Identifying fraud in the timeshare realm isn’t as easy as one might think. Tens of thousands of timeshare owners are defrauded every year by predatory operations. Even after scams are uncovered, a lack of evidence can cover up a criminal’s trail. This is why timeshare owners need to report misconduct as soon as they feel they’re being lied to or taken advantage of. While research may help you crack the case yourself, consumer protection agencies need to see a pattern of misconduct in order to pursue restitution on your behalf. When more people complain, it makes it easier for the Attorney General’s Office to take notice. This was the case when AG Josh Shapiro and his team received 88 complaints over the last year on a company by the name of Groupwise, Inc..
Andrew Harkins and Derek McGuire managed Groupwise’s initiatives and positioned the company as a timeshare resale service in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The vague operation targeted fractional owners across the country pitching a better way to sell timeshare properties. Aside from promising to locate buyers, Groupwise also committed to covering their client’s timeshare costs in the meantime. We’re not sure if they made these claims out of confidence or deceit, but it wasn’t very smart. Either way, Harkins and McGuire charged their clients roughly $3,500 to $6,300 to proceed with their resale opportunity.
Although Groupwise found it relatively easy to sign up desperate timeshare owners, they quickly realized they weren’t able to keep up with their promises. The resale market just doesn’t exist for timeshares (we can’t reiterate this enough). Since they couldn’t locate qualified buyers to cover costs, Groupwise ended up bailing on all guarantees. In September of 2018, Harkins and McGuire terminated the operation, affecting over 930 timeshare owners. Besides paying Groupwise for nothing, owners remained under contract and were required to cover past due timeshare expenses in order to avoid penalty.
Details on the Lawsuit Against Timeshare Reseller.
Earlier this month, the Attorney General’s Office announced a timeshare resale lawsuit against Groupwise after investigating the actualities of consumer complaints. Shapiro shed some light on their reasoning. “The defendants took advantage of consumers who were seeking relief from timeshares that they no longer wanted or couldn’t afford, and instead made their financial burdens even worse.” The lawsuit alleges Groupwise failed to “honor the terms of their service agreements” and didn’t place payments in escrow amidst certain state law requirements.
According to the filing, timeshare owners lost nearly $3 million through the scam. The Commonwealth is seeking consumer restitution, civil penalties and costs for Groupwise’s victims. They’re also hoping to ban McGuire and Harkins from participating in any timeshare activity within the state of Pennsylvania.
During his announcement, the Attorney General recognized those responsible for putting the timeshare resale lawsuit together. “I’m grateful for the hard work of my Bureau of Consumer Protection and Senior Deputy Attorney General Amy Schulman to hold this company and its officers accountable and secure relief for the consumers they scammed.” State legislature aims to continue its pursuit of scams in the timeshare industry.
There are a number of ways consumers can detect timeshare fraud. But the first step is to avoid desperation. Once regret sinks in, nearly every offer to escape the contract is appealing. Using sound judgement can save you a lot of money and even more regret. For more information on our attorney based cancellations, you can schedule a FREE consultation or proceed with a qualification form below.