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Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another Letter from America, today Irene Parker has a look at the Coalition to Reform Timeshare and the petition which needs your signatures. This has been a recurring theme on our pages, the timeshare industry needs to change how it works, it is in dire need of reform, yet it seems they are not listening to the hundreds of complaints which are hitting not just forums like Inside Timeshare but many other forums, websites and FB groups that you will find on the internet. Inside Timeshare has received hundreds of emails asking for help, yet that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The industry needs to change if it is to survive, it has created the problems yet it does not even acknowledge them or admits that there is a problem. It is responsible for the myriad of scam exit and resale companies that exist, all because it fails to police how its own sales force operates. The time for change is here, it is in your own interest to be part of this and sign this petition.

Timeshare Wars Continued

Has Diamond Resorts Offered a Compromise through Transitions?

A Petition and a Coalition to Reform Timeshare

By Irene Parker

June 14, 2019

A Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) was launched to advocate for the rights of more than 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S. CRT is made up of individuals and organizations dedicated to reforming the timeshare industry.

Timeshare developers feel the industry is just fine and doesn’t need reforming. Where do you start when two sides are so opposed? How do you narrow the gap?

Our volunteer Supporters at Timeshare Accountability Group™ (TAG) feel both ends of the timeshare sale need some reform. The Change.org petition already received over 800 signatures.  Sign our petition today to show lawmakers and the Timeshare Industry at large that there is a need for change.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

After signing the petition, a prompt appears asking for a donation. I questioned how donations are spent. One of our Supporters received this answer from Change.org:

Similar to boosted posts on Facebook or sponsored tweets on Twitter, promoted petitions let you pay to show any petition (including your own) to other potential supporters on Change.org or our distribution which supports our platform as well.

Has Diamond Resorts provided a bridge between members and exit providers?

I’ve heard timeshare exit service providers say, “If the developers would just take back the timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare lawyers or exit service providers!”

Well, Diamond Resorts is taking back timeshares at a record pace. One member reported that she had to wait on hold for five hours at year end. I can’t speak for the entire universe of Diamond Resorts members, but I can speak for the Diamond members on our over 3,000 member-sponsored Facebook page.  I can’t recall one post from a member who applied for Transitions and was not accepted. Many members who successfully exited their timeshare via Transitions remain on our Facebook to advise others.

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

I posted asking members to share their Transitions experience. Six members responded, all positive. Veteran family Cathy McDyer posted, “We applied & were accepted when the fee was only $250. We had points & a deeded week.” One member reminded me that points or weeks purchased on the secondary market are not eligible.  

Diamond Resorts launched their Transitions voluntary surrender program late 2017. Members with no outstanding loan and current on maintenance fees can deed back their timeshare by clicking “Transitions” on their member dashboard.

Inside Timeshare has received complaints from Diamond members who say they paid an exit company to get out of a fully paid Diamond timeshare. Not only did they pay more money than the $1,000 Diamond now charges, the process will likely take longer and some exit companies require the member continue to pay maintenance fees while they try to get you out. To make matters worse, the member is no longer eligible for Transitions if they contract with an exit provider.   

I contacted the Newton Group to ask if they would consider directing their fully paid Diamond member callers to our Facebook. The first representative hung up quickly when I asked. I called back and spoke with JoAnn, who also hung up on me as soon as I asked the question.

In 2018 Wyndham filed a lawsuit listing the Newton Group as one of the defendants. DC Capital Law is also listed as a defendant. DC Capital has filed a lawsuit against the timeshare developer ARC Americano.

https://dockets.justia.com/docket/florida/flsdce/9:2018cv81251/535273\https://insidetimeshare.com/tag/americano-beach-resort/

If Diamond is accepting their timeshare points and weeks back (at least according to our Facebook members), why are some exit providers charging $3,000 or more to get a member out of a fully paid Diamond timeshare rendering them ineligible for the program?

I’ve asked exit providers to test my proposition by referring a few callers to our Facebook page. They would not need to convince the member. It could be a suggestion after, “Have you reached out to the company?” If the member would be denied, it would strengthen the argument as to why timeshare exit service providers are needed. Can you imagine the good will that would ensue if this were to happen?  It would be one baby step to solve this nightmare without dueling lawsuits.

Signing our Change.org petition will also support the establishment of a Timeshare Bill of Rights. My comments are highlighted in red.

1) The right to a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract to allow for the review of all sales and contract information including, but not limited to, other governing documents, public offering statements and covenants that run with the land.

Timeshare buyers also need time to recover after sales sessions that last more than six hours. There have been many reports of driver’s licenses and credit cards confiscated to prevent leaving a presentation, along with other creative techniques. I would add that the buyer could waive this offer if they wished.

In debates over timeshare bills proposed this year, the timeshare lobbyists for ARDA in Arizona strongly objected to allowing timeshare buyers 24 hours to review their decision to sign a perpetual timeshare contract, despite lobbying for a 24-hour cooling-off period in Florida and Nevada when it comes to signing a timeshare exit contract.

There is no other industry that would disintegrate if the buyer were allowed 24 hours to think about signing a contract. It’s because timeshare contracts are perpetual, accompanied by rising maintenance fees, and has no secondary market. Complaints about deceptive sales abound.

2) The right to receive complete disclosure of the true market value of the timeshare, prior to the timeshare being purchased.  

Some timeshare companies do disclose this, but the buyer doesn’t read the contract. The consumer does need to do their part by reading the contract.

A major concern is the lack of a secondary market. If the primary housing market placed restrictions on the ability to sell homes, think of the effect this would have on the housing market. Some timeshare companies list in their annual reports that a viable secondary market is a risk to investors. One private equity firm even described the lack of a secondary market as a reason to buy the stock!

In summary, customers experience a reasonable value proposition tempered by the lack of a secondary market. The secondary market has undoubtedly had its growth stunted because the absence of the market creates an opportunity for the imeshare companies.

Scott Miller, Founder of Greenhaven Road Capital, Latticework

3) The right to be free of any high-pressure sales techniques and verbal misrepresentations intended to circumvent the assessment period. For example, “Today Only” offers or the requirement of any form of advance payment to attend a timeshare presentation. Developers would be prohibited from collecting and withholding a credit card, driver’s license or other items before or during the timeshare presentation.

The verbal representation clause appears in many other contracts but widely reported to be abused and overused by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents.  Three against two tag-teams are skilled at holding attendees hostage. Is the gift worth this?

4) The right to record the entire sales presentation or to require the developer to record the entire sales presentation, including the closing of the sale, and to retain the recording for a period of 24 months with no waiver.

My biggest beef is timeshare companies that record the closing session, and then hold that recording against the member, but do not allow the member to record the sales session. Some states, like Nevada and Arizona, allow recording, but the consumer on vacation mode never thinks to do so. After all, they were told they were just required to hear about a new resort.

5) The right to full transparency during the sales presentation without any waiver of verbal representations during the closing of the sale. This right also prevents owners from being required to attend “update meetings” or similar meetings if a sales presentation is conducted during this meeting.

6) The right to full disclosure of the resort owners’ association financials, as well as disclosure of any and all HOA fees, including indirect resort costs imposed on owners which may increase maintenance fees and special assessments. This right also includes yearly owner roster notifications that disclose the number of weeks or points under developer control with the HOA, not excluding resale and rentals the HOA has control over.

7) The right to have the rescission period for a contract extended to one week after a person returns from their vacation to allow appropriate family and/or legal counsel review. The rescission date would be clearly noted in the contract based on input from the consumer on when they return home.

Unfortunately, even this extension doesn’t help when timeshare sales agents are skilled in dodging the rescission period as evidenced by Tuesday’s Inside Timeshare article in which the buyer was told to wait a few months until they had made a couple of months of loan payments before applying for an exit program. Many are told of maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. They don’t discover they were lied to until they attempt to pay their maintenance fee invoice in December.  

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-34/

8) The right to be free of sales calls from the timeshare developer before or after the sale and the right to be free of attempts by the timeshare developer to have a consumer re-activate a previously rescinded sales contract.

I think this provision is a stretch. Most companies, especially cell phone companies, have customer retention departments.

9) The right to full disclosure of the entire cost of timeshare ownership, including available interest rates, before a consumer signs a contract. This would include projected increases in maintenance fees based on the average maintenance fee increase for the past five years for an individual property.

I think the buyer has the total cost including interest as stated on the purchase agreement.

10) The right to have sales agents and timeshare companies subscribe to an industry code of ethics.

There is an industry code of ethics, but it is ignored, based on hundreds of complaints sent to ARDA ROC which they ignored. The board of ARDA consists of timeshare executives, so the complaining member is complaining to the chief wolf guarding the chicken coop. If the industry doesn’t respond to over 200 timeshare members reporting unfair and deceptive practices, what good is a code of ethics?

11) The right as a timeshare owner or vacation club member to have priority booking of reservations over the general public.

A good idea, but I think it would be hard to prove a member does not have priority.

12) The right to unilaterally terminate an unencumbered, non-deeded timeshare interest with written notice to the developer upon making the current “use year” maintenance fee payment.

To join the Coalition or share your story, go to ReformTimeshare.org. Inside Timeshare also welcomes member submissions. Speak up and speak out. Right now the only enforcement seems to be via the media and the media seems reluctant to take on the mega-money associated with the front end of the timeshare sale, so join our efforts to reach sympathetic lawmakers and members of the media not afraid of big money.    

Other member sponsored advocacy groups:

We seek to provide timeshare members 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.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene, let us hope that this petition really does take off, the industry is in need of reform, either they do or the lawmakers have to step in and do it for them just like in Spain.

So that is all for this week in the murky world of timeshare, join us again on Monday with Part Four of our exclusive on the truth behind Silverpoint.

Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed (Part Three)

Welcome to Part Three of Silverpoint and the truth exposed, in the first two parts we explained the history of the Trotta family fortune adeptly handled by the financial fixer Kwang Boon Sim. This story certainly has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood Blockbuster movie on organised crime of epic proportions, in some respects if this went to a producer they would more than likely say that it was a pure work of fiction and could never happen in real life. Well, unfortunately, it is all too true!

In this episode, we now see that it is time for sheer greed to take over, with the Trotta children and a jealous wife who has been cut out of the will to begin their fight over the ill-gotten gains.

Kwang Boon Sim

After selling the hotel in Italy for 0ver 40 million euros to a wealthy Asian company, the true picture of the issues begin to emerge. Having extracted over 15 million for Bob and his family in the run-up to his death and the stripping of the cash flow from the company, Kwang Sim now found it difficult to replace the funds, along with the consumer promises to fulfill along with the various other obligations around the world, the trust and the family brought in Alvarez and Marsal of the Cayman Islands to see what could be saved. There was also another motive, they needed to see what options were open to them to avoid spending their inheritance.

What happened next is incredible and almost more deceitful than the 100 million that was extracted and moved around the group without the various local governments taking their rightful and lawful share.

It is a fact that no one likes having to pay tax, but Kwang Sim is a mastermind in this field and would put the people involved in the Panama Papers to shame. It is fair to say that Kwang Sim knew full well about how much trouble he was in with the arrival of Alvarez and Marsal, he began frantically covering his tracks and began the process of going into hiding.

Alvarez and Marsal is a large insolvency company, also known for asset stripping, which is the process of breaking down companies and stripping them of any value. In essence, they are just corporate debt collectors in thousand dollar lawsuits, earning millions in fees while breaking up companies with people losing their jobs!

They were employed by the bank and the Trotta family in order to create as much wealth for the family as possible, regardless of the consequences to people who had placed their hard earned money into the company and purchasing their products over the years.

The team at Alvarez is led by Alex Lawson, an Australian living in the Cayman Islands, this is another well-known haunt of many international tax avoiders as well as big-time criminals. The Cayman Islands is also a base for many small private banks and the Caymans is very widely regarded as a base for depositing billions in ill-gotten gains.

Alex Lawson

It is no surprise then that Alex Lawson chose to base himself there and set up the branch of Alvarez in early 2019. His position as managing Director now put him at the forefront of the process and the Trotta deal was his first big assignment. In order to make a name for himself, he sat with Kwang Sim and planned on how to break up the company with the sole purpose of saving the Trotta family fortune, regardless of who would suffer.

It was up to Kwang Sim to explain to Lawson how he and Bob Trotta had run the global finances. Bob Trotta’s empire by this time spanned the globe with businesses in Spain, Malta, Italy, Thailand, Singapore and the USA. It was employing hundreds of people around the world along with tens of thousands of owners and members. The plan created by Kwang Sim and Alex Lawson was truly a master plan of deceit and deception. Just like all illusionists, the plan was to create local “fall guys” while at the same time protecting those who put the plans together and executed them in painstaking detail. All the time trying to avoid obligations that existed with hundreds and thousands of innocent consumers.

This was a decision made by the bank who owns the trust along with the endorsement of the family which was then ruthlessly executed by Kwang Sim along with Alex Lawson and his team.

Kwang Sim made a deal with Alvarez and Marsal that he would not be dragged into any issues in return for helping Lawson to execute the plan. Having assessed the obligations which existed, Alex Lawson and Kwang Sim started the liquidation process, the means of which was the use of intercompany debts to justify the placing of the companies into liquidation, thus cheating consumers out of their rightful returns or the ability to use the products they had purchased with their hard earned cash.

Limora Investments was the first of the companies to be placed into liquidation. In a move that can only be described as incredible, money that had been sent “TAX-FREE” as a loan to the parent company and ultimately to the bank, was now being used as a “DEBT” in order to induce the liquidation process.

This is an obvious case of corporate manipulation being endorsed by what many would consider as a “reputable bank”. Inside Timeshare sources explain that the leaders of the bank are absolutely terrified that the truth will be exposed showing their complicity which could have the potential of them losing their banking license and the individuals who are running the trust being charged with very serious crimes.

The one thing that is certain is that they are desperately trying to cover their tracks and placing the blame on the people running the business of mismanagement.

As with all illusionists this fraud is using sleight of hand techniques and this is something that they are very adept at doing. The bank itself is no better than those people you see on the streets of London or any other city tricking the unsuspecting tourist into finding the ball under one of the cups!

A recent affidavit which is full of inaccuracies and downright false statements is an attempt to cover up what Kwang Sim, Alex Lawson and his team are doing have not taken into account the investigative journalists at Inside Timeshare to uncover the truth for their readers and expose their devious plan.

We mentioned earlier that we believe we have uncovered a recurring pattern of how Kwang Sim has moved money around the world, with much of that money being “loaned” from one company to another without any plans for repayment.

Unless these “loans” are repaid with market rate interest, the authorities will see these as dividends but Kwang Sim’s complex web of offshore companies have made them very difficult to track. In the end, this group of companies have around £50,000,000 yes that is correct 50 million pounds of intercompany debt and Alex Lawson with his team are working their way through a myriad and tangled web of companies, taking over directorships and then declaring them insolvent.

This means that Lawson and his team assess the company’s ability to repay its obligations of the loan and finds them unable to, however, the debt is just to themselves!

This means they are in control of the company that is owed the debt, but on the one hand, they call in the loan and on the other they claim they are unable to pay. Then we have the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle, Alvarez and Marsal appoint themselves as the liquidators in order to strip the companies of all assets while also avoiding any debts to anyone else that is not part of the “family!”

So that is the end of Part Three, a story that many will believe is a script for Hollywood, join us again on Monday for Part Four in this unbelievable tale of intrigue, manipulation, deceit and fraudulent money laundering.

If you have purchased any product from Silverpoint, be it standard timeshare, investment packs or the company participation scheme and want to know your legal rights in retrieving your money, then use our contact page and we will get back to you and show you what options are open to you. Now is the time to do this for tomorrow may be too late.

Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed (Part Two)

Club Paradiso and Beverly Hills Club

Welcome to Inside Timeshare and the start of another week with Part Two of Silverpoint Exposed. In the last episode, we gave the background to the start of the Trotta Empire and introduced some of the main characters. Today we continue the story of an intricate web of companies the swift movement of funds and once again a Hollywood style family feud over the inheritance of the Trotta millions.

Kwang Sim was a master in subterfuge, he had set up such a complex network of companies and money trafficking routes a very detailed road map would be required to even get close to following it. Kwang himself continued with his own life happily giving his sermons to his Mormon congregation and ensuring his children went on the mandatory missions, all while carefully and deliberately planning to avoid Taxes at all costs.

With great care, he set up a structure using local law firms and employing local managers who had no actual control of the finances or of any financial activity. For Kwang, this would mean extensive travelling with monthly visits to Spain and then Asia where he was running the finance departments with an iron fist. He was, in essence, Bob Trotta’s “financial enforcer” making sure the funds were moved around the group of companies and ultimately ending up near a palm tree very close to a white sandy beach.

The Trust which is “owned” by a bank with Bob Trotta being the beneficiary used the bank which as recent strong evidence has shown, actively and willingly participated in assisting Kwang and Trotta in this complex web of lies and tax avoidance. It was Kwang who was the mastermind, but they were all complicit and knew exactly what was going on. All was running very smoothly until Bob’s death and the will would be read to the children and his wife Ragni.


Jennifer Trotta Campbell

Once again just like a scene from a Hollywood movie, the children, Jennifer Trotta Campbell, Erin Trotta Westfall gathered along with Douglas Campbell and Ragni Trotta at the plush Mayfair offices of Bob’s Lawyers. They were now going to hear about the 300 million they were about to inherit.


Erin Trotta Westfall

Listening to the legal advisors, they, the Trust and executors learned that Bob and Kwang had mismanaged the company funds and taking some very risky decisions prior to his death. This now puts the group of companies in a very precarious position.


Douglas Campbell

It also transpires at this meeting that Ragni learned she had been written out of the will, receiving only 10% of the estate! She was obviously furious. Although no one knows the details of the marriage from the outside it all seemed very rosy.

It has been rumoured by insiders that the marriage was in trouble, with a persistent rumour had for years been having a secret affair with her hunky Jamaican personal trainer. Just like something out of the hit TV show “Housewives of New York”, Ragni seems to have enjoyed a life of privilege with her wealthy older husband, while also enjoying some of the side benefits with her younger hunk. Sources have told us that Bob found out but did not want to be embarrassed publicly but would wait until he died to get his revenge. This has obviously caused huge rifts between her and the children.

Ragni Trotta

The unequal division of the spoils created a massive rift between the family and the trusted sidekick Kwang who was tasked with trying to keep the family together. Just like another TV show “The Sopranos”, the family looked to the deputy Kwang, to steady the ship, he then set about trying to organise the complex web which he had established.

This was not an easy task, even for Kwang, when you consider he had set up around 200 offshore companies in Panama and the British Virgin Islands. Panama and the BVI are considered fiscal paradises in Spain and the recent “Panama Papers” have only added to the challenges of keeping this structure going. To achieve the company’s goal of low taxes the local directors were not allowed any control of the bank accounts with only the London team of Kwang Sim and his later sidekicks of Ketan Patel and Colm Hayden were permitted to move any money.

Part Three will be published on Thursday 13 June.

Over the weekend Inside Timeshare has received further news on the problems of Club Paradiso members. As we explained on Friday, these members are being denied access to the Paramount – Club Paradiso. In another twist, we have since learned that although they are being moved to other resorts such as Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Heights, they are being made to pay for the accommodation.

One client that has been in touch was told if he did not pay 900€ he would not be able to stay, this appears to be happening to others as well. It would seem that the paramount is only being closed to members of Club Paradiso.

The following is an extract from an email received by another of our readers when trying to book their own stay: “Unfortunately, as our inventory is under re-negotiations we unable to provide availability and confirm any new reservations at this time. We kindly advise that you contact us at the beginning of July when hopefully this has been resolved. We are sorry that we cannot be of more assistance at this time and apologise for any inconvenience”.

This does look like an escalation in the arguments between Excel and Silverpoint with the members being the one caught in the firing line.

Have you purchased any product from Silverpoint and want to know what your legal position is?

Then use our contact page and we will get back to you with the best information possible.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today’s article by Irene Parker explores the Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics. A Code of Ethics is meant to be lived by. In timeshare, a Code of Ethics has been something to write and post on your website, but never seem to be followed. It doesn’t help that 200 or so of our readers who have reported violations in ARDA‘s Code of Ethics have been dismissed by the very executives that sit on their board. We take our hats are off to Whistleblowers of America for taking a Code of Ethics seriously. But then Whistleblowers are not in it for the money.

Hollywood Mirage Club

Inside Timeshare has been asked by an independent member of the committee at Hollywood Mirage Club for members to make contact with him as soon as possible. He and one other will be standing for election to the full committee at the AGM at the end of June. The unfortunate thing is that they have been told that there is “no mechanism” for them to contact other members with the Secretary stating he will not allow it under the GDPR (The EU General Data Protection Regulation). A move obviously designed to control the voting, but Article 47 of the GDPR “fully considers the right of members of groups (clubs) to communicate with each other”.

To make contact directly with this member who is standing please use our contact page and we will send you his contact details privately. It is in your interest to get together and have your say.

Now for Irene’s article.

Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics

As Applied to Timeshare Support Mentors

Information about the 8th Annual WhistleBlower Summit and Film Festival to be held in Washington D.C. July 28 – August 1:

http://whistleblowersummit.com/

By Irene Parker

Friday, June 7

A Whistleblower is normally a person associated with a corporation or government agency that blows the whistle on wrongdoing as it pertains to waste, fraud and abuse, medical errors and wrongful death. You would not think an old lady crying from the rooftops of Florida about vacation plans would qualify, yet the harm done to veterans and active duty service members on the receiving end of a fraudulent timeshare sale has financially, emotionally, and physically, harmed many. Of the 841 families who have reached out to us, 106 are veterans and active duty.

We are asking for your signature on this petition for reform. You don’t have to be a timeshare member to sign.

https://www.change.org/p/state-legislators-in-arizona-florida-and-nevada-demand-reform-of-the-timeshare-industry-s-unfair-and-deceptive-practices

A grown daughter contacted me on behalf of her Bronze Star recipient father. She could not answer all my questions about the timeshare, so I told her to ask her father about it. He had a heart attack when they were discussing it, and at the ER, the doctor noted he had a heart attack two years prior when asked about his timeshare. Her parents are the kind of people who saved up and paid cash for cars, He and his wife had been upsold to the point he had to take out a reverse mortgage because he could not afford the timeshare loan payments. He said every time he walked in the front door, he felt like he was losing his home. A Navy veteran declared bankruptcy. He had been upsold to $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments, living on his letter carrier’s pension, charging to a number of credit cards before his grown daughter found out.

Whistleblowers of America’s Code of Ethics spoke to me. I thought to myself, “Guilty as charged!” as I read through them.

It’s not easy to live in a state of constant anger, moved by the voices of those desperate and deceived. The only thing that keeps me going is hearing the voice turn from a desperate voice to an empowered voice.

From the Whistleblowers of America Code of Ethics:

  • Counter-balancing dysfunction responses to wrongdoing with informed advocacy and resilience, skill building is the cornerstone of interactions,
  • Understand legal processes and procedures, a guide in problem solving and decision making to overcome toxic tactics.

I employ skills I learned at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) writing court reports for Family Court judges and interested parties to make a determination as to the best outcome for a child in state care.

I learned an important lesson from my husband Don, a pharmaceutical researcher. The first thing a pharmaceutical company will do if they don’t like a lab’s answers, that would allow the launch of a billion dollar a year drug, is to blame the lab. Don told me to fight with data, not words.

A mentor needs to know their boundaries.

I don’t know if I speak for all whistleblowers, but I think there is a tendency to become over-involved, breaking through necessary boundaries. I will share an example of how I overstepped mine, but in the heat of the battle, we bend rules.

A Harvard graduate and fellow Rotarian turned out to be a brute holding a Korean lady hostage. Thankfully, another fellow Rotarian was our chief of police. He helped me rescue the mom and their toddler. Major Ganot of the Salvation Army was also in my Rotary Club. She could be a Major in anyone’s army after spending a couple decades in Haiti.

Mom and child stayed with us before we returned them both back to Korea. Mom had been a manager of Duty Free shops in Korea before coming to America. Her parents were math teachers at a university. The first night at our house I heard the child screaming. I went to ask mom what the child wanted. Mom replied, “Irene,” the child grabbed my neck and clung. Dad also had child porn on his computer. The police chief found THC in the refrigerator which mom said he used to put on his pancakes. He had DTs and once dropped the child at a Rotary function.

The advice Major Ganot gave to me is the advice all mentees and mentors should heed. “You are less effective if you become part of the storm.” Doctors call this intellectualization, in that if they went into a tailspin every time they lost a patient, they would lose effectiveness. This doesn’t mean the doctor doesn’t care. It means he or she must put their role is perspective.    

In psychology, intellectualization is a defense mechanism by which reasoning is used to block confrontation with an unconscious conflict and its associated emotional stress – where thinking is used to avoid feeling.[1] It involves removing one’s self, emotionally, from a stressful event.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectualization

Whistleblowers of America Code: Ethical Standard #2

Shared Experience Rapport

I appreciate more than ever the fidelity of “Semper fi” that exists among those battling a common enemy. Lifelong friendships have blossomed and grown. Once a timeshare dispute has been resolved, we encourage the person made whole, or as whole as possible, join our efforts to respond to others.

The moto of Whistleblowers of America is Speak Truth to Power. I would like to add to that the headline this reporter used in his investigative report about ALEC, a powerful lobby. The television reporter led with “Holding the powerful accountable” and I see “Holding the powerful accountable” as the next step after speaking truth to power.

Ethical Standard #5 Non-judgement A mentor needs to be reflective and inquisitive, but not judgmental. A mentor does not adjudicate. They facilitate problem solving rather than solve the problem.

An obstacle to resolving any dispute is getting your opponent to listen, as opposed to just hearing what the other person is attempting to communicate. Callous customer service representatives “hear” the complainant and respond, “You signed a contract.”

They don’t listen. Leadership coach Stephen R. Covey said it best:

11. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-become-a-better-listener.html

My collaborator Michael Santos at Straight-A Guide, teaches how self-advocacy can overcome struggle. The outcome may not be what you expected. It may not be the outcome you wanted, but staying the course with determination, and making the most of available resources, is part and parcel of advocacy and self-advocacy. A Whistleblower needs both as they must advocate for their cause, and they must advocate for themselves.

Ethical Standard #11Self-care

The words “disengage when necessary” hit me like a dagger. I hear from one to five infuriated timeshare members a day, seven days a week. The unhappy emails outweigh the “we did it!” emails. Resiliency is a word often mentioned in whistleblowing. Hurtful potshots from our opponents can weigh us down or sharpen our sword. Author Carlos Castaneda, a student of Yaqui Indian Don Juan, described them as petty tyrants.

I have a friend in Sedona by the name of Pete Sanders, a Navy veteran. A technic I learned from Pete, during one of his Free Soul sessions, taught me how to find my brain’s Limbic Center and Joy Center. As I understood Pete’s lecture, you can shift your negative thoughts by employing Pete’s techniques.

The limbic center is somewhere behind the eyes and between the ears. It’s kind of a negative thought center. Think about a time you were so angry that you were acting out in front of your spouse and kids. All of a sudden the doorbell rings and you snap into normalcy. According to Pete, you have shifted negative thoughts from your Limbic Center, to somewhere in the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex, the Joy Center, a compartment that holds positive thoughts. I took a class in head and neck anatomy and two semesters of A & P, but I’m getting out of my depth.  But trust me; even if I have botched the explanation, it works. I swear that I can feel the “half empty/half full” feeling before and after shifting the same thought.

Pete Sanders of Free Soul

Pete Sanders is an honors graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with principle studies in BioMedical Chemistry and Brain Science. Accepted to Harvard Medical School, he chose instead to pursue independent mind/body potentials research. That quest led to a revolutionary discovery: how to directly stimulate the brain’s natural mood-elevation mechanisms.

This technique provides a natural alternative to using alcohol, nicotine, drugs, or overeating for coping with life’s challenges. It gives you a method to enhance your feeling of well-being without being dependent on achievement or relationship success.

I look forward to this year’s Whistleblower Summit. I didn’t attend the Whistleblower Summit last year because I thought I was a whistleblower. I attended on behalf of the veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. An active duty service member can lose his security clearance and his career over a mortgage foreclosure, so don’t think timeshare is a silly topic. One Marine lost his air unit command over a timeshare loan foreclosure.

There are laws protecting traditional whistleblowers, but not individuals. I’m alone. But an individual is alone only if they don’t reach out to other whistleblowers for help and support. Rosa Parks was one person who committed a courageous and dangerous act. She sat in the front of the bus. It was a small act, but possibly inspired by the actions and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was not so naïve as to think he was going to resolve racial divide once and for all. He knew this problem would not likely be solved in his lifetime. That did not deter his efforts.

One financial journalist called me a gadfly. “You’re nothing but a gadfly to this timeshare company,” he sneered. I looked up the definition.  

The original definition was an insect that stings cattle. Somewhere around the Middle Ages, in England, the meaning of gadfly morphed into “an annoying person who spurs others to action.”

I’m okay with being a gadfly. When I told my Free Soul Florida mate, attorney Mike Finn, that the journalist called me a gadfly, Mr Finn suggested an adjective, “How about the Green Gadfly?” “Like the Green Hornet?” I responded.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to explain to the attorneys who deposed me for six hours why Mr. Finn calls me gg. The deposition serves as an example of retaliation. I enjoyed explaining to my interrogator lawyer why I am called gg. Gallows Humor, or Humour, as my British collaborator would spell, should be included as a defense mechanism to Ethical Sandard  #11 Self-care . Humor really can be our best medicine.

Thank you to Whistleblowers of America for your support because this is not easy. My twilight years are anything but relaxing.       

https://whistleblowersofamerica.org/

Statement of

Ms. Jacqueline Garrick, LCSW-C

Executive Director

Whistleblowers of America

Before the

Committees on Veterans’ Affairs

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

March 14, 2018

Excerpt from report:

Fraud and Scams Against Veterans:

Although WoA recognizes that it is not inherent within the VA mission to protect veterans from fraud and scams that could cost them their benefits, it suggests that it could be assistive in educating veterans against these unscrupulous tactics. For example, WoA has had multiple complaints from veterans related to timeshare deceit and bait and switch tactics, which are defined by the FBI as fraud for profit.  Often elderly veterans are mentioned as being targeted by the Timeshare Advocacy Group, TM which fights for active duty and retired military who fear losing their security clearance, career, homes or other assets.  Foreclosures and financial distress because of these misrepresented investments are happening every day to elderly disabled veterans and their families. In the past, VA has cooperated with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) over mortgage and other loan scams that caused financial hardships for veterans.  Home loans and timeshare loans are identical as both are reported as foreclosures. WoA asks that Congress consider a role for the VBA Employment and Economic Initiative (EEI) could play in cooperation with CFPB to educate and protect veterans from unscrupulous financial predators and fraudulent practices.

Thank you, Irene, for all your hard work in getting these articles ready, along with all the work you do helping those with problems, you are a thorn in the side of the timeshare industry, as well as a Green Gadfly, but you are our thorn and our Green Gadfly!

Paramount – Club Paradiso Tenerife

Information has been received by Inside Timeshare that the resort known as Paramount – Club Paradiso has closed. Those with bookings have been refused entry on arrival and moved to other resorts such as Hollywood Mirage and Beverly Hills Heights.

The telephone is on constant voicemail and the website is no longer working

Telephone: +34 922 787 650

https://www.clubparadiso.com

If you have purchased any product such as standard timeshare, investment packs, company participations or Keys Concierge use our contact page and get in touch. Inside Timeshare will explain your options and point you in the right direction.

That is all for this week, join us again on Monday for Part Two of Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed.

Have a great weekend.

Wise old dog

Exclusive Breaking News: The Truth Behind Silverpoint Exposed (Part One)

Hollywood Mirage and Beverley Hills Heights

Over the next few weeks Inside Timeshare will be publishing exclusive information on the complex setup of one of the largest timeshare empires in Europe, we all know it as Silverpoint. Behind it was the late Bob Trotta, who as you will see in each article along with his cronies was very adept at moving his enormous wealth around. Today we start with a little background and introduce the major character in this very elaborate financial game.

In the early 1980s, Bob Trotta founded the company Resort Properties based in Tenerife, the first stage in establishing one of the largest timeshare companies in Europe. He was very much seen as one of the founding fathers of the timeshare industry in Europe and built 4 resorts in Tenerife, selling around 200 Million Pounds worth of timeshare, becoming a millionaire in the process.

Bob Trotta married for a second time to Ragni a Norwegian lady who was a former Timeshare Marketing person living in Tenerife. On leaving Tenerife they relocated to London where they enjoyed Non-Domicile Tax Status.

Ragni and Bob Trotta

Setting up his Global HQ in the UK with offices in the exclusive area of Mayfair, Bob and Ragni certainly enjoyed the high life, living in their multi-million-pound townhouse in Chelsea and driving the very best Aston Martins.

We now introduce into the picture one person who was to become one of the most important and influential people in the Trotta Empire, Kwang Boon Sim.

Kwang was hired with only one purpose in mind, NOT TO PAY ANY TAX. As you will see, he was the mastermind behind the huge and complex web of offshore companies which exist today, using a very clever offshore trust.

The trust which is owned by a bank with Bob Trotta and his wife Ragni being the sole beneficiaries and controllers of the trust until his death in December 2017.

Kwang Sim is well known in the timeshare industry and is affectionately known as “The Chinaman” or “El Chino”. Kwang gives the impression of being a very religious man, with ties to the Mormon Church where he works as a Mormon Bishop. It looks like a script from a James Bond movie, when a “clever American Tycoon” brings in another equally clever man masquerading as a religious leader (Licence to Kill comes to mind), who very quietly and stealthily creates a very complex web of offshore havens with the sole intent on depriving many local economies and countries of their rightful and lawful tax.

It has certainly done the job, over the years Kwang managed to avoid paying any tax and moved 10’s of millions of pounds from one lot of companies through the web of others into tax havens disguised as intercompany loans. The local managers of these companies had no control over the money or what happened to it. It was Kwang who controlled and ran the financial department from his Mayfair HQ with what can only be described as an “Iron Fist”.

Kwang Boon Sim “The Chinaman or El Chino”

In order to avoid the ever-prying eyes of the US tax authorities who have a policy and reputation for worldwide taxation of their citizens, Bob Trotta gave up his US citizenship. He took up Italian citizenship (again this could be the setting for another movie) living like a true Italian mobster in a huge mansion set in the estate of his hotel the Luxurious Castello Del Nero.

Bob and Ragni were living like a king and queen in their estate reputedly worth around 10 million pounds. The estate was set in 700 acres of rolling Tuscan countryside, all within the grounds of their Hotel worth 50 Million Euros. All the while Kwang kept the funds flowing into Panama and the British Virgin Islands

Bob along with his two daughters Jennifer and Erin Trotta spent the long summers in Italy with their respective families. One of the husbands (Jennifer’s) Douglas Campbell was for a while the groups CEO making sure the family fortunes were protected, all under the watchful eye of his mentor “El Chino”

That brings us to the end of this opening chapter and part one of our story, join us again on Monday 10 June for part two, where we find that all was not as cosy with the family as many were led to believe, greed plays its part.

Did you purchase a timeshare from Resort Properties then Silverpoint, did you get involved with the “investment packs” or the later incarnation “company participations” and “Excel Overseas Lodging Participation Programme“?

If you can answer yes, then get in touch with Inside Timeshare through our contact page, we will explain where you legally stand and point you in the right direction to claim back your money and have your contracts declared null and void.

Now is the time to act.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot, today we have an article by an Industry Observer, who we have kept anonymous as per their wishes, the question posed is How is a Timeshare Point Valued? Our writer begins with the question “Why does Spain not allow points-based perpetual contracts?” As you read the article the answer to that question does become very apparent.

So on with this weeks article.

How is a Timeshare Point Valued?

June 4, 2019

I created a Spreadsheet after we bought points back in 2004 to see if I was getting my money’s worth. I added in maintenance fees. Not sure if I’m right but the bottom line was the only value the points have is if you use them. I went to numerous free weekends. I figured I should count those. Our bottom line average is around $95 a night. Usually, we could get through painful sales pitches quickly but our last visit to Vegas turned into abduction. I figure they are getting desperate. If you bought thinking these points had value beyond their sales pitch you were sadly mistaken. If the timeshare industry wants to survive and thrive they better create a secondary market and quickly. The competition is fierce. Websites like VRBO provide lots of options for less than your annual maintenance fee. Quality will be all over the map. Tim Dugan’s Facebook post

By an Industry Observer

Why does Spain not allow points-based perpetual timeshare contracts? In America, we think we have a lot going for us. After all, “we” invented the internet after inventing the computer. “We” invented baseball, Mickey Mouse, and McDonald’s. And “we” blessed the world with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Harrison Ford, and Clint Eastwood….

Do “we” have the best of everything? No way… We have bad highways. Some of our bridges are crumbling. Our national debt is ballooning. We can’t agree on immigration.  Our politicians constantly bicker.

“We the people” are supposed to have government agencies that protect us from threats inside and outside our borders – like the FAA (air travel), the FBI (crime), FDA (food and drug), DEA (drug enforcement), and CIA (foreign threats), to name a few.  

Do “we” have a Vacations and Timeshare (VAT) agency to protect timeshare buyers? No, we don’t. Timeshare and vacation companies are regulated by individual states. There has been no action on the part of the Federal Trade Commission to step in. It is “buyers beware” on that venue.   

There are some ominous and problematic indicators. Timeshare companies, at least two, are reporting loan loss provisions greater than 20%. If we calculated the actual dollar amount of foreclosed timeshare loans, given enormous revenue streams, the dollar amount would be staggering. This is just an accounting line item to the industry players, but the loan loss number includes a multitude of seniors and veteran families financially devastated after being up-sold into high-interest rate loans and higher interest rate credit cards. For those who maintained high lifelong credit scores, the foreclosure process is demeaning and degrading. Many have reported unfair and deceptive sales practices.  

Wyndham has increased its loan loss provision to 21%, as reported by Jason Garcia at The Florida Trend:

Timeshare Companies and Exit Companies are Blaming Each Other for Rising Default Rates

Of the company’s nearly 900,000 owners, only 200,000 have loans. However, the company expects to set aside 21% of its gross sales to cover losses in 2018 — meaning it expects not to collect $21 of every $100 it loaned.

https://www.tetli-institute.com/scrapping-timeshare-usa-26102018

Diamond Resorts International Inc. has been downgraded to CCC+ on very high anticipated leverage. Their outlook is negative, as reported by AC INVEST.

https://www.ademcetinkaya.com/2019/04/diamond-resorts-international-inc.html?fbclid=IwAR1gO6Z6cI-emaClmHkccP4_8XWyOpJYRgJsN40Pd0ydbr1e7DifJW76PZE

Timeshare CEOs don’t seem very worried about rising defaults touting increased sales and an increase in first-time buyers. A circle of sell, up-sell, foreclose and sell the same points again and again ensues. And points don’t depreciate like a car. It’s a cash cow.

Timeshare operators have been adept at capitalizing on the limited protections afforded their prospects. They’ve adopted:

  1. The same day sale, after a gruelling sales session,
  2. Electronic signing, difficult for even the most technically savvy to read,
  3. Perpetual contracts, accompanied by rising maintenance fees,
  4. No secondary market,
  5. Pitfalls, like availability, that can’t be determined by reading the contract,  
  6. Ways to dodge the rescission period by not allowing access to the booking site until after the rescission period has ended,
  7. Recording the closing, but not allowing the recording of the sales session,
  8. Sales agents that coach buyers on how to “pass” QA,
  9. Over-reliance on the verbal representations clause,
  10. Point “members” stripped of all beneficial rights of real estate ownership,
  11. False scare tactics about heirs inheriting the timeshare if deeded.                                                                                                      

What’s right with timeshare points?

Point contracts do offer the flexibility of being able to stay for more or less than the typical week. They allow for incremental purchases.

What’s wrong with timeshare points?

Refer to Figure A and B below. A look at the original timeshare model shows that developers sold a week or weeks guaranteeing the customer that they would always be able to stay a particular week at a particular location. A common complaint comes from deeded week owners who complain they could not get access to the unit, and sometimes not even the resort they had stayed at for years after they gave up their deed. This is especially true at prime locations, like Virginia Beach during summer months.

On the old real estate system, due to location and seasons, each resort had a quantity of valuable weeks, and also “dog” weeks.  July 4th in Hilton Head would be a valuable week.  So would Christmas in Aspen, Colorado. But winter in Cape Cod would be dog weeks.  Customers knew this and usually didn’t buy into “dog” weeks. In a “weeks” model, a graphic representation of anyone resort might look like Figure A.  The very best weeks would be in the centre of the graph, with value declining until you reach the very outside of the circle. If your resort was in a great location, with great weather year round, like Hawaii, you would be in the bullseye year round.


Figure A

Imagine now, a complete resort system converted into points as illustrated in Figure B.  Instead of red, blue and white weeks, you are now sold loyalty levels. There are no more ‘best red weeks’ in the system. The buyer has lost control. The developer now controls who gets to vacation when and where. Add to this scenario the developer’s ability to rent out inventory and you have an unfair advantage of developer over point buyer.


Figure B

But wait – what is the area outside the second line from the bullseye showing the “good and best” points? That is where the developer can sell points, but the chances of taking a great vacation may not be possible. A fixed week buyer knew they were buying Branson in January, maybe hoping to exchange it. The buyer that buys 2,500 points compared to the Platinum member’s 50,000 points dictates less availability. Certainty is gone.  The “point” to remember is that in a points-based system, the “dog” weeks become part of inventory just like “best” weeks. This puts a load on the “best weeks” inventory. When it comes to booking, somebody won’t get what they want.

In a pure points system, the developer is NOT selling a vacation. The developer is selling the “opportunity” to vacation SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY.  Two factors determine the success of timeshare owners in a pure points system:

  1. Having enough points to meet your vacation needs, and
  2. Booking at the earliest possible date.

The complaint sites are littered with people, some even highest loyalty members,   complaining about availability. Say a buyer bought 5,000 points because that is what they could afford on a monthly basis. Those 5,000 points might get them a week in Myrtle Beach – in the winter but only two days at Myrtle Beach in the summer, if you’re lucky.  The sales agent can promise anything, “Any place you want to stay, any time you want.”

The first time buyer is scheduled for an orientation in which they are told, “I can’t believe that sales agent sold you so few points! You can’t stay anywhere with 5,000 points!” The member is sadly informed of his dilemma.  BUT, the new and improved sales agent “corrects” the mistake created by the first agent. Buy more points!

As an inducement to upgrade, some systems have early bookings for highest loyalty level members, then advance booking for one tier down, and finally open booking for everyone else. Consider this day and age of the instant internet. Booking vacations over a year out seems antiquated.

Granted, if you have a fluid vacation schedule, as many retired do – and can travel slightly offseason, you might find a pure points system to be of value.  But don’t go to a sales meeting unprepared, facing a tag team of three against two. Be an informed timeshare buyer. Read what existing members have to say on Tug2.net, Redweek and member sponsored Facebooks. The point system can be unfair and have drawbacks, but they can be resources for those who know how to maximize their use.

The informed consumer is the best consumer. Don’t fall for a pipe dream vacation.

Comments by Irene

Thank you Industry Observer. Your article prompted me to search back to 2017 to revisit our “Is This Timeshare Proposal merely Monopoly Money?” https://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-proposal-merely-monopoly-money/

Self-help groups we feel are not industry influenced including TUG, which consists of a balanced group of members for and against timeshare.

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.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

We began with the question Why Spain does not allow points or perpetuity contracts, the simple reason is availability, with a fixed week system your are guaranteed the holiday time you purchased, you basically own that particular week. With points you own nothing, just a right to use subject to availability, you are a member of a vacation club not an owner. According to the ruling from the Spanish Supreme Court, points and floating week systems lack any substance, you are paying for a promise, or to put it simply you are buying fresh air.

For example we have a resort with 180 apartments, with fixed weeks they can only sell 51 weeks in each, that gives you a total number of weeks available at 9,180, that means you may only have that number of owners, great they all get their weeks. Now let us change this to a points based system, let’s say the vacation club only doubles its membership, we now have 18,360 members. Hang on we only have 9,180 weeks available, that means 9,180 members will not get their holiday at that resort this year.

Along with that, yes, you guessed it, the timeshare company has now also doubled their income in management fees!

They make more money but at the expense of the members who cannot get the holidays they want.

Spain also outlawed the perpetuity contract, this particular law came into force on 5 January 1999, the duration for any contract was to be a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 50 years and was ignored by the industry. It was also envisaged that the age of the purchaser should also be taken into consideration, for example a couple aged 55, would not really require the maximum of 50 years, so why not sell them 25 years. The law makers also believed that perpetuity was inherently unfair to the children of purchasers, as timeshare was always sold with the idea it was property or real estate and therefore would be inherited. Their motive was why should the children be liable for the ongoing liability of maintenance on a contract they did not instigate.

These points are now the subject of many legal actions going through the Spanish courts and it is costing the industry millions in repayments along with all contracts being declared null and void. Spain is at the forefront of protection for consumers regarding timeshare and how it is sold, it is only a matter of time before others do the same.

Start the Week

So here we are at the start of another week, today we start with the news from the courts at the end of last week, we also republish the link to a TVE 1 news report about timeshare law in Spain and an interview with Eva Gutiérrez from Canarian Legal Alliance. We also highlight a new “claims” company that has just come to our attention.

At the end of last week after publishing out Letter from America, Canarian Legal Alliance published their results for the week. Once again it was a busy week for the courts and the lawyers with no less than 15 new victories on behalf of their clients.

In frame with the most rulings against them was once again Anfi Del Mar, with 10 cases heard by the Court of First Instance of San Bartolomé de Tirajana in Maspalomas. In the High Court of Las Palmas Gran Canaria, Anfi del Mar had 4 appeals rejected and sent back to the lower courts for the execution of sentence.

In Tenerife at the High Court in Santa Cruz, Silverpoint also lost an appeal, with the case being sent back to the Court of First Instance, again for the execution of sentence.

The total amount being returned to clients is a massive 517,056.50€ this amount doe not include legal fees or legal interest that is calculated separately. Contracts were also declared null and void. The infringements of the timeshare laws ranged from contracts over 50 years in duration, floating weeks and points systems plus the taking of payments within the 14 days cooling off period.

Considering the Supreme Court rulings of which there are 129, and the number of cases being found against the timeshare companies at the lower courts, it does make you wonder why the timeshare companies insist on prolonging the process and taking the lost cases to appeal. All we can surmise is that they are trying to delay making any payments as they still believe the courts have interpreted the law incorrectly.

In response to that belief, Inside Timeshare republishes a link to the National Spanish TV Station TVE1, in this news item they look at the Supreme Court rulings and explain why the timeshare companies are being taken to court. In the item, they also interview one of the Senior Lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance Eva Gutiérez. This clip will put you the reader in doubt as to who is telling the truth.

Another new name in the “claims” business has just come to our attention, Refund My Claim with the website:

http://www.refundmyclaim.co.uk

It was registered on 9 February 2019 with the actual owner and registrar being hidden, the website has been regestered for one year only and is set to expire on 2 February 2020, these are never good signs.

The website itself gives very little information, with no company registration details only the company address, telephone number and email:

53 Fountain Street, Manchester, M2 2AN. Once again this is rented office space with postal and telephone answering service run by Regus, one of the biggest suppliers of serviced and rental office space on long term or daily basis.

The telephone number given is 0161 826 49 62

With the email [email protected]

On their Home Page, they state, “We are a free advice service that identifies the best Lawyers, Solicitors or Claims management company that best suits you for your claim.” They also explain the “Claims management” is big business in the UK and then go to list all the types of claims they work with including timeshare.

Now considering the age of the website, the lack of company information, no Company House registration and no mention of any lawyers or regulated claims managment company names, makes this is look like a very dodgy set up.

If you are contacted by any company with offers of getting you your money back for any timeshare or holiday club, do your homework before engaging with them. Make sure they are genuine, if you need help or advice on this, then use our contact page and we will be happy to help.

Tomorrow in our Tuesday Slot we publish an article titled How is a Timeshare Point Valued, this has been written by an Industry Insider and we have kept them anonymous as per their wishes. So join us tomorrow for more information and news on the world of timeshare.

The Tuesday Slot

Welcome to this weeks Tuesday Slot article by Irene Parker, who introduces us to Michael Santos, but first, Monday, May 27 was a major holiday in America. Memorial Day honours veterans & soldiers who work to defend even those who may seek to do them harm. Yesterday Inside Timeshare heard from veteran/active duty service member #105 asking about unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. Many of the veterans who have reached out to Inside Timeshare are disabled, five from Agent Orange. We hope other members of the military will reach out to us because when buying a primary residence greater disclosure is required. We are reaching out to provide the same for veterans applying for a timeshare loan. Too many have been financially ruined because they believed false promises made by timeshare sales agents. The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual is another tool in our arsenal to fight timeshare corruption.

The Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual

http://timesharedisputeresolution.mykajabi.com/

Offered by the Straight-A Guide Foundation

https://michaelsantos.org/about/
https://michaelsantos.org/about/

By Irene Parker

May 28, 2019

Meet Michael Santos, no stranger to struggle. Rather than succumb to despair, as many would, Michael faced his challenges head-on. Struggle is struggle. His admitted bad decisions led him to serve 25 years of a 45-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, Michael earned an undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management and a master’s degree. Now he works to serve others in struggle through education, contribution to society, and a support network of people who believe in you.  

Michael’s story: 9,135 Days in Prison TEDXConstitutionDrive 2013

I need help. I’m struggling, overwhelmed, with unending calls from infuriated timeshare members, many financially devastated because timeshare sales agents got away with unfair and deceptive sales practices. While top liars earned $1 million or more annually until eventually terminated, family after family described to me how they were lied to. Particularly painful to me are the stories of veterans and active duty service members harmed by timeshare. A timeshare foreclosure can result in the loss of security clearances.

How can I leverage my time and our team’s limited resources?

Enter Michael Santos of Prison Professors, Straight-A Guide Foundation

Continues with Aspiration, Action, Accountability, Awareness of Opportunities, Achievement, and Appreciation of Resources

In addition to offering a sophisticated platform that has been helping the incarcerated work towards release and reentry back into society, Michael teaches adversity skills. The Straight-A Guide Foundation helps 100,000 people every year, teaching people in struggle how to prepare for success.

Employing these same adversity skills, Michael Santos and I developed a timeshare self-help manual to leverage our timeshare team’s efforts, and the efforts of others experienced in the field of timeshare.

Our Free at Last Timeshare Member Support Manual also offers webinars and podcasts.  http://timesharedisputeresolution.mykajabi.com/


From left, my husband Don, me and Michael Santos

Unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices don’t just harm timeshare members. Honest timeshare sales agents, managers, and even an executive or two have expressed their frustration over spotty and inadequate state regulation and a Pollyanna attitude on the part of timeshare lobbyists and developers insisting all is well in timeshare.

Dr Amy Gregory, PhD in Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida and Masters in International Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management was a presenter at a 2017 timeshare ARDA World convention. She describes statistics that tell a different timeshare tale, as reported by RedWeek’s chief correspondent, Jeff Weir:

Here are some of Dr Gregory’s findings:

  • The average rescission rate is 15 per cent (which is identical, ironically, to the daily average percentage of people who buy a timeshare after a sales presentation).
  • A whopping 85 per cent of all buyers regret their purchase (for money, fear, confusion, intimidation, distrust and other reasons).
  • Forty-one per cent of buyers never thought they would regret their purchase, but they did;
  • 30 per cent were neutral prior to buying but then regretted it.

https://www.redweek.com/resources/ask-redweek/arda-world-timeshare-owners

Wondering if there is something wrong with me, I contacted timeshare law firms and timeshare exit service providers across the country and learned that they are also frustrated with this “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” media spin strategy on the part of the industry.

Two of the exit companies I contacted reported that they received 3,000 to 3,500 calls a month from people seeking timeshare relief. Both companies said they only accept as clients, less than 200 callers, as the timeshare member must meet their timeshare deceit criteria.

What happens to the 2,800 or so turned away? Even if your only option is to foreclose, thanks to the orchestrated lack of a secondary market, these members need support. As if someone broke into your home, you feel violated, alone.  Most begin their call to me with, “I feel so stupid.” I respond that I have heard from a detective who works economic crimes undercover, two counter-terrorism experts, two private detectives, a professor with a PhD in criminology, an ICE agent with an M.S. in Criminal Justice, all describing how they were duped by timeshare sales agents.

If you take the time to listen to the entire 20 minutes of Michael’s Top Ten Surrender Tips before Surrendering to Federal Prison, it’s easy to see how prison adversity skills carry over to timeshare adversity:

https://prisonprofessors.com/top-ten-surrender-tips-surrendering-federal-prison/

https://prisonprofessors.com/top-ten-surrender-tips-surrendering-federal-prison/

Michael’s Ten Tips

  1. Expect Challenges!
  2. Understand your Finances
  3. Develop a Reading Plan
  4. Journal, Write and Publish – Writing is Therapeutic!
  5. Personal Belongings – One Navy veteran charged $2,700 a month in timeshare loan payments to credit cards. He lived in fear of losing his home and had to seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney.
  6. Prepare for Communication
  7. Set Your Values and Goals and Create Timelines
  8. Create an Accountability Metric Adhering to Timelines
  9. Quadrant Adjustments Reflecting New Opportunities and Opportunity Costs Visualize/Plan/Prioritize/Execute
  10. Release Plan – Think about your day of release!

Hoping to leverage what I and others have learned, I support the Free at Last Timeshare Support Manual lending what I’ve learned to others. All proceeds from our manual are to be donated to the Straight-A Guide Foundation.  Together we will work alongside those in prison or formerly incarcerated to become Free at Last. I’m pretty sure Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. would support our borrowing his prayer.

I think it was Ella Fitzgerald who said her momma told her, “Go out and make something happen. If you’re not going to make something happen – stay out of the way!” Morgan Freeman said it another way:

These self-help groups were launched and subscribed to by doers seeking:

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.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you, Irene, and also a big thank you to Michael, we are sure that you will get plenty of support from our readers.

Late on Friday, Canarian Legal Alliance published the following results of cases over the past two weeks, these were against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint, Club La Costa and Holiday Club Finland. In total there were 24 sentences as follows:

  • 15 in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi Del Mar
  • 3 High Court against Anfi Del Mar
  • 2 Court of First Instance against Silverpoint
  • 2 High Court against Silverpoint
  • 1 Court of First Instance against Club La Costa
  • 1 High Court against Holiday Club Finland

All contracts were declared null and void and in most cases, clients received back their legal fees plus legal interest.

The total being returned to clients is a staggering 787,664.00€

Obviously some very happy clients but some very unhappy and embarrassed timeshare companies. Well, they only have themselves to blame!

Do you have any questions about your timeshare purchase, want to know if you have a claim or want to just get out, have you been contacted by a company offering you a service and want to know if they are genuine?

Then use our contact page and get in touch, we will point you in the right direction with the best advice available.

Start the Week: Trouble with the Silverpoint Rental Program Agreement

For sometime Inside Timeshare has been reporting on the “Company Participations and Rental Agreement” sold by Silverpoint. As we already know this product was rolled out to replace the discredited “Investment Weeks” product sold originally By Resort Properties then under the Silverpoint banner, again this product is subject to many court cases which are being found in favour of the clients.

It now appears that Excel Resorts and Hotels SA are distancing themselves from Silverpoint at an alarming rate, we already know that Excel has informed clients of the “Company Participations” that they are no longer working with Silverpoint and this is causing alarm among those who have purchased in this expensive and elaborate product.

The latest news has been coming in over the weekend from many regular readers of Inside Timeshare who have purchased this product, it comes in the form of an email from Excel Resorts and Hotels SA, the company which manages the resorts. Under the agreement entered into with Silverpoint Vacations SL, Excel undertook to operate the assets of the “Company Participations” guaranteeing a return of 4.5% of the corporate income until “apartments” are converted to accommodation units.

So far this year it seems that no one has received any of this income, according to the letter Excel state that “owing to the economic and financial situation” Silverpoint has been unable to honour the agreements during 2018.

In their email, Excel Resorts have stated that they will be calling for an AGM to allow “shareholders” to vote on new contracts and conditions.

Within days they announced a date for the “Shareholders’ Ordinary General Meeting” being held on 12 June 2019 at 9:40 am at the registered office of the company.

The Agenda:

  1. To review and approve, as appropriate, the Company’s Financial Statements relating to the year ended 31 December 2018.
  2. To decide upon the application of the results for the year ended 31 December 2018.
  3. To approve the management of the Company for the year ended 31 December 2018.
  4. The Rental Program Agreement entered into with “Silverpoint Vacations SL” and decisions to be taken on this. Analysis of proposals and contractual alternatives for the holiday rental and decisions to be taken on this. To authorise, where appropriate, the sole director to enter into, on behalf of the Company, the contractual proposal which may ultimately be approved, even if impinging upon the figure of self-contracting, double or multiple representation.

Well, not sure about you but it doesn’t look very promising for those who purchased into this scheme.

For those who are unable to attend excel have also sent forms to sign to allow a proxy to vote on your behalf. Very kind of them, but the named persons are actually employees of the company, so we just wonder who the vote will go in favour of, certainly not the “shareholders”?

It would also appear that assets and funds are being tranferred to many offshore companies and accounts, is this an attempt to hide everything because of the number of court cases, we can reveal that moves are already being made to identify all companies, accounts, persons with significant interest and control.

This has already shown the links to all the companies, which one ownes which, who ownes what and who is ultimately the main character of interest. As they say there is always a paper trail which can be followed.

It has also been revealed that Limora Investments Ltd, a British Virgin Islands-based resort owner on Friday asked a New York bankruptcy court to give Chapter 15 protection to its U.S. assets while it investigates what it called “misconduct” by members of its management team.

From enquiries made it would also appear that this company is very much linked to Excel Resorts and Silverpoint.

The company began insolvency proceedings in the British Virgin Islands in February after discovering “unusual” cash flow problems with the subsidiaries that manage its flagship Spanish properties. Limora has more than 100 subsidiaries with interests in resorts, timeshares, hotels and other businesses in the United Arab Emirates, Spain, the U.K., Singapore, Thailand and the U.S.

The company also stated that its primary source of income is resorts and timeshare in Spain and that in the mid-2018 their Spanish subsidiary had been requesting emergency funding. So along with what we already know about Silverpoint and Excel with Excel Overseas Holdings filing for liquidation, our enquires are just being confirmed.

With what we already know but are unable to publish yet, time is of the essence, especially with the upcoming AGM, we very much doubt that any decision will be infavour of you the clients.

So if you have purchased any product from Silverpoint especially the Company Participations Scheme, or the Excel Overseas Lodging Rental Program and you would like to know how you can get back your “investment” along with having the contract declared null and void, use our contact page and get in touch.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, today we publish the final report by Irene Parker on the Platinum Protest in Orlando which was held on 17 to 19 May. This report also includes their brief stories which helps to explain why they are protesting. In the case of Patty and her story, we have received many complaints which have named the same sales agent. Inside Timeshare has read these complaints and it is surprising that for people who have never met how close their stories are. This can only lead us to conclude there is something very wrong in what this sales agent is doing.

What Happened at the May Platinum Member Protest in Orlando

Save the Date for the next Platinum Protest in Arizona:

Veteran’s Weekend November 9 – 11


From left: Anna, Cindy, Sheilah and Patty

By Irene Parker

May 24, 2019

Many have expressed admiration for the efforts of four Diamond Resorts Platinum families protesting on behalf of 85 Platinum members who have reported that they were told to buy additional timeshare points for reasons they say do not exist. Of the 85, 43 reported that they were told they would be able to offset maintenance fees only if they purchased additional points. Others report they bought points told that they must buy additional points to be able to sell points.

What happened to Sheilah and Gad (a protestor not pictured), is why Friday’s location was at the Florida state building housing the Florida Attorney General’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).  Sheilah, Gad and a third buyer all bought from the same Daytona agent.  They each have their “pencil pitch” which is what agents scribble as they talk. Near the top of Sheilah’s three-page pencil pitch appears:  

8631 (Now) – 8631 (Save) = 0

What could be clearer?

1) (Now) (Save)

2) Redirect savings to help offset costs (to 0)

The complete explanation is in Sheilah’s article:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-11/

Diamond Sales Agent pencil pitch

Diamond’s response, from the company promoting a CLARITY promise of “Clear, concise, accountable and transparent information” was, “We admit this was confusing, but it was not illegal,” according to Sheilah.

“Talking to the Florida Timeshare Division DBPR was the same as talking to Diamond Resorts,” Sheilah said. At first, I was dismissed with “We don’t know if you were given this evidence or if you took it.” Their point I believe was that evidence obtained illegally is not admissible. When I questioned the logic of this statement, the reviewer called back several days later reporting that she spoke with Diamond’s attorneys. “I didn’t understand the program either until I spoke with Diamond’s attorneys, but now I do,” she reported to Sheilah. It’s not difficult to understand why someone would be so angry they would fly 1,000 miles to protest.

Florida’s DBPR has dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “Verbal representations are hard to prove.” While Arizona, New York, Tennessee and other states have launched timeshare investigations based on a volume and pattern of complaints, Florida will not. When Sheilah asked why, the DBPR supervisor responded, “How they do things in other states is not how we do things in Florida.” By their own admission, Florida dismisses timeshare complaints, despite a volume of complaints. The timeshare lobby ARDA has been quoted as saying, “Timeshare is a highly regulated product.” Apparently regulation means dismissing all complaints.

Florida’s dismal statistics:

As reported at a Florida legislative workshop in Tallahassee March 12:

Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 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 engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.

Nevada is another state that dismissed all our readers’ complaints with, “You have no proof.” At least in Nevada, you can record a conversation without the other person aware. Florida is a two-party state meaning it is illegal to record without the other person aware.

How in the world is a timeshare buyer expected to obtain proof?

Three of our protestors were able to speak at length with one individual inside the state building. In fear of retaliation, we will not identify this person, but their advice was to have the protestors protest every Friday. Logistics preclude this, but we appreciated their support and knowledge of unfair and deceptive practices.

Inside Timeshare has heard from 831 families describing unfair and deceptive timeshare sales practices. ARDA and Diamond’s CEO Michael Flaskey argue that the vast majority of timeshare buyers are happy with their timeshare.

Fair enough, so I checked facts and figures. I contacted law firms and timeshare exit companies throughout the United States. There are many. Two exit companies reported that each receives 3,000 to 3,500 calls per month. They accept less than 200 as clients. Just two of the many law firms and exit providers receive over 6,000 calls per month from families seeking timeshare release! An entire industry of law firms and timeshare exit providers has sprung up catering to timeshare members waking up to the realization that the timeshare they were told would be easy to sell, or sell if they bought additional points, has no secondary market.

I have to admit I was not looking forward to a weekend of sign holding, but the reward we felt by the number of horn honks, thumbs up and, especially on Sunday, a steady stream of members stopping by to express their concerns, made it all worthwhile. Here we met Platinum member #84.

I’m not a Platinum member, but wanted to support the Platinum Protestors’ efforts. Patty and Cindy have their stories. The second day of the protest I heard from a Diamond member who contacted me infuriated. She had bought points from the same agent Patty bought points from, becoming #43 of 85 Platinum members who say they were pitched maintenance fee relief programs that do not exist. This will make six complaints against Patty’s agent; the third complaint against this agent was from a couple ages 79 and 80, the husband diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. We even have a recording of the agent provided by a veteran from over a year ago who experienced a similar up-sell.

Rather than show concern for 85 of their highest loyalty members who have reported unfair and deceptive practices, Diamond and the timeshare industry as a whole insists there are few complaints. There is not enough space in an article to list all the law firms, timeshare exit companies, lawsuits, including whistleblower lawsuits, and Attorneys General investigations concerning timeshare sales.

All protest participants had been timeshare owners and members for decades. They liked timeshare. The Platinum members had purchased points a number of times, so with the ensuing trust did not expect to be blindsided by programs that they say do not exist.

We’re not saying there are not honest timeshare sales agents trying to make a living selling timeshare points properly. But when top liars, who eventually get fired for pitching too much heat, are put up on a pedestal for new hires to emulate, the result fosters deceit.    

Many have wondered if this industry could exist without deception. One timeshare insider reported that Diamond Resorts has the highest loan loss provision of all major timeshares. As reported by Wall Street:

Diamond Resorts International Inc. Downgraded To ‘CCC+’ On Very High Anticipated Leverage, Outlook Negative

The negative outlook on Diamond reflects our expectation for minimal cash flow generation and very high leverage in 2019. The outlook also incorporates our belief that the company is vulnerable to possible future operating missteps or an unexpected downturn in the economy over the next two years, which may render its capital structure unsustainable despite our assessment of adequate liquidity.

https://www.ademcetinkaya.com/2019/04/diamond-resorts-international-inc.html?fbclid=IwAR0N7Sc0Dld_LFlK8F2sv0-t4gIzAr-yd5HngEyWb6JLnVcW_OA0hfvSPPU

Many of the 85 Platinum members have resolved their dispute, but resolution required several rebuttals and regulatory filings. Some relinquished their points, meaning they walked away from all the money spent. Diamond points sell for around $4 per point so we’re talking about Platinum members with 50,000 points or more walking away from $200,000 or more. A recorded QA closing is routinely used in the dismissal, but recording the sales session is not allowed. As mentioned, recording without the other person aware is legal in some states, but not Florida.   

Given a reluctant regulatory environment, the Courts of Public Opinion seem the only courts open. Holding up signs is not easy, but the rewards are great. A realtor stopped by clearly upset that he could not sell a Westgate timeshare for his client. I gave him my contact information. Within a few hours, his client called from Brazil. Out of about 60 licensed timeshare resale brokers, only one I am aware of will accept a Westgate listing. If there are no takers, I advised the member to speak Portuguese when the maintenance fees collectors call. He can no longer afford the timeshare. Fortunately, there is no loan outstanding. His relief at hearing straight answers was palpable, even from that far away.    


Grateful listeners

Two new Facebooks have been launched by Wyndham and Starpoint Sapphire Inside Timeshare contributors. Through Social Media and grassroots protests we little by little are letting the consumer know timeshare sales can be a quagmire of debt and deceit. These are the support groups we feel are not industry influenced:

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

Bluegreen Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

Wyndham Facebook

New: https://www.facebook.com/groups/376743609795740/  

Sapphire Starpoint New: https://www.facebook.com/login/?next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fgroups%2F292083584642570%2F%3Fref%3Dshare

Diamond Resort Facebook

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

Gold Key Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene and a very big thankyou to those who were able to make it to the protest, also thanks must go out to all those who showed support in whatever way they could. The next Platinum protest is scheduled for 9 to 11 November which is Veterans Weekend in the US and is being held in Arizona. If you are able to make it, you will be most welcome.

That is all for this week, use our contact page if you have any views or comments on any article published, or if you just need a little help or advice we are here to help.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.