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Apollo Global Management

Friday Roundup

It’s the end of another week of our “house arrest” yet it has not stopped the “Scammers & Fraudsters” from attempting to deprive you of even more of your hard-earned cash. The sad thing is that many of those being targeted are elderly and especially vulnerable. It is also a fact that many others being targeted have probably lost their income due to the current situation, a fact borne out by members of my own family. Today we give you a roundup of the week’s articles with an update on the Banco de España article and a statement from the RDO (Resorts Development Organisation) and Anfi.

We begin with a notice in the news section of the RDO website and the statement by Anfi that the timeshare industry is crucial to the “economic recovery of Spain”. That they have been working to ensure the safety of their “members” during the current crisis.

Well, this is a bit of a joke considering that Inside Timeshare reported on members having to pay a cancellation fee for bookings during this situation, plus having to pay just to re-book their week. But there is also a little clause in their demands, in order to save the week and receive an “accommodation voucher” the member must first sign a “new contract” which they have been trying to implement for around 2 years. This new contract will end any members legal right to take Anfi to court for the illegal contracts they have already sold. Doesn’t sound very fair to us.

The only real truthful part of the statement published is the fact that timeshare resorts do in fact help the local economies, unlike the all-inclusive hotels. As timeshare resorts are predominantly self-catering, local restaurants, bars and shops do benefit, unlike those located around all-inclusive hotels and resorts.

https://rdo.org/news/timeshare-to-be-essential-to-the-economic-recovery-says-the-anfi-group/

At the start of the week with a short article on MacDonald Hotels and Resorts, this highlighted a little known about a court case against them in Spain in 2016.

The case centred on the illegal contracts of MacDonald Resorts in Spain, which are over the 50 years duration allowed by law and the fact that they are using the points system which is also illegal under Spanish Timeshare law. A system which was championed by the now-discredited Harry Taylor and TATOC.

MacDonalds argued that the Spanish courts did not have jurisdiction over their contracts, maintaining that as MacDonalds is a Scottish company Scottish law and courts only had jurisdiction. The Spanish judge totally disagrees with this and the trial went ahead. Needless to say, MacDonalds lost.

Hopefully, this may open the gates for further cases against MacDonalds who have a terrible reputation especially with regards to the elderly who no longer require their timeshare and now find it a financial burden.

https://insidetimeshare.com/start-the-week-macdonald-resorts/

On Tuesday we reported on yet another “new” company which has just started to contact timeshare owners, called Canarian Consumer Alliance or CCA, not to be confused with Canarian Legal Alliance (CLA). It is obvious that CCA has been set up with this in mind as they include articles taken directly from the CLA news section on their website.

As we reported, the CCA website gives two addresses, one in Tenerife and one in London, yet no company record can be found in either country. As for the website, it was only registered on 2 April this year and will expire on 2 April 2021, yet they claim to have been established since 2009!

As usual, the actual owners are hidden and use an IT service provider called J Murray Solutions based in Tenerife. Again there is no record of any company registration in Spain or the UK.

https://insidetimeshare.com/another-suspicious-company-emerges/

On Wednesday, we reported on the news that Lopesan and Apollo Global Management were teaming up with the acquisition of two hotels on Gran Canaria.

Lopesan along with their German partners IFA are 50% shareholders in the Anfi Group and Apollo Global Management are the owners of Diamond Resorts International, so this posed the question of how might this affect Anfi?

Watch this space.

https://insidetimeshare.com/lopesan-and-apollo-team-up-breaking-news-on-a-new-scam/

Yesterday, Inside Timeshare reported on a very serious fraud which has just come to our attention, it involves the use of the name of Spain’s National Bank, the Banco de España.

The “scam” is that the “fake” Banco de España is arranging for court awarded payouts to victims of long-standing timeshare fraud, with substantial amounts just waiting to be claimed. But as we have seen with these types of scams there is a “TAX” which needs to be paid first.

Even though the signs of a “SCAM” are very evident we just wonder how many people will have been or will be taken in by it. The first sign is the email address [email protected] which is just a standard free email address provided by Google. The second obvious sign is the contact telephone number 0034602576406 a Spanish mobile number, which would not be used by an institution such as Banco de España.

Inside Timeshare has informed Banco de España of this “fraud” and we have already received a reply that they are grateful for the information and that it has been passed to their legal department. Hopefully, they may just catch the perpetrators of this despicable fraud.

https://insidetimeshare.com/fake-banco-de-espana-emails-claiming-money-is-held/

If you have any questions regarding any article and the “scams” highlighted or have been contacted by any company with the great news that money is being held for you by the courts and would like to check if they are genuine (usually they are not), then please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you. It is your information which will help others from being ripped off.

That is all for this week, have a great weekend and stay safe.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of the Inside Timeshare Letter from America, today we publish Part 3 of the GoFundMe Campaign for Irene Parker and her Legal Defense Fund. As we know she has now become the focal point of attention in the lawsuit filed by Diamond Resorts against Finn Law Group, so far over $5,000 has been raised. In this weeks article, Irene explains how the VOLUNTARY work she does in helping others has taken control of her life and is actually costing her money. Your contributions will not only help Irene but will also send a message to Diamond that she does have our support!

How Diamond Resorts Thwarted my Dream to Teach Piano Lessons 

Pictured above a Diamond Member who visited my house on vacation from England

Please donate $10 (or more) to my GoFundMe to let your voice be heard or contribute anonymously

GoFundMe Launched: September 26, 2019

Link to my GoFundMe: Over $5,500 donated in one week towards $25,000 goal!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/irene-parker-diamond-resort-legal-defense-fund?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product&utm_campaign=p_email%2B2300-co-team-welcome

October 4, 2019 

By Irene Parker

The reason for my GoFundMe Legal Defense Fund is because I have become the central focus of a lawsuit Diamond Resorts filed against Finn Law Group in 2015. At a six-hour deposition, conducted at the law office of Baker Hostetler in Orlando, Diamond’s outside counsel attorney ran out of “no” answers to questions about receiving or paying money to the law firm. Seemingly at a loss, the two attorneys left the conference room to confer. When they returned, they took a new direction.

As I understand Diamond’s case against me, because it feels like a case against me, it is because they contend I am greatly enriched by receiving free legal advice from attorney Mike Finn in exchange for my soliciting Diamond members to sign up with Finn Law Group. I have never been compensated by any attorney, law firm, or timeshare member. I have listened to and responded to over 1,000 timeshare families. This link to the Orlando Sentinel article is about the lawsuit:

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-bz-orange-lake-timeshare-finn-20180404-story.html

Diamond’s accusations leave me infuriated, thankfully not beyond words. The volume of angry and mostly desperate timeshare members contacting me through Inside Timeshare, or through social media, has increased from one member on average every two weeks in 2016, to a current average of three members a day.

What this means is I can’t take piano students. In 2015 it was my intention to resurrect by first love career – teaching piano lessons. At ten students a week, I could have earned $100 a week at $10 per student. I could have charged more, but the five students I taught were mostly neighbours and friends. When you’re living on a fixed income, $400 a month is nothing to sneeze at. In the fall of 2015, we moved from Bowling Green, Kentucky to Venice, Florida. We used our Diamond points while nomads in-between houses.         

Today’s article proves I really did intend to move to Florida to teach piano lessons before I attended the ill-fated timeshare presentation at Diamond Resort’s Grand Beach Resort. https://insidetimeshare.com/peasant-venice-queen-versailles/

I’m hoping Maya P, formerly with Diamond’s PR firm Prosek, will be deposed because when Maya called me the first time in 2016, I was teaching a piano lesson. Our initial phone conversation went like this:

Maya: “Irene, this is Maya from Prosek, Diamond’s PR firm. Can we chat?”

Irene: “I’m in the middle of teaching a piano lesson. Can I call you back?”

Maya: “You’re a piano teacher???!!!”

Irene: “Yes, we’re ruthless. I’ll call you back as soon as we’re finished.”

Maya: “I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.” 

This student is five years old, playing from her John Thompson’s Easiest Piano Course Book 1. This picture was taken on May 20, 2016, when I would only hear from a timeshare member about once every two weeks.

The pace of callers picked up after I started publishing articles for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money’s investment news service TheStreet. I was reaching out and unknowingly emailed TheStreet. One of the editors responded asking to arrange an interview to become a TheStreet contributor. My first TheStreet article was an editors’ pick. It was about how I made my worst enemy a fortune during the stock market crash beginning Black Monday, October 19, 1987. I’m hoping that is how all this turns out.

How I Made my Worst Enemy so much Money

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13576145/1/the-markets-crashed-my-first-day-as-a-stockbroker-and-here-s-what-i-did-next.html

Diamond ignored me until I published June 20, 2016, TheStreet article about how Apollo Global Management acquired Diamond in 2016. I have to admit I went berserk after I read the announcement. Apollo’s predecessor company was Drexel Burnham Lambert. DBL filed bankruptcy on a $650 million fine and Michael Milken was sent to jail for securities fraud. You can imagine my reaction when I learned – Drexel BOUGHT MY VACATION PLAN!!!?? My husband and I had been DBL clients.

https://www.thestreet.com/story/13624491/1/is-apollo-returning-to-its-junk-roots-with-its-acquisition-of-diamond-resorts.html

DBL banker Leon Black formed Apollo after the DBL bankruptcy. Mr. Black’s name is being circulated among the power brokers associated with the late Jeffery Epstein’s “Financial Black Book” concerning sex trafficking.

In order to find out how he (Jeffrey Epstein) amassed his fortune, it may take subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York to Wall Street types in Epstein’s inner circle—people such as Leslie Wexner, the billionaire founder and CEO of L Brands, Glenn Dubin, the billionaire co-founder of the hedge fund Highbridge Capital Management, and Leon Black, the billionaire founder of Apollo Global Management, the private-equity behemoth.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/07/jeffrey-epsteins-financial-black-book

In addition to traditional piano lessons, I teach jazz piano, having mastered 13th chords after studying for five years with St. Louis jazz great Herb Drury. Prior to studying with Herb, I majored in classical piano at Lindenwood Colleges in St. Charles, Missouri.

Student Brian is a former Sarasota police officer and certified alligator wrestler. Brian plays by ear. I taught him some music theory.

Finally, we have Robert, brother to the five year old pictured above, Robert is playing a Sarabande at The Springs skilled care facility. I wish I could take credit for Robert’s brilliant ability, age 9, but I was his interim piano teacher while his piano teacher recovered from surgery. Robert speaks Polish and English. His piano teacher speaks Russian. The Springs activity director, who arranged our venues, was at her wit’s end trying to get rid of her Westgate timeshare. 

Pictured above Robert playing a Handel Sarabande at The Springs

Thank you if you are still reading. It is my hope this narration may convince timeshare power brokers and potential donors that I am not the kind of person to hustle law clients in exchange for great financial gain.

Never in my wildest imagination did I think answering the phone and responding to emails from infuriated timeshare members would lead to this. Who would have thought referring to any law firm, when asked a legal question that I was not legally able to answer, or because the timeshare member did not have the time or temperament to self-advocate, would be described illegal or immoral?  

Thank you to all donors. It is painful to have to ask for money from timeshare members already financially distressed because they made the mistake of buying timeshare points that led to their insolvency. By directing the vast majority of over 700 Diamond members to Diamond, as opposed to an exit company provider, or to an attorney, I probably saved Diamond and the members a fortune in legal and arbitration fees. Another way of saying no good deed goes unpunished:   

My Inside Timeshare September 24, 2019 article explains the subpoena.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-49/

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://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

Bluegreen Facebook

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

Wyndham Facebook

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

Wyndham Carriage Resorts Facebook

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

Sapphire Starpoint  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/

Inside Timeshare Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/insidetimeshare/

Inside Timeshare Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Thank you, Irene and thanks to all who have donated so far, there is still a long way to go but with your help, the target will be reached. In the time I have known and worked with Irene she has selflessly put others first, I have on many occasions spoken with her and given her encouragement to lift her spirits. Inside Timeshare calls on all our readers to now help her in her hour of need. Thank you.

That is it for this week, join us again next week for more on news and information on the murky world of timeshare. Have a great weekend. 

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to another edition of our regular Letter from America, today we welcome another contribution from our very own Secret Shopper Coordinator Pete Gibbes. In his article, he explores and gives his insights into Apollo Global Management and the buyout of Diamond Resorts in 2016. Inside Timeshare ran a series of articles on this subject at the time but Pete has a better understanding of this and explains it in a very simple and easy manner.

A Tiger can Change his Diet – from Junk Bonds to Timeshares

A junk bond has some value, but Diamond points have no resale value 

New York-based Apollo was founded by veterans of junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert. The firm is known for its willingness to make aggressive, sometimes contrarian, bets. April 20, 2018

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apollo-plans-to-take-diamond-resorts-public-1524222000

By a Pete Gibbes, MBA, CFA

August 2, 2019

Over a year ago, I filed a complaint against a Diamond Resort sales agent. Buying Diamond points has caused our family considerable anguish. We have lost about $60,000 we can’t afford to lose. The public must be made aware that anything a timeshare sales agent says must be verified to be believed.

https://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-23/

I have 20 years’ experience in the investment industry. I worked as a portfolio manager for a firm that caters to high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments and retirement plans. The firm I worked for currently has $2.9 billion under management. I have an MBA, a CFP (inactive) and a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

Thinking about how timeshare has evolved from a hard asset to ethereal points, I wondered why Apollo Global Management, the third-largest equity firm, would be so interested in timeshare. Venture capital is typically associated with fast-growing companies and start-ups, like high tech or biotechnology, rather than a mature industry like timeshare. Apollo acquired Diamond in 2016.

One need not look for the answer any further than Wikipedia. History provides the answer. Apollo’s predecessor company was Drexel Burnham Lambert. DBL filed for bankruptcy in the 80s after incurring a $650 million fine over a junk bond scandal that sent Michael Milken to jail for securities fraud. Apollo probably isn’t allowed to deal in junk bonds anymore.

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

Apollo simply reinvented their lending by switching to timeshare. Timeshares provide an even better return (to private equity and stock investors) due to the fact Diamond points are worth nothing on resale. A junk bond is a lower-rated bond, and, like a sub-prime mortgage, has some value. When Diamond takes points back, the turnaround to resell is quick since foreclosure is non-judicial. It takes less time to foreclose on points than it would on a hard asset like a house or a fixed week timeshare that is defined as real estate. Diamond points are not deeded.

After taking Diamond private in 2016, an Initial Public Offering was planned for 2018. For some reason, the IPO did not materialize. The IPO was expected to generate over a billion dollars of profit for Apollo.

From the Wall Street Journal:

By Maureen Farrell (from the article linked above)

Updated April 20, 2018 10:11 a.m. ET

Private-equity firm Apollo Global Management APO -0.58% LLC is preparing to take Diamond Resorts public in the coming months, according to people familiar with the process.

The timeshare resort company has filed confidentially with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is expected to start trading in June or July (2018), these people said. Apollo could seek a valuation for Diamond Resorts of around $4 billion and aim to raise in excess of $500 million in the offering, though price expectations are moving around, according to people familiar with the process.

If Apollo moves forward with a listing this summer, it would come less than two years after the firm closed its $2.2 billion purchase of Diamond Resorts in September 2016. That would mark the latest quick move by Apollo to put one of its recently purchased companies back into public markets.

Our oral representations:

The only proof we have is the “S3” and “G2” our Virginia sales agent noted on the illustration below. We owned 11,500 Diamond points prior to our downfall. Mark said that if we became ‘Silver’ Loyalty members at 15,000 points, we would have the OPTION to SELL 15,000 points back to Diamond after three years (December 2019) for an estimated $108,000. If we increased our points up to ‘Gold’ loyalty level, we would be able to exercise this type of option after two years. Mark wrote $108,000 on a separate piece of paper.

Diamond’s Clarity™ Promise

While other companies make promises, we deliver. This is Diamond RESPECT:

Transparency

  • We will provide clear, concise and consistent information at our presentations so you can easily decide whether committing to vacation ownership is the right decision for you and your family.

I was sceptical when Mark presented this because I had not heard of a buy-back program. I asked Mark, “How in the world can Diamond offer to buy back our points for more than the total amount of all shares purchased? “Oh, it’s because Diamond makes a lot of profit on points sold to you, as well as maintenance fees over the years. Plus, they can recycle the points,” Mark explained. This made sense. Mark explained the program in astonishing detail.  

While we are stuck, both disabled, with points we bought to make a small profit, Apollo will rake in over $1 billion if the IPO comes to fruition.

In summary

A timeshare sales agent can earn over $2 million a year selling timeshare points that have no value on the secondary market. If deceived, a timeshare company can dismiss oral misrepresentations with “You signed a contract” or “We are not responsible for what sales agents say.” Some state regulators second the dismissal. This equates to no regulation. The buyer is stuck with a perpetual contract and no secondary market. A viable secondary market is mentioned as a risk to stock investors.  

What can we do? Continue to reach out to lawmakers, the media, regulators, hoping someone, someday, will shed light on the unfairness of the oral representation clause. 

Join our efforts to promote our clear, concise message.

A buyer cannot rely on a word a timeshare sales agent says

Without recording the sales presentation, you have no proof. This assures sales agents that they can continue without reprisal. 

Our Diamond self-advocacy Facebook, launched by an economics professor, has over 3,300 members.

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

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://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/everything-about-timeshares-wayne-c-robinson/1129749757?ean=2940161600962

Free at Last Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/623703881470577/?ref=share

Free at Last Timeshare Support Course offered by Straight-A-Guide

https://www.udprep.info/june

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

Gold Key Facebook

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

Inside Timeshare Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2213231165610648/

Related article:

“On June 26, 2016, the Diamond Resorts board voted in favor of the company’s sale to Apollo. But Cloobeck abstained from that vote. In not one, but two board meetings, Cloobeck said that he was abstaining because mismanagement of Diamond Resorts had negatively affected the sale price and it was therefore not the right time to sell the company.

Diamond failed to inform the stockholders of the reason for Cloobeck’s abstention:

https://www.diamondresortswatch.org/apolloreport/?fbclid=IwAR2KkrjqipLB2htnjo208yzsfyvwO6OrsB-r4AbB616IIhMhvbZoritZzeg

Highlight the link above right click and select go to.

Thank you Pete for all your hard work on behalf of all our US readers including the coordinating of the Secret Shopper program.

If you would like any information on becoming a Secret Shopper contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and we will pas it on to Pete. This is a very important program as it helps to spread the word and warn others of what to be aware of and how to avoid the pitfalls of “UPDATE MEETING”.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.