Friday’s Letter from America: Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America. Over the years Inside Timeshare has been running this series of articles. We have heard from so many elderly people, veterans, and serving military personnel, all have told similar stories. These revolve around the lies and untruths members allege are told by sales agents employed by Diamond and other developers to sell their product. The initial response to complaints has always been the same, “We are not responsible for what the sales agents say” and “you signed the contract”.

Today’s article was not going to be published, but due to comments made on various social media platforms which Inside Timeshare posts, it was decided that this Open Letter was the only reply. It was one comment made by the Timeshare Crusader which really did spark this change, in the comment Lisa, who we do have a great deal of respect for, calling consumers “gullible”. Considering the horror stories we have published we felt this had to be addressed. Over-reliance on the oral representation sentence, buried in a lengthy contract, implies the consumer is at fault. Only a biased observer will hold deceptive agents blameless.

ARDA has never appeared to address this issue, and as a reminder about oral representations, we do believe that it is too little too late, a case of “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”. They also do not go far enough to protect consumers from their ARDA members or sanction them when they allow sales agents to say what they like.

An Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader Explaining Why the Victim should not be Blamed

https://memeguy.com/photos/images/hypocrisy--7178.jpg
  • Beth in Arkansas, on behalf of younger people buying timeshares, 
  • Tiffany, on behalf of her elderly parents, 
  • Adam, on behalf of veterans and active-duty military,
  • Bernadette, on behalf of those experiencing serious medical conditions,
  • A timeshare member from 2017 who holds a security clearance  

May 7, 2021

If you are considering buying a timeshare for the first time or you are an owner thinking about adding to your vacation ownership portfolio, ARDA-ROC and the Timeshare Crusader recommend that you consider, at a minimum, the following:

https://www.arda-roc.org/important-information-for-buying-timeshare?fbclid=IwAR0DfjCzkYz4VzvaHkASdv1NO8iBx5ETU7S9URkUjdqzty5Y81cP42mNTho

If ARDA and Timeshare Crusader would take the time to read our articles, they would learn why the victim should not be blamed. We are disappointed, but not surprised, that neither organization holds deceptive timeshare sales agents and managers accountable. On a short vacation, if promised the ability to sell points, rent points, access “equity” or refinance, no one is going to attempt to do that while on vacation. The rescission period is easily dodged. It is easy for those who have not experienced a predatory timeshare experience to judge. 

AARP staff writer Doug Shadel explains in his book Outsmarting the Scam Artists” why the victim should not be blamed. An excerpt from the chapter entitled Ether:

This inability to fully grasp how emotion or “affect” influences our decision-making is crucial to understanding why fraud occurs… Even victims who are interviewed after the fact, criticize themselves….This is because they are no longer inside the situation – no longer having their emotions manipulated and vulnerabilities exposed. The ether has worn off.

ARDA and Timeshare Crusader talk about how financing a timeshare is like financing a house. No, it’s not. Home mortgage rates in the U.S. are at 2.882%. Timeshares are financed at 12% to 19%. If a Barclay credit card is used, the interest rate after the grace period is over 20%. If you buy a house but then decide you don’t like the house, you can sell it. Timeshares are virtually worthless.   

Tiffany: My elderly parents were deceived in 2019. The security clearance holder who shares her similar experience below is not a senior, yet she fell for the same pitch that my parents fell for – you have to give up your deed and buy points. My parent’s “QA” agent kept them for 11 hours. My mother called me during the ordeal. I told her to leave. She said she couldn’t because they had their credit card and driver’s license. They attended because they were told if they didn’t attend, they would be charged for their stay. They were browbeaten into giving up the Gold Key deeds they had owned for years. There was nothing in the contract that would have addressed this falsehood, and after 11 hours without food, water, or necessary medication, they were defeated. Diamond’s response was they sounded just fine on the recorded “QA” closing. They lost the two Gold Key deeds that they had for years, and over $30,000 after being told they had to give up their deed and buy points. The full story:

Tiffany Renee’s parents kept for 11 hours:

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

Bernadette’s Change.org Petition to remove an offensive YouTube: https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

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

Adam Siler [email protected]

Why timeshare presentations should be off-limits to active duty military: 

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

Adam, Bernadette Tiffany: Why Buyers Need to Record the Sales Session https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-should-sales-presentations-be-recorded/

Beth in Arkansas: 

I worked as a Covid nurse during the height of the pandemic. My parents gave me 10,000 Liki Tiki points. At a presentation I attended in Tennessee, I was told I had to give the points up because they were so limited. The agent said I could get 5,000 additional points for $4,500. It wasn’t until later I learned I had a $45,000 loan. That’s more than my student loans. I would have never bought the points. Diamond Resorts blamed me. They said on the recorded closing I was informed of the total purchase price. I certainly did not hear that because I would have never signed. I wanted to listen to the recording but they said I could only do so by subpoena. They only provided a transcript in which the QA agent stated the purchase price. I have to trust that the transcript is accurate. I learned that to listen to the recorded closing, I had to get an attorney to send a subpoena, but to send a subpoena, you have to file an arbitration case. I’m 24 years old. It’s too much. I have no choice but to default. My mother is horrified. She thought giving me her Diamond points was a good thing.       

A November 30, 2018 article by a Diamond member with a security clearance:

https://insidetimeshare.com/2018/11/

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. For those of us with security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy if we believe a timeshare sales agent and find ourselves forced to default on a timeshare loan. Since the timeshare sales agent knows they will suffer no negative consequences, if deceptive tactics are employed, they are given the green light to sell by any means, knowing the consumer will be blamed.  

Diamond should want the public to know this. 

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling our deeded Sunterra timeshare. We had no loan and had tried unsuccessfully to sell it. Davia said there was no way to sell our Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” so we could easier sell the timeshare. Davia said our Sunterra timeshare was worthless. We needed to upgrade to “Full Club Member” benefits to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.” We feel not informing us that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.  

She used asymmetric information. This is where one party has more or better information than the other.  

Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell (to avoid the rescission period) because the value of the timeshare would increase. She said she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance signing session against us. Why would we ask the question of the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?  The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. In my opinion, the recorded closing is used as an entrapment.

I signed Bernadette’s petition. We are proof that if you do call Diamond, you will be told, “Sorry, you didn’t bring it up on the recorded closing.”  I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page. They didn’t care.   

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

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

This article has been written last weekend and has been set to publish automatically. Inside Timeshare may be back at some point in the next week or so, depending on recovery from surgery.

Have a great weekend.

Fridays Letter from America: Developers, Sales Agents & Exit Companies

Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare and another Letter from America. We once again visit a subject that has been followed many times on our pages the culpability of the developers in the ongoing scamming of timeshare owners by the many fraudulent exit companies that have sprung up. All because of the lies by the sales agents and the difficulty in terminating any timeshare membership.

Why are Timeshare Developers not Concerned about those Harmed by Timeshare Sales Agents?

Organizational Chart of Exit Companies

April 30, 2021

Inside Timeshare routinely hears from those harmed by timeshare exit companies. The conglomerate chart above contains familiar names. Michelle in California reached out to her timeshare company to report allegations that she and her husband were sold points deceptively. The resort dismissed Michelle’s complaint, basically saying they were not responsible for the actions of their sales agents. Michelle retained Resort Release for $25,000. Not long after, Resort Release sought bankruptcy protection after Michelle’s timeshare company and others filed lawsuits against Resort Release and American Resource Management Group (ARMG). ARMG is at the center of the chart. Resort Release appears on the right. 

American Resource Management Group  

“A top priority for ROC is to ….help protect them from dishonest individuals or companies trying to take advantage of them,” said ARDA‐ROC Chairman Ken McKelvey. American Resource Management Group, LLC doing business as Resort Release, filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida under Case NO.: 19-14605-JKO. 

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/timeshare-owners-coalition-issues-warning-about-third-party-exit-companies-300837548.html

Timeshare developers need to understand that a solution to the problem requires an acknowledgement that the developers and their sales agents are part of the problem. The Federal Trade Commission this year listed Timeshare Sales at #7 on their Top Ten Scams list. Timeshare Resales are #10 on the list. Timeshare resale scams are companies that contact you to say they have a buyer.   

Timeshare Freedom Group (to the left on the chart) has been running frequent advertisements on national television in the U.S. Measured in terms of dollars spent per second of advertisement, the average going rate for an ad on national TV is approximately $342,000 per 30 seconds of air time, according to WebFX.

Diamond Resorts filed a lawsuit against Timeshare Freedom Group 

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/diamond-resorts-files-lawsuit-against-timeshare-freedom-group-molfetta-law–others-in-timeshare-cancellation-ring-for-allegedly-scamming-consumers-301136988.html

Help4TSO is at the top of the chart. A VA Chaplain and his wife attended an Allied Solutions Group presentation at a Joe’s Crab Shack in Las Vegas. Allied Solutions Group is not on the chart, but they refer to Help4TSO.  

“We paid Midwest Transfer $27,895 on May 17, 2017 for a Travel Club promised a release from our Bluegreen and Silverleaf timeshares, but now have a travel club we don’t need and the two timeshares. Allied Solution Group/Mid-West Transfer described their services as a Mortgage Relief Advocacy Process. They said an advocacy firm would be retained by Help4TSO.”https://www.opednews.com/articles/A-VA-Army-Chaplain-Loses–by-Irene-Parker-Fraud-181009-152.html

The other side of the coin

Michelle is not alone. Air Force veteran Adam Siler is reaching out to veterans and active duty service members, Tiffany Renee, the elderly, and Bernadette, those battling chronic health conditions. With so little done to help the consumer, in a largely self-regulated industry, an informed consumer is the best defense. Adam, Tiffany and Bernadette explain in this April 16 article why timeshare buyers need to record the sales session.

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-should-sales-presentations-be-recorded/

Bernadette’s Petition has 421 Supporters as of April 25

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

See the source image

Michelle’s report, followed by three other reports against her sales agent 

By Michelle in California

I signed Bernadette’s petition to protest the double standard. In January of 2018 we met with Diamond Resorts sales agent Adam D and his manager Billie B in Las Vegas. We already had 70,000 Diamond points. As Platinum members, this was more points than we needed. Anyone who has achieved Platinum loyalty level has likely spent over $200,000 on vacation points.

Adam informed us that our maintenance fees would go up every year unless we wrapped our prior loan into a new loan. He said that by refinancing, our maintenance fees would not increase for ten years because they would be included in the ten year refinance. Adam said he would GIVE us 15,000 bonus points if we refinanced. We received bonus points at prior purchases, so this seemed normal. 

We noticed the Purchase and Sale Agreement showed 15,000 points. We asked Adam about it because we told him we didn’t want to buy additional points. Adam said not to worry as it would get fixed later. He added that if we ever wanted to sell points, “We can hook you up with another member. Diamond will charge $250.” We now know Diamond points have no resale value. You have to PAY Diamond $1,000 per contract to take points back. The meeting lasted over seven hours.  

It wasn’t until the next month we learned that we BOUGHT 15,000 points! Our loan amount increased to $183,582 and maintenance fees increased from $12,000 to $15,000. We called Diamond. A Quality Assurance representative named Dave said he would investigate. He never called back. Ultimately, Diamond’s attorney sent us a letter that basically said all that matters is we signed a contract.    

We retained Resort Release in June of 2018 because there was no way we could afford the additional purchase. After paying Resort Release $25,000, they filed for bankruptcy.  

Other Adam D Complaints

Complaint #2 Bonita in California

https://insidetimeshare.com/tuesday-review-clarity/

In May of 2017 we purchased 4,000 points from Adam and his manager Joey. Adam told us that since we had so few points, we were paying more for maintenance fees than we would if we purchased additional points. After the purchase, I received a bill for $661 for additional maintenance fees. Adam said that my fees would be $1,124 but after the purchase they were $1,541. When questioned, he responded that the $1,124 was the amount for the new maintenance fees as stated on the contract. That was not how he explained it. We were told the price of the points was going to go up, but learned points have no resale value. Adam also said he was going to add in a Westgate week so that we could be at Silver loyalty level at 15,000 points. We did not own a Westgate week.

Loan amount $22,829.44 financed @ 17.1558%

Diamond’s Response: 

“We must advise that it is specified clearly in the contract documentation that if you relied upon any verbal information given during the presentation you must ask for this to be put in writing. Likewise, if anything was said that was of particular importance to you, but which is not contained in the terms and conditions of the membership, this should have been requested to be implemented in the body of contract before documentation was signed.”

Adam D complaint #3  

Wanda and Douglas, ages 65 and 71 at time of purchase

Douglas is a Bronze Star Veteran 

We owned two deeded weeks. We purchased points from Adam D at Polo Towers. The purchase cost $2,400 per month in monthly loan payments and $13,000 in annual maintenance fees. We were told that we would be able to rent out the timeshare to make money to cover the monthly loan payments. That turned out to be impossible. We defaulted on the loans.    

When we called Diamond they said: We are not responsible for what a salesman tells you. I asked, “Doesn’t this salesman represent your company?” They just repeated, “We are not responsible for what a salesman tells you.”

Complaint #4 A former Criminal Investigator

We met with Adam and Rick at Polo Towers. They explained how Diamond Resorts had been taken over by Apollo Global Management and that Apollo, realizing that Diamond had failed to remedy failures, created a program that would provide financial relief – if we purchased additional points. It would be foolish not to join as it would “right all wrongs.” Rick produced a binder listing “The Club” benefits. Adam produced a card from his wallet. 

Benefits that failed to materialize:  

Benefit 1. When making reservations, 50% of the points used would be loaded onto a reloadable “Club Card” that could be used like cash, redeemable for $.10 to $.30 per point. The credit could be used for anything, INCLUDING PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE FEES. Had this been true, it would have addressed our major concern – rising and exorbitant maintenance fees.      

Two weeks passed without receiving a “Club Card.” When I contacted Adam he said Diamond discontinued the card. When I asked what would replace it he said he was in a meeting and couldn’t talk. I never heard from him again. When we attempted to obtain the “50/50 split” we were told no such program existed.   

Benefit 2. Vice President of Sales Dan P would be our “Personal Travel Concierge.” Dan’s skills were described as being “like magic.” Dan gave us his business card and said he looked forward to working with us. Voicemail recordings were all that happened.  

I sent a letter to Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey. His agent recommended I use Diamond’s Barclay credit card explaining, “That is what ‘covered under financing’ means.” I have stopped payments. Nothing was ever mentioned about using Barclaycard to pay maintenance fees. Charging purchases to a Barclaycard offsets maintenance fees at only 1%, or 2% if used to charge Diamond-sponsored products. 

See the source image

More need to join our efforts to reach out to lawmakers, regulators and the media to raise awareness and provide consumer education. A simple disclosure provided before the sales session alerting the buyer that anything a sales agent promises will not be honored – due to one sentence in your volume of documents: 

“I did not rely on oral representations to make my purchase.”

A Diamond member-sponsored Facebook 

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

Thanks to Michelle and all our contributors from across the Great Lake, your problems are very similar to those experienced by timeshare consumers in Europe and most probably anywhere in the world that timeshare is sold. Hopefully, these articles will help to create a change in the industry that is well and truly needed.

That is all for this week, Inside Timeshare will not be publishing for a short while due to personal reasons, but we hope to be back with you within a couple of weeks.

Have a great weekend.

More Bogus Firms Identified and Update on Genuine Law firms Name Being Used

Today Inside Timeshare brings you news on more “bogus law firms, exit & claims” companies being identified, we also bring you a further update on the name of a genuine law firm whose name is being used by fraudsters. As usual, timeshare owners are being targeted with bogus information designed to scare them into paying huge amounts to these scammers.

We begin with an update on Scudamore Law, a genuine law firm with offices in London, Madrid and Almeria. This law firm is operated by a genuine lawyer Jeremy Scudamore, who is also a registered Barrister in the UK.

The FAKE firm, uses the name Scudamore Law Services, with the email addresses:

[email protected]

[email protected]

They have however now added a slight change to the email address:

[email protected]

It is still a free Gmail account and not linked to any website, they also do not show any telephone numbers.

The email begins with the introduction using a new name:

My Name is Karen Pontin

I work for “Scudamore Law Services” we are a highly respected claims management company.

We specialise in Spanish law and our advice is delivered in English.

We were established in 1997 and for more than 20 years we have been dedicated to offering the highest quality representation and advice. Our mission is to provide high-quality, cost-effective services delivered to British standards of professionalism, with excellent client communication.

So is Karen Pontin the same person as Georgina Bailey who introduced the previous email?

As before they are targeting those who purchased from Eze Group, as with the previous email, there is a sense of urgency attached to lure you the unsuspecting “victim” into their trap.

There happens to be a cutoff date to get your claim lodged and processed, that date is 29 April 2021 which happens to be today!

As with the previous emails received by our readers they state in bold block capitals and in red:

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE NOT HERE TO CHEAT ANYONE OR ARE WE ASSOCIATED WITH ANYONE RIPPING PEOPLE OFF…WE CHARGE A FAIR PRICE MOST PROBABLY THE BEST YOU WILL FIND*

Well, they are not there to cheat anyone, it does not look like that is a true statement to Inside Timeshare and it is very doubtful that a genuine law firm would use that paragraph in any letter or email. It is also a fact that a genuine law firm would not be sending out unsolicited emails or letters touting for business, that is not only against General Data Protection Regulations it is also illegal for any law firm or lawyer to tout for business in this way.

Once again, Inside Timeshare has been in contact with Jeremey Scudamore with the latest information. Jeremy has informed Inside Timeshare that he has already filed a denuncia (official report) with the authorities and will add the latest information.

The genuine law firms contact details and website are:

https://www.scudamorelaw.com/

Email: [email protected]

Telephone UK: +44 207 097 5550

Telephone Spain: +34 915 939 126

Address: Plaza de Castilla 3 – 15º E2 28046 Madrid

If you receive any correspondence from a firm purporting to be Scudamore Law Services, please use our contact page and let us know, we also ask that you contact the genuine law firm Scudamore Law on the details above.

Link to our original article:

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

We now move to another “firm” contacting timeshare owners with offers of “terminating” their contract and claiming “compensation”.

This firm is J & A Resolutions and there is some rather interesting information on them.

They have a website:

https://www.ja-resolutions.co.uk/

Which was registered on 1 March 2020 and is due to expire on 1 March 2022, again the registrant’s name is not available.

They are using the email addresses:

[email protected]

[email protected]

And the telephone number: 01202 025286

The company was registered on 10 January 2020, but the most interesting fact is that a “Compulsory order to strike them off” has been issued.

So it is blatantly obvious that this is a scam.

Links to Company House records.

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12396112

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12396112/officers

https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12396112/filing-history

Our final warning is about two firms Quonto which so far has shown nothing on any search, the other is a company called Walker Morris SL.

We have not yet identified any website for this company but we have found them in Spanish company records. The details are as follows:

CIF: B93628584

Registered on: 28 June 2018

With the address: C/ Acero 6  29100  – (Coin) – Málaga

The registered Administrator is named Mariella Gomez Kantuta.

This company is also linked to several other including one which has been heard of in the past, Victoria Legal Services SL with the same director, The company details are:

CIF: B93597839

Registered on 7 February 2018 with the address:

C/ Centro Comercial Los Jarales – Local 1 Suite  29651  – (Mijas) – Málaga

Both of these companies are registered as Real Estate or Similar, so nothing to do with law or timeshare claims.

Links to Spanish company records:

https://empresite.eleconomista.es/WALKER-MORRIS.html

http://www.infocif.es/ficha-empresa/walker-morris-sl

http://www.infocif.es/ficha-empresa/victoria-services-legal-sl

So again it is very important for all timeshare owners to be very wary of cold calls, unsolicited emails and post, as not all callers are genuine. If you have received any communication from any company regarding timeshare or timeshare related firms you have dealt with in the past and would like to know if they are genuine or just scammers, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

REMEMBER, DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE ENGAGING WITH ANY FIRM THAT CONTACTS YOU OR YOU FIND ON THE INTERNET.