<![CDATA[Vacation-Times.org - Scam Alerts]]>Sat, 17 Feb 2018 11:26:16 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Possible timeshare scam: Resort Network Services LLC]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:56:56 GMThttp://vacation-times.org/scam-alerts/possible-timeshare-scam-resort-network-services-llcThe Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a timeshare scam that lures victims by offering lucrative prices for those reselling a property. The scam uses the name and address of Resort Network Services LLC, which claims to be based in Raleigh, N.C. However, an investigation by the BBB serving Eastern North Carolina revealed that the real Resort Network Services dissolved in 2009.  

The scam company is targeting people throughout the United States and Canada who are looking to resell a timeshare property. Targets were asked to wire thousands of dollars to Mexico under the guise paying “title fees,” “transfer fees,” “foreign investment fees” and other phony charges.

The BBB of Eastern North Carolina originally became aware of the scam when a consumer contacted them about the company, assuming it was based in their area. Since then, BBB has received several Scam Tracker reports about the con.

<![CDATA[Top Ten Consumer Complaints of 2017]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 16:52:05 GMThttp://vacation-times.org/scam-alerts/top-ten-consumer-complaints-of-2017Below are the top 10 consumer complaints, according to a BBB survey. 

1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes
2. Home improvement/construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job
3. Utilities: Installation issues, service problems, billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, Internet, electric and gas service
4. Retail sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver 
5. Credit/debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt-collection tactics 
6. Health products/services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, medical billing issues
7. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform 
8. (Tie) Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics
8. Household goods: Misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances
9. Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases. 
10. Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations, abusive sales practices, and failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.

Most timeshare related scams we report are in reality just another form of telemarketing and internet fraud. These tactics would fall into the tenth category above. 
<![CDATA[Four Year Prison Sentence for Williamsburg Timeshare Scam]]>Sat, 22 Jul 2017 15:23:12 GMThttp://vacation-times.org/scam-alerts/four-year-prison-sentence-for-williamsburg-timeshare-scamA Williamsburg lawyer has been sentenced to 50 months in prison for a participating in a timeshare scheme from 2011 to 2013. Deborah Wagner, 45, was sentenced to over four years in prison and one year of supervised release Thursday morning in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, according to court records.
Her prison sentence will begin Sept. 9, documents state. 

Wagner was a partner at the law firm of Wagner & Hyman in Williamsburg. Prosecutors believe she used the law firm as a front to conduct a timeshare transfer scheme from 2011 to 2013.  According to a government press release (read the full release by clicking HERE), Ms. Wagner participated in a timeshare scheme with Keith Kosco, Julie Duffield, Brendan Hawkins and others. Keith Kosco owned and operated a number of entities involved in travel, tourism and timeshare businesses including Resort Realty, Inc., Resort Solutions, Inc., and Exotic Equity Transfers, LLC (EET). Brendan Hawkins owned and operated another timeshare transfer business known as GoodBye Timeshares (GoodBye). Both businesses offered timeshare transfers in exchange for upfront fees. Desperate timeshare owners who were otherwise unable to escape the financial obligation of the timeshare ownership would pay for a service to have the unwanted timeshare deeded out of their name. It was represented to the seller of the timeshare that clean title would pass to the new owner with no further obligations of timeshare ownership (including maintenance fees) once the transfer was complete.

<![CDATA[Club Intrawest Members to be Impacted by Court Decision]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://vacation-times.org/scam-alerts/club-intrawest-members-to-be-impacted-by-court-decisionOn July 11, 2017, in a decision that will likely affect all timeshares and owners of timeshares with properties located in Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal set aside the Tax Court of Canada's decision in the case of Club Intrawest v. Canada. In doing so, the Court of Appeal substituted its own decision to refer GST assessments back to Canada Revenue Agency for reassessment of GST just for services supplied in Canada in relation to vacation homes situated in Canada.  Federal Appeal Court Judges Nadon, Gauthier and Dawson agreed with the Tax Court's finding that a principal-agent relationship does not exist between the club and its 22,000 members. This decision also confirms that members of Club Intrawest (now re-branded Embarc by Diamond Resorts International (DRI)) do not hold beneficial ownership in the real estate and equipment in vacation home resorts and do not control the Club.  The Court found that members merely own a right of occupancy in exchange for their resort points. This contradicts sales presentations, financial and marketing materials by Intrawest Corporation ("Intrawest") and now DRI, to the effect that members have beneficial ownership of vacation homes and control the Club through election of the Board of Directors, responsible for managing the Club's operations.  The ruling will require the club to pay reassessed GST back-taxes for tax years 2002-2007. The GST/HST tax liability for tax years 2008-2016 is unknown at this time.  All timeshare owners with vacation homes in Canada may be impacted by this decision and may also see themselves assessed for back taxes on the supply of services in Canada related to vacation homes situated in Canada.

"Based on a detailed survey answered by more than 400 members, I expect that the majority of our members will be shocked and disappointed that the court found that members have no beneficial ownership in the vacation homes.  About 79% of them remember being told by Intrawest and DRI sales representatives they would own a real estate interest in the resort properties. About 91% of members also remember they were explicitly told that members controlled the Club and that resort properties were vested in a trust for the benefit of members. The Federal Court of Appeal now tells us that no evidence was produced that ownership of these homes has been vested in a trust for the benefit of members", says Patrick Cormier, Volunteers Team Leader of the Club Intrawest Owners Group (Embarc), (CIOG) a grassroots movement of over 3400 members.  "However, it seems clear that the Intrawest/DRI-dominated Board of Directors anticipated the GST liability all along since it began accumulating a C$14 million reserve from members' resort fees under a 2011 Board resolution without informing members until the CIOG raised the GST issue with the Board in 2016".

Club Intrawest was established by Intrawest Corporation in 1993 as a stand-alone not-for-profit Delaware corporation, but with Intrawest in a controlling position. Intrawest ensured they had control of the Club in several ways, including by granting themselves (as "Declarant" member) a 15 times voting power advantage over individual members guaranteeing Intrawest and now DRI, ongoing and complete control over all aspects of the Club.  In addition, Intrawest and now DRI voted in their own employees on the Club's Board of Directors to maintain a controlling majority on the Board, hired themselves as manager and pay themselves a guaranteed 10 to 15 per cent management fee on all financial transactions.  Club Intrawest (Embarc) members have no control of the club or effective means for recourse, even though members, other than DRI, own 95 per cent of the timeshare points.]]>
<![CDATA[Guilty Plea in Prosecution of Mexican Timeshare Transfer Scam]]>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:25:48 GMThttp://vacation-times.org/scam-alerts/guilty-plea-in-prosecution-of-mexican-timeshare-transfer-scamPicture
Marco Antonio Ramirez Zuno, 32, of Cancun, Mexico, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to a timeshare resale fraud scheme which targeted consumers who owned timeshares in Mexico.

According to court documents, between 2011 and 2012, Mr. Zuno and others conducted a timeshare resale fraud scheme based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Sales agents including co‑defendant Juan Montalbo, who also goes by the name of John Monte, conducted sales meetings in Mexico to convince prospective customers to purchase a timeshare vacation package marketed under the names Platinum Access Program or World Luxury Destinations.

If customers had existing timeshare properties, Mr. Montalbo assured them that another company, Continental Resources, would arrange for their sale. When the customers returned from Mexico, they were contacted by co-defendant Wayne York, who also calls himself Tim Hamick or Michael Halston, who claimed to represent companies named Property Marketing Group or Eagle Market Solution and claiming that a bona fide purchaser had been found and was ready to buy their existing timeshares. Others were contacted directly by Mr. York without first giving their information to Mr. Montalbo.

According to court documents, Mr. York and others would then extract a series of upfront payments from the victims, which he claimed were required to be wired to bank accounts in Mexico in order for the guaranteed sale to be completed. Mr. York and the others would lie to buyers, telling them that a buyer for the timeshare had already been located and that all the prepaid fees wired to Mexico were being held in escrow and would be refunded as soon as the transaction was completed.

But after the victims wired the money to Mexico, Mr. York and the others would break off all contact with them. According to court documents, Mr. Zuno managed the Mexican bank accounts used in the fraud, trained co-conspirators on how to conduct the fraud, and managed the disbursement of the proceeds of the fraud.

The charges against Messrs. Montalbo and York are only allegations; those defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr. Zuno has been in custody since his arrest in April 2016 in Miami, Florida. Messrs. Montalbo and York have been released on bond and are next scheduled to appear in court on June 6 for a further status hearing on their cases.

Meanwhile, Mr. Zuno is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge John Mendez on June 27, when he will face a possible maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

​The full document showing the original charges can be read HERE