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What a Week for CLA and Their Clients!

Once again those intrepid and tenacious lawyers from Canarian Legal Alliance have struck again, this week has seen another 4 victories for their clients in the Spanish lower courts and Supreme Court.

CLA Logo

The week started off with a victory at the High Court number 5 of Las Palmas, 10 October, in this ruling the court upheld recent Supreme Court rulings on contracts involving “Floating Weeks”. As these weeks are sold without a fixed date or apartment number the contract has been declared “null & void”.

The judge in this instance has ordered Anfi to return to the English client over £10,192 plus interest, they will also receive back all their legal fees.

 

In another victory this time against Club Class (Great British Marketing SL), the Court of the 1st Instance of Arona in Tenerife, 12 October,  has ordered the repayment of 13,722€ plus interest. The contract has also been declared “null & void”.

 

On 13 October CLA announced their 24th Supreme Court victory, once again it was against Anfi.              tribunal supremo

 

In this ruling the court ordered the return of 49,791€ plus interest and the return of all legal fees, they also ruled that the contract was “null & void”. Again the court reiterated its stance on the selling of “Floating Weeks” by any timeshare company as illegal. The criteria they used was that these weeks do not have a date for use or have an apartment number allocated, thereby the client is not guaranteed the holiday as they are subject to availability.

 

Then on Thursday 13 October, it was also announced that Resort Properties / Silverpoint must return over 20,000€ including interest and legal fees. The judge at the Court of 1st Instance Number 5, in Tenerife also declared that the contract was also “null & void” in accordance with all the Supreme Court rulings. So now the courts in Tenerife are following the judgements of the highest court in Spain.

 

Inside Timeshare has also had enquiries from Anfi members who have said that Anfi are contacting them and denying any court rulings having been made against them. They have even stated that no buyout by Lopesan has taken place, all this even after being plastered all over the Spanish and European press.

It must also be asked why the trade body the RDO is also taking the same stance as Anfi in regards to Supreme Court rulings?

As a trade body, they do have a duty to their members, but they also have a duty to the owners of their members products, ensuring that all laws and regulations are complied with. If the RDO had sanctioned their members in the past for disregarding the rules, then somehow I don’t think we would have the situation we see today.

So it is congratulations to the clients and the legal teams who worked so hard to achieve these results for their clients. With still over 100 cases waiting to be heard at the Supreme Court, we will see even more cases such as these in the coming months.

If you have any questions about this or any other article published, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help. Contact us through the comments section and we will get back to you. Have a good weekend.

weekend01

More from across the Pond: Information from the NTOA.

Gregory Crist the CEO of the NTOA (National Timeshare Owners Association), will be making a presentation at the TBMA (Timeshare Board Members Association) in Tucson AZ, on 16 to 18 October.

tbma

The presentation will be about Combating Fraud in the Changing Timeshare Environment, this is an area which affects timeshare owners worldwide, from dubious resale companies to false claims and law firms. In the USA there is a very severe problem of as he puts it “bad actors” who are taking advantage of owners and severely damaging the reputation of the entire secondary market (resale).

 

He states that these fraudulent companies who operate what is commonly called the “Viking Ship” programme, cause considerable harm to owners and resort associations alike. Regulators have been attempting to close down fraudulent transfer and resale companies who use unfair and deceptive trade practises, but Greg believes there is a great need for owner education and consumer protection.

tbma-1

 

 

 

On another matter, Greg also informed Inside Timeshare of a Senator who managed to block a bill which would have restricted owners access to HOA (Home Owners Association) rosters. These are the list of all members who own timeshare and are members of the association.

 

The bill would have made it impossible for the HOA to be able to communicate with other members, which would have had a considerable effect on informing them of board policies and HOA issues.

 

The bill was sponsored by ARDA (American Resort Development Association), and was a means of protecting owner confidentiality. In other words stopping a legitimate use of these lists thereby controlling any form of owners coming together for the common good.

 

According to ARDA this bill was to protect owners from predatory rogue transfer and resale companies. It transpires that ARDA did not even show any evidence that these rosters had ever been sold or misused.

arda

Again this is a blatant abuse by the industry to prevent any dissemination of information which would be of use to owners. This is not just a problem in the US, we also have the same problem in Europe, whereby information is hidden or denied. Only recently we have found that one resort, Anfi, is contacting owners and denying any buyout of the Lyng family shares by IFA Lopesan and also denying any legal action being taken against them. All this even though it has been widely circulated in the European press. (Search Anfi for previous posts).

 

For the full articles see the PDF below.

more-from-greg-crist-at-the-ntoa

Once again a very big thank you to Greg and Irene for all the information they pass on, it is through collaboration that we all can find out what is going on. Without this we will be kept in the dark, it also helps to see what “scams” and other “schemes” may just be lying in wait, after all what happens here may happen there next year and vise versa.

U.S. Federal Judge Slams Timeshare Donation Scheme.

Gregory Crist of the National Timeshare Owners Association in America has highlighted a scheme which a Federal Judge has shut down called Donate for a Cause. In this scheme timeshare owners paid a Montana company to donate and transfer their timeshares in exchange for tax deductions.

gregcrist600
Gregory Crist

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Prosecutors called it an “abusive timeshare donation scheme”, the Judge Sam Haddon ordered that Project Philanthropy which was also doing business as Donate for a Cause to turn over a list of all clients names, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers for timeshares donated, going back to 2010. In the six years, thousands of owners have allegedly been provided with improper tax deductions for donated timeshares which promised generous tax savings.

 

The scheme relied on appraisals which overvalued by huge amounts the donated timeshare rights, which customers would use to claim large charitable tax deductions. According to the Justice department owners were encouraged to donate their ownership rights to Donate for a Cause.

 

It would appear that Donate for a Cause was only a conduit being used to briefly hold title to timeshares, before being sold at a fraction of the appraisal amount. One example includes a client who transferred a timeshare to Donate for a Cause which originally cost $10,597.50, this was then sold on ebay’s charity platform for only $81, yet the value it was given for tax purposes was $8,740.

 

The IRS (tax department) estimates that since 2010, the defendants (donate) have received over 5,523 timeshares donated to the scheme. The IRS estimates that the defendants have caused more than $19.4 million to be deducted from tax improperly.

 

The company´s CEO and President have both agreed to being permanently barred from marketing or promoting charitable contribution deductions and the defendants have also been prohibited from preparing property appraisals connected to federal tax returns.

 

It would seem that in the US another timeshare scam has been thwarted, it is not one that we are familiar with in Europe, due to the different tax laws we have. But I wonder how long it will be before some bright spark comes up with a similar scheme here?

 

Thank you to Gregory Crist and Irene Parker for this story, the full article by Greg is below in PDF form.

federal-judge-slams-timeshare-donation-scheme

Gran Canaria Info: Explains Recent Developments at Anfi.

The local online news and information magazine Gran Canaria Info, has been following many of the events over the past year in regards to the ongoing story at Anfi.

 

In its latest article it explains very simply what has happened so far this year. The first part of the article explains the selling of the Lyng family´s 50% share of Anfi to IFA Lopesan. This is a well known hotel group in the south if the island, having major luxury hotels in Meloneras.

lopesan-costa-meloneras

The question they posed is what does this mean for Anfi owners?

 

Lopesan has stated that they so far have no major plans for any changes at Anfi, or how it is run. Owners would not notice any changes, Lopesan maintained they are committed to the timeshare model which is Anfi´s main business. They also stated they plan to continue with the Tauro development project in it’s current form.

 

It is expected that Lopesan with its extensive funds should actually make Anfi better for owners, improving the facilities and updating the accommodation.

 

As for the Tauro beach project, it was reported last week that the first prosecution has been filed with the Court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, against the former head of the Canarian Coastal Authority José Maria Hernandez. The charge is one of administrative malfeasance (wrongdoing in public office) and forgery of official documents.

 

At present it is not known what the implications of this case will have on the beach project or the development of the Tauro valley. What is known is Anfi and the new partners Lopesan will have to apply for new permits to continue the development of new hotels and shopping center in the area behind the beach.

tauro2.jpg

The article then goes on to explain in a simple way the laws and how they may affect owners, the changes such as perpetuity contracts, floating and points systems as well as deposits within the cooling off period. It also highlights how Spanish law works, also stating that “no win no fee” is not allowed in Spain and there will be costs involved in taking the case to court.

 

Gran Canaria Info is a valuable resource for expats and those on holiday, it highlights much of the news on the island and is one of the few English language news outlets giving concise and factual information. For the full article click on the link below.

 

http://gran-canaria-info.com/content/timeshare-law/anfi-del-mar-and-the-future-of-gran-canaria-timeshare-in-2017

 

If you require any further information on this article or any other timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will be pleased to help.

 

Supreme Court Rule for 2nd Time on Fractional: CLA Press Release.

Late on Friday 30 September 2016, Canarian Legal Alliance issued a statement on the latest Supreme Court victories. This involved two rulings by the Supreme Court on another aspect of how timeshare is sold. (see the full release below).

 

This particular ruling confirms what many believed was in fact timeshare, but was being sold as something completely different and outside the scope of the timeshare laws, Fractional. Inside Timeshare ran an article: Fractional: What is it? Back in April.

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/fractional-what-is-it/

 

In this article it was called a “Pig in a Dress”, mainly because sales staff were promoting it as property and an investment, also as a way out of your timeshare contracts. In the article it explained what fractional ownership actually is, genuine fractional is a real estate transaction, usually by a group of people going into partnership to purchase a property outright and sharing the costs. This type of transaction would be done following normal real estate practices, it would also follow the trends of property prices, either up or down, allowing the owners to sell on the open market as normal. The other aspect is that you would know the other owners, you would then be bound with them in a contract covering; use, costs and the rules governing the sale of any given share. In the model sold by the timeshare companies, it is doubtful if you would ever meet with the other owners of your fraction, let alone know them.

pigdress
I am not timeshare, I am fractional!

In the first case to be ruled on by the Supreme Court, Puerto Calma Holiday Club Finland, had sold a so-called fractional to a client, implying that they were purchasing a share in the property. They even had the contracts signed in the presence of a notary, just to add credibility to the deal. The Supreme Court ruled in this instance this was not a property sale but did in fact come under timeshare regulations, therefore it is timeshare, awarding over £235,542 to the client. Under these laws it is illegal to sell any timeshare product (including fractional) as an investment.

 

Now remember, the First National Trust Company, who are the trustees of the Club la Costa Fractional Property Owners Club, did state and warn CLC in 2012, that fractional should never be sold as an investment. This clearly shows that even FNTC believed that fractional fell into the scope of timeshare laws. (See link below)

 

http://clcmembers.blogspot.com.es/

FNTC

The second ruling has come against another Gran Canarian operator, Palm Oasis, Tasolan SL, in Maspalomas. In this ruling the court rejected the belief that suggesting to timeshare owners they actually own a share in the property is designed to evade the timeshare laws. This then leaves the purchaser without any legal protection. The court in this instance awarded the client over 20,000 euros. They also reaffirmed that contracts over 50 years (perpetuity) are illegal.

tribunal supremo

This latest news now puts into doubt the legality of other fractional contracts sold by other operators, including Club la Costa and Diamond. Is this the start of a new round of litigation, putting another black mark on the timeshare industry.

 

The question also needs to be asked, why has the RDO not made any comment of this in the past?

 

Why have the RDO not warned their members that they may be selling another product illegally?

 

The simple answer is the RDO is paid by the industry and works only for the industry. After all an RDO member the FNTC did warn about this along time ago. Did the RDO just choose to ignore their advice?

 

CLA Press Release Friday 30 September 2016  CLA Logo

Good Afternoon

SUPREME COURT VICTORY AGAINST PALM OASIS

 

Canarian Legal Alliance is proud to be able to announce another ground breaking decision of the Supreme Court in clarifying and declaring illegal the modus operandi of Palm Oasis and resorts using similar schemes.

This company in common with, for example, Puerto Calma in Gran Canaria, in the name of timeshare sold their clients an indivisible share of a property and suggesting that timeshare laws did not therefore apply, leaving their purchasers unprotected.

 

This sentence clearly rejects the notion that suggesting to timeshare owners that they actually own a fraction of a property evades timeshare laws. Implying that the clients are, in any way, owners of the property is strictly forbidden in law

 

The justices of the highest ranking court in Spain have no doubt that timeshare law does and must apply and accordingly declared our clients contract null and void on the basis that its term exceeded the 50 year maximum. The clients were awarded over 20,000 euro.

 

With this ruling the Supreme Court has maintained their consistency in finding “in perpetuity” contracts to be illegal, just as they pronounced 18 months ago as doctrine in favor of another Canarian Legal Alliance client. Since that time we have celebrated numerous victories at all levels of the Spanish legal system and against a whole range of different timeshare resorts. Our law firm is not only the first one, but still the only one to have brought timeshare matters before the Supreme Court for discussion.

Canarian Legal Alliance is the market leader in payouts to unhappy timeshare owners with over 2 million Euros already PAID BACK to our clients. If you would like to receive expert advice on the legality of your timeshare contract do not hesitate to contact us, the law firm who made legal history in Spain.

 

CLA  wishes you all a very nice relaxing weekend

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/cla-supreme-court-success-against-puerto-calma/

http://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/supreme-court-victory-against-palm-oasis/

If you need any information in this article or have any question about any timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to help. Contact Inside Timeshare and we will get back to you.

 

Guess Who is in the News Again? More on Anfi

A day does not seem to pass without the beleaguered Anfi being in the news, this time it is Canarian Journalen, an online Norwegian journal in Gran Canaria. Their article outlines the recent sale by the Lyng family of their 50% share in Anfi to IFA Lopesan. (See link at end of article).

canarian-journalen-logo

The price given for this sale is a paltry 41.3 million euro, which pales in comparison to the reported 100 million euro the Cazorla group paid for their 50% stake in 2004. Canarian Journalen hints at the reason behind this low figure, not just the legal battle over contracts which Anfi are losing on an almost daily basis, but also the problems associated with the Tauro Beach project. They hint quite strongly this could be the involvement of the Cazorla Group in corruption accusations and scandals which may also involve “political characters”.

 

Canarian Journalen asked Ragnar Lyng if these problems influenced the decision to sell? In his reply Mr Lyng stated “It is impossible to be passive partner when it is not built on trust, says Ragnar Lyng. When asked for the main reason for the sale Mr Lyng replied, “Disagreement on business philosophy. First and foremost in how a customer should be treated.Satisfied customers will return again and again, taking with them more, and give praise that strengthens your brand. It is also about respect for other people’s fundamental approach”.

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Just from these few words it can clearly be seen the original concept of his father had been tarnished. Instead of very happy members who wished to return year after year, they became very disgruntled with the way they were treated. This is obviously borne out by the court judgements against Anfi, with even more in the pipeline. On this point many members have stated they were happy with Anfi as a resort, the problem has been in their treatment, continuous upgrading and the lack of availability.

 

One member who has taken action said they were upgraded several times, the last being a floating week at Anfi del Mar, but when trying to book were told no availability. Yet that was the reason given to upgrade, to ensure availability. When this particular member caused a stir with bookings, he was given one of the worst locations at Anfi Beach Club, on the ground floor with all the noise from the bars and the pool to contend with. This particular client was so incensed by this they sought redress through legal action to cancel the contracts.

 

On another note it has just been announced that on 27 September, the Supreme Court made another judgement against Anfi. This was in favour of a Norwegian client of Canarian Legal Alliance. This brings the total Supreme Court Rulings to an amazing 22, with many more in the process of being heard.

CLA Logo

The Norwegian clients have been awarded 27,000 euro, with their contract being declared null & void. Again the Supreme Court ruled on the basis that “Floating Weeks” are illegal. More on this as it is made public. So to the clients and the legal team at CLA, a very big congratulations.

 

It is very clear these stories on legal action, the sale by Lyng to Lopesan and off course the ongoing investigation into the Project at Tauro Beach still have a long way to go. It will certainly keep the newspapers busy, Inside Timeshare will publish any news as and when it comes in, so watch this space!

 

http://www.canariajournalen.no/Nyheter/Lyng-familien-har-solgt-seg-ut-av-timeshare-anlegget-Anfi-del-Mar-paa-Gran-Canaria

 

If you need any information on any article published, or just need information on any company you may be dealing with, contact Inside Timeshare, if we don´t know the answer we will find out for you. Have a good weekend.

Diamond Owners Receive Text Messages, But From Who?

Recently many Diamond owners have been receiving a text message sent from a UK mobile number,  07740588468. This number is an O2 UK, and according to checks made in the UK it may be a “burner phone”, this means it is untraceable. It is linked to a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mrpea.jonathan?hc_location=ufi

 

This page shows no information at all, no details in the about section and no posts. The text message that has been received is as follows:

 

Hi Mr & Mrs XXXXXXX

It’s Jonathan here, I work on behalf of a specialist litigations team here in the UK and We are in the process of tracing clients who have had dealings with various Holiday Ownership companies.

It is important to say that we do not buy or sell any type of holiday ownership.

The reason for this message is due to the recent changes in the Law many contracts signed with such companies are now illegal, therefore making them null and void, This means you may well be able to claim back the full purchase price of what you own.

Do you still own anything such as timeshare or holiday ownership??

Did you purchase or upgrade in Spain after January 1999??

Have you switched to Fractional Ownership??

Due to rulings by Supreme Court the law has been Strengthened to protect YOU the consumer.

If you made any payment for your ownership within the 14 day cooling off period or even had a finance agreement arranged by the sales staff on the day you signed the contract, this will make the contract illegal and you are entitled to have them cancelled and get your money back.

Other changes are if the contract is in perpetuity or a period of more than 50 years, this also entitles you to a claim.

Another change in law is that points or floating week’s systems have also been declared illegal, as you are not guaranteed availability in the same way as the fixed week system.

Do you own with Diamond resorts who have just announced yet another take over, are you worried about man fee increases again?

Do you fall into any one of these categories?

If so just reply back “YES” and myself or another advisor will be glad to contact you with some advice regarding your situation and how we proceed to make a claim and put you on the right track to getting all your money back.

Kind Regards

Jonathan

 

This information has been circulating on the Diamond Resorts International Members facebook group, with many comments from owners who have received it. It is believed that this may be ex-Diamond employees who have the Diamond members data. One owner has been in touch with their resort, Sahara Sunset, who have stated that it is more than likely to be a scam, also confirming that it may be ex-employees who have stolen the data base.

 

There is no mention of any company within the text or facebook page, so Diamond owners should be very wary about answering the text message.

 

Although the information in the text is correct in regards to the rulings by the Supreme Court in Madrid, with contracts made after 5 January 1999 which could possibly fall into the realms of being declared null & void, along with the possibility of claiming back the purchase price. Inside Timeshare urges caution.

be careful

If you you require any information regarding this subject or have any information which may be of use to others, contact Inside Timeshare and we will publish it.

 

Lopesan Buy Out the Lyng Family´s 50% of Anfi.

So it has finally happened, the news broke yesterday afternoon that Ragnar Lyng, the heir to the late Bjorn Lyng founder of Anfi, has sold his 50% share to Lopesan IFA. It is reported that Lopesan has paid 41.3 million euros with the papers having now been signed.

The deal has been on the cards for around ten years, since the death of his father none of the Lyng family have lived in Gran Canaria. All of the legal problems that have beset the partnership with Santana Cazorla have been bitter and very public. There have been battles over control of the board, court cases involving millions of euros which have been diverted to the Cazorla Group, as well as a long running court battle which also involved Lopesan.

 

The newspaper La Provincia 7/2/2013 reported that Santana Cazorla provided a Promissory note to avoid foreclosure of ANFI by Lopesan who claimed a debt of 14 million euro. Lopesan claimed the ANFI Group owed 14 million euros for the land in Tauro purchased from the Cardenas family. Lopesan claimed it was owed this as they had bought a Cardenas debt.

The Lopesan Group is well known on Gran Canaria, it has many hotels which are of a very high standard, 3 of which are located in Meloneras. Lopesan has no timeshare interest and are purely a hotel chain, so this begs the question what are their plans? Will the Anfi resort become another all inclusive, what is going to happen to the timeshare owners?

 

Over the past 18 months Anfi have been beset with severe legal problems, the Supreme Court has made a staggering 17 rulings against Anfi. These cases which have been brought on behalf of purchasers of the Anfi timeshare product by the local law firm Canarian Legal Alliance, has cost the Anfi group millions of euros. There are still over 100 cases waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court, with hundreds more pending at the lower courts.

 

Along with the investigations into the Tauro Beach project, which has already resulted in the head of the Canarian Coastal Authority being sacked, there is the possibility of more court cases of a much more serious nature in the pipeline. Could all this be the reason that Santana Cazorla himself has “retired” to Morocco as published in a previous article, the fact one of his bitterest rivals is now a 50% shareholder, along with the possibility of charges over Tauro Beach, does make it look like he has actually “done a runner”.

 

The main question now is what is going to happen in respect of the Anfi members, will this new partnership of “enemies” have an effect on the resort? Are Anfi still going to be selling its product, or is the sales side going to close? These and many other questions will eventually be answered and Inside Timeshare will publish the news as it comes in.

 

Search Anfi for all the articles previously published, click on the links below for some of the main events.

 

If you have any questions about this subject or any other article contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them.

 

http://thecanarynews.com/anfi-del-mar-sold-to-ifa-for-e41m/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/anfi-boss-cazorla-going-morocco-retirement-escape/

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/irregularities-anfi-tauro-beach-project/

 

More From Across The Pond.

As we all know trying to sell your timeshare or as they like to call it today “holiday ownership”, is a bit of a minefield. Who can you trust?

 

Our friends from across the Atlantic have the same problems, you think you have got rid of your timeshare, then suddenly you receive the annual maintenance bill. The resort does not recognise the transfer. This happened to many people who ended up buying into Designer Way Vacation Club several years ago.

 

With this particular scheme, you “sold” your timeshare to DWVC but had to pay many thousands of pounds to become a member of their club. The perks, well, you could stay in the same resorts for a fraction of the cost, discounts on flights, and off course no more maintenance bills. Oh yes, I almost forgot, you also were given a “cashback” certificate, this was for the value of your timeshare plus a bit extra for the cost of your membership. Then after registering it (which was a nightmare task), you had to wait around 5 years for it to mature. If you were lucky you may have got a few quid back, that’s if you claimed correctly.

 

Then after finding that the so called “discounts” were not what you were told at the presentation, (actually costing more), you suddenly received a maintenance bill for several years arrears. All this with the threats of legal action by a debt collecting agency. DWVC did not transfer your timeshare, or the resort did not recognise it.

 

This has also happened to one old lady who owned a MacDonalds timeshare, Yes, I am referring to Mrs B. Her timeshare has been sold for 1euro, (she actually paid the company around £7,500 to relinquish, not sell it). MacDonalds is now chasing for maintenance arrears because they do not recognise the transfer.

for_sale

Following is an article written by Tom Tubbs, an advisory member of The National Timeshare Owners Association, the American equivalent of TATOC. In this article he clearly shows how some companies in the US operate and how it affects the resorts and owners. This was sent to me by my American colleague Irene Parker.

 

By Tom Tubbs

Island Consulting Realty – NTOA Advisory Board Member

 

We’ve all heard the radio commercials, received the postcards in the mail, seen the TV ads, seen the web sites:

 

“Get out of your timeshare now! Call us today. Guaranteed or your money back!”

 

“You own a timeshare you can’t sell? We guarantee to get you out”.

 

“Dear friends. This is ‘Mr/Ms. Celebrity’. I trust these people”.

 

Now, think back. Remember the similar ads we heard from different companies years ago? Where are those companies now? What happened to them? Are these just new companies who rose up to fill in the gap? Hmmm…..

 

So, how is it that you could sell your timeshare but continue to be on the hook for the maintenance fees? What I’m going to share with you is a real story that is taking place right this minute. The names are changed, obviously. The way it’s being handled is not brand new, but relatively so and it’s happening more and more and more. Read the story and make sure you don’t fall victim to this.

 

So we’ve told you in the past about “transfer companies”. You pay them $3500 or so and they take your time share from you and they promise that your days of owning a timeshare and paying the maintenance fees are done. Many of these are perfectly good timeshares that could be sold and money put into the pockets of the owner, but if you’re a reader of this newsletter you know the stories the transfer companies tell you to convince you to give up your money. These companies for the most part have no real estate license so that they don’t have to worry about a state agency looking over their shoulder. Many of them come and go quickly…..with your money.

 

But there’s a new sheriff in town. A company called Timeshare Transfer Registry (real name) monitors timeshare transfers. They are especially suspicious about transfers going into the name of an LLC or Trust. Suspicions go up when they see 10, 20, 50, 100 or more timeshares being transferred into the same name. Resorts can register with TTR to try to protect themselves from being deceived by the transfer company.

 

So here’s what happened. “ABC Resort” (names are changed now) gets a copy of a recorded deed showing one of their owners sold their timeshare to “Whoopie Doo, LLC”. The resort contacted Timeshare Transfer Registry and learned that Whoopie Doo owns a LOT of timeshares. It’s looking pretty obvious that the LLC will never pay the resort a maintenance fee and the resort at some point will have to foreclose (that’s what happened to your timeshare). You don’t care, right? You’ve sold your timeshare and the deed is out of your name, right? Wrong……to an extent. You’re definitely going to care. Here’s why.

 

The resort notified the LLC that they noticed the LLC has purchased a LOT of timeshares and it looks like an obvious case of a transfer company about to dump the timeshares on the resort; costing the resort a ton of money. The resort refused to acknowledge the transfer.

 

In an interesting twist, the LLC contacted the resort and swore up and down they were not the same “Whoopie Doo, LLC” that owns so many time shares. Seriously? Really? The resort contacted National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA, http://www.NationalTimeshareOwnersAssoc.com/) asking for advice. (Now in the interest of full disclosure I want to mention I am on the advisory board of NTOA. Before I became a member of the board, however, I was singing the praises about this organization for a long time. Becoming a member [talking about you, dear reader] is not a bad thing. You know I would never steer you wrong). I was asked my opinion about this. I advised that the resort tell Whoopie Doo to go pound sand. Whoopie will probably threaten legal action but the resort should stand firm. The last thing con artists like Whoopie Doo want to do (hey! That rhymes!) is walk into a court of law.

 

So now here is an interesting situation. You’ve paid a company $3500 to take your time share. You have signed the deed over to this LLC. You actually no longer own the timeshare, this is technically true. But the resort is refusing to acknowledge the transfer which means you are still on their books as the owner and you’re going to get a maintenance fee bill each year! Congratulations! Now, you won’t find this out until you get your bill next year. By that time, good luck on finding those nice folks who took your $3500. You now no longer own a timeshare and you’re on the hook for the yearly maintenance fees.

 

“Wait”, you say, “How can the resort refuse to acknowledge a lawfully recorded transfer of a deed”. (we heard you thinking this). Well, there’s this little thing called fraud. It was a fraudulent transfer designed to make money by bringing harm to the resort. (As a side note: Some resort who have been burned by this are now suing not only the folks behind the LLC but also the original owner [that would be……you] claiming fraud).

 

So how do you protect yourself? First, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to sell your timeshare, call us. It’s what we’ve done for folks for the past 30 years and we offer different programs depending on what you have and your particular situation. There’s not many folks we can’t help. And for the few we can’t help, we can refer you to the right person who can or offer free advice on what to do. Secondly, if you’re bound and determined that you trust that famous celebrity or the nice person across the table from you who wants you to pay them a lot of money, ask them for a copy of their real estate license. They should offer no excuses, no “this doesn’t apply to us” stories; they either have one or they don’t. If they don’t, well……..I’d hate to be writing a story about your situation in an up-coming newsletter.

 

At least in the US there is a company which tries to ensure this does not happen, The Timeshare Transfer Registry, but even with this in place the scam still goes on, not only losing thousands for the owners but also for the resorts.

 

So what can you do about not getting caught, unfortunately there is no straight answer. All you can really do is check the company and check again, ask your resort do they recognise the company you are dealing with. If you are undertaking a private sale, again check with your resort on how the transfer is done legally. Once the transfer is complete, again check with your timeshare company or resort that you are no longer registered as the owner and liable for maintenance.

 

The biggest problem is actually finding someone who wants to buy it in the first place, just look on ebay! There are alternatives to trying to sell, some resorts will take them back, for those that do not, then there is a legal process of relinquishment. Yes this will cost, the amount again depends on the company, but beware, as Mrs B found out she paid for a relinquishment but ended up with a transfer of ownership to another person and this is not recognised by the resort.

 

If you have any questions about this article or any other timeshare matter, Inside Timeshare is here to help. Contact through the comments section and will find the answer or point you in the right direction.

News From Across the Great Lake.

On many occasions Inside Timeshare publishes news as it comes in from the United States, much of this comes from my colleague Irene Parker. Irene is a long standing Diamond member, although she and her husband are happy with the holidays and membership over the years, she has highlighted the main problems in many articles. Irene also publishes articles in The Street, an online financial journal, in these articles she mainly highlights the stocks and shares side of the many timeshare companies. Whether they are a good investment or not and the reasons behind some of the falls in these share prices. (see link to her latest article in The Street at foot of the page).

 

In many of her articles she also highlights what they call in America as the secondary market, or to us in Europe the resale market. The fact that no secondary market exists for owners of Diamond Resorts International, is one of the biggest complaints owners have. Another that we are very familiar with in Europe is the difficulty in being able to exit your membership. In the US, the perpetuity contract is not illegal, unlike in Europe where the EU Directives on Timeshare have stated contracts should be for no longer than 50 years. As we have seen from the Supreme Court rulings in Spain, this is actually helping people to get out of their contracts and in many cases being paid back the full purchase price for being sold an illegal contract.

 

Many people in America are watching the events here in Europe, especially in Spain, taking stock of the way timeshare laws are being implemented. Some are even wondering if these laws can be brought into place for them in the USA.

dri logo

Following is the email she sent with a letter from Stephen J Cloobeck of Diamond, she also points out two complaints on Tripadvisor, then her own letter to Mr Cloobeck.

 

An Open Letter to Mr. Cloobeck from Irene Parker

 

A Message from Stephen J. Cloobeck

 

Dear Members and Owners, 

I am thrilled with the completion of the acquisition of Diamond Resorts by an affiliate of funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC (“Apollo”), and am confident that this transaction will only enhance your vacation experience at Diamond resorts worldwide. 

Diamond Resorts was founded on the platform of The Meaning of Yes®, a customer-centric ideology that elevates the hospitality experience above all else. The company goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional vacations to its members, owners and guests so that you can enjoy a lifetime of memories and experiences that can be passed down from generation to generation. Over the years this platform has transformed into a core belief and our philosophy of We Love to Say Yes®. 

 

Recent complaint posted on Trip Advisor:

 

  1. Re: Diamond Resorts International (Trip Advisor)

Sep 01, 2016, 10:10 PM

To Glenvine32 – my husband and I got caught in this scam to our incredible embarrassment. We thought we were smarter and I should have read reviews before we went to their presentation in May in Sedona, AZ. It was a 4 hour ordeal and we bought a worthless 2500 points which we have not used nor plan to. We have since heard from their own reps that we should have never been offered so few points, that those were add on points to be purchased by owners – not prospective buyers. We are retired and will never get value out of these points even if we buy more which we absolutely have no plans to do.

Having read so many negative reviews now I am concerned we will have little recourse. It’s bad enough losing the 13k but to be held to annual fees for at the rest of our lives? Have contacted them by phone and have drafted a letter to send by registered mail. Probably won’t get a reply. I don’t want to resign myself to the loss of the money but what’s worse is how it will affect my credit. Any thoughts? How did you do?

Complaint #2

I am at the Cancun resort in Las Vegas and went to a breakfast where they said they would simply update me about the changeover to Diamond. I was told that I should have been invited to a dinner where I would have been given options, decided by a judge in a legal ruling against Monarch due to their bankruptcy. They proceeded to show me a print out that said when my current term expires in August. I would have to pay $573 per quarter to Monarch. They said that due to the bankruptcy, I would have no equity. That was option one. Pay more, have nothing. The other option they said was to transfer into Diamond at a cost of $12,000 plus and pay a yearly maintenance fee of $1,700. Less than the $2,292 I would soon be giving Monarch. They also told me that I would then have equity of $41,000 that I could sell. I was in tears. I do not have any extra money. In fact I have been looking for ways to get out of Monarch for over a year now. They said that was not an option and that as an owner, I was now proportionally responsible for their debt. I felt trapped and signed all the papers to transfer, with no idea how I can pay. After reading the comments above I am even more scared. I am trying to start my own business and am already in severe debt. They claimed when they ran my credit though that it looked better than most and assured me I qualified for financing. I would have to pay off, basically transfer to credit cards, which I can barely make my payments on now before I could look to sell. One of the reps assured me that she would put me in touch with someone who could help me sell my points. She even gave me her cell phone number to call after the sale/transfer is finalized. I am really scared though. Please help! We have to do something. It seems as though they have no qualms about lying to and robbing people for their own benefit.

September 5, 2016

Dear Mr. Cloobeck,

If I were you, I would be thrilled with the millions you and other insiders made on the Apollo leveraged buyout; along with the millions paid out in executive compensation.  For Diamond owners who are widowed, elderly, ill, unemployed or victims of high pressure sales, slogans like “Stay Vacationed!” and “The Meaning of Yes” feel like a cruel taunt.

According to a Kroll Bond report, Diamond employs 90 full time collectors making over 100,000 calls per week via a dealer. These calls originate because of being told no. All firms have a few bad apples and complaints on the internet, but complaint sites are flooded with Diamond Resort and Westgate complaints.

Please explain to me how the contract I signed is different from a junk bond in that it became worthless the moment I signed it if I could no longer travel and needed to sell. In the subprime mortgage debacle, even properties foreclosed could be sold.

My husband and I have used and enjoyed timeshare for over 25 years without a question or complaint until Diamond purchased ILX. We signed a contract that said we could sell points. We also asked several times if we would be able to sell points if we could no longer travel and were told we could.

The first person who told me Diamond points cannot be sold was attorney Bob Massi of the FOX show Property Man. After Property Man aired a segment explaining how to unload a timeshare, I contacted David Cortese of Magical Realty. Mr. Cortese was featured on a Property Man segment stressing the importance of using a licensed resale broker to sell a timeshare, rather than listing or transfer agents that come with a minefield of scams.

I wrote to Mr. Massi after enduring a pathetically aggressive sales presentation at Grand Beach in Orlando last July. We were promised three times we would not be paired with a commissioned agent. We were greeted and tortured by three commissioned sales agents.  

In a timeshare presentation, an agent gleefully explains how Diamond has many affiliated resorts. Our daughter lives in New York City. In searching for a Diamond location, I found a Diamond affiliated resort. It required 63,000 points. It was the least expensive offered. This equates to over $10,000 in our maintenance fee dollars. Booked through the hotel, the cost including taxes is $2,693.  I will be sending a copy of this letter to NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, one of the few AGs actually on the side of the consumer. I doubt there is a sales agent in the Diamond organization that would explain affiliated properties are not discounted. A Diamond representative explained that these Diamond offers are for platinum owners who have so many points they don’t know what to do with them. They are probably short on math skills.

Never imagining I would earn a response from Mr. Massi, I was contacted and learned the show received a multitude of timeshare complaints after airing “The Queen of Versailles”. The producer told me I was the only person selected for an interview because I was the only person that said I would like to talk about timeshares positives in addition to the negatives.

It is my understanding that not one member of the 64 member Licensed Timeshare Resale Broker Association will buy or sell Diamond’s non-deeded points or Westgate weeks due to restrictions placed on the use of points purchased on the secondary market and other tactics designed to restrict the secondary market.  I also leaned members of the LTRBA will buy and sell all Diamond’s competitor programs except Westgate. I sent a survey to all the members and received 16 responses. These I compiled and forwarded to the Attorney General of Arizona and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  

The Trip Advisor complaint I included with this letter has convinced me that Diamond has become so brazen; the company is confident it can get away with anything indefinitely and unchallenged. Unless an owner is fortunate to live in a state like New York or Tennessee, Attorney Generals do not seem to consider timeshare abuse a cause worth pursuing.

Many of the complaints are about availability and maintenance fees. The 15% pure profit Mr. Palmer bragged about to shareholders, added on to maintenance fees, is excessive. In a Latticework article written in cooperation with ADW Capital, the lack of a secondary market is mentioned as a reason to buy Diamond stock. From my research, I have determined Diamond and Westgate are the only two timeshare companies that have restricted the secondary market to the extent it does not exist.

I have written an article entitled Sometimes a Diamond Resort Dream Vacation Turns into a Nightmare. Diamond’s in-house council, Ben La Luzerne, said he hoped he could help the Saldana family devastated by Diamond’s rising maintenance fees and victim of high pressure sales. They were told to get a home equity loan to reduce Diamond’s high interest rate.  I am still waiting to hear back from the family before publishing the article, hoping for a positive outcome.

What I am asking, is for Diamond to reach out to a few members of the LTRBA to see what would be needed to create a secondary market. Unlike most internet complainers, I can live with the maintenance fees and the problems with availability. I would like to enjoy my retirement instead of researching, on a daily basis, how Diamond is ruining the financial lives of so many, especially the elderly.

I look forward to hearing how we can work together to stop the harm Diamond is placing on the ill, the widowed, the elderly, the unemployed and the victims of the oral representation clause protecting Diamond and be able to say YES! to the people .

Sincerely,

Irene Parker

The Peasant of Venice (Florida)    

As you can see, our cousins across the pond are not very happy with how Diamond Resorts International operate. They too are locked into contracts which are almost impossible to extricate yourself from. The fact that their so-called investments in Vacation ownership Interests (US term for holiday ownership) are virtually worthless. Lets hope that they take stock of what is happening in Europe and use it to help the many owners in the US to get some protection.

Inside Timeshare thanks Irene and the many others who have contributed to the information we share with you, we also thank the many readers in the US for their support of this publication.

If you have any questions about this article or any other matter, Inside Timeshare will be pleased to answer them. If you are looking for advice on who to go to for cancellation of contracts or possible claims, Inside Timeshare will help point you in the right direction.

Link to The Street article by Irene Parker

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13653117/1/the-timeshare-industry-has-improved-its-reputation-but-still-faces-scrutiny.html