Buy, Sell, & Rent Timeshare Condos
 
In May 2013, the FTC alleged that Resort Property Depot Inc. and Narendra “Nick” Patel made unsolicited telemarketing calls to timeshare owners and tricked them into paying fees ranging from $300 to $3,000, and that Resort Solution Trust Inc., Lincoln Renwick II, and Anthony Talavera deceived thousands of consumers into paying advance fees ranging between $800 and $3,400. Consumers did not receive what they were promised, and they were denied refunds. The court subsequently halted the defendants’ allegedly deceptive practices, froze their assets, and put the companies into receivership pending litigation.

Under both settlement orders, in addition to the ban on selling timeshare resale services, the defendants are permanently prohibited from telemarketing, misrepresenting material facts about any product or service, collecting money from customers, selling or otherwise benefitting from consumers’ personal information, and failing to properly dispose of customer information.

The settlement order against Resort Property Depot and Patel imposes a judgment of more than $2.6 million, which will be suspended  when the defendants have paid $175,000 to the Commission and Patel has surrendered his car and certain bank and investment accounts. A default judgment was entered against Resort Solution Trust in December 2013. The settlement order announced today against Renwick and Talavera imposes a judgment of more than $6.4 million, which will be suspended when Renwick has transferred to the FTC possession of bank accounts and a car. The full judgments will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final orders was 5-0. The orders against Resort Property Depot, and against Renwick and Talavera, were entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on July 1, 2014, and June 25, 2014, respectively.

 
 
According to the complaint filed by the FTC and Florida’s Attorney General in the Universal Timeshare case, the defendants claimed they had buyers who would pay a specified price for consumers’ timeshare properties, or that the defendants would quickly sell those timeshares, and charged consumers up to $2,200 in connection with the promised sale.  In fact, the defendants did not have buyers lined up to pay any price for consumers’ timeshares. Sheldon Lee Cohen, who resides and operates a telemarketing business in the Dominican Republic, was the mastermind and main perpetrator behind this scam.

The complaint charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), including calling consumers with numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, as well as the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Florida Timeshare Resale Accountability Act. The court subsequently halted the defendants’ deceptive practices, froze their U.S. assets, and appointed a receiver over the two companies, and over Cohen, when doing business as Universal Timeshare Sales Associates and M.G.M. Universal Timeshares, pending litigation.

Under the court order, all of the defendants are banned from selling timeshare resale services. They also are prohibited from violating the TSR and two Florida laws, and from misrepresenting material facts about any product or service, including the total cost, any restrictions, the nature or terms of a refund or cancellation policy, and the income likely to be realized. The defaulting defendants (Cohen and his company, Vacation Communications Group LLC) are also banned from telemarketing.

The order imposes a judgment of more than $1.2 million against the settling defendants (Tammie Lynn Cline, Mark Russell Gardner, and their former telemarketing company, Gardner Cline LLC), which will be suspended based on their inability to pay. The full judgment will become due immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition. The judgment for $10.2 million against the defaulting defendants is immediately due and payable upon entry of the court order.

The Commission vote approving the proposed stipulated final order was 5-0. The judgment was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, on June 16, 2014.

 
 
A former employee of The Vacation Ownership Group LLC, was sentenced today to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution for conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Eric Reilly, 34, of Galloway, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Reilly entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman, who also imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The Vacation Ownership Group, a/k/a VO Group LLC, purported to offer owners of timeshares consulting services, including timeshare cancellation services. In September 2010, Reilly started working at the VO Group and was trained by VO Group managers to call using a prepared script and regularly lie to customers. Reilly would falsely state he was calling in response to a complaint they had made to timeshare developers and lenders. He gave customers the false impression that he was working for Wyndham Vacation Resorts, a developer of timeshare resorts. Reilly then would falsely represent that the VO Group could pay off the customers’ timeshares or have their timeshares cancelled. Reilly falsely told some customers that their credit would not be damaged if they stopped paying for their timeshares. Reilly gave some customers “references” who were actually VO Group employees posing as satisfied customers. After hearing Reilly’s false representations, some customers sent checks to the VO Group, including one customer who sent the VO Group a $31,385 check. Reilly admitted to causing more than $70,000 in losses.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hillman sentenced Reilly to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $3,040,767.54 in restitution.

 
 
A reader submitted the following scam alert about a possible version of the Mexican timeshare tax scheme:

"... It's the Mexican tax scam. Mid-West Global Advisors contacted us with an offer to purchase stating they had a buyer. We were contacted by Continental Escrow Co. with the paperwork. They called us back saying Mexico required taxes to be paid. I said to take them out of the closing costs. He said that was impossible. We declined to continue the sale. .."   Deborah K.

If you believe you have been victimized by this group, please report the crime at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.


 
 
An Orange County woman is facing a laundry list of charges after investigators said she helped run an unlicensed telemarketing business that scammed timeshare owners. Investigators with the Department of Agriculture said Jennifer Bacon and her partner, Carmen Rodriguez, both ran a company called RCIJB Worldwide Enterprise Inc. They allegedly scammed timeshare owners by claiming to have a buyer for their timeshare. The victims paid the requested fees, but their timeshares were never sold.

Bacon was arrested for a similar crime in 2012. Rodriguez was also charged for the previous scam and is currently serving time for it.  Bacon was arrested Thursday and is being held on a $101,500 bond.

 
 
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that Pasquale Pappalardo, 60, of Coral Springs, Florida, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, with three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $1,061,401 and forfeiture of $3,500,000. Pappalardo was previously convicted in November 2013 in federal court in Fort Lauderdale of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956. Co-defendant Audwin Lovinsky, 35, of Tamarac, Florida, was also sentenced today to 33 months in prison and three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $34,635. Lovinsky was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349.

In all, 41 defendants were charged for their involvement with a timeshare resale telemarketing room called Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group Inc. (TMMMG). The other defendants were charged in Case Nos. 11-60190-Cr-Cohn, 11-60247-Cr-Marra, 11-60268-Cr-Hurley, 12-60019-Cr-Scola, 13-60049-Cr-Dimitrouleas, 12-60149-Cr-Scola, 13-60154-Cr-Scola, and 13-60155-Cr-Dimitrouleas. Aside from the two defendants who were sentenced today, 37defendants previously pled guilty, one is awaiting trial, and one is deceased.

According to the evidence presented at trial, in February 2009, Pasquale Pappalardo, also known to the witnesses as “Patsy U’ Patso” and “Posh,” and Joseph Crapella, also known to witnesses as “Joey Cigars,” started a branch office of Time Share Market Pro (TMP), a timeshare resale business. The testimony at trial was that they knew each other from a previous stint in federal prison. In June 2009, at the direction of Pappalardo and Crapella, their associates took customer files and the electronic database of TMP, among other items, without the knowledge of the owner of TMP.

Pappalardo and Crapella then took the employees and the documents seized from TMP and formed a second timeshare resale company called TMMMG. In November 2009 and January 2010, TMMMG hired salesmen who worked for other fraudulent telemarketing resale companies, including defendant Lovinsky, who used the phone name of Edwin Lovins. Among the lies they would tell timeshare unit owners was that they had sold their timeshare units and that they needed to pay a refundable fee to secure the sale. The salesmen would then ask the timeshare unit owners for a fee of at least $1,996 and as much as $10,000. At no time were there any buyers for the timeshare units. The testimony at trial was that both Pappalardo and Crapella were told about the lies being told by the salesman, but Pappalardo and Crapella would not do anything to stop the salespeople from lying.

During the 10 months that TMMMG was in business, it fraudulently obtained approximately $5,000,000 from about 3,000 customers. Pappalardo received at least $300,000 in checks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from the money sent by victims of TMMMG.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer would also like to recognize the assistance provided by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Broward Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey N. Kaplan.

 
 
Attorney General Chris Koster has issued a press release notifying consumers that he has filed a lawsuit against California-based Timeshare Relief, Inc., and its owner, David MacMillan, for numerous violations of Missouri's No Call laws.

According to the lawsuit, Timeshare Relief made hundreds of automated "robocalls" to Missourians on the No Call list, offering their services to assist the consumers in selling or transferring timeshares. The suit also alleges that the company ignored consumers' requests to stop calling, in further violation of Missouri's telemarketing
law. Koster's office claims to have received more than 100 complaints from Missouri consumers about the company's practices. 

Koster is asking the court to prohibit the company from making any further solicitations to Missouri consumers. He is also seeking penalties of up to $5,000 per violation of the no call law, up to $1,000 per violation of the telemarketing law, and recovery of the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the case. 

Consumers who believe they received harassing telephone solicitations are encouraged to file a complaint at (866) 289-9633.

Missourians can sign up for the No Call list at https://www.ago.mo.gov/nocall.php link or by
calling 866-662-2551.
 
 
The Better Business Bureau of Metro New York has issued a warning to consumers about a timeshare advertising business using the name "All Seasons Timeshares", which has been the subject of many consumer complaints. Follows is an excerpt from the warning:

"...All Seasons Timeshares reneged on the “100% Money Back Guarantee” for fees charged for a timeshare resale listing. Consumers reported signing contracts with All Seasons Timeshares to list their timeshares on the company’s website and to hire the company to help broker the sales, allegedly paying an upfront fee ranging from $300 - $1000. According to the complainants, the contracts they signed stipulated that if All Seasons
Timeshares was unable to sell their timeshares in the allotted timeframe, All Seasons Timeshares would refund the entire listing fee. Consumers say the terms of the guarantee required them to fax the company on the same day that the contract expired and request the money back.

 In complaints, consumers state that their timeshares were not sold by the end of the guarantee period and they faxed the required notification to All Seasons Timeshares. The promised refunds were not issued and consumers say the company representatives stopped returning calls and/or emails. Mailed complaint notifications issued by the BBB came back as undeliverable by USPS and the website for All Seasons Timeshares was eventually shut down. BBB dispute resolution representatives left messages on the phone number for All Seasons Timeshares that were not returned. .."

Read the full alert by clicking HERE>

 
 
More good news in the continuing fight against telemarketing fraud targeting timeshare owners!

Doris Heliin was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for her part in a telemarketing scheme that targeting timeshare owners and defrauded more than a million dollars from consumers with false promises of timeshare resales. She was also ordered to pay more than $500,000 in restitution to victims of the scam.

Co-defendent Joseph Heinz, who also pleaded guilty, was also sentenced to more than a year in prison and ordered to pay more than $70,000. in restitution.

The boiler room scheme used several aliases including  Smart Choice Vacations, TMI Enterprises and Divine Vacations Group. Authorities clam that more than two hundred and fifty timeshare owners lost a total of $1.1 million after they were duped into sending payments for fake closing costs on timeshare sales that never materialized.

 
 
Authorities have charged a father and son team with taking part in a telemarketing scheme to defraud timeshare owners. Ronald and Michael Muise are facing charges of wire and mail fraud through a telemarketing business under the name "The Jariv Company". Other employees are also facing charges. 

 The Muises are accused of cold calling timeshare owners with the promise of a buyer for their unwanted vacation ownership property. The timeshare owners were coerced into paying large upfront fees, and were then unable to obtain a refund when the promised sale did not occur. Authorities believe the scheme defrauded consumers of more than seven million dollars over a five year period.

Read more by clicking HERE.