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The Tuesday Slot: The Timeshare Industry and Scams Work Hand in Hand

Timeshare has been with us for many years now, the original concept was one that certainly sparked great interest, the quality of the resorts and the guarantee of that quality no matter where you booked. But over the years many timeshare owners have been the victims of some very unscrupulous entities, from resale companies to discount holiday clubs and now exit companies, all promising the timeshare owner a way out of their commitment. So we have to ask the question, is the timeshare industry responsible for the proliferation of the many scams involved around timeshare?

In a way, the industry is responsible, the way it has been sold and the difficulties many owners have on getting out of their contracts when they no longer require the membership has made it very easy for the scammers to take hold and make even more money out of the unsuspecting timeshare owners.

In the early days, timeshare was sold as though it was property, the pitch at sales events was very simple, you could not afford to purchase an apartment abroad just for holidays, the cost was too great. So how about purchasing a “share” in an apartment, along with other “owners” you would split the cost of maintaining the apartment and the resort, these were the annual maintenance or management fees.

At first glance this looks like a win-win situation, you get to “own” a share in a luxury apartment in the sun, a place you could call a home from home. You actually believed that you “owned” the apartment and that according to the sales pitch it would increase in value, just as though you owned it outright as real estate.

This then gave rise to the resale industry, with promises of very inflated prices, but this came at a cost. In order to place your “apartment” for sale, a fee was required to “list” your timeshare on their website. Many of these companies operated by way of cold calls, they enticed the “victim” with promises of quick sales and in most cases for more than you originally paid for the timeshare. Remember, you were conditioned at the original sale that you were purchasing property and it would increase in value.

These companies would also make the promise that if they did not sell within the year of the contract, the initial payment would be returned. Great promise until they disappeared after that year and reemerged under a different name. Thousands have been lost in this way.

Eventually, these began to be replaced by the “holiday clubs”, these were basically discounted clubs where you purchased a membership, it was also a way out of your annual maintenance costs. The “holiday club” when you purchased membership would then take your timeshare, in some cases with the cashback system which supposedly paid for the membership and your timeshare after a specific period.

This particular scheme became infamous through its use by Incentive Leisure Group, selling the Designer Way Vacation Club. This whole scheme was eventually shut down and the cashback scheme was shown for what it really was, a total fraud and in many cases, the “member” still owned the timeshare.

Eventually, these clubs have frittered away, one of the last was the Monster Travel, Monster Credits and Monster Rewards dreamed up by Mark Rowe, who was also well known as a sales rep and sales manager for Resort Properties/Silverpoint. As we know this timeshare company has been shown to be one of the most fraudulent in the history of timeshare.

Rowe even took this one step further, he set up “law firms” who would not only exit you from your timeshare contract but also get you compensation. The only problem here is that to do this you also had to “join” his “club” either Monster or the replacement Jive Hippo.

So this now brings us to the present day, the “exit & claims” companies.

Although there are many cases going through the Spanish courts all brought by genuine law firms, there is on the periphery a growing number of operations that are less than legitimate.

These claim that they will “exit” you from your timeshare contract then claim compensation once the contract is cancelled. There is however a fee that needs to be paid to “exit” you from your contract, in many cases, this can be around £3000 or more.

The vast majority of these “exits” never actually happen, we have over the years seen many companies come and go with “victims” losing thousands and finding they are now in arrears for maintenance fees of around 3 years or more. Their contracts were never cancelled despite what the company told them.

So back to our question, is the timeshare industry responsible for these frauds?

In a way they are responsible, it has been their own greed that has allowed these scams to proliferate and continue. The being locked into contracts that are virtually impossible to get out of, the huge rise in annual maintenance fees and not to forget the biggest problem of all, availability.

All these are problems made by the timeshare industry, it is these problems that make owners/members vulnerable to those who see an opportunity to make huge amounts from scamming them. After all, any industry which basically holds its members to ransom making it almost impossible to “exit”, will always be a catalyst for the unscrupulous.

It is a problem that is not going away, as long as the timeshare industry continues to operate in the same old way, there are going to be those who will take advantage of people’s fears and offer them what looks like a simple solution to their problem. Unfortunately, all it will do is empty your bank account.

If you require any information on any company that has contacted you or one that you have found on the internet, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Start the Week: News from the Courts, Marriott and Anfi Lose Again

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we start this week with news from the courts with Marriott and Anfi losing in all cases and a payment to a client from Anfi. Last week we highlighted a new “cold caller” and website which we believe to be another “lead generator” for unnamed “claims and exit” companies. Inside Timeshare received an email from a lady who answered an advert for “telemarketing” staff and gave Inside Timeshare some more valuable information.

As we explained in one of the articles, many of the staff are just ordinary people answering an advert for staff, with the situation regarding employment any offer of a job is welcome. Unfortunately, it is these people who are also being taken in by the less scrupulous of these operators, being told what to say and how to get you the timeshare owner to pay up and sign with their company.

Luckily, this particular reader realised within a few weeks that something was not right with this company and found them to be “dodgy”, terminating their employment immediately. The information supplied regarding Independent Timeshare Assistance is rather interesting.

It would appear that a person by the name of Chris Wilson, a name that does ring a few bells, is the one behind it and is actively recruiting new staff with more adverts, these also seem to be based in Portugal.

According to our information, these “clients” are being sought on behalf of a “law firm” based in Scotland. Well we do have our suspicions on who these are and they are not law firms, but more companies set up by ex-sales staff and sales managers from Diamond and others.

Again this does show how careful you need to be, not just as a timeshare owner but also an employee answering adverts for “call centre” staff, you may believe that it is a legitimate job, but you could also be fooled into working for a scam operation.

In a case that has set new records for the speed for the case to go through the courts, Marriott has lost another case at the Court of First Instance Number 4 of Palma de Mallorca. This case has taken a remarkable 6 months to be processed through the courts, a bit of a miracle to those who know the Spanish legal system.

The German clients of Canarian Legal Alliance had their contract with Marriott Vacation Club declared null and void, with the court ordering the repayment of 21,150€ plus legal interest and legal costs.

This also included the repayment of double the amount taken illegally as a deposit within the statutory cooling-off period, in accordance with the law and the rulings of the Supreme Court.

The case was prepared and conducted by the CLA Lawyers Adrián Diaz Saavedra Morales and Christine Ihmann, with Claims Consultant Evi Richter assisting the client throughout the process.

In another case against Anfi at the Court of First Instance Number 2 of San Bartelóme de Tirajana, a Norwegian client of CLA has had their contract with Anfi terminated and declared null and void. They have also been awarded 102,576€ plus legal interest and legal costs.

Again the courts recognised the illegality of the taking of payments within the statutory cooling-off period and awarded double the amount as established by previous rulings and the law.

The case was prepared and conducted on behalf of the client by CLA Lawyer Eva Gutierrez with the client being assisted by Claims Consultant Caroline Castro.

We end today with the good news received by one English client of CLA and their battle against Anfi coming to a successful conclusion. They have now received directly into their own bank account the full award of 17,551€ Anfi were ordered to repay by the courts.

The original case was heard at the Court of First Instance Number 5 of SBT, where the contract was declared null and void and the repayment to the client was ordered, as was expected, Anfi once again filed an appeal with the High Court.

The lawyers are now well aware of these tactics and as soon as the sentence is issued by the Court of First Instance they begin a “provisional execution of sentence”, this then secures the funds on behalf of the client until the sentence is confirmed by the High Court.

We all know that Anfi “plays” the game of appeal in order to delay payment, they are also known to “hide the funds”, in order to claim they have no money to payout. This is subject to an official investigation by the Provincial State Prosecutors Office, this may very well lead to criminal prosecutions.

Thanks to the diligent work and investigations of the legal team at CLA, this client received their payment from monies embargoed by CLA from a tax refund Anfi was supposed to receive. In the end, Anfi will pay, it is just a case of plugging away and “chasing the money-go-round”.

This case was prepared and conducted on behalf of the English Client by Eva Gutierrez with Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser assisting the client during the process.

That is all for today, if you have any questions or comments, or you would like information on a possible legal case or just how to exit, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

The Tuesday Slot: Another Cold Caller and More Losses for Anfi

Welcome back to Inside Timeshare after a long Easter Holiday Weekend, today we catch up on some of the news from the courts, once again involving our old friends Anfi. There is also an update on the Tauro Beach Project which has been published by Canarias 7. We begin with another cold caller to come to our attention, unfortunately, there is very little information which is rather disturbing.

The latest cold caller to come to our attention is Independent Timeshare Assistance, they have the website:

https://independenttimeshareassistance.com/

Which was registered on 25 October 2019 and is due to expire on 25 October 2021, again the registrant of the website is hidden by privacy protection. Never a good sign.

The only details they show on their website are their email address:

[email protected]

And telephone number which is a Hitchin, Hertfordshire code, although that does not actually mean they are based there:

Telephone: 01462381004

There is a very distinct lack of details on the website such as address and most importantly there are no company details such as company registration number.

However, the Home Page does state they are:

“A limited company by guarantee as well as being a “not for profit” enterprise we strive to help consumers make the right choices regarding the timeshare industry.”

Yet we have found no company registered at Company House for the name Independent Timeshare Assistance, so it would seem that their claim of being a “limited company” is false. As for being a “not for profit” company does also seem a little incredible considering the lack of details.

Looking at their website it would appear that this is yet another “lead generator”, but for who is not yet clear. So as usual Inside Timeshare would urge caution if called or you happen to find the website on the net.

We now move to news from the courts in Gran Canaria and yet more legal woes for Anfi.

On the first of the month, the High Court Number 5 of Las Palmas dismissed yet another appeal made by Anfi, upholding the original verdict from the Court of First Instance Number 4 of San Bartelóme de Tirajana.

The contract was declared null and void with the Court of First Instance ordering Anfi to repay the Dutch client 32,056€ plus legal interest.

Not only did the High Court agree and upheld the original sentence but they also demanded that Anfi also repay the clients legal costs. Once again we see Anfi lodge an appeal that has seen them lose and have added costs against them awarded to the client. It has also cost them with appeal costs and their own lawyer’s fees, so a very expensive exercise for Anfi.

The client was represented by The Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyers Eva Gutierrez and Christine Ihmann, with Claims Consultant Evi Richter assisting the client throughout the process.

The following day yet another appeal by Anfi to the High Court was dismissed and the original sentence confirmed.

The original verdict from the Court of First Instance Number 1 of SBT, declared the English client’s contract null and void ordering that Anfi repays 24,478€ plus legal interest and legal costs.

The case was prepared and presented by the CLA Lawyer Adrián Diaz Saavedra Morales with Claims Consultant Jake Kaiser assisting the client.

In another case in which Anfi launched an appeal with the High Court following a ruling by the Court of First Instance, the High Court confirmed the original sentence. This declared the contract null and void with the repayment of 20,916€ plus legal interest and also adding legal costs.

As usual, the lawyers at CLA Eva Gutierrez and Christine Ihmann began provisional enforcement of sentence proceedings, this obviously saved a great deal of time while the case was waiting to be heard at the High Court. In this case, the client has now been paid and the money is now safely in their own account.

Keeping with Anfi, we now return to the long-running story of the Tauro Beach Project, this story has been followed closely by Inside Timeshare for several years now and it still does not seem to have been totally resolved.

Canarias 7 reported on 4 April that the Supreme Court has confirmed the nullity of the “Special Territorial Plan” for the regeneration of the beach at Tauro, the building of the marina along with new hotels, a commercial centre and a new promenade linking Amadores Beach with Tauro.

As we reported in previous articles, there have been many discrepancies regarding the permissions for work to be started and carried out by Anfi in this area. The head of the Coastal Authority was dismissed and also convicted of serious charges, it is also a fact the sand for the beach was illegally imported from the Western Sahara, which is part of the sanctions put into place by the United Nations and the European Union.

The full story can be found at the following link.

Original Spanish

https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid=IwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

English

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=en&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

Danish

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=da&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

Dutch

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=nl&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

Finnish

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=fi&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

Norwegian

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=no&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c

Swedish

https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=es&tl=sv&u=https://www.canarias7.es/canarias/gran-canaria/supremo-confirma-nulidad-20210404192042-nt.html?fbclid%3DIwAR186ZwSA3zKXGr-aRnomOPww8EM8N2hHspiwYGjAmHnVSYvB8hKWw4lW2c