Following Monday’s article about Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts hiding assets in an attempt to avoid paying back money awarded to clients in the Spanish courts for the selling of illegal contracts, they are back in the news. This time it is on Spanish national television TVE 1.
They report what we already have published and what was published in El Diario, Inside Timeshare has a recording of the news item to which has been added subtitles it has also been uploaded to Youtube.
The lawyer who is dealing with this case on behalf of Canarian Legal Alliance clients, Eva Gutiérrez is being interviewed outside one of the CLA offices in Arguineguin, with the Anfi Resort in the background. In the interview, Eva explains the reason behind the emptying of bank accounts giving the reporter all the figures. She is also seen working on documents showing the various bank accounts.
It is actually quite staggering the amounts which are in the millions of euros that are being diverted from these accounts to avoid court-ordered repayments. It is no wonder that the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has been taking a very keen interest in this matter.
During the interview, Eva Gutiérrez also explains that CLA and their clients are urging the courts to appoint an independent administrator to oversee the accounts and the investigation. This blatant attempt we are seeing by the Anfi Group, who are also paying members of the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) the timeshare industry trade body and governed by their code of conduct and ethics, is in the mind of Inside Timeshare possibly a criminal act.
As yet we have not seen any statement from the RDO regarding this and we very much doubt that they will even sanction them over this. So much for the trade body and their code of conduct and ethics.
This story should place no one in any doubt as to the lengths timeshare companies will go to deceive consumers, it should also remove any doubt as to the authenticity of Canarian Legal Alliance which has over the years been smeared by the timeshare industry as a criminal gang and swindlers!
Inside Timeshare knows who the real swindlers and criminals are and now so do you!
Link to the original article by El Diario with English translation in PDF format.
Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome back Shielah Brust with her article on Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices. It is in response to the industry’s claim that timeshare members are being subjected to “Deceptive Timeshare Exit Practices”, yet we at Inside Timeshare receive many complaints on this subject by the industry’s very own sales agents. If Michael Flaskey wants these exit companies to be regulated then the industry should also take a very close look at itself. We do agree that there are some unscrupulous “Exit” companies, but at the end who is actually to blame for their creation in the first place?
To: Michael Flaskey, Diamond Resorts CEO
The Unfair in Unfair and Deceptive Sales Practices
Timeshare Exit Companies have little to fear if they are to be regulated like Florida timeshare
“The long term strategy is, if there are (exit) companies out there that really are legitimate, which we haven’t seen yet,” Flaskey said, “then they need to be regulated the same way our (timeshare) industry is regulated.”
Testimony from the Florida Legislative Workshop March 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 recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms. Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.
By Shielah Brust
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
I am writing in response to the article linked above written by Chabeli Herrerra of the Orlando Sentinel. In the article, Mr. Flaskey expresses his concern over timeshare members experiencing deceptive timeshare exit sale practices. Based on Diamond Resortscomplaints reported by many members of our self-advocacy group, and dismissals received from DBPR, there is little to no timeshare regulation in Florida. DBPR backs up Diamond’s“You signed a contract” defence with “Verbal representations are hard to prove.”
While many Diamond members have had disputes resolved, the process requires endless rebuttals and often regulatory and law enforcement filings. In addition, we have sent more than 200 complaints to the timeshare lobby ARDAand ARDA ROC. Mr. Flaskey sits on ARDA’s Board of Directors.
To take the “un” out of “unfair” timeshare buyers should be allowed to record the sales session. I am one of 101 Diamond Platinum members who have reported unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. In our case, we even have our “pencil pitch” that proves we were pitched a nonexistent maintenance fee relief program. One need not read any further than $8631 – $8631 = no maintenance fees. My DBPR investigator, when she first saw my proof, said, “I can’t believe they let you walk out with that paperwork!” Our 2017 “pencil pitch”:
Three complaints and one lawsuit have been filed against Brad L, a sales agent at Daytona Beach Regency. Only the most recent of the four complaints resolved. A VIP at Diamond corporate told us in 2018 that they agreed Brad L’s explanation was confusing. As a result, they said they changed the way agents present the program. However, a year later, in 2019, the fourth complaining member produced a “pencil pitch” identical to ours. Only the numbers vary.
In 2017, Brad L told us to “wait a few months before turning in points to pay maintenance fees because the website (member page) was being rebuilt so that the member would be able to view a split-screen showing promised double points.” Two years later, in 2019, Brad told complainant #4 to wait a few months before checking because the website was being rebuilt.
Also unfair is the recording of the QA closing session. The recording is routinely used against the member. Complaints are dismissed because the buyer did not ask questions in regard to what they were promised.
Members often report how they were coached on how to “pass” QA. The member believed the sales agent so did not ask questions. A member can only access the recording by subpoena, meaning the member must retain a lawyer in order to view it.
This recording of the QA session was sold to the Arizona Attorney General as “enhanced training” after the Arizona Attorney General issued an Assurance of Discontinuance. Their office received hundreds of complaints during 2016 and 2017. From the AOD:
“Diamond shall enhance its programs, policies and training and continue to instruct and train its Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers to comply with the ACFA (Arizona Consumer Fraud Act). Diamond shall advise all Vacation Counselors and Sales Managers that they may not:
Sales agents should not deviate from sales material
Sales agents should not make oral representations at the point of sale inconsistent with the Purchase document.
Since 1994, we have spent over $200,000 on Diamond points, not including maintenance fees. We have been fighting Diamond for over 18 months. Of the 101 Platinum member complaints, approximately half are about members purchasing additional points based on overstated maintenance fee relief programs and the rest the ability to sell points. Diamond points are worthless on resale, and the only program to be relieved of maintenance fees would relieve only $2,000 towards an $8600 maintenance fee, and the member is charged $100 to do so.
Mr. Flaskey, consider believing your highest loyalty customers over sales agents that have had multiple complaints filed against them.
Allow buyers to record the sales session. Why would you not allow this?
Florida needs to become a one-party state so the buyer can legally record an in-person presentation if Diamond will not allow the sales session recorded.
Allow a 24 hour “cooling off” period so buyers can breathe before signing a perpetual contract, easily sold by deceit, accompanied by annual maintenance fees, and no secondary market.
Diamond’s lawyers twisted our written proof to mean what they wanted it to mean and twisted our words to mean what they wanted our words to mean. After Diamond allowed Brad L to answer the complaint his way, DBPR closed my case.
A letter of denial from Julia Russell, Consumer Legal Affairs Paralegal, and Russell Burke, Diamond in-house counsel, corporate headquarters, stated it was their understanding I refused to meet with the DBPR in person. I sent them the email requesting a meeting. I informed DBPR I would be in Orlando on May 16, 2019, and would bring boxes of emails, texts and other information.
I offered to meet with the DBPR reviewers. I told them I would be in Orlando. When I went to their office on May 16, 2019, their door was locked and a security sign was posted on the door.
Hard-working people who had been loyal Diamond members for years now devote a considerable amount of time reaching out to lawmakers, the media, and regulators asking the government to take a hard look at the way timeshare companies are destroying many families financially, mentally, and even physically. I will continue to fight to help others and file complaints with governmental and law enforcement agencies. Here’ how to file with the FTC and the FBI:
We advise members to send complaints to ARDA President Jason Gamel, also Sr. Legal VP for Wyndham, ARDA ROC, Apollo Global Management, Diamond Resorts CEO Michael Flaskey, Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General, and Barclay’s Bank, if a credit card was involved.
Florida’s Department of Business Practice and Regulation (DBPR) response to our complaint after I asked why the Arizona Attorney General launched an investigation based on a volume and pattern of complaints:
As you are aware, alleged verbal misrepresentations are very difficult to prove in light of the written documents and disclosures. In terms of evidence, we rely on these documents to prove or disprove the allegations. The actions taken by other state agencies are not evidence of the alleged misrepresentations related to the sales transactions conducted in Florida. Based on our review, it did not appear that the information provided to you by the sales agents were false and misleading. Lack of clarity could be an issue but that in itself cannot be considered a violation. We are not sure if the sales agent had voluntarily provided the hand-written notes or you had kept them on your own. If there are discrepancies between the notes and what was actually received in terms of points, we will address that issue.
Brad said we paid $8,631 in maintenance fees for 50,000 points in 2017. Following Brad’s logic, we could eliminate $8,000 of the increased $11,252 maintenance fee (due to the purchase of 15,000 additional points), by taking advantage of this new program. From Brad’s notes:
65,000 own $8,631 current maintenance fees before 15,000
65,000 given2,621 maintenance fees on the new 15,000
130,000 points $11,252 Total maintenance fees with new 15,000
50,000 if used8,000 Less reimbursement check
80,000 left $3,252 Maintenance fees still owed
x $.10 reimbursed
EXCEPT THERE WAS NO 65,000 POINTS GIVEN!
Diamond’s Clarity™ promise launched after Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, issued an Assurance of Discontinuance:
The CLARITY Promise:
With this clear, concise and consistent information, consumers can easily determine whether the Diamond Resorts hospitality experience is the right decision for them and their families.
On April 5, 2018, we received a call from a DRI Hospitality agent. They found no wrongdoing. This is part of what she said to us.
I definitely agree that your confusion of that process is warranted. I have spoken to our legal team and sales team and we agree the double point explanation is definitely something that could have been misconstrued or seen as confusing by members or purchasers.
We have made changes to the way that information is given at the time of sale but we have to say the stance we take on this is: because there may have been some confusion on how you may use those points to create savings for yourself doesn’t make the explanation illegal.
According to the Federal Trade Commission Section 5
An act or practice is deceptive where
a representation, omission, or practise misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;
a consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and
the misleading representation, omission, or practise is material.
I hope Ms. Herrerra will write a story for the people’s side.
Sincerely, Sheilah Brust, a Diamond Platinum member in foreclosure
Pictured from left: Anna and Diamond Platinum members Cindy, Patty and Sheilah
We seek to provide timeshare members with 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.
Thank you Shielah for a very interesting article and for taking the time to write it, you have certainly made some very interesting points. Inside Timeshare will continue to publish the concerns of these practices by the timeshare industry as well as exit and resale companies who use these same techniques.
Tomorrow Inside Timeshare will be publishing more on the Anfi story regarding the intervention of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, we will be publishing a news item aired by TVE 1 News which is Spanish National Television. It includes an interview with the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyer Eva Gutiérrez.
Further to our article about the Anfi partner IFA’s AGM published on 22 July 2019, in this article, it was revealed that IFA was subject to questions regarding all the court cases, the possible cost to IFA and what it would mean to shareholders. The article also explained how IFA is being denied any influence or information on the running of Anfi by their partners Santana Cazorla who owns the “Golden Share”. Today’s article brings in a new dimension to the tale.
The newspaper El Diario has published that The Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Las Palmas has now filed two complaints against two of the Anfi Group Companies, Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales. The nature of the denuncias is for hiding assets in order to avoid seizures of money in the execution of sentences issued by the courts against Anfi Group for the numerous infringements of the law in the sales of their timeshare product.
Link to the full report published by El Diario 26 July 2019. (To translate from Spanish open in google and right-click on the article selecting translate)
On 12 July, the Prosecutor Elena Herra signed the papers that send the investigative proceedings opened in January to the Court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This follows denunciations by two lawyers Eva González of Canarian Legal Alliance and Miguel Rodriguez Ceballos (formerly of CLA) on behalf of clients following Anfi’s failure to pay the court awarded amounts to the clients by enforcing embargos.
This process is being initiated in all cases and given the refusal of the Anfi Group to comply and voluntarily pay as requested by the courts, the court has demanded a list of all assets in order to embargo and seize the assets.
It is also alleged that since 2014 to the present millions of euros have disappeared from these current accounts with the balances being practically zero. This is despite the fact the activity of the selling of timeshare at Anfi has neither ceased or decreased as stated in the annual statements of the Anfi Group.
The information has revealed that Anfi Resorts and Anfi Sales accumulated more than 13 million euros in sales one month before the Supreme Court made its first-ever ruling establishing that no contract was to be sold for a duration of more than 50 years (Law 42/98). By December 2017 those 13 million euros had been reduced to 400,000€ and that figure has decreased even further within the last 18 months.
In this specific case, five examples of cases in which Anfi have failed to pay on sentences issued by the courts between 2017 and 2018, some of these are for sums in excess of 200,000 euros. This is despite the fact that there are in existence orders and decrees that urge the company to comply with the execution of sentences under severe penalties for serious disobedience.
The Prosecutors Office has requested that preliminary proceedings be opened in the courts regarding these facts and that the legal representatives of Anfi Sales and Anfi Resorts, members of the boards of directors for both companies in 2018, persons responsible for services be investigated as legal entities and the person responsible provide the relationship of the assets to the courts.
A second article was also published by El Diario on 28 July, in this article, it was announced that lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of their clients have filed for a court administrator to be appointed to oversee the accounts.
According to El Diario Anfi stopped the first of three applications to the court by immediately settling with the clients and paying them what they were due. However, in the case of other clients, the court has already convened for September to try and reach an agreement to pay them if this is not settled the court will activate the option of the Judicial Administrator and embargo the accounts.
This leaves Anfi in a very precarious position as the emptying of accounts to avoid payment could lead to criminal action against the companies and the responsible persons involved. It leaves us in no doubt that the courts are taking this matter very seriously.
Link to the second article published by El Diario.