Calvin ran a POW camp of 27,000 Iraq soldiers and is 100% disabled due to PTSD. As Calvin explains, “My family had good intentions when they purchased a timeshare for my relaxation, but I entered into another war on US soil that we did not see coming. Stress over this timeshare has added to my sickness and has put us at a poverty level.”

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-68/

Timeshare can pose a National Security Threat, December 27, 2017

http://insidetimeshare.com/money-vs-morals/

Wayne Robinson, a Navy Veteran/Navy Journalist, and a former timeshare sales agent, executive, and author of Everything about Timeshare, Before During and After the Sales September 14, 2018

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-21/

John Collick, Congressional Candidate 2020 (VA-3) 

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-37/

Eddie Rodriguez, Army Veteran, June 25, 2019

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-36/

Army Veteran Ron Tzinski, June 21, 2019

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-55/

Platinum Protest March 2019 Orlando organized by a Navy Veteran family

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-51/

The Sherwood Family, Marine Veteran, Wyndham, March 8, 2019

http://insidetimeshare.com/http-insidetimeshare-com-p5114/

The Kleen Family, a Veteran Family, Wyndham, January 18, 2019

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

The Althage Family, Marine Veteran, Wyndham, January 11, 2019

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

A Bronze Star Veteran, January 4, 2019 1/23 complaint against the agent

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-35/

James McConnell, Army Veteran and retired VA Chaplain  

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-9/

Willma Miller, Vietnam Army Veteran Family, October 2, 2018

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

Army Veteran Leo Gomez, deceased, 2 Purple Hearts, 100% disabled Agent Orange September 21, 2018

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-22/

George Yamada, 70% Disabled Agent Orange Vietnam, September 11, 2018

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

John Kim, Air Force Active Duty, August 21, 2018

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-16/

Joshua Parker, Disabled Army Veteran March 16, 2018

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-41/

Gad and Noreen Liebmann, Navy Veterans protesting Daytona Regency and 

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

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

Margaret and Edward Chandler, Army E6 at discharge

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-with-irene-7/

Mike Yelton, Army and Air Force Veteran

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

Sean Wolfer, 100% Disabled Army Veteran, Agent Orange, 2/23 complaints 

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-44/

Raymond Mori, age 83, a Disabled Marine Veteran 23 years, 2 Purple Hearts

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-42/

Kevin and Brenda Hopkins, Air Force Veterans

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-39/

Roy Simmons, Navy Veteran retired letter carrier, upsold to $2,700 a month in loan payments

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-13/

Scotty Black, disabled Navy Veteran, Homeland Security

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

Air Force Active Duty Kevin Hopkins

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-39/

Anthony Davis, 90% disabled Army veteran

https://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-6/

Jeff Diehl, Marine veteran, disabled

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

Samuel Melendez, 21 yrs Army, chemical, biochemical, nuclear defense, 3/23 

http://insidetimeshare.com/nightmares-timeshare-street/

Amanda and George Jones, Active Duty Navy, December 19, 2017

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

Terry Carter, disabled Army Veteran, burn pit in Basra

http://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-slot-irene-2/

Alan Callner, retired Coast Guard, 4/23 complaints against the same agent

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

Nancy Callahan, disabled Gulf War Veteran Family, April 24, 2017, 5/23

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

A Military Family March 6, 2017

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

The Hurleys, Canadian career Army Veterans January 25, 2017

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

Thank you Adam, Bernadette and Tiffany for your contributions, once again you have given all our readers a sound argument as to why the industry must change and change for the benefit of consumers and the industry, not just one side.

Inside Timeshare would also like to thank all the past contributors for their experiences, for many it was a very difficult step to take and share what they perceived to be problems of their own making, not realising that others have also been taken in by the sales patter.

While some families seem so obviously mislead and suffer financial harm, others are able to work out their differences. Let’s hope consumers do their part by following Ronald Reagan’s advice, “Believe but verify!”

All Inside Timeshare and our readers who have followed us and contributed over the years can say, is you are no longer alone.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

Wednesday News: Another New Fake Lawyer and More Woes for Anfi

Welcome to our Wednesday edition of Inside Timeshare, today we have a look at yet another “fake” law firm to emerge, once again it appears they are using the name and details of a genuine lawyer to give themselves credibility. This is another example of the theft of someone’s identity to commit fraud. We also have a look at the latest case involving Anfi in the High Court and a look at yet another article on the Tauro Beach Project.

First, we have a look at yet another “fake” law firm to rear its ugly head, during our usual morning search of the internet, we found this on the Mindtimeshare website, so Inside Timeshare decided to delve a little deeper into this “Law firm”.

The firm is called Cabrera Ayala Abogados with the website:

https://cabreraayala.com/

This was registered on 4 May 2020 and is due to expire next month on 4 May 2021, so again only registered for a short time. The registrant is also hidden so there is no clue as to who is behind the website.

The given address on the website is:

Calle Alejandro Casona 22 4B 28035 Madrid España

Email Adress:

[email protected]

Telephone: +34 931 845 020

Now considering they claim to be in Madrid, 931 just happens to be the code for Barcelona.

Mobile: +34 603 365 063

The information also includes the following information

Cabrera Ayala Abogados

With the Colegio de Abogados de Madrid registration number:

Colegiado nº 63893

On checking the Censo de Letrados, which is the register of all licenced and practising lawyers in Spain, we find that the actual lawyer is Jose Luis Cabrera Ayala. The address given on the registration is Calle Alejandro Casona 3 12 28035 Madrid. As you can see the address is in the same street but the numbers are different.

It is also noticeable that the mobile number given for the Genuine lawyer is +34 626 312 905, again different to the one shown on the website.

Doing a search for Jose Luis Cabrera Ayala came up with some very surprising information, this is a lawyer who seems to have a very respectable reputation and specialises in Sanitary Law, (health), so nothing to do with timeshare law or contracts. This information came from Emerita Legal, see link below.

https://www.emerita.legal/abogado/jose-luis-cabrera-ayala-84087

There is also a Linkedin page for this lawyer which also shows his rather illustrious career.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jose-luis-cabrera-ayala-564a96177/

It is absolutely clear that whoever is behind this website has stolen and is using the identity of a respected lawyer for fraudulent purposes.

Again this enforces the point that you must be very careful when dealing with any company or law firm that contacts you or that you have found on the internet.

High Court of Las Palmas

Moving on to Anfi, they have once again lost another case in the High Court Number 5 of Las Palmas, yet another of their appeals to go down the swanny.

The original case brought on behalf of the Norwegian Client by Canarian Legal Alliance was heard in the Court of First Instance Number 2 of San Bartelóme de Tirajana. The contract was deemed illegal and declared null and void, the court also ordered Anfi to repay the client 48,197€ plus legal interest.

As was expected by the lawyers at CLA, Anfi lodged another appeal to the High Court, CLA Lawyers also launched an appeal of their own. This appeal was regarding the payment in double of deposits illegally taken within the statutory cooling-off period in line with the law and the rulings of the Supreme Court, due to the Court of First Instance who appeared not to have taken this into account.

The High Court as expected rejected and dismissed the appeal by Anfi and upheld the original sentence. The judges also accepted the appeal by CLA in regards to the doubling of the illegally taken payments, increasing the award by 45,654€ bringing the total to 93,851€ plus legal interest.

The case was prepared and presented by Eva Gutierrez with Caroline Castro assisting the client.

Yesterday, the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) published a short article on the Anfi Tauro Beach Project, a story that Inside Timeshare has been following for a number of years. In this article, they explain the long-running battle over this project with not only the local citizens but also the authorities.

The project has now been well and truly cancelled, it now remains to be seen if it is ever resurrected in the future or if the beach will be returned to its original state. Obviously Inside Timeshare will be keeping an eye on any developments and let you know.

If you require any information on any company regarding your timeshare or you would like to know your legal options be they a claim or just relinquishment, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.