Buy, Sell, & Rent Timeshare Condos
 
A jury convicts the principal of  a massive telemarketing scheme which operated under the company names Resort Sales Group, Vacation Realty International and Vacation Direct USA. 
Following a nine-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, a federal jury has found one of the ten conspirators in an estimated $10 million resort timeshare telemarketing fraud conspiracy that victimized at least 5000 individuals, many of whom were over age 55, guilty on all 26 counts of an indictment returned in the Northern District of Texas in October 2012.  John Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, made the announcement today.

Fabian C. Fleifel, 45, of Winter Springs, Florida, was convicted late yesterday on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud; nineteen counts of mail fraud telemarketing; and six counts of wire fraud telemarketing.  The jury also found that the conspiracy count affected a financial institution and that the wire fraud and mail fraud counts were in connection with the conduct of telemarketing that victimized ten or more persons over the age of 55.  He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 30 years in federal prison and a $1 million fine on the conspiracy conviction and 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the other 25 convictions.  Additionally, the telemarketing enhancements permit the Judge to impose up to an additional 10 years imprisonment.  Judge Fitzwater temporarily remanded him into custody following yesterday’s verdict.

The following eleven coconspirators have pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the scheme and are awaiting sentencing, Edmond Charles Burke, 34, of Sanford, Florida; Kari Lynn Cash, 46, of Winter Park, Florida; Kevin Jacob Frater, 35, of Longwood, Florida; Bradley James Gomez, 36, of Longwood, Florida; Rani F. Khoury, 40, of Lake Mary, Florida; Courtney Darrell Lister, 39, of Midland, Texas; Joseph Bud Ramos, 27, of Tennessee; Armanda Nadine Rizkallah, 32, of Oviedo, Florida; Eric Rosado, of Orlando, Florida, Kevin Sanchez of Orlando, Florida, and Cesar Trinidad of Apopka, Florida. 

The government presented evidence during trial that Fleifel conspired with others to make unsolicited interstate telephone calls to owners of resort timeshare properties to induce them into paying fees associated with the bogus sale of their property.  Fleifel and others opened bank accounts and entered into merchant account agreements to process and collect funds raised in the scheme, and they set up phony mailing addresses to collect funds mailed in by timeshare owners.

Fleifel hired and trained telemarketers to work in boiler rooms he set up.  These telemarketers were instructed to call timeshare owners using scripted sales pitches that falsely represented, for example, that a bona fide buyer was interested in buying their property, that the buyer had paid money into an escrow account, and that the buyer was ready to close on the property.  The telemarketers falsely advised timeshare owners that they would receive all the funds from the sale within days, they must pay a one-time fee to cover the title search and other closing costs, and they would be refunded all fees paid if the sale did not close within 90 days.

After the conspirators obtained money from the timeshare owners, they made additional false and fraudulent statements to lull them and to keep them from investigating the transactions, complaining to law enforcement, or requesting charge backs to their credit cards

The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Orlando Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys C.S. Heath and Joseph M. Revesz are prosecuting.

View the full press release HERE>




 
 
United States Attorney Booth Goodwin announced that David Brandon Ball, 35, of  Charleston pled guilty in federal court today to his role in defrauding timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada.  

This is the second prosecution stemming from the shut down  of Mountain State Resales, LLC- a bogus company used to defraud timeshare owners hoping to sell their unwanted vacation ownership interest. The scheme also included a non-existent company "Internal Revenue Recovery  Associates", which further targeted the victims of fraud by claiming to help consumers recover lost payments to fraudulent timeshare marketing companies.  There is also mention of another scheme using the  fake name "International Transfers and Documents".

The full press release can be viewed by clicking HERE. 





 
 
A new article in the Hamilton Spectator claims that timeshare owners Pino and Rita Farruggia paid Pacific Property Transfer thousands of dollars to have their timeshare ownership liquidated. The article claims that the promised transfer never occurred.

"... "They (Pacific Property Transfer) tell you that once you sign on with them, you'll never have to pay maintenance fees again. They will look after everything for you," Rita said. "It cost around $3,200 to sign up with them. They said this was for legal fees."   But nothing happened. Pacific Transfer took their money then refused to take their calls, she said. Action Line was unable to contact Pacific Property Transfer. There are other stories online regarding this company, whose owners operate several similar time-share transfer firms. Pacific Transfer was given an F rating by the Better Business Bureau for failure to address consumer complaints...."


The story does conclude on a positive note, however. The resort developer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, stepped up to the plate to allow the Farruggia family to relinquish the  ownership back to the resort. 


Please click HERE to read the full story.
 
 
A new article releases more details about a lawsuit filed against a timeshare developer and cruise line over alleged deceptive charges which are assessed to consumers as part of a timeshare exchange program. Daniel Finerman, a Flagler County, Fla., resident, filed a lawsuit against Marriot Vacations Worldwide Corporation, and International Cruise Excursion Gallery Inc. in September 2014. In the action, he claimed the companies overcharged members of it time-share program through bogus fees and that Carnival Cruise Lines deceptively created certain fees and inflated others charged to customers trading in timeshare "points" for discounts.

That case was filed in the Flagler County circuit court, but was later removed to the Jacksonville Federal Court. In November, Finerman voluntarily dismissed claims against the International Cruise Excursion Gallery. His claims against Marriot are pending.

In his latest complaint, Finerman says he and his wife booked a six-day Caribbean cruise with Carnival using accumulated points from his Marriot Vacation Club timeshare. The cruise was scheduled to depart from Ft. Lauderdale on November 9, 2014.

 "In addition to his points, plaintiff paid to Carnival Corporation the sum of $566.17, which consisted of the following: $159 each for Port fees, $114.11 each for government fees, and a processing fee of $19.95," the complaint states.     Finerman says he contacted Marriot Vacation Club to question the high charges, and was advised the extra fees were not covered by his timeshare points, and that they were assessed by Carnival Corporation.     Still questioning the additional costs for government and port fees, Finerman says he then checked the Carnival website, and followed online the booking steps for the same cruise.

 Finerman claims that "when booking through the Carnival Corporation website, rather than through Marriot Vacation Club, the total governmental and port fees quoted for plaintiff and his wife on the identical cruise amounted to $253.08."     Therefore, he says, he was overcharged $311.14 when he booked the cruise using his timeshare points.

 Finerman's suit claims Carnival deceptively charged he and other members of the purported class illusionary government and port fees to increase its profits, violating the Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
     
He is represented by John A. Yanchunis from Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group.

Read the full story by clicking "Here"
 
 
Silverleaf Resorts, a timeshare developer and operator , has filed a lawsuit against  Advocate for the Consumer  dba Legal Advocate for the Consumer and its owners Charles H. Williams and Glenda Williams in Dallas County Court on Thursday. The suit claims that the business is a "sham entity" that "significantly interferes" with Silverleaf's and other timeshare companies' legitimate businesses. Silverleaf seeks actual and punitive damages for tortious interference with contracts, intentional interference with prospective business relations, defamation and business disparagement.

     "Defendants made false allegations and published defamatory statements about Silverleaf in order to induce Silverleaf timeshare owners to pay significant up-front fees on the basis that defendants would 'assist' owners in terminating their contracts with Silverleaf," the 12-page complaint states.  "Once owners paid their fee and signed up for these services, defendants continued to defame and interfere (so as to lure their next victim), but performed no work on the owners' individual cases aside from providing and/or mailing in form letters." Advocate for the Consumer's fees range from $1,500 to $1,600 fee, Silverleaf claims.

     The lawsuit also alleges that Advocate for the Consumer promotes their business "as a mediation company, equipped with a team of lawyers, paralegals and former timeshare executives, that could assist consumers in 'getting out' of their timeshare contracts and obtaining refunds of their timeshare membership purchase. Defendants also promised that they would negotiate with Silverleaf for refunds of funds that owners had already paid under their timeshare contract."

     "After receiving the up-front fee, defendants instructed, encouraged, and induced owners to breach their timeshare contracts with Silverleaf by stopping payments to the company immediately, which, of course, subjects the owners to potentially disastrous legal and financial harm, including foreclosure, lawsuits, deterioration of credit score, loss of principal payments made, and loss of enjoyment," the complaint stated. "Defendants also instructed, encouraged and induced owners to stop communications with Silverleaf, thereby exasperating the owners' problems."

     Silverleaf claims the defendants told owners to justify their lack of payments by making false claims.

     "They were told, in essence, that a good offense makes for a great defense," the complaint states. "The ACA provided the owners with form letters filled with prefabricated allegations against Silverleaf and either submitted the letter to Silverleaf itself or instructed the owners to do so."

     In April 2013, Texas Attorney General, now Governor-elect Greg Abbott, sued the defendants in Dallas County Court.  Abbott's office made similar accusations, of no work being performed; an injunction and asset freeze were issued the next month.
 
 
Below is an excerpt from the press release. Read the full article by clicking HERE.  If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud perpetrated by the company, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office online at MyFloridaLegal.com or in-state via phone at 1-866-NO-SCAM. Out-of-state individuals can call 850-414-3990.


"...  Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office has filed a lawsuit against Consumer Collection Advocates, Corp., and Michael Robert Ettus, CCA Principal, for allegedly targeting consumers who were victims of previous frauds or scams. In return for upfront payments and a percentage of any recovery, the company contracted with these victims, guaranteeing to recover the monies the victims lost as the result of the earlier fraud or scam, but often failing to deliver on that guarantee. The Attorney General’s Office also seeks to obtain an injunction to stop the business from operating in violation of Florida laws. The Federal Trade Commission has filed a parallel lawsuit against CCA in the U.S. Southern District Court of Florida. The Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau received 115 complaints about the defendants’ business practices. 

“This company allegedly took advantage of consumers who had already been exploited in previous scams, and today we have taken steps to stop this business from unlawfully operating in Florida,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.

According to the investigation, the defendants violated:


    · Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act by misrepresenting defendants’ business status and purported fee recovery services and making false and misleading statements to induce consumers to pay for goods or services;
    · The Federal Trade Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by requesting or receiving upfront payment from consumers for services represented to recover or assist in the return of money paid for by the consumer in a previous telemarketing transaction; and
    · The Florida Telemarketing Act by refusing consumers a refund, credit or replacement for services which are not presented or not received as promised..."

 
 
A jury found Jessica Weinhart, formerly known as Jessica Hensen, guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for her part in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The scam claimed over a thousand victims in all 20 states and Canada, all of whom were contacted and promised timeshare resale services. The defendant took part in the scheme  from 2009 until 2010 under several different company names, including Integrated Advertising Solutions, National Timeshare Resales, Administrative Timeshare Resales, and Midwest Timeshares. Victims were told that interested buyers were prepared to purchase their existing timeshares in exchange for upfront fees, ranging from $200. to $2,500. depending on how much the telemarketers believed they could collect. According to the complaint, many of the victims were elderly and had previously been targeted by similar schemes. In total, eight people have been convicted or pled guilty for their parts in this scam. Each defendant faces up to thirty years in prison. Sentencing is expected in January.
 
 
KGTV, and ABC affiliate out of San Diego has reported a possible timeshare scam involving a company using the name SD TLC Resorts.  The television station had an earlier report, and in that instance were able to obtain refunds for some customers who had reported that they had been scammed. However, according to a new story it appears the business and it's owner Bob Climber continued to operate the scheme and as a result more consumers are now filing complaints claiming fraud.

An excerpt from the report is below:

"... More upset customers contacted Team 10 about a timeshare company they said ripped them off. In August, Team 10 Troubleshooter Cristin Severance already got SD TLC Resorts to refund thousands of dollars to a group of customers. However, Team 10 is now asking where the rest of the refunds are.....

Team 10 first revealed the issues with the company in August. Several customers told Team 10 they paid thousands of dollars to the company and never got their timeshare. Climber's attorney, Allen Cate, promised refunds were coming and the people who contacted Team 10 were paid back.  New clients, like Masters, started contacting Team 10 as well. Masters said Climber always had an excuse about her refund....

The SD TLC Resorts office in Oceanside is now empty..... Team 10 is waiting to hear back from Climber."

Click here to read the full article.
 
 
Two leading timeshare developers have agreed to make policy changes that will have a major impact on the timeshare industry in the state of New York. Hilton Resorts Corporation and Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. will implement changes that will “benefit and protect customers” after reaching agreements with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, according to a statement from the attorney general released today. 

(View the press release by clicking HERE. )

Hilton has agreed to stop using a clause that disclaims responsibility for representations made by sales people regarding the availability, hotel use rights, rental resale and buybacks of timeshare interests. 

Wyndham has agreed that they will no longer offer reservation certificates to members who want to make a reservation at a timeshare hotel known as Midtown 45. Some of the timeshare members who received certificates thought that they were buying an interest in the Midtown 45 timeshare.

 “The purchase of an interest in a timeshare can be a confusing and expensive proposition,” Schneiderman said in the statement. “I am pleased to announce that these two industry leaders have agreed to make policy changes that will benefit and protect consumers. With their cooperation, we are making the timeshare industry safer, more transparent, and more accessible to investors.” 

The agreements come as the attorney general continues an investigation into Ian Bruce Eichner’s timeshare company the Manhattan Club, where Schneiderman’s office temporarily forbid sales in July. Eichner and his partners were asked to testify in court about alleged fraudulent sales tactics. 
 
 
David Andrew Glynn pleaded guilty in federal court in Charleston, West Virginia, to conspiring to defraud timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada. Glynn said he set up a bogus company, Mountain State Resales LLC, that was purportedly in the business of brokering timeshare sales. He and his associates would contact timeshare owners and advise them the company had buyers for their timeshares, provided the owners would pay fees and expenses necessary to complete the sales.

Glynn also admitted that he contacted timeshare owners who had been victims of prior fraud schemes and in those calls he posed as an agent with Internal Revenue Recovery Associates, a fake business he claimed was affiliated with a governmental agency. Glynn represented that he was investigating timeshare fraud schemes and needed the victims to send money to assist with its recovery efforts, Goodwin said.

During his plea hearing, Glynn admitted that Mountain State Resale was not a legitimate business and had simply been created to defraud owners of timeshares. He said he'd received more than $86,000 from the scams.

As part of his plea agreement, Glynn must make full restitution to his victims. Sentencing was set for Nov. 24. 
The investigation of this case was handled by West Virginia State Police, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith George Thomas overseeing his prosecution.

Primary source:  http://www.fbi.gov/pittsburgh/press-releases/2014/david-glynn-pleads-guilty-to-defrauding-timeshare-owners