Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight more scams appearing especially in regards to Eze Group. Several readers have been contacting Inside Timeshare with more information which does look a little disturbing considering the amount of knowledge the callers have on the member’s information.
We begin with a text received on one of our regular reader’s mobile phone, the text has been sent from +44 7860 015136 which is a number operated by the O2 network. This number is obviously new as it has not shown up on any of the who calls me websites yet.
The text received offers “NO WIN NO FEE” claim to get money back paid to Eze Group:
“Did you join EZE GROUP ? Would you like your MONEY BACK ? EZE GROUP has closed down , START your NO WIN NO FEE CLAIM TODAY.Reply YES for more information.”
There is no indication as to any company name so at present, we have no idea who is behind it, but it is obvious that they do have “client” details including their mobile numbers. Once we have more details we shall publish them here.
There does not appear to be a website for this company but the email address is given as [email protected] which as we know is the free email provider Gmail, so it is not linked to any website.
Again the story is the same, the caller who is using the number 0203 745 1086 with two names being identified as Ruth Firth and Sarah Baker, is one that is very familiar to us, they state they are appointed by the courts to reimburse Eze Group (Regency Shores SL) client money which is being held by the courts. They also state that they have a “long standing relationship” with The Madrid High Court, Central Bank of Spain and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. Not bad considering the company is less than 6 months old!
Now all this sounds very good, but they do want an upfront fee of £725 to do the work for the client, just coincidentally this is the exactly the same amount which every other “scam” company is asking for. So along with the fact they all seem to have very good information as to the purchase and personal details of the clients, which leads us to believe they are either employees, ex-employees of Eze Group or they have purchased the data, it also looks as though they may all be working together to maximise the money they can scam.
As always, never believe what you are told in cold calls, texts or emails, question them as to how they have your information, get as many details of the company as possible, but never pay them a thing. If you need help in checking them out, use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.
Remember no courts, either UK or Spanish will appoint or employ private companies or third parties to contact potential victims, they also do not have any funds held or seized from Eze Group.
Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, we begin today with yet another company that has sprung up in relation to the recent Eze Group court case. Again the same old story, appointed by the courts to get victims their money back, for a fee that is.
The company name is H&K Limited, apparently based in Walthamstow East London, however, there is a company registered at Company House by the name of HK Limited, but it was dissolved on 12 December 2017.
There does not seem to be any website and the email address they give is [email protected]
Again this is a free email address providers such as gmail, yahoo and hotmail, so it is not linked to any website.
The company directors were Abdul Haseeb and Yousaf Shah, Haseeb has no links to any other company but Shah was a director of another dissolved company called Helping the Children.
It may be that the persons behind the latest scam could just be using the company name, as when it is googled it does come up on the listings as a registered company. So unless you click on the link you would think that it is genuine.
Now as we have reported on another similar company A&K Advisory Limited, very similar name, the story is the same. Regency Shores, one of Eze Groups Tenerife based companies have recently lost in the High Court. Low and behold along comes H&K with the great news that money has been set aside and they have been appointed by the courts to pay it out to victims.
Problem is they need a £725 advanced fee to do so. No doubt the money will need to be paid by bank transfer to the “Escrow Account”, the only thing is the account will obviously in the name of a private individual.
As for Regency Shores, there has been no court action either in Tenerife or in the UK, even though they are under investigation. No charges have yet been brought.
Remember, no court will appoint, instruct or allow any private company or third party to contact any victim of fraud, this would be down to the investigating authorities before the trial ever takes place.
The recurring question from all enquiries Inside Timeshare has received on this matter is how have they got such accurate details, such as what was purchased, how much for, when purchased, full names, addresses along with home and mobile numbers?
The answer is very simple, these scams are either being setup and run by ex-employees who have stolen company records or they have been purchased from existing or ex-employees. I would actually suspect that these scams are being run by ex-employees, the reason, they seem to know the workings of the company very well.
So to recap, there is no money waiting or being held at court, courts do not use third party companies, payments are never paid to private individuals, emails should always be linked to company websites and never pay any money upfront especially by bank transfer.
If you have been contacted with a similar story by a company with another name, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you. If you require any further information on how it may be possible for you to get something back by doing it yourself, use our contact page and we’ll get back to you.
Welcome to this weeks Letter from America, but before we start the article, a quick update on A K Advisory Limited. As we have reported this is just one company contacting Eze Group clients, saying they can get their money back for a £725 upfront fee, one of our readers has informed us of the “ESCROW” account and the name of the recipient that it should be paid into, these are the details.
The BACS account is a Lloyds TSBaccount, Number 37871668, Sort Code 77-13-11, Name of account holder Mr Connor Baker.
This company along with all the others is a fraud, do not pay them anything, you will not get your money back.
Now for todays Letter from America.
It is unlikely Arizona Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, quoted below, will bother to read the reports from some of the 80 Platinum members who have been financially devastated because they believed in timeshare programs they say did not exist. Today’s Inside Timeshare describes some of the members financially devastated. We hope timeshare members will recognize how ARDA ROC lobbyists spent some of members’ $5 million in annual $3 to $10 opt-out “donations” and recognize that this organization is not the voice of 1.8 million timeshare members. The comments below from lobbyists and pro-industry lawmakers are appalling.
At least the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Howard Fischer, a journalist for the Daily Courier, understand. What chance does the consumer have if ARDA and the developers will not even heed the advice of an Attorney General. As we have previously explained, there are many ways to dodge a rescission period. Tuesday’s Secret Shopper explained how easy it is to bait and switch the unsuspecting. Just how out of touch can those in authority be. Imagine how you would react if you learned minutes after the rescission period that you experienced fraud, reading,
“the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.
From The Daily Courier
Lobbied by the industry, state lawmakers are not going to help those who bought timeshares get out from under what is often a lifetime obligation.
“We’re disappointed that the timeshare industry killed a lot of the pro-consumer parts of this bill,” said Katie Connor, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.
“They’ve got a lobbying presence here and around the country,” added Amanda Rusing who lobbies for the office. “It was very disappointing to have to remove all of the stronger, pro-consumer provisions.”
Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, said the legislation, which now awaits a roll-call vote, does include some additional requirements for what needs to be disclosed to prospective buyers.
“At some point, these are adults that come to a meeting of the minds and want to sign a contract,” Ugenti-Rita said, saying that buyers have some responsibility to know exactly what they are signing.
While the industry claims that “points” are no different than a deed, simply with more flexibility, consumers have noted that points appear to have no intrinsic value because they can’t be resold, making memberships that were purchased for hundreds of thousands of dollars essentially worthless on the resale market.
“Their value comes from using it,” the timeshare industry’s top lobbyist told ConsumerAffairs in January, admitting that points have no resale value while claiming that consumers don’t mind this because the value comes from the experience.
But the bottom line said (ARDA lobbyist) Isaacson, is that the state should not step in to protect people who didn’t bother to understand the nature of the deal.
“You read the documents,” said Isaacson. “And unless there is fraud, you are bound to that particular purchase.”
Anyway, Isaacson argued that too much is being made of the issue.
Save the Date! Our next Platinum 80 Protest is May 17 – 20
Friday, May 17 near the Florida DBPR Office
Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19 near Disney World
You don’t need to be Platinum to Join Us!
Protesting Unfair and Deceptive Timeshare Sales Practices
By Platinum Protest Organizers
Friday, April 19, 2019
When we protested in March in Las Vegas, where we represented 70 Diamond ResortsPlatinum members alleging that we had been intentionally targeted for our loyalty and deliberately up-sold into insolvency. Since then we have grown to 80 Platinum members, many similar if not identical complaints. We believed in programs to pay maintenance fees that do not exist. Others say they were told if they purchased additional points, they would be able to sell points. According to Diamond, we are all confused. We are all educated professionals.
As reported at a legislative workshop in Tallahassee, Florida March 12,
Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’sDepartment of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 complaints in recent years, with about 50% involving senior citizens. She said the majority of complaints were in regard to the initial sales presentation.
Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale. This fits with our members reporting that all timeshare complaints they submitted, DBPR responded, “Verbal representations are difficult to prove.”
Based on these numbers, a sales agent can say anything to sell points. At least let the consumer know they should not believe a word a sales agent says. Reading the contract doesn’t always help. Members are often not allowed onto a booking site until after the rescission period has passed.
The status of 80 Platinum member complaints:
26 Resolved their Diamond dispute so won’t be protesting. Resolved doesn’t mean people didn’t lose a lot of money,
9 Foreclosed with one senior Navy veteran filing for bankruptcy,
18 Unknown outcome because we don’t call to find out what happened,
4 Relinquished which meant they lost everything.
2 In litigation.
Diamond points sell for around $4 a point. Platinum members own a minimum of 50,000 points. In 2018 maintenance fees had increased to $8,631. Out of the 80 Platinum complaints, 42 members report that they were told of maintenance fees relief programs that they later learned did not exist and 16 specifically say they were told they could pay maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Only Platinum loyalty members can pay maintenance fees at $.04 per points so if a member turned in 50,000 points, redeemed at $.04 per point, it would mean they would be credited $2,000 towards a maintenance fee bill of $8,631 with no points left to travel. Members report that when they file a complaint, the hospitality agent responds describing a legitimate 30/30 program that offers travel discounts. This program has nothing to do with paying maintenance fees at $.30 per point.
Inside Timeshare told us they do not link prior articles if the complaint has been resolved, but given Platinum complaints are increasing, they said they would allow us to link articles published by 14 of the 80 Platinum members even though some have resolved. They resolved, but not without endless rebuttals and regulatory filings. When you read our 130-page summary report – reports from educated professions who don’t know each other, all reporting similar to identical complaints, it’s unlikely a reader would conclude all our reports are falsehoods.
We have added the Lusk family to our list of 81, even though they did not submit their complaint through Inside Timeshare. Their experience was published in USA Today. As reported by Rebekah L Sander for the Arizona Republic, Frank and Betty Lusk are retired Christian missionaries, nearly 90 years old. Annual maintenance fees are $19,000.
He told the Lusks buying another $150,000 timeshare with 10 per cent down was “life insurance” that would resolve any debts they had with the resort when they died, a promise they repeatedly questioned, Betty said. The timeshare contract they received is not life insurance and does not pay off debts upon death.
Following are 14 articles submitted by our Platinum 80 members:
Article 1 published April 12, 2019 Platinum member #80
The timeshare member is single, over 70 years old. From 2015 to 2018 the member was ping-ponged back and forth seven timeshare times told, “You should not have bought Hawaii points,” and then “You should not have bought US Mainland points,” until up-sold into insolvency. The member has lost their entire retirement savings that were worth almost $400,000. The member also suffered tax consequences due to liquidating a retirement asset.
Since we published the article, the family learned she was only switched back and forth five times over six transactions. These histories can be a nightmare to piece together, worse than your worst tax return.
Article 2 was published by Consumer Affairs March 29, 2019 Platinum #57/80
The FBI website is tricky. One of our three FBI helpers helped Diane through the intricacies of the FBI filing website IC3.gov. It starts off confusing asking if you want to report Terrorism, Missing child or Internet Crime.
Diane’s father had asked Diamond to take back a fully paid timeshare when he was 85 years old. They said no. He was sold five additional contracts between the ages of 85 to 88.
Diamond Resorts still can’t explain why it sold $250,000 worth of timeshare points to an 88-year-old
In late December, Diane Burkhart sent a complaint to the FBI describing how her 88-year-old father agreed to purchase $250,000 worth of timeshare points over the course of 18 months, from 2016 until late 2017. In 2018, he was diagnosed with dementia. He is now 89 and living in a nursing home, Burkhart says. His wife passed away last May.
Article 3 is by Platinum Protestor Patty Boyak Valentine’s Day 2019 #28/80
Patty’s Las Vegas sales agent was recorded defrauding a disabled veteran in 2017. That family was interviewed January 2018, at which time they provided to Inside Timeshare a copy of the highly disturbing recording. An interview Inside Timeshare conducted with the couple was sent to Diamond’s attorney. The dispute was swiftly resolved, but instead of firing this agent, Patty met him October 2018. He introduced himself as a Platinum Specialist. Patty purchased her last contract from him. Just recently Inside Timeshare has heard from a third member sold by the same agent, the husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and English is his wife’s second language. The family is financially devastated.
The very first complaint Inside Timeshare received in 2016 was about being told buying additional points would relive maintenance fees.
At their last stay at a Diamond Resorts International resort in August 2015, Sylvia Saldana said that a sales agent tried to convince them to purchase another 10,000 points in order to achieve platinum level, which is 50,000 points (Remember they owned 30,000 points). The sales agent explained that by being platinum, it would allow the couple to pay their maintenance fees with their points, as only platinum members are allowed to use their points to pay maintenance fees, Sylvia Saldana said. https://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-on-thursday/
Patty’s Miracle Mile Protest in March article (pictured above)
Article 4 was submitted by a 100% disabled Army veteran. He was issued a 1099C for $170,000. His is one of now 21 complaints directed against the same sales agent. At least following the advice we provided to his CPA, he successfully disputed the phantom income.
This former Diamond member says DRI sales agent Rick Casper, working out of Polo Towers in Las Vegas, told him to buy more Diamond vacation points to eliminate maintenance fees. He and his wife wanted to talk to someone at DRI because they were struggling to pay maintenance fees on the 50,000 DRI points they already owned. This member is a 100% disabled Vietnam veteran, having been exposed to Agent Orange. The former member did not contact us to complain about Diamond Resorts. He wanted to know if there was anything that could be done about 1099. I did ask why he purchased additional timeshare points from Rick Casper, given Inside Timeshare has received 11 identical complaints about the same Las Vegas sales agent over an 18 month period.
In 2016 we went to Las Vegas and stayed at Diamond’sCancun resort and met with Rick Casper. Mr Casper said if we upgraded, we would be able to cover maintenance fees. However, maintenance fees increased after the upgrade to $16,000 a year. After five hours, my blood sugar was at 400. I was recovering from congestive heart failure. Rick Casper said it would cost us $198,000, $2500 a month in payments for the next 10 years but after ten years we would have no maintenance fees and no loan payment. Rick Casper said, “Then the little people will be paying for your vacation.” He said it would take a year to a year and a half to set up but he would personally handle it. He said since we were only paying $3, he had a guy that could sell points for much more than that and the proceeds would pay for the maintenance fees. I ended up paying a company in Branson MO $1500 to get out of this, but now the IRS has issued us a 1099 which has to be claimed as income. It’s for around $170,000. I’m now 71 years old. I would have been better off foreclosing.
Article 5 is by Gad Liebmann and his wife Noreen. They have been protesting outside Daytona for a year. They have had to stop protesting because Noreen was injured in a fall. They are both Army veterans and have many foster children.
One of the Diamond sales agents told them they should be greeters at Walmart to help pay maintenance fees. Their complaint is identical to Sheilah Brust’s complain. Sheilah and Gad were sold by the same agent. Sheilah attended a presentation as a Secret Shopper and was told this agent was a problem at Wyndham.
Article 6 is Sheilah’s article. The article is called “Sheilah’s Pencil Pitch”
Sheilah is in possession of her “Pencil Pitch” which clearly states $8,631 minus $8,631 = 0 on the first page. There is an arrow and “save” written on the paper. At first, DBPR dismissed Sheilah with, “We don’t know if you were given this paper or you took it.” Sheilah was astonished. The last Sheilah heard from the reviewer is that she didn’t understand the program either until Diamond’s attorney explained it. That alone should have been grounds for dismissal. Here’s the first page of the pencil pitch. Sheilah was impressed her agent could write this upside down.
Article 7 is by Angela Simmons Sandstede. Her dad is one of those switched back and forth between Hawaii and US Mainland programs like the single female described in Article 1.
Roy is a retired letter carrier and Navy veteran, up-sold to $2.700 a month in loan payments. He had been charging loan payments to credit cards. The family had to retain a bankruptcy attorney. They are in their 70s. They had maintained a high credit score before this.
Roy’s YouTube and March 6, 2018 article:
Article 8 This PhD trained the sales force for Perkin Elmer.
They are caregivers for two grandchildren, one autistic, one Down’s syndrome. They relinquished, losing everything.
Article 9 Filipino seniors with a previous high credit score foreclosed.
Article 10 – An executive VP posted one rental ad on RedWeek, despite hundreds of ads to rent on RedWeek.
Their account was suspended and it was demanded she pay $2,400 a month in loan payments and a $23,000 annual maintenance fee while her account was suspended.
Article 11- These seniors are foreclosed, the husband has Bell’s palsy
We were told “We are real estate agents. You can write off the interest paid and closing costs on these contracts because it is like real estate.” They said the proof was because they have real estate licenses. They are licensed real estate agents, but what they told us was not true. Our accountant said we were not allowed to take any deductions. We were told we had to buy that day so we could not talk to our accountant.
Article 12 This family did not know until they returned home they had purchased $142,000 in timeshare points, $17,000 charged to a Barclaycard.
Their attorney gave up. They submitted this article for comment and resolved their dispute that day. He is a Gulf War veteran, on 25 meds. She has had two knee replacements and a double mastectomy.
Article 13 A 21 year Army veteran, taught biological, chemical and nuclear defence at colleges.
Today we thank Samuel Melendez who spent 21 years in the army training soldiers, working with colleges, teaching chemical, biological and nuclear defence. When a military family is forced into foreclosure because they were lied to about being able to sell back points or finance at a lower rate, they don’t just lose their money. This can jeopardize their security clearance and their job.
Article 14, A Coast Guard veteran, relinquished so lost all.
Rick Casper told us we should contact him when we needed to sell points because he had people that would buy them. This was the only reason we upgraded from 30,000 points to 50,000 points. When we contacted Rick earlier this year, we learned from Dan Percy (Rick Casper’s immediate boss) that we could not have been told that and we might be able to sell them through a resale third party. We never heard a response from Rick Casper.”
“In addition, we asked Rick about combining our seven previous contracts into one contract covering all 50,000 points. Rick Casper (allegedly) advised us not to do so as it would be easier to sell smaller quantities of points and inferred he could do so easier having contracts in increments, as when someone wants to upgrade from Gold to Platinum requiring only 20,000 additional points.”
“The thought of being able to sell was a relief.”
These are only a few of the Platinum complaints. We have heard from exactly 700 families as of today. We wish there were only a few bad apples, but Inside Timeshare says they have received multiple repeat offender complaints.
St. Louis BBB report warning consumers about timeshare
Don’t Fall for Deception Pressure and Traps Disguised as Vacations
We hope you can join us on May 17 – 20! We will publish exact locations soon.
Our Mission Statement
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; to educate prospective buyers.
Which are free email address provider and is not linked to any company website, always a sure sign of a dodgy company.
The company was registered on 20 December 2017 with the director named as Adam Hussain.
The first new name we have is Martin Jacobs, in his call, he states he is the payments manager for A & K Advisory, well, this is a new position which we have not heard of before, does sound official. During the call, Martin Jacobs claims that they will be able to get back all the money the client paid to Eze Group, plus, wait for it an extra £2000!
Sounds great, but first, the client needs to pay £725 by BACS (Bacs Payment Schemes Limited, previously known as Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services, is the organisation with responsibility for the schemes behind the clearing and settlement of UK automated payment methods Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit, as well as the provision of managed services for third parties.) The money will be held in an ESCROW account for 10 days.
A courier will then arrive with paperwork, once this has been translated into Spanish (in Madrid), the client will then receive their money. The client also received an email from Mr Jacobs outlining the cost but there was no company name or details.
The second name to appear is David Eaton, in his call, he asked the client if they would like to go with A & K Advisory to get their money back from Eze Group. Again he wanted £725 to be paid upfront and they will then work on the client’s behalf to get the original money refunded.
When you think about it, £725 doesn’t sound much considering how much other scams are charging, but if you think of how many people may have been taken in it soon mounts up. It would only need 200 Eze Group clients to pay this amount and the scammers will have received £145,000 a very lucrative scam indeed.
These companies are out to take your money and that is it, there is no money being held by any Spanish Court or UK Court for that matter. The courts do not appoint or retain private or third-party companies to contact clients, plus the Spanish Courts at present are not even involved in any case against Eze Group.
If you have been contacted by A & K Advisory Limited or any of the companies listed below or even any new company name with a similar story, then use our contact page and let us know. We would also advise you to contact Action Fraud and make a report. The potential amounts of money that these people are able to make is huge.
Remember, never believe what you are told no matter how plausible it sounds until you have done your homework. If you require any help in checking any company contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to the start of another week, today we highlight another company that has been “appointed” by the High Court and contacting Eze Group clients with the news that they are due money held by the court going by the name A & K Advisory Limited.
According to our reader, the calls coming from 01422 400223, which is a Halifax number, George Smith and Jill Rutherford can help to get money back for the client, there is only a matter of a processing fee of £725 which needs to be paid first. This is the same amount being asked by the other companies that are making the same calls and claims.
They all have the same pitch, being “appointed/retained” by either Birmingham Crown Court or the High Court in Madrid, which leads us to believe they are the same people or are working together. We also believe that they are either ex-employees of Eze Group or have obtained the customer records of all purchasers from employees.
Remember, no court is going to “appoint or retain” any private or third party company to make contact with potential victims. If as customers your names had come up in any seized documents taken before the courts you would have been contacted by the authorities and asked to give statements. This is just an out and out fraud to get your money.
If you have received a call telling you the same or similar story or even any new name, do not pay any money, use our contact page and let Inside Timeshare know, Inside timeshare will publish as a warning to others.
Over the past few weeks Inside Timeshare has been highlighting the growing rise in EZE Group customers being contacted with stories of companies being “appointed” or “retained” by the courts to help them get their money back.
Well, it hasn’t stopped, Inside Timeshare is still receiving many enquiries from concerned coustomers who have been contacted. Today we published the company names and adresses along with some of the names that have been supplied from our readers.
Again the story is the same, they have been “appointed or retained” by the High Court in Madrid and can get back the money, but a processing fee of £725 is required. One reader was also told that they had to travel to Tenerife and get a “Spanish Tax Number” which would cost £1595.
One reader was emailed by Sarah Elliot within an hour of speaking with Mark Spalding of Money Advice Ltd, in her email she reiterated what Mark Spalding had told our reader, although she did refer to him as Mr Smith.
So it is obvious these are all working together, either they are ex-employees of Eze Group or have purchased the data from an employee.
At the same court Anfi once again has been ordered to repay over 117,000€ plus double the deposit and the contract being declared null and void.
The same Court of First Instance has also ruled that Anfi repay over 7,000€ plus double the deposit and another contract declared null and void.
Again the truth is the timeshare companies are losing despite what they and the industry report, consumers now have the backing of the law and the courts. If you have been sold a timeshare in Spain after 5 January 1999, it is for a period greater than 50 years or known as perpetuity, you have floating weeks, points or fractional and you also paid any money within the cooling off period and you would like to know if you have a valid and viable claim then contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.
Welcome to another Letter from America, This week Irene Parker writes about Americano Beach Resort and the lawsuit that has been filed regarding Foreclosure Proceedings, but first a quick warning to our European readers.
Another warning is being issued to those clients of Eze Group, a new firm has just emerged contacting consumers stating they have been appointed by the court to manage the return of money paid to Eze Group.
The company was incorporated on 19 July 2016, but the filing history shows very little information or filing of any accounts.
As we have stated before, the courts do not appoint private companies or third parties to manage any payouts. No money has been awarded by Birmingham Crown Court to consumers of Eze Group, the O’Reilly‘s are now subject to investigation under The Proceeds of Crime Act, which will take some time to complete.
A Class Action Lawsuit was Filed against ARC Daytona Americano Beach Resort Contesting Real Property Foreclosure Proceedings are being Illegally Applied to Foreclose on Personal Property
By Irene Parker
March 29, 2019
DC Capital Law, LLP filed a class action lawsuit on November 6, 2018, against ARC Americano, LLC and Americano Beach Lodge Resort Condominium Association on behalf of plaintiffs Gerald J Sohasky and Norma J. Sohasky in the Florida Circuit Court of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Volusia Civil Division.
According to the lawsuit, plaintiffs Gerald and Norma Sohasky allege illegal practices that violate the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act and the Florida Vacation Plan and Timeshare Act by threatening foreclosure on a piece of personal property and threatening to charge up to 40% of amounts owed in collections, where the original contract or law does not authorize charging such collection fee. The ARC lawsuit contends “Floating Week” debt is consumer debt, incurred primarily for personal, household or family use.
Having read or listened to complaints from 746 timeshare members and owners, I am astonished by the level of stress caused by what is supposed to be a stress reducing product.
Comment sent to Inside Timeshare
My parents bought into the Americano in the 90’s. Fast forward to 2017 – my 70 something year old mother, now a widow, had to pay for a service we hadn’t used in ages.
They (Americano) HOUNDED MY MOM about switching to the freedom 365 plan. She was a 13 year widow on a very fixed income and somehow we were pushed into signing for a new plan that would offer us huge hotel discounts and she would be able to stop paying after 5 years.
My mom is going broke! Sara
My husband and I purchased an Ozark timeshare in 1985. A St. Louis native, we enjoyed years of vacations, but after moving to Florida we no longer desired to vacation in the Ozarks. I contacted the resort and talked to the manager I had gotten to know over the years. “Yeah, we had a board meeting and decided we can’t expect loyal owners who faithfully paid maintenance fees for thirty years, now older, to be held hostage,” she said. A few days later I received a one page form to be notarized, sent it back and that was that. We paid $8,000 for the timeshare in 1985. I had no regrets getting nothing in return as we had used the timeshare for many years. Like Sara’s mom, and many in my age bracket, we are losing hips, knees, eyesight and spouses. The thought of going to the Ozarks alone, should something happen to my spouse, is depressing.
Americano is demanding owners, many who have owned at Americano for decades, spend an additional $5,000 to $6,000 to join a Freedom 365 Travel Club in order to be released from their deeded weeks. Making this mandatory for seniors seems unfair. Granted, the resort is in need of funds as Americano is the only Daytona resort still not opened after suffering hurricane damage, but other developers now have voluntary surrender programs for members in good standing. There may be a fee, but the fee is less than $1,000. Don’t forget that we were all told we were buying real estate so no problem selling the timeshare should we need to dispose of it. In a statement made by ARC’s law firm, they assert they will work with owners to find appropriate alternatives but typically for seniors, a Travel Club is the last thing needed. I’m looking at long term care plans.
The issues related to property damage are complicated. When Americano owners contact me, I explain that if they bought a primary residence condo, and the condo is rendered uninhabitable, the assessment fees don’t stop. It would be difficult to sell an uninhabitable condo. I understand ARC’s argument from this perspective.
Due to pending litigation, ARC’s response is from their attorneys. I have found others at Americano willing to listen and weigh in consideration; the harm timeshare exit in general is causing especially seniors. Let’s hope continued dialog will result in some form of relief for angry and frustrated owners.
Below is the response we received from ARC’s attorneys. Contrary to the attorney’s response, this article will not be disseminated to some of the Americano owners. Some Americano owners do read and share our articles. We sent a draft of today’s article to ARC to give ARC an opportunity to correct any inaccuracies, which they corrected. Inside Timeshare is published from Spain. Following ARC comments, are arguments presented by the plaintiffs’ attorney taken from the lawsuit complaint. A legal expert weighs in. Plaintiffs’ attorneys did not respond.
Response from ARC’s attorneys submitted by ARC President Scott MacGregor:
This information is given to correct inaccuracies to be contained in a publication that will be disseminated to some of the owners. Americano is a Legacy resort that was severely damaged due to the recent back to back hurricanes, 2016 Hurricane Matthew and 2017 Hurricane Irma. There was one Special Assessment for $4,348,109, not $15 million, which will correct the incorrect reference in the article. The Association continues to seek insurance from its carriers, but had to pursue litigation to address the claims. The Developer is seeking financing and other options for the remaining restoration of the Resort estimated to be $15 million plus. However, it is imperative that all owners pay the maintenance fees, taxes and assessments as required under the Declaration and Florida law. It is fundamentally unfair to the paying owners for other owners not to pay to operate and restore the resort.
The Association is faced with vigorously defending any lawsuit against the Association, which litigation will only increase fees and costs to all owners, as required under Florida law, at the Resort. While our trial legal counsel has stated that no comment should be made at this time concerning any lawsuits, the Americano Beach Lodge Resort is a real property timeshare under Florida law and actions taken are authorized and required under the Declaration and Florida law.
The Developer and Association continue to try to work with each owner to find appropriate alternatives as discussed before. Owners are encouraged to seek ownership and payment options through the Association and Developer. Lawsuits against the Association will not only increase maintenance fees and assessments for all of the owners due to legal and professional fee expenses, but also may leave those owners with potentially expensive legal bills in addition to their ongoing obligations to the Association. We believe it is much better to work together to resolve the issues that everyone is facing rather than unnecessarily expend owner and Association funds and resources that are needed to restore the Resort, for court expenses.
More from Sara:
They used scare tactics to convince my mom that I would be responsible for the timeshare in the event of her passing, and my children would be responsible after I passed. I have learned this is not true.
The Freedom 365 plan supposedly offered us huge hotel discounts and would allow my mom to stop paying after five years. We attempted to use the Freedom 365 plan. The first two times we used it we did get a good discount on hotel rooms, but after that the deep discount was no longer available. We got a good rate the first time at $93 for a Hyatt room, but when we later tried to book the same week of the year the price was $100 more, about $170 plus tax. I called and asked why it was so much more. They stated they could price match if we got a better price on another website. What good is that? You don’t have to pay any kind of upfront money, financed by a loan, to book a hotel room using an online service. We were promised the best deals. We were promised so much and at what cost? My mom is going broke! The amount financed was $6,000.
Following are allegations made in the lawsuit
Is a “Floating Week” timeshare real estate or personal property?
If the timeshare is defined as personal property, the lawsuit claims foreclosure rights do not legally exist and are in violation of the Florida Timeshare Act.
I’ve had many discussions about timeshare foreclosure questioning whether a timeshare really is real property. I found the requirements governing real vs personal property foreclosure in Texas helpful:
Comparison of Texas Foreclosure Procedures for Real property and Personal Property
Real property and personal property foreclosures are dramatically different. Real property foreclosures are conducted on the first Tuesday of each month between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the courthouse door in the county in which the real property is located, with a notice posted at the courthouse door, personal notice to the debtor, and filing of the notice with the county clerk, all 21 days before the foreclosure sale. These requirements are defined by § 52.001 of the Property Code and are unique to Texas law. Personal property foreclosures are conducted under § 9.504 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, which generally requires a commercially reasonable sale. The requirements of Article Nine of the Texas Business and Commerce Code are followed, with some minor variations, by all states except Louisiana.
According to the ARC lawsuit, plaintiffs purchased only the ability to make a reservation rather than ownership in real property. In the “Floating (or flex use) periods and The Timeshare Plan article of the Declaration, the Declaration makes it very clear that the Warranty deed of an “owner” who switched to Floating time to become a member of a “Right to Use” program renders the deed worthless and provides none of the requisite rights associated with real property.
I asked an expert, as argued in the lawsuit, if switching from a “Fixed Week” to “Floating Week” would render the “Fixed Week” deed worthless.
Purchasers still own that deeded week and it can be found in land records. The purchaser simply surrendered their right to occupy that week and the use rights that went with it in exchange for a floating week use right. Their interest, however, is tethered to an actual real property ownership (even if they cannot legally possess it). If they sold their interest, they would be selling the deeded week they bought which would include the surrender and exchange agreement for a floating week. By the same token, if they are foreclosed upon for non-payment, it would be the deeded week that would be foreclosed and the agreements tied to it (i.e., the floating week right) would be rendered null and void.
As an analogy, let’s say you join a car-sharing group where everyone in the group can use whatever car is available using a reservation system. In order to get into the group, however, you are required to purchase a car to add to the fleet. You don’t buy the car outright; you finance it through the group such that your monthly dues are part car payment and part fees. Even though you hold title to one car in the fleet, you have no more right to use that car than anyone else in the group. If you fall behind in your monthly dues, you will lose your car-sharing membership (i.e., the use rights you bargained for), and the car that you added to the fleet (i.e., the tangible property you hold title to but surrendered possessory interest in) will be repossessed by the group.
Note from Inside Timeshare: Spanish Timeshare Law prohibits Floating Weeks and Points as there is no tangible product and they lack any substance.
My unnamed source is not saying the lawsuit is without merit, in that they feel the underlying real property is illusory, but they feel it may be a tough argument to win.
Timeshare Foreclosure Explained to Lenders
What happens if I stop paying my maintenance fees? Timeshare attorney Mike Finn answers the question in this article:
Proprietors behind Americano are ARC American Resort Collection
We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.
Thank you Irene, next week in the Tuesday Slot we welcome Mike Kosor with his response to the Wyndham Sr VP Jason Gamel and his testimony to the Florida HB 435 workshop.
Welcome to The Tuesday Slot, this week we welcome KOALA, a new innovation in Timeshare Rentals & Exchange, with the introduction by Irene Parker.
First another word of warning for those who have had dealings with Eze Group, as we reported on Monday, Dominic O’Reilly has been jailed for 2 years 4 months, with Stephanie O’Reilly receiving 9 months & 18 months suspended for 2 years.
Since this case has been in the public domain several readers have informed us of companies claiming to be working with or appointed by the courts to help “victims” get their money back. The main one that seems to be contacting people with this story is Money Advice Limited.
The latest reader to have been contacted has been told that the money is in the Spanish legal system, that they need to pay £725 in order to get the money. Once this is paid they will receive a cheque within 10 days.
This is a scam, there is no money held by the courts either in Spain or the UK. No court appoints a private company or third party to contact victims. If you had come up in any investigation the authorities would have been in contact before any case, this would have been to provide any evidence and witness statements to strengthen any case they had.
DO NOT FALL FOR THIS SCAM.
Now for this weeks article.
KOALA Provides a New Era for Timeshare Rentals & Exchange
Founded by a team that believes everyone has the right to decide how and when they travel, Koala is empowering owners to utilize their timeshare without limits. There are no upfront costs, no commitments and no hidden fees.
Visit the KOALA website to join their exclusive wait list
I met with the founders of Koala last summer when visiting our daughter in New York. Co-Founder Mike Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur and spent 10 years as a Sales Executive at Hilton Club New York. Inside Timeshare has received only two Hilton complaints out of 742 reader complaints. Mike gained valuable insight into the struggles of timeshare owners today and is committed to modernizing and improving the industry.
Co-Founder James Burbridge reached out to Inside Timeshare about a year ago. Since then the two have been laying the groundwork to launch Koala’s modernized timeshare exchange platform. James has spent over 20 years in digital media, business transformation and delivery of cutting-edge technology. He has developed multiple web solutions in the travel, retail and hospitality space.
The two founders met through James’ wife and quickly found common ground when it comes to their beliefs in entrepreneurship – solve a big problem and work with people who focus on solving that problem ethically and efficiently. These core beliefs stem through the company culture at Koala. The company has assembled a team of experts to deliver the website to the market this summer. This is the inventory build-up phase, so contact Koala to become a part of this revolutionary new service. According to Mike, “We have had a great response from our sign-up page. Many owners are signed up and ready to go.” https://go-koala.com/owners/
In a remarkable display of a lack of business ethics on the part of SellMyTimeshareNow (SMTN), when I searched for the new Koala timeshare exchange, I found a link to KoalaSellMyTimeshareNowSalesandRentals.SMTN stole our Inside Timeshare keywords too. When I searched Inside Timeshare the link was to InsideTimeshareSalesandRentals/SMTN. Inside Timeshare has received complaints about SMTN, and there is a RedWeek thread started by people who paid SMTN $1,700 to list timeshares widely known to have no secondary market. On this front Inside Timeshare supports the hotly contested Florida House timeshare Bill 435 and Nevada Senate Bill 348 feeling SMTN should not receive compensation until after a timeshare has been sold. Koala is considering a SellMyTimeshareNowSalesandRentals/Koala link.
Koala is a secure, peer-to-peer marketplace for timeshare owners to easily rent unused time to anyone in the world. It is reinventing the way owners use their assets to Go Somewhere New whether you’re a savvy owner ready to embrace innovation, or your timeshare no longer fits your lifestyle, Koala is set to disrupt the status quo.
There is a growing demand from travelers for accommodations that offer more space than a hotel room and more safety than a stranger’s home. Koala connects timeshare hosts to those seeking the value and certainty that timeshare rentals provide.
Transactions that occur between owners and travelers are secure as Koala safeguards both parties. Technology is at the heart of this innovation, ensuring the highest level of certainty and trust.
State of the Industry
Peer-to-peer technology is leading the industry in the rest of the travel sector but timeshare has seen no evolution in this direction.
Millions of owners don’t utilize their timeshares and are reaching for new ways to subsidize their unused asset.
Your Time is Valuable – Your timeshare is rented faster. We put your rental in front of all travelers, not just those looking for timeshares.
Free to List – Signing up and listing is totally free. Owners remain in control and can delist at any time. Fees are only charged once a rental is completed and, depending on a few variables, the fee will be 5-10% of the total rental. The fee is collected once your guest has concluded their stay. Owners always see exactly what they’ll earn and exactly what we charge before they list.
It’s Simple and Secure – Creating your listing is quick and simple. Our secure network ends your worries and gets the money to your pocket.
Safety and Security are at the core of Koala’s Company Culture
With years of timeshare and tech-industry experience, Koala’s founders were driven to build a tool that would grant owners the control and freedom they deserve. Backed by a group of industry experts, Koala is shaping the future of vacation ownership.
The next generation of timeshare buyers expects more control over their vacations. Koala will revolutionize vacation ownership using a peer-to-peer solution the same way Uber & Airbnb have for their respective industries. Koala is set to launch this summer and is currently accepting early members online.
Be sure to check with your resort to determine any restrictions on renting.
Thank you Irene and Koala for this article, we hope that this is something that will at last be of benefit to owners.
If you have been contacted by any company that tells you money is being held by any court, use our contact page and let us know, it is with your information that we can inform others of the scams that are going on.
On Thursday 21 March at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Laurence Creed passed the following sentences.
Dominic O’Reilly, jailed for 2 years 4 months, disqualified from directorships for 9 years.
Stephanie O’Reilly, 9 months suspended for 2 years, 18 months suspended for 2 years plus, disqualified for 6 years.
Inside Timeshare has received a transcript by a court reporter, which although it is not verified, it does match reports published in the press.
In the Prosecution opening statement, it was asked that the judge consider monetary harm, this was extremely high according to the prosecution, with 36 complaints, 90 in process and 45 further complaints pending.
The prosecution also explained the emotional impact, consumers were told they had no cancellation rights along with aggressive sales tactics. It was also mentioned that the defendants were told to stop these tactics including the institution of cancellation rights, but these did continue even after Trading Standards began investigations.
In mitigation, the defence for Mr O’Reilly asked for the sentence to be suspended as he did plead guilty at an early stage. He also told the court that Mr O’Reilly is now 54, in ill health and in need of a heart operation.
The fact that one elderly couple aged 68 and 69, one who had recently had a stroke, the other had diabetes including an attack during the meeting, were made to transfer money before being allowed to leave, does make the above mitigation plea a complete joke.
Miss O’Reilly’s defence used her being the mother of a 1-year-old baby which is breastfed and she is now 11 weeks pregnant. Also, she has no support structure in the UK, as her parents live in Tenerife, that her partner would have to give up his job to look after the baby if she was jailed.
In all, the 36 complaints totalled £425,000 of which only £3,813 was ever refunded, Trading Standards found another 100 complaints totalling £1.3 million. In all the company made by 2017 around £3.375 million.
The judge also highlighted several clients, that were sent threatening letters for payments when the client wanted to cancel. One client had to call their daughter to help pay, then chased with a letter before action.
The client cases in this trial are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, there are hundreds more, unfortunately, many of these are now subject to scams due to this trail. Cold calls from companies stating they are working with or have been appointed by the courts to help them get money back which the courts are holding. As we have said before this is not true.
The O’Reilly’s are now being investigated under the Proceeds of Crime Act, The authorities have to power to seize accounts and assets such as houses and cars if it is deemed they are from the proceeds of crime. The problem now is can they link it, where is the money, are any properties in their names, or are they in his wifes or her partner’s names. If so can it be proven the money used was from the O’Reilly’s in the first place?
We can only wait and see.
If you have been a client and receive any calls regarding money being held for you, then contact Inside Timeshare. We will then explain where you stand and if you are able to get anything back.
This investigation is very similar in nature to the one into Eze Group, it is still underway and no new or further information is yet available. But no doubt we may see a case in the courts in the near future.
In the case of the Farhouds and their company Nordic Consulting Canary Islands SL, they now entice their old Silverpoint clients with legal action against their one-time employer Silverpoint. See the links below for further information.
We have from very reliable sources been informed that criminal denuncias have been made to the Spanish authorities against all three. Many of these by their very own clients.
Although we know that these investigations take time, especially when new complaints are likely, one thing is certain, the authorities always get them in the end.
As and when new information comes in, it will be published on these pages.
If you require any further information or have had dealings with any of the companies mentioned, then use our contact page and let us know. Inside Timeshare will get back to you and point you in the right direction.
As usual, a word of warning, before you deal with any company that contacts you or you have found on the internet or from an advert, do your homework. If you are not sure then contact Inside Timeshare.
The registered director is Joshua Rice, born April 1989, with the occupation of Financial Consultant. Also registered at the same address. He has no links to any other directorship or company on Company House records.
The address is one that is owned by Regus PLC, one of the largest office space providers. Part of their service includes rental of office and conference facilities by the day and virtual offices. The Virtual office facility provides a business address at a prime location, call answering service and mail handling. So a very convenient way to provide a company such as Money Advice Limited with the cover of legitimate company.
According to our information Money Advice Limited is contacting customers of Eze Group and Regency Shores SL and informing them they are working directly with the courts. That only Money Advice Limited will be able to recover the money paid by the customer. As we know, the courts do not use third party or private companies to contact “victims”.
If during any investigation by the Police, Trading Standards or any other authority, they discover “potential victims” of fraud, it is they who would make contact. They would then be asking for information and statements in order to facilitate their inquiry into the alleged fraud.
So the question arises, how has Money Advice Limited got hold of customer details, knowing what they have purchased and for how much?
The only answers are very simple, either they are ex-employees of the company and have stolen the customer records, or they have purchased them from another ex-employee.
So along with Claims Assistance Bureau Limitedand other companies, Money Advice Limited is using genuine court cases to defraud people who have already lost a great deal in the original purchase.
As we have already highlighted, Claims Assistance Bureau Limited, have hijacked a genuine company name to make their calls, all to give them credibility. (see link below)
If you have received a call or unsolicited email from any company claiming they have been appointed by or working with the courts to retrieve any money, whether it is Eze Group or any other timeshare, contact Inside Timeshare using our contact page and let us know the details. We will research them and publish our findings to warn other consumers.
Have you paid for a timeshare or timeshare related product and want to know how to get out or even if you can get your money back, use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.
But do remember, you must do your homework before engaging with any company that contacts you or that you have found on the internet or advert in any publication. Only by doing this will you prevent yourself from being scammed.