Browse Tag

ARDA-ROC

Friday’s Letter from America: Timeshare Fraud

Welcome to the latest edition of Letter from America, again Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for her time in preparing this week’s Letter and also all those that contributed with information and proofreading. Today’s article follows on from previous ones which focus on the industry and the related scams. Timeshare owners from both sides of the pond and indeed the world are all familiar with the tactics that have been employed to fleece them of their hard-earned cash. These articles are to highlight this ongoing problem and make the industry change of its own volition, failing that, then governments need to step in and legislate as they have in Spain. The ball is squarely in the court of the industry.

CRIMESHARE: Anatomy of an Ongoing Timeshare Resale Scam

See the source image

In representation of XYZ Properties and Mr. ABC, we are thrilled to inform you that your membership has been appraised and has obtained an offer to be purchased (for $300,000). Please find attached to this email our statement of intent. 

Email from a wire fraud expert 

By Irene Parker

June 18, 2021 

Retired Canadian Military Armed Forces Police Officer Earl Sharpe was concerned enough to share on TIMESHARE TALKS about how he and his wife Faith were scammed by a resort in Mexico, and by a sophisticated ring of timeshare exit criminals. Those defrauded by a dark web exit scam or a dishonest timeshare sales agent have long memories. Earl volunteers to help research scams for those who have been contacted with bogus offers to buy or sell their timeshare. 

Earl told me about Timeshare Specialists, Inc., an honest timeshare resale company that has gathered the names of over 100 resale and transfer scams to try to prevent scams before they happen. I have my own shorter list. It is alarming to me that I did not recognize any of the names. One of the entities actually went by the name Just Fly Corp! (Claiming to be part of the legitimate company/website)   

https://timesharespecialists.com/timeshare-scam-database/

As explained by Timeshare Specialist’s website: 

Most timeshare owners never see it coming. They think they’ve just closed a deal to sell their property when in reality they’ve just been scammed out of thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars!

Also alarming is the orchestrated level of sophistication. When I attempted to insert the statement of intent mentioned in the email above into this article, it would not allow the offer to be displayed. That’s never happened to me before. 

Earl is not ready to disclose the real name of XYZ Properties because he has not yet finished researching the scam. It would be amusing, if not so tragic, this disclaimer appearing at the bottom of the email Earl received:  

Disclaimer: The information in this e-mail and any documents and files transmitted with it are confidential and for the use of the intended recipient only. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete the message and statements immediately and notify the sender. Alternatively, please contact XYZ Properties on telephone 877 xxx xxxx. Any unauthorized dissemination or copying of this E-mail, or any misuse or wrongful disclosure of the information contained in it, is strictly prohibited and may be considered illegal.

What’s the problem? What’s the solution?

In 2017, Red Week reported that at least 1.15 million timeshare owners want out of their timeshares. The California Real Estate Commissioner’s warning from 2017 holds true today: “The glut of properties and owners desperate to get rid of them has created easy prey for unscrupulous timeshare exit companies.”

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/07/07/questionable-timeshare-exit-companies-profit-off-desperation/

The article mentions that the trade association for the timeshare industry (ARDA) advises owners who want to get rid of their timeshares to contact the resort directly to see if they can work out an exit solution. It also advised that timeshare owners not pay an upfront fee to anyone offering help getting rid of a timeshare. However, ARDA-ROC advised one timeshare member to contact an ARDA member to list their points (that have no resale value) – and pay an upfront fee. Such listings quickly grow cold. 

It was a pleasure speaking with you today.  I am sorry to hear about your experience.  I would recommend calling their customer service department and file a formal complaint…… 

ARDA has a list of timeshare advertising and resale companies. Please click here to access the list of ARDA members specializing in timeshare advertising and resale. Please note: there is an up-front fee for these advertising services and that fee varies by company and advertising package selected. We always recommend using an ARDA-member company for your resale needs to avoid being the victim of a scam, however, you can also list your timeshare “for sale by owner” on websites such The Timeshare Users Group or eBay, just note these groups are not affiliated with ARDA

Thank you again for contacting ARDA-ROC. If you have any additional questions, please let me know.  

Sincerely,

B G

ARDA-ROC Consumer Support

TIMESHARE TALKS

If you would be interested in sharing your timeshare experience, bad or good, contact host John Raymond, founder, and owner of Resort Reseller. We thank Earl, our first official guest, his wife Faith, and Service Dog Raven, who has been drafted as our official Timeshare Talks mascot. Earl’s interview, linked in this article, includes good advice from former timeshare executive Wayne C. Robinson, author of Everything About Timeshares

https://tarda.org/f/crimeshare-%E2%80%93-a-sophisticated-timeshare-resale-scam

Wayne worked at many resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean and is well aware of the tactics Earl and his wife Faith experienced. Consider subscribing to Timeshare Talks to help us spread the words: 

Buyers Beware!

The Canadian Government issued a warning about Mexico timeshares (surprising published by Yucatan Times), and the Canada travel advisory for Mexico  provided tips on their website on what you should do before purchasing a timeshare:

  • gather as much information as possible
  • review carefully the contract; anything not included in the contract will not be honored
  • provide your credit card only if you are sure you want to make the purchase
  • keep copies of all correspondence

At some resorts, the presentation won’t happen if you don’t provide your credit card in advance. There are many reports of people who could not leave a presentation because the sales agents refused to return their credit card and driver’s license. 

I would add to the due diligence list what consumer advocates advise – never buy the same day an offer is presented. One wonders if this industry would survive if that rule were to be applied. 

Related articles: 

The Solution: What’s a Legacy Resort and Why are they Struggling?  

https://tarda.org/f/what%E2%80%99s-a-legacy-resort-and-why-are-they-struggling

TOWB is about Transparency in Timeshare:

https://tarda.org/f/towb-is-about-transparency-in-timeshare

Earl and Faith’s Mexico timeshare experience: 

https://tarda.org/f/memorial-day-honors-all-who-died-serving-our-country

Thank you all again for your contributions, Inside Timeshare wishes you all a very happy weekend. 

Friday’s Letter from America: Consumers being Blamed

Welcome to this week’s edition of Letter from America, since we first published on the subject of timeshare purchases and the consumer labeled as “gullible” and is to blame for their own woes, it has sparked quite a debate on various forums. Today we welcome another old contributor back to Inside Timeshare, Sheilah Brust, who is also a Tarda Board Member and her own take on this subject.

Why the Consumer Should not be Blamed

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/xf0ugDjh-XcQBisMu7Cvb6r0dyC6oHOAnwodRJTEjkccC3vzJWNPO3jBTO2vvCci__2Brxe9pWhL7hNFJ0nokZXpJi78Z86LrDgdNkocVR3-Vq-A7aN-TitpSZatSR3fnzBn-1Cs

By Sheilah Brust, a TARDA Board Member

May 28, 2021 

I have been following ARDA and the Timeshare Crusader’s comments about people like me being gullible, versus Inside Timeshare explaining why the consumer should not be blamed. I read about the non-reliance clause, sometimes called the oral representation clause. I won’t rehash what that’s all about, but being called gullible prompted me to share my experience to explain why my timeshare experience led me to join efforts to form the timeshare consumers’ voice in Washington D.C. 

One of the reasons why the timeshare exit industry is out of hand is because timeshare developers and timeshare industry lobbyists refuse to acknowledge the role that timeshare sales agents play that prompts thousands of timeshare members to contact exit companies or an attorney. My experience serves as a good example. 

I have personally communicated back and forth with Florida’s timeshare division, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and reached out to ARDA-ROC, along with hundreds of other members who feel they experienced unfair and deceptive sales practices. I won’t go into all the reasons why my reviewer at DBPR, and even the DBPR supervisor blamed me, but I am encouraging the reviewers at DBPR and ARDA to read the book Not Today Buster! Author Vern Thornton, and founder of Senior Vs Crime, explains why the consumer should not be blamed.

Glendora Goodwin, known as “GG” to her friends, is pictured on the cover of Not Today Buster! GG was a “Super Sleuth” in that she worked undercover. She wrote a “Snooper” column for a Florida newspaper. One of her three primary warnings was, “Never buy on the same day an offer is presented.” If consumers followed that advice, it would stop a lot of timeshare complaints.  

I did not think my complaint would be dismissed because I had written proof of deception. Moreover, four others had the same “pencil pitch” in their possession. Only the numbers differed, depending on the points purchased. Note “8631 – 8631 = 0” is written on the left. That was the amount of maintenance fees for that year. The Florida sales agent, writing upside down, explained in great detail how I could be relieved of all maintenance fees.  

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/8hytFMWae3yvjKgo0-ALQBAc6GVKJ1LhhVtS9GQhix6Z_s5bH2XihgWWpQvfrfeklyfD4_EAFyy9br3kAV_k8Uq8fclDtyPcF-Pi71GGjt-VV4RcWgtsQkOXE_gZ-wrSOc6dr52m

Dismissed by the resort, and DBPR, and no response from ARDA-ROC, I reached out to Seniors Vs Crime (SVC), a Special Project of the Office of the Florida Attorney General. I learned that DBPR is not a consumer protection agency. They cannot mediate a dispute or compel a company to cancel a contract. In contrast, Seniors Vs Crime is a consumer protection agency, and can mediate a dispute. ARDA doesn’t mediate disputes, but they have a Code of Ethics that their members are supposed to abide by. The ROC in ARDA-ROC stands for Resort Owners Coalition, the timeshare members’ arm of the Political Action Committee (PAC). 

I reached out to Seniors Vs Crime and met with a “Senior Sleuth” volunteer at her Florida Delray office. They were understanding and so moved that they looked into other complaints I forwarded to them. They seemed shocked that there is nothing to stop deceptive statements, thanks to the non-reliance clause.  

TARDA stands for Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc. A few hundred of us are raising funds to engage a lobbyist organization so that real timeshare consumers can be the voice for timeshare consumers, who at present feel they have no voice. TARDA is an all-volunteer 501c4 nonprofit.  

But back to my being gullible, the purpose of this article. I was a Platinum timeshare member. That means that over the years my husband and I purchased points costing our family over $200,000. Having purchased a few times, and used to relying on the ethics of real estate agents, the sales agent’s written illustration convinced us our agent was being truthful. He provided plausible explanations why this new program to relieve us of maintenance fees had not yet been announced so would not be part of the contract. He said the website would be updated shortly. 

Had I recorded the presentation, which is not legal in Florida without the other party aware, I’m not sure if even that would have been enough to cancel our contract. The non-reliance clause gives a green light for sales agents to say anything to make a sale. Even with proof, that one sentence in a stack of documents that says I did not rely on oral statements, legalizes deception. 

Given no harm befell the agent – he is free to continue to promote the ability to be relieved of maintenance fees. The resort responded that while they could understand his explanation to be confusing, it was not illegal. They would take steps to make sure it would be better clarified in the future. Six months later a fifth member complained, providing the same pencil pitch and the same explanation. Their dispute was resolved. Maybe I paved the way.  

All the complaints sent to ARDA ROC that I am aware of were ignored. 

Thank you Sheilah and those who have helped to edit and proofread the article, it has certainly been a great help at the moment. Hopefully, Inside Timeshare will be back next week with a few more articles. In the meantime have a great weekend.

Friday’s Letter from America: Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America. Over the years Inside Timeshare has been running this series of articles. We have heard from so many elderly people, veterans, and serving military personnel, all have told similar stories. These revolve around the lies and untruths members allege are told by sales agents employed by Diamond and other developers to sell their product. The initial response to complaints has always been the same, “We are not responsible for what the sales agents say” and “you signed the contract”.

Today’s article was not going to be published, but due to comments made on various social media platforms which Inside Timeshare posts, it was decided that this Open Letter was the only reply. It was one comment made by the Timeshare Crusader which really did spark this change, in the comment Lisa, who we do have a great deal of respect for, calling consumers “gullible”. Considering the horror stories we have published we felt this had to be addressed. Over-reliance on the oral representation sentence, buried in a lengthy contract, implies the consumer is at fault. Only a biased observer will hold deceptive agents blameless.

ARDA has never appeared to address this issue, and as a reminder about oral representations, we do believe that it is too little too late, a case of “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted”. They also do not go far enough to protect consumers from their ARDA members or sanction them when they allow sales agents to say what they like.

An Open Letter to ARDA and Timeshare Crusader Explaining Why the Victim should not be Blamed

https://memeguy.com/photos/images/hypocrisy--7178.jpg
  • Beth in Arkansas, on behalf of younger people buying timeshares, 
  • Tiffany, on behalf of her elderly parents, 
  • Adam, on behalf of veterans and active-duty military,
  • Bernadette, on behalf of those experiencing serious medical conditions,
  • A timeshare member from 2017 who holds a security clearance  

May 7, 2021

If you are considering buying a timeshare for the first time or you are an owner thinking about adding to your vacation ownership portfolio, ARDA-ROC and the Timeshare Crusader recommend that you consider, at a minimum, the following:

https://www.arda-roc.org/important-information-for-buying-timeshare?fbclid=IwAR0DfjCzkYz4VzvaHkASdv1NO8iBx5ETU7S9URkUjdqzty5Y81cP42mNTho

If ARDA and Timeshare Crusader would take the time to read our articles, they would learn why the victim should not be blamed. We are disappointed, but not surprised, that neither organization holds deceptive timeshare sales agents and managers accountable. On a short vacation, if promised the ability to sell points, rent points, access “equity” or refinance, no one is going to attempt to do that while on vacation. The rescission period is easily dodged. It is easy for those who have not experienced a predatory timeshare experience to judge. 

AARP staff writer Doug Shadel explains in his book Outsmarting the Scam Artists” why the victim should not be blamed. An excerpt from the chapter entitled Ether:

This inability to fully grasp how emotion or “affect” influences our decision-making is crucial to understanding why fraud occurs… Even victims who are interviewed after the fact, criticize themselves….This is because they are no longer inside the situation – no longer having their emotions manipulated and vulnerabilities exposed. The ether has worn off.

ARDA and Timeshare Crusader talk about how financing a timeshare is like financing a house. No, it’s not. Home mortgage rates in the U.S. are at 2.882%. Timeshares are financed at 12% to 19%. If a Barclay credit card is used, the interest rate after the grace period is over 20%. If you buy a house but then decide you don’t like the house, you can sell it. Timeshares are virtually worthless.   

Tiffany: My elderly parents were deceived in 2019. The security clearance holder who shares her similar experience below is not a senior, yet she fell for the same pitch that my parents fell for – you have to give up your deed and buy points. My parent’s “QA” agent kept them for 11 hours. My mother called me during the ordeal. I told her to leave. She said she couldn’t because they had their credit card and driver’s license. They attended because they were told if they didn’t attend, they would be charged for their stay. They were browbeaten into giving up the Gold Key deeds they had owned for years. There was nothing in the contract that would have addressed this falsehood, and after 11 hours without food, water, or necessary medication, they were defeated. Diamond’s response was they sounded just fine on the recorded “QA” closing. They lost the two Gold Key deeds that they had for years, and over $30,000 after being told they had to give up their deed and buy points. The full story:

Tiffany Renee’s parents kept for 11 hours:

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-74/

Bernadette’s Change.org Petition to remove an offensive YouTube: https://www.change.org/Michael-Flaskey-MO-WA-AG-take-down-YouTube

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-the-story-of-bernadette/

Adam Siler [email protected]

Why timeshare presentations should be off-limits to active duty military: 

https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-75/

Adam, Bernadette Tiffany: Why Buyers Need to Record the Sales Session https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-should-sales-presentations-be-recorded/

Beth in Arkansas: 

I worked as a Covid nurse during the height of the pandemic. My parents gave me 10,000 Liki Tiki points. At a presentation I attended in Tennessee, I was told I had to give the points up because they were so limited. The agent said I could get 5,000 additional points for $4,500. It wasn’t until later I learned I had a $45,000 loan. That’s more than my student loans. I would have never bought the points. Diamond Resorts blamed me. They said on the recorded closing I was informed of the total purchase price. I certainly did not hear that because I would have never signed. I wanted to listen to the recording but they said I could only do so by subpoena. They only provided a transcript in which the QA agent stated the purchase price. I have to trust that the transcript is accurate. I learned that to listen to the recorded closing, I had to get an attorney to send a subpoena, but to send a subpoena, you have to file an arbitration case. I’m 24 years old. It’s too much. I have no choice but to default. My mother is horrified. She thought giving me her Diamond points was a good thing.       

A November 30, 2018 article by a Diamond member with a security clearance:

https://insidetimeshare.com/2018/11/

Timeshare sales can pose a national security risk. For those of us with security clearances, our careers could be in jeopardy if we believe a timeshare sales agent and find ourselves forced to default on a timeshare loan. Since the timeshare sales agent knows they will suffer no negative consequences, if deceptive tactics are employed, they are given the green light to sell by any means, knowing the consumer will be blamed.  

Diamond should want the public to know this. 

At a December 17, 2017 meeting, we asked Davia H about selling our deeded Sunterra timeshare. We had no loan and had tried unsuccessfully to sell it. Davia said there was no way to sell our Sunterra timeshare because we did not have “Full Club Member” benefits. She encouraged us to become “Full Club Members” so we could easier sell the timeshare. Davia said our Sunterra timeshare was worthless. We needed to upgrade to “Full Club Member” benefits to receive “benefits that would increase the value of the timeshare to make it worth buying.” We feel not informing us that timeshare points are worthless was a material omission.  

She used asymmetric information. This is where one party has more or better information than the other.  

Davia advised us to wait six months before trying to sell (to avoid the rescission period) because the value of the timeshare would increase. She said she knew someone who helps people sell their timeshares and could give us her contact’s information. Repeated calls and texts to Davia went unanswered.

Diamond used the recording of the Quality Assurance signing session against us. Why would we ask the question of the ability to make money or sell points if we didn’t know Diamond points were worthless?  The recording of the QA was reported in a Diamond CLARITY press release to be for the purpose of enhanced training. In my opinion, the recorded closing is used as an entrapment.

I signed Bernadette’s petition. We are proof that if you do call Diamond, you will be told, “Sorry, you didn’t bring it up on the recorded closing.”  I sent our complaint to this list of contacts found on our advocacy Facebook page. They didn’t care.   

To: Michael Flaskey, CEO

Barclay’s President’s Office

DR PR Firm

ARDA

ARDA ROC

Association of Vacation Owners

Hospitality

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

This article has been written last weekend and has been set to publish automatically. Inside Timeshare may be back at some point in the next week or so, depending on recovery from surgery.

Have a great weekend.