CAREERS

Whistleblower Exposes Timeshare Sales Scams That Targeted the Elderly

Whistleblower Exposes Timeshare Sales Scams That Targeted the Elderly

Although many lawsuits against timeshare companies don’t work out, the pursuit of justice can be worth it in the long run. At the same time, it’s important for those considering challenging a major corporation to understand what they’re up against. Timeshare companies make millions off of vulnerable property owners and know exactly how to  deflect accusations. A lot goes into accomplishing a favorable ruling. While most of our articles surround  timeshare contract cancellation, we wanted to start a series that shines a light on the reality of the timeshare industry. So, let’s kick things off with a former employee that took a stand against unethical activity and timeshare sales scams that targeted the elderly.

Former sales person Trish Williams, for Wyndham timeshare, was recently awarded $18.6 million by a California jury as a whistleblower against the corporation.  The settlement was awarded for wrongful termination after Williams reported timeshare fraud on the elderly by Wyndham. They were basically executing timeshare sales scam that preyed on those that couldn’t really even take care of themselves. The court later reduced the amount to $12.8 million citing a mismatch for the compensatory damages, but made statements that Wyndham’s timeshare sales tactics were “highly reprehensible”.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff, Williams, reported shocking and abhorrent timeshare sales strategies that were used by the sales department of the largest timeshare company in the industry.  Evidence presented in the month long court case documented that Wyndham employees were encouraged to lie, cheat, and do whatever it took to get the sale.  Employees were also opening and maxing out credit cards without knowledge or permission of owners of the timeshares. The salespersons also made untrue statements regarding the values of the timeshares, as well as statements regarding easily selling those timeshares back to Wyndham at the owners request.  

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The most atrocious of these tactics included “Taft” days, when high pressure sales tactics of “Telling them any f’n thing” in order to get the sale. One employee was quoted, “I sold my soul to the devil. I can say whatever I want so long as I don’t put it in writing, that’s why Wyndham has good lawyers.” What really crossed the line was the targeting of the defenseless aging population. Companies and their employees were banking on people at the most vulnerable state of their lives.

Williams’ lawyer and legal team specified, “This was an epic battle against a well-funded army of lawyers that took us across the United States to obtain evidence and testimony demonstrating the fraud.  This jury was deliberate and careful. In no way should this verdict be characterized as anything other than what it is: just compensation for Ms. Williams and a penalty of less than one half of one percent of this mammoth corporation’s net value.”

Williams herself addressed the reporters stating, “I am grateful a jury of 12 people exposed the facts of this fraud and confirmed that I was terminated for standing up to Wyndham on behalf of the elderly clients that they were ripping off.  For six long years, I have battled the world’s largest timeshare corporation so that the facts showing their dishonesty would be revealed to an unbiased jury and the American public. I want to say to others that know people are being cheated by their employers: have the courage to stand up and protect others.  It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. I’d also like to thank [the multiple legal teams] who took my case and beat back the army of defense lawyers that Wyndham threw at us. We need more lawyers who will fight for what’s right.”

One of her lawyers also chimed in to her statement by saying, “This is a warning to [timeshare] corporations worldwide: do not steal from the elderly as you will be held accountable.  Given the aging of our population, more and more elder financial fraud is occurring. Whistleblowers need to come forward, and they should be commended for their courage and sacrifice.  If others in this industry, or any industry, see fraud, report it to any outside agency and make a protest to your company’s ethics line. It’s up to individual citizens, lawyers, judges, and juries to protect the vulnerable and bring the powerful to justice.”

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If you’re currently experiencing frustrations with your timeshare company, don’t lose hope. Aside from resort employees realizing what they’re doing is wrong, there are plenty of timeshare owners who feel your pain. Do you feel like you’re stuck in a timeshare? Do you know someone or have an aging parent that might be paying thousands of dollars towards a timeshare they don’t use? We’d love to talk to you and explain some of the available options for finding relief. Whether you simply need some advice to negotiate with the resort or you’re ready to cancel your contract, our free consultations give you the answers you need More information about resort negotiations or how to legally cancel your timeshare is only a phone call away.

How police brought down one shady time-share operation

How police brought down one shady time-share operation

The timeshare industry has historically been plagued by developers who use high-pressure and deceptive sales tactics to close a timeshare sale. Using false and misleading statements of what buyers could expect from their timeshare ownership, the industry has a tarnished reputation which over the years grown ever worse.

In 2008, with the collapse of the economy and crash of the stock market, many homeowners found themselves no longer able to afford their homes much less the timeshare that they had purchased in a moment of weakness.

Because a timeshare is essentially a “lifetime” obligation to pay maintenance, taxes and fees it is a liability not an asset, that many people could no longer either afford or want.

Faced with the prospect of ever increasing maintenance fees, and desperate to get rid of the so – called “ vacation of a lifetime” many timeshare owners turned to the timeshare resale market in an effort to be relieved of their lifelong obligation to pay ever increasing dues and fees.

Into this vacuum of desperate owners wanting to sell, jumped the timeshare resale scammers.

Armed with false promises of ready buyers, fast sales, big profits and money-back guarantees fly – by – night scammers proliferated with promises of a quick sale and lots of money for what was now an unwanted timeshare.

The truth is timeshares are not an appreciating asset and there is no ready market for a used timeshare. A simple search on ebay can verify the truth of this statement. By simply entering the search term “timeshare” hundreds of supposedly valuable timeshares will appear for as little as $1.00 with the seller agreeing to pay all the closing costs.

With the timeshare resale scam running rampant, the Federal Trade Commission and state consumer protection agencies began to shut down dishonest timeshare resellers for bilking timeshare owners out of millions of dollars.

The state of Florida quickly passed a state law designed to crack down on this kind of fraud. That law forbids timeshare resellers from making unfounded promises and collecting large upfront fees.

The Federal Trade Commission was even more proactive, spearheading a national effort against the timeshare resale scam bringing over 200 actions nationwide against the scammers in 28 states.

So if you are a timeshare owner who is no longer interested in the ever increasing fees, lack of availability and high pressure sales pitches to “upgrade” avoid the timeshare resales scam at all costs.

If you own a timeshare, question any offers to help you resell it. Moreover, if you are thinking of selling a timeshare look first at what is out there. Listen carefully for the promise of lots of money quickly and a request for an upfront fee. Those are two signs of a timeshare resale scam.

The California Bureau of Real Estate warns: “The fraudsters use the names of companies (some of which have professional-looking but usually phony websites, fancy-sounding titles and addresses, and purport to be escrow, timeshare resale, finance, and/or title service businesses) and individuals in California.”

Remember this, once purchased a timeshare is very, very hard and almost impossible to sell.

So if you are looking to be relieved of your timeshare and its lifelong financial obligations, find a company who can provide you a guarantee to cancel your timeshare contract.

At the offices of Vacation Ownership Consultants, we have helped hundreds of timeshare owners who no longer wish to be burdened with their timeshare.

For more information on how you can safely eliminate an unwanted, unsellable timeshare, please contact us today. Our consultants are standing by to assist you. Call 1-800-614-5288

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