The Tuesday Slot: Elder Abuse and Timeshare Sales

Welcome to The Tuesday Slot and another revival of our Letter from America series, today we bring you another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” with the horrific story of an elderly couple targeted by unscrupulous timeshare sales agents. This particular story is a result of a comment on a previous article “A Timeshare Sales Agent Repeats Himself”, by Donald E. Puyear which we published on 1 December. It is such a dreadful story that we decided that it needed an article all of its own. It appears that in the US this is a significant problem for the elderly, in Europe, we have had some similar stories but not to this extent. This is the story as related by Tiffany Renee on the trials and tribulations of her elderly parents at the hands of timeshare sales agents.

Mortgage Scams Targeting Seniors

https://protectingourelders.com/

Click on the Rachel Ramos Video.

Elder Senior Court

Financial Assaults on our Seniors

  • Home Theft
  • Identity Theft
  • Fake Arbitration Scam
  • Grandchild Needs Money Scam
  • Lawyers Inflated Fees Scam
  • The Timeshare Scam
  • Long Term Insurance Scam 
  • And many more…..

What is causing this alarming epidemic trend?

Our ageing population is more vulnerable as they are more trusting, susceptible to trickery and are less likely to fight or report a scam. The authorities and courts are not up to date with the latest scams and are less likely to investigate or prosecute financial abuse cases.

By Tiffany Renee

December 3, 2020

My parents are devastated because of what happened at a Diamond Resorts presentation in June of 2019. View the video on Protecting our Elders website to see how easy it is for a senior to get scammed. What happened to the senior in the video is why my parents were in a sensitive state. They had been victims of prior scams throughout their lives that resulted in us losing our personal homes and property. Imagine having a bank take your home because they said your deed wasn’t real? And whoever had the real deed, was being foreclosed? Imagine knowing all the money you paid towards your home meant nothing because someone else out there had an outstanding mortgage that you were not aware of. Imagine receiving this news with your wife and two babies, forced out of your home. I won’t get into more details, but my parents didn’t know how to fight this with the mortgage company. They are good, honest people, trusting, hard-working, and God-loving individuals. They trusted the system and, like the senior in the video who had his home stolen and a lien filed against him, felt it was out of their hands. This happened to them more than once! They never wanted this to happen again!!!!

This is why the rawness of what they experienced at Diamond Resorts has devastated my parents more than anyone could ever know. Diamond knows they are devastated. They don’t care. I call what happened to them at Diamond Resorts elder abuse and false and unjust enrichment because my parents received no benefit from this transaction. In laws of equity, unjust enrichment occurs when one person is enriched at the expense of another in circumstances that the law sees as unjust and unfit…where an individual is unjustly enriched, the law imposes an obligation upon the recipient to make restitution, subject to defences. Liability for an unjust (or unjustified) enrichment arises irrespective of wrongdoing on the part of the recipient.

The concept of unjust enrichment can be traced to Roman Law and the maxim that “no one should be benefited at another’s expense” : “nemo locupletari potest aliena iactura or nemo locupletari debet cum aliena iactura.” This has been my motto!

At Diamond Resorts, the consumer is blamed because you signed a contract. Never mind the contract was signed after 11 hours of hard sell, unable to read the contract, relying on the ethics of a timeshare sales agent. They don’t understand rescission periods or cooling-off periods.   

We owned two Gold Key deeded weeks prior to Diamond’s acquisition of Gold Key! Diamond’s Mystic Dunes Resort sales agent Dawson Allen, and Quality Assurance Agent Tim Lima told my parents in June of 2019, that they were required to attend a meeting, or they would be fined $400 !! They are elderly and trusting, they cannot afford this unexpected news, so they agreed to attend the “update” to avoid the fine. They had no obligation to attend this meeting. 

During the meeting, Dawson and Tim told my parents it was necessary to give up their Gold Key deeds in order to protect themselves and their children from dire financial consequences. If they didn’t, their maintenance fees would increase by thousands of dollars over the years and could put my parents in a position of bankruptcy because they could be one of the last deed-holders standing. They could end up solely responsible for building repairs if a hurricane came through… looking at a 5 or 6 figure liability! That’s right, they threatened bankruptcy and a bill in the double or triple-digit thousands. They told them their current deeds were worthless, despite being told the prior year that their deeds were worth $250,000.

The news devastated my parents, feeling as if they could lose their home again and became homeless. THEY WERE PUT IN AN EMOTIONAL STATE. They could not think clearly or logically. They must turn in their deeds and purchase points. On top of it, they were promised they could use points to pay fees, they could sell points for profit, Diamond would buy the points back, blah blah blah. 

My parents cannot see well. The agent read the contract, stopping off and on, to explain “how this really works” or “this is the way it really is,” pointing to information missing from the actual contract. My parents had informed the agents they could not afford to do anything right now, and the decision would have to wait until the following year. NOTHING was to take place until they could attempt to get their finances in order. This was June of 2019. 

My parents said they had no food, water or medications for over 11 hours. They were exhausted and eager to have permission to leave. FINALLY, they saw the light at the end of the tunnel and started to perk back up, happy to finally be released. They were informed they would be recorded. They did not want to sound sad, embarrassed, and stupid to the general public. They made sure they “looked good on TV” as one would put it. They had not yet given Diamond any form of payment and they had not yet filled out any applications. They signed paperwork to acknowledge they had attended the meeting so as to not be fined $400 and were finally released with the notion they had a plan and that this was something that will need to be addressed in the following year.

My parents had no idea that Diamond had charged a down payment onto a Barclay Bankcard, and then later received a few bills due immediately. Remember when they said they would be avoiding high maintenance fee increases? Their maintenance fees jumped from $2200 to almost $6000 immediately! They now hold 78,450 points. How is this not enough?

We owned TWO Gold Key deeded weeks, both 3 bedroom condos with a lockout. We NEVER had a problem going on vacation or exchanging. Now all of a sudden it wasn’t enough? My parents have no intention of travelling anywhere in the future EXCEPT to go to the same spot they’ve always gone in Virginia Beach. Now that Diamond has their Gold Key Deeds, they are unable to return to their home resort during their previously guaranteed week. Nothing they search for is ever available for exchange.

I recently found our “QA” agent has an extensive criminal record, complete with a four-year jail term, with multiple felonies ranging from theft, burglary, domestic violence, and traffic criminal charges. Tell me WHY this person is allowed to work in Trading and Money Lending????? As a QA agent?

The timeshare lobby ARDA has a Code of Ethics? Diamond has a representative on ARDA’s board.  

Link to ARDA Code of Ethics see Frequently asked questions: Why does ARDA have a Code of Ethics?

https://www.arda.org/about-us/code-ethics#:~:text=ARDA%20and%20its%20members%20are%20committed%20to%20ethical%20behavior%20in,with%20integrity%2C%20dignity%20and%20propriety.&text=ARDA%20does%20not%20mediate%20or,consumers%20and%20ARDA%20member%20companies.

In all the years of doing this work, Inside Timeshare has never come across a story as devastating as this, in our opinion this behaviour is not just against all moral codes and ethics, it is downright criminal. If this story doesn’t show that there is a great need for change in how these timeshare agents are allowed to operate we are unfortunately going to see many more of these in the future.

If you have a similar story and would like to share it with others please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.


4 Comments

  • Earl and Faith

    December 10, 2020

    Bad things do not only happen to Americans and American time share companies unfortunately. My wife and I are Canadians who would like to share a bit of our living a Mexican Time share dream what we have been living since 2014. Actually its been a nightmare.
    Firstly we are both now seniors.
    In 2014 I was being medically released from the Canadian Military as a Military Police Officer of 19 years. To get away from the stress we attended Hacienda Tres Rios in Mexico for a 1 week vacation and out of the transport shuttle we were bombarded with sales tactics we were not prepared for. We ended up purchasing a 2 week package with the inheritance and flex week options.
    • In 2015 we returned to Tres Rios and were immediately told there was an issue with our 2014 contract and that we would need to meet with someone in management the next day.
    The next day we were met in the lobby with a male who introduced himself as himself as the nephew to Dallas the manager of the resort. he advised us that the Sunset Clubs head corporate office was pissed that we were able to secure a phase one development cost point in our contract and that unless we purchased up in the resort this week we would lose our flex weeks and the inheritance certificate.
    We were trapped. At the time we did not know this is a sales tactic. We of course were left to purchase up in to La Herencia ownership level.

    • 2016 we retuned to Tres Rios to be given an urgent note from the front desk to speak with an individual regarding contract issues. We had already bought into La Herencia “Real Estate shareholders group under threats of losing contractual obligations in 2015.
    we were told that if we purchased into La Herencia II we would not have to find someone to purchase the units when we were unable to or did not want to hold the contract any longer.
    • We were shown on paper that THIS IS AN INVESTMENT which on one piece of paper the sales team member scribbled and circled a $500,000 possible dollar figure in 5 to 10 years depending on regional development and the fact that Pixar Disney is building next door their theme resort.
    • In 2017 I was rushed into emergency life saving surgery in March. We did not travel anywhere.
    • 2018 we returned to Hacienda Tres Rios as La Herencia members ($50,000 + USD later) to find a shower area full of black mold. the ceiling was covered and there was extensive signs of failed ceiling repairs with white paint on sheet rock mud on the marble walls. Several photos were taken on site. Mold is a trigger for what i ws later diagnosed as having PTSD from my Military service.
    Later that vacation we met with a female sales manager who proceeded to tell us we could have rights to the marina (which we already had in the 2014 contract and thus the 2015 and 2016 contracts) as she cupped her hands left over right, right over left several times combine our 2 contracts.
    Note: We have 1 contract not 2.
    • We were also told that we could also purchase an insurance policy so that our beneficiaries when we die will be able to cash in on the value of the units vs holding onto them and paying fees over and over. but both of those options cost monies.
    • When we told her we merely wanted out… she stated she had never heard of anyone selling beck their timeshare to a resort.
    • That same day approached the Members Services Managers office at the resort and met with the representative who told Faith and I that Sunset world was dealing with issues which continue to pop up as a result of questionable sales team practices from the previous management and that he would be emailing our concerns to head office.
    • We never heard a thing back

    Shortly after that 2018 vacation we were approached by a company alleged to be brokering a deal for this resort. This company used a phone number only Club Sunset and Trews Rios would have had access to.
    Your New Tennessee and Title Two Investments both played us for our life savings of just over $70,000 Canadian dollars.
    These companies were not in the states but operating out of Cancun Mexico.
    Both were reported to the FBI who finally told us that as Canadians we have no legal expectation of support despite my providing detailed information to their special agent which led in part to the realization this scam was a 3.5 million from timeshare owners.

    I have identified 2 more scam companies in the states (one in Manhattan NY and one in Boston MASS) since that time attempting to sell our timeshares.

    we did go to teh Mexican Consumer Protection Agency for their assistance. Club sunset legal council blatantly lied to the body whose job it is to deal with unethical violations of tourists in contracts and sales by stating that our membership was with a different resort – one which we have never been to.
    the Govt apparently does not have teh power to validate contracts which were provided to them by us but too k the Club Sunsets word they did not exist.
    We tried for 8 months to secure the name of the legal team member for Club Sunset so as to formally file a written complaint with the governing body in Mexico for ethics violations.

    in the end we got the name 2 months ago but cannot locate that governing body’s contact info.
    club sunset and their board of directors told us that we would never win a legal battle or case with them because 1. we are foreigners and 2 the timeshare is in Mexico on the coast.
    I suspect by that same logic they would never win a legal battle against an American Canadian or anyone not a Mexican for a breach of contract as well.
    they did however send an amendment to the contract they violated under sections 13 and 14 to include no 5 yr maintenance fee ever ($5000+) and no annual maintenance fees unless we are using a wek outside our remaining 27 corporate weeks allotted. That they will provide us with 1 week for 2 vacation as compensation for the 2018 mold issue. they fought tooth and nail to not identify where our membership was purchased – Hacienda Tres Rios.
    the Wild West is the lives they live and work. I for one will lose the costs of the timeshare vs taking my wife of 27 years and my service dog Raven with me back to Mexico. We are liable to be car jacked or worse if they know we are coming.

    they say a man with a briefcase can steal more than a man with a gun any day….

    Reply
    • Tiffany Renee

      December 10, 2020

      This story is heartbreaking. Thank you for reading my article and for taking the time to share your story. This poor behavior in trade and sales needs to be stopped

      Reply
  • Cynthia Alexander

    December 11, 2020

    Shortly after reading Don Puyear’s Inside Timeshare article from December 1st, I received a call from Diamond Resorts about my complaint. My sales agent said that I had to give up my Gold Key deed in order to protect my heirs. I have never recovered from the murder of my first paternal grandchild. I am single and was worried about my son and daughter inheriting the timeshare. That’s why I attended a meeting in Virginia, with sales agents were from the Cypress Pointe in Orlando. I read in Tiffany’s article that her Quality Assurance agent had a disturbing criminal record. Then when I did a record search of my two sales agents, I found that one was arrested for Grand Theft and other charges. The other sales agent had a number of arrests for domestic violence with and without children and there were theft charges, including second degree robbery and battery. I also read a Facebook post that a Diamond sales agent in Branson, MO, Ryan McMillan, was disbarred by the Missouri Supreme Court. When I found his information, he was disbarred, he claimed for misusing trust accounts due to his gambling addiction, mental disorders, abuse of alcohol. and cocaine issues. It was even reported in the Kansas City newspaper. That’s four sales agents, including one in Quality Assurance? With arrest records for theft and mismanaging money in trust accounts? WoW! Something is very wrong with people with criminal records handling clients. In addition, the Diamond agent Mason that called me and said that my grandchild who was murdered 20 years ago should have no impact on my complaint because it was over 20 years ago. How dare he try to insinuate for I should feel. I was shaking after I got off the phone with him which is why I am writing about this now. I’m still angry. Anyone who has been involved in a homicide/felony murder knows you never recover. That’s what PTSD is all about. My granddaughter was 11 months old when she was murdered by her maternal mother. At first, I felt like he didn’t believe me so I sent him the article posted in the Washington Post her murder.
    Mason advised me that I had two options, refinance, pay off the loan, and then pay Diamond $1,000 to take the points back. Nobody in their right mind would do either. Where are the regulators? Sounding young and inexperienced, I told Mason I hope something like this never happens to you, his response was, “Are you threatening me?” I responded, no, I reiterated, I made a bad choice because I was lied to and I said I hope he never makes the same type of mistake. I don’t wish anyone harm. At the presentation, my sales agent said he checked twice and that my income was double what it really is. I worked as a Federal Employee at the Pentagon for 37 years and have retirement income from my federal service. He blamed it on me for not knowing my income. People on monthly pension type income don’t necessarily think about it.
    I had a Top Secret clearance for 37 years, I have NEVER BEEN ARRESTED for anything, and I have no reason to lie about what happened at the sales pitch. I have never had anything like this happen to me. I felt like Mason was calling me a liar, despite my agents’ criminal records for theft. Another agent, Samantha asked how I got the criminal records of these two. I told her, you go to the Court Records of the State and county where they live and look them up. It’s all PUBLIC INFORMATION and it’s a FACT. I ’m happy to help others do the same. I asked why Diamond hires people to work in lending who have criminal background arrests, especially for theft? She said Diamond does not know about anyone’s criminal records or if they have criminal records. Are you kidding me? I said why don’t you just ask them what they said at the presentation and she refused to do that. Who’s being honest here? Wow! Agents can say anything they want with no recourse, as happened to Tiffany’s parents, work in lending, handle personal credit cards and financial information and it’s obvious Diamond doesn’t do any background checks on their agents? Does Diamond have standards for who they hire? Where is the Florida Attorney General? Tiffany’s and Don’s sales agents and mine are all Florida real estate agents. When you complain it is your word against theirs or it only matters what is in the contract is what I keep getting told. Sales agents know nothing will happen to them ever despite what they say. They will be rewarded for their effort. I also read Tiffany’s article. I viewed Mr. Flaskey’s YouTube in Don’s article and saw Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey’s crocodile tears concerned about protecting Diamond members. Really? Diamond members are not being protected in as evidence of all the complaints. I don’t see how anyone can believe someone with a criminal background over someone like Don, with a proven record, who is 88, a PhD and an Army veteran, or Tiffany whose parents previously lost two homes to a scam artist.

    Reply
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