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La Provincia

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, today we publish another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street”, this is the experience of the Cameron family and their dealing with Westgate. But as usual we bring you some news from Europe.

We start with the headlines in La Provincia published on 18 October 2018

Grupo Anfi denuncia a Santiago Santana Cazorla por “apropiarse” de un barco

La compañía acusa al empresario de sustraer la embarcación y llevársela a Marruecos

Translation:

Grupo Anfi denounces Santiago Santana Cazorla for “appropriating” a ship

The company accuses the businessman of stealing the boat and taking it to Morocco

Santiago Sanatna Cazorla at Court

It centers around Santiago Santana Cazorla “appropriating” a boat which the Anfi Group claims belongs to the company, of which Cazorla owns 50%, as the boat was included in the register of assets of the company until around 1 year ago, when Cazorla decided to transfer it to his name.

The Court of Instruction No1 of San Bartolomé de Tirajana, heard in testimony from Cazorla (17 October 2018), that he purchased the boat in 2012, he transferred the ownership of the vessel to Anfi Group “as part of the payment to forgive a debt”, however, he changed his mind and about the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, began procedures to transfer the vessel back to his name.

In his testimony Cazorla assured the court that the vessel was his, something Anfi Group does not agree with, no agreement was reached.

One thing is for sure, we are never short of a story with Anfi!

Following on from Wednesdays article about the fake Tenerife law firm  ADN Alberto Dlendro Nabalez, Litigacionespaña SL, which is part of the Litigious Abogados family, mindtimeshare yesterday published details of another fake “Procurador”, which is more than likely to be one the fake lawyers will be using.

The name of this “Procurator” is Marco Gravinal with the address

Calle Las Calbas 36, Edificio Bala, Oficina 418, Santa Cruz, Tenerife

Which does not even show up on Google maps, so is obviously a fake address.

The website

http://marco-gravinal.com/

Was registered on 31 January 2018 and is due to expire on 31 January 2019, so a short term setup to get as much money from unsuspecting timeshare owners as possible.

The email address is [email protected] which is not linked to the website but is again a free email address provider.

Now for this weeks article.

Our Westgate Purchase was a Recipe for Disaster

Jackie Siegel, wife of Westgate owner David Siegel

By the Cameron family

Friday, October 19

Seeing other Westgate owners talk about their experiences has prompted me to do the same, in the hope that more people will come forward to put pressure on timeshare companies and regulators to take a closer look at timeshare sales practices we feel are unfair and deceptive.

Up in Smoke!

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-24/

The Dashiell’s article

http://insidetimeshare.com/the-tuesday-slot-7/

It is obvious that Westgate, and I believe timeshare in general, has a recipe for success, designed to keep their money rolling in and my money rolling out.

I think I have figured out the secret ingredients!

Step 1: Over promise features and benefits. Add copious amounts of salt with one or two grains of truth.

Step 2: Make them your BFF. Then tenderize customer by forcefully kneading them with one sales pitch after another until they are flattened and easy to manipulate.

Step 3: Quickly gloss over the contract with a nice coating of sugar. Make sure to cover up the actual details of what the customer is buying so that they remain in the dark until much too late for them to cancel their contract. They call this the rescission period and it is quite easy for timeshare sales agents to dodge.

Step 4: Serve on a dirty plate with a fork. I call this plate foreclosure when the buyer finds out you bought something you can’t sell. What product is out there you can’t get rid of?

Step 3: When the customer realizes they have been served a steaming pile of something or other, pretend to be very concerned and run back to the kitchen and hide for months and months. The customer can listen to commercials about why you are happy to have invested in their timeshare while they wait on hold.

Step 5: Finally, when the customer is starting to cause a scene, have the monosyllabic thugs, Greenspoon Marder, eject them from the premises.

The Tennessee AG will be sitting at the next table, pretending like nothing happened while he tucks into his gourmet meal, although I did research and found out the TN AG helped Festiva victims recover $3.5 million.

https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/news/2016/2/24/pr16-04.html

I understand that the consumer needs to take charge here. If there are not enough complaints, as must be the case with Westgate, nothing will happen. I also learned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigated Westgate for two years but dropped the investigation shortly after the presidential election.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/matthewzeitlin/financial-regulators-are-looking-into-americas-largest-times

That’s Westgate owner David Siegel, King of Versailles next to candidate Trump.

Here’s what happened to us

Salesmen, Jonathan Smith, and Mario Pineda (Manager) sold us a timeshare in July 2016 and convinced us that we were making a good, sound financial decision.

They said we were buying something that would:

  • Financially benefit us,
  • Allow us to make money renting our weeks and that they would help with this free of charge,
  • They said we would never have to pay the HOA fees because the rentals would pay for that,
  • They said we would hold a deed to the property and would own this property (Bldg 2041, Villa 302H and 302I).  They left out the part that if you want to sell it nobody wants it,
  • It would be a great tax write off,
  • The equity would keep increasing.

Given all these benefits we signed the contract in good faith, thinking that we would get everything Westgate told us we would get and we would see some return on our “investment” which turned out to be anything but an investment. The reality is that we have not made a penny on this investment. None of the reasons for which we bought this timeshare exist.

While they may define this as real estate, what kind of real estate is worth nothing, except in disaster stricken zones? It is certainly not a tax write-off, it does not gain in value and it would therefore be stupid to pass it on to our family. We would only be passing on a liability.  

On top of all this, our experiences at Westgate locations have been awful. We went to a Westgate property to enjoy time together as a family and wind down. Instead we were pressured to buy more and had our precious vacation time stolen.

The first time we went to Gatlinburg we booked a 3-day trip. We were invited to a presentation. They said it would last 90 minutes but we were held hostage for seven hours! This totally ruined our vacation, plus the loss of what little time we had was the cause of much stress.

All this stress came right back when we had our first full week stay and they tried to do and say anything to get us to upgrade to a more expensive unit and more weeks. They held us again for four hours. The stress of this again completely ruined my vacation.

It was after this last stay I started to have heart pain. When I went to the doctor he said it was stress related. This is when it really hit me that I can’t keep going through the stress of Westgate’s high pressure to buy more and more Westgate. My wife and I work very hard. We don’t get to take many vacations together, so do not enjoy spending our vacation in a bad mood after it feels like we underwent CIA manipulation techniques. Plus, we can’t afford to go through this again.

What Westgate is serving up is no good. We suggest you dine elsewhere.

The Queen of Versailles wants to be Florida’s Governor?

http://floridanationalnews.com/blog/jackie-siegel-for-florida-governor/

Jackie Siegel for Florida Governor?

December 6, 2016

  Well, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, I suppose

Thank you to the Camerons for sharing their timeshare story. It is our hope that timeshare companies will read some of these accounts and think about ways to improve customer relations. We encourage members to submit articles, good or bad experiences, but the satisfied customer is less likely to reach out. They are having too much fun vacationing with a product they bought explained properly, compared to the family who feels they were duped.

These self-help websites and Facebooks are resources and provide a way for members to reach out to help other members.

We seek to provide members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

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

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

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

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

 

  So that is another week over and the start of the weekend, join us again next week and remember to do your homework before engaging with any company. If you are not sure then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Have a great weekend.

 

Start the Week: Major International Fraud Smashed

We start this week with a report from La Provincia, a Spanish newspaper published on the 25 August 2018. It reports on Operation Bankog by the Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil based out of Puerto Rico in the municipality of Mogan, Gran Canaria, they have broken an international ring which was dedicated to defraud foreign nationals.

The organisation was based in the Balearic Islands and Malaga, with five people being arrested, two spanish citizens, one Austrian one British and one German, with the seizure of twenty bank accounts which recovered more than 15,000 euros.

The members of the organisation represented themselves as Spanish Justice Administration officials, receiving payments into Spanish bank accounts for payments and public taxes in respect of a bankrupt timeshare located in Austria. These took place between 2014 and 2015, and involved around twenty members of the organisation from seven different countries.

During the initial stages, a complaint was verified which proved that victims had transferred around 20,000 euros into Spanish bank accounts. These accounts were located in Palma de mallorca and Malaga, with the Guardia Civil reporting that many of the account holders were foreign nationals with criminal records some having outstanding warrants from their home countries.

The Guardia Civil is also investigating the forging of official documents which were used to perpetrate the fraud. The case has been submitted to the relevant courts with the investigation continuing and further arrests have not been ruled out.

According to the Guardia Civil the investigation has take three years due to the complexity of the organisations infrastructure, the number of nationalities involved and the many bank accounts. They believe that the amount could be well in excess of half a million euros. It also involved the collaboration of various Interpol offices around Europe.

Inside Timeshare received information from a reliable source that the investigation was initiated by denuncias issued to the Guardia Civil in Mogan,  by Canarian Legal Alliance on behalf of many of their clients.

As more information comes to light Inside Timeshare will bring you the news.

Click on the link below to see the original article, if using google the page can then be translated by right clicking on the article and selecting Translate from the menu.

https://www.laprovincia.es/sucesos/2018/08/25/guardia-civil-mogan-neutraliza-organizacion/1091317.html

The summer holidays are now at an end, so we issue our usual warning on doing your homework before dealing with any company that contacts you out of the blue, or even one you have found yourself on the internet. With maintenance fee bills about to be issued, the many scam companies will be in full swing to get your hard earned money. These will come in many guises, from resale scams, claims and cancellations, before doing any business, check, check and check again.

If you are unsure about any company and require help in find out about them, use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction. Inside Timeshare would also ask you to send any information about these companies to us, that way we can inform others of what is happening.

End of August Roundup

Considering August is usually a quiet month with all the holidays, Inside Timeshare has had quite a run on articles. We began August with news on the Tauro Beach Project entitled “Tauro Beach: In the UK News”.

This followed the publication of a story in The Guardian, a UK newspaper, on the importation of the sand used to build the beach, from Western Sahara. The article by Anders Lundqvist and Rowan Bauer, two independent journalists who investigated the possible illegal importation of the sand.

They explained that if this sand did originate from the Western Sahara, which it most certainly looks like, it was against UN Resolutions and rulings from the European Court of Justice. In their article they quote the head of SEPRONA in Gran Canaria, Lt Germán Garciá who stated “The sand was brought illegally, it was discharged with no control at all,” we know this has caused concern among environmentalist on the Island, as there is a protected area just 300 meters off the beach.

gc-seprona

For the full story follow the links at the end of this article.

The following day we published the Mid Week Report, this started with the news that TATOC had truly gone as their website is no longer accessible. It was then followed with a link to The Canary News, an English language newspaper based in Gran Canaria. The Canary News article by Ed Timon, the editor, gave a very good insight into the history of Western Sahara, which was the subject of the previous article.. (Again see links below).

We also published the first article of the month from Irene Parker, from our US branch, this was to do with a lawsuit in the US by Welk Resorts against Timeshare Exit Team. This is the first in a series of articles highlighting lawsuits by timeshare developers against resale / exit companies and law firms.

Loyalty: No Such Thing in Timeshare was the title of the next article. This highlighted Timeshare Compensation’s blog on Silverpoint now known as Signallia. In this blog Timeshare Compensation warns its readers of the “dodgy” past of this company, which was very surprising indeed as the owner of Timeshare Compensation, Mark Rowe, is an ex-senior sales manager of Silverpoint and thereby employee of Robert “Bob” Trotta. Told you there were some strange things in the world of timeshare!

loyalty1

In our first Friday’s Letter from America for the month, we published the article by Eron Grant, this covered the question of why does ARDA have a code of ethics? One question we have also asked of the RDO.

Once again that family of fake law firms in Tenerife came up, yes you know the ones, Litigious Abogados.

Another new contributor from the US made her debut, Bonita Hill. Her article was on the question of Diamond’s Clarity Programme, regarding the Oral Representation Clause. This was launched in response to an Assurance of Discontinuance issued by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Diamond has stated they intend to go beyond the requirements of the AOD.

We then published “Truth, What is Truth?” This was in response to readers enquiries about Anfi denying losing any court cases. This has caused confusion among members, after all these cases have been publicised in the press, yet Anfi tell everyone it is not true! So who do you believe?

In the next Friday’s Letter from America, we published Part 4 “Our DRI Misadventures” by David Franks. He Joined our team of writers from the US, some months ago and has given us a great deal of fun. He certainly has a style of his own and is a welcome member to the team.

We then started our “Hug Your Haters! A Customer Service Message” by Irene Parker, this is based on the book Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer. He is to be a keynote speaker at the Interval International Shared Ownership Conference to be held at the Miami Beach Eden Roc Hotel October 23 – 25. Mr. Baer has advised more than 700 companies including The United Nations and 32 Fortune 500 companies.

Next came the news of a story we published last year, it involved The Manhattan Club in New York. The NY AG Eric T Schneiderman had suspended all sales at the club back in July 2014, this followed many complaints of deceitful practises. The case is now finally over, with a settlement of $6.5 million, also the owners are being forced to sell and have been barred from participating in the timeshare industry. Well done Eric, one for the consumer!

Attorny_General_Eric_T_Schneiderman
NY AG Eric T Schneiderman

Once again Karen Garello from our Timeshare Advocacy, contributed another “Secret Shopper Report”. In this article, Karen gives sound advice on the questions you should ask when going on a sales presentation. Following her advice could save a lot of problems in the future.

It was back to Europe for our next piece, this was titled “ Timeshare In the Press”. This was actually very timely as it followed on from the Truth What is Truth article, it was based on the article in the Spanish paper El Diario. It highlighted the Supreme Court rulings, mainly against the Tenerife company Silverpoint, who just like Anfi deny any cases going to court or being lost.

It also included the article published in The Canary News, based on the one from the paper La Provincia, this began with a recap of the groundbreaking first Supreme Court ruling back in March 2015. Again throwing out the claims of the timeshare industry that these are all fictitious cases.

There followed a couple more articles by Irene Parker and a Timeshare Advocate. The first highlighted the  lawsuits between developers and law firms, the second was an open letter to the timeshare industry. Whether they take any notice is another thing.

In The Monday Briefing, we again focused on the Litigious Abogados family, giving a recap on how they operate their rather sophisticated scam, but also some sound advice which if followed will protect you from becoming one of their victims.

In the same article we welcomed and wished all the best to a new forum for timeshare owners, Timeshare Users Forum. This has been set up by disgruntled members of Timeshare Talk, a previously independent forum. We won’t go into detail here, but you can read the full article.

The last article for August was Part II of Hug Your Haters: A Customer Service Message.

So that is it for August, tomorrow we don’t cross the great lake to the US, we go to the land down under, for another Letter from Australia, contributed by Justin Morgan, on the role of private equity and the secondary market in timeshare. Do join us and bring your didgeridoo!

didgeridoo

Links to some of this month’s articles.

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-uk-news/

http://insidetimeshare.com/tauro-beach-latest-development/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/28/trouble-in-paradise-the-canary-island-beach-accused-of-illegally-importing-sand?CMP=share_btn_fb

http://insidetimeshare.com/loyalty-no-thing-timeshare/

http://insidetimeshare.com/truth-what-is-truth/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-15/

http://insidetimeshare.com/manhattan-club-6-5-million-settlement/

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-america-16/

http://insidetimeshare.com/timeshare-in-the-press/

http://insidetimeshare.com/legal-news-us-castle-law-group-pc-v-timeshare-developers/