Timeshare Purchase Scams Have New Meaning for Wyndham Owners

Timeshare Purchase Scams Have New Meaning for Wyndham Owners

Over the years, the general public has become more aware of what timesharing is. While some claim it’s nothing like it once was, we can all agree it’s become questionable at best. From the deceit during initial presentations to predatory agencies targeting disgruntled owners, timeshare purchase scams are more prevalent than ever before. 

Because of the skepticism surrounding the industry as a whole, timeshare companies have felt the need to add even more aggression to their sales approach. Although front-end disclosure has been concerning for decades, sellers have been recently focused on keeping buyers under contract. One of the ways they’ve done this is blame third party solutions for owner dissatisfaction and discredit exit companies altogether.

Even though their desperation is obvious to most, the ability to persuade the uninformed has allowed the industry to thrive. But it hasn’t only affected those that know nothing about timeshare travel. Plenty of satisfied buyers have eventually been sold on upgrades filled with lies. It’s why we’ve committed to educating consumers on timeshare purchase scams and other relevant forms of misconduct. The experience just isn’t being portrayed accurately.

Wyndham Said to be Involved in Timeshare Purchase Scams

In recent years, a number of people have had a lot to say about Wyndham’s timeshare program. Not much of it has been positive. The 2007 class action lawsuit that was settled out of court in 2007 spoke volumes. Even past employees have taken legal action for being asked to perform deceitful sales practices. So we’re not surprised that another class action lawsuit, predicated on deception, is beginning to surface. 

Scott Hardy of Top Class Actions blames the allegations on timeshare’s shift to points programs. During his interview with The Ring of Fire, he uses his parent’s old experience to explain how fractional ownership has shifted. “If you didn’t want to use that week, you could put it in your bank and go to other places or around the country.. People used to be able to purchase a week and use it often.” Today, it’s not that simple. Buyers are being sold on possibilities and the perpetual reality isn’t sitting well.

Hardy sheds some light on why some of Wyndham’s owners feel scammed. “If you want to use those points, you better book that at least a year in advance.” He goes on to sarcastically describe Wyndham’s solution. “But don’t worry if it’s not available, you can always buy more points.” It’s safe to assume the plaintiffs in the lawsuit don’t share his humor here.

More About the Class Action Lawsuit vs Wyndham.

Nazret Gebremeskel, Michael and AnnaMarie Deneen, and Erin and Paul Munoz are pursuing the hospitality giant for multiple misrepresentations. They claim that some of the features of Wyndham’s timeshare program weren’t available. Whether it was availability, point values, cleaning services or parking options, each owner didn’t receive what they were promised.

Not only do victims of timeshare purchase scams have to sit through long presentations, they also have to deal with the aggressive nature of customer service teams (aka sales specialists). Many buyers are leery of the purchase in general but usually buy in when additional features or offers are presented. But when they can’t even book the condo and the bogus offers don’t transpire, they’re forced to purchase more or simply pay the bill. 

While the goal of these claimants is to receive a refund or some sort of restitution for the purchase, we hope these class action lawsuits force Wyndham to make some changes that benefit buyers. At the end of the day, settling with disgruntled owners and sweeping losses under the rug only creates the perception that Wyndham endorses timeshare purchase scams.

If they don’t start listening to their owners soon, travelers are going to avoid turning to them for their vacations. If you or someone you know is tired of the purchase and looking for a way to exit vacation ownership, we’d love to go over your options. To learn more about our 100% satisfaction rating, you can schedule a free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.

Legitimate Checklist For Deeded Timeshare Donations by the FTC

Legitimate Checklist For Deeded Timeshare Donations by the FTC

Last summer, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a few tips that help timeshare owners avoid fraudulent, deeded timeshare donations. At the time, they were forced to address the growing number of deceptive scams that claimed they could help people get out of timeshare contracts while benefiting military veterans.

Once disgruntled timeshare owners are unable to work anything out with the resort, they usually turn to third party services for relief. It’s easier for them to fall for unethical services when they’re desperate and proceeds are said to fund a legitimate cause. From our perspective, it’s not surprising our Military has been used as a ploy.

Aside from impacting consumer’s pockets, the FTC believes deeded timeshare donation scams are harming the reputation of quality veteran charities. Not only do they want to protect fractional owners from misconduct, but uphold the integrity and honor of these organizations.

VOC’s Spin on Avoiding Timeshare Donation Scams.

While there aren’t many charitable operations willing to accept legitimate timeshare donations anymore, there are some ways unhappy buyers can research possibilities. If approached correctly, donating a timeshare can be a win for everyone involved. If you’re simply looking to offload your timeshare contract, we encourage you to read our previous blog on the subject. Nonetheless, here are some additional tips that will help you find an eager recipient by avoiding timeshare exit fraud.

1.  Before you proceed with deeded timeshare donations, it’s important that you confirm the legitimacy of the charity or cause. The easiest way to do this is online. Research the organization’s reports, ratings and customer reviews before even contacting them. The FTC lists the Charity Navigator, Guide Star, Charity Watch and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance as references.

2.  Illegal branding is one of the most common tactics that timeshare relief scams use to defraud fractional owners. Again, before reaching out, make sure the service hasn’t stolen the identity of a reputable business. Email graphics, letterheads and social media content can seem legitimate at first glance. Aside from duplicate branding, don’t assume donation services are valid just because they incorporate the terms “veterans” or “military” in their name.

3.  Take the time to make sure the charity and any of its stakeholders aren’t connected to any previous scams. Those responsible for defrauding fractional owners tend to bounce around as co-conspirators with different schemes. Phony charities tend to have phony aliases that own a multitude of complaints. If you can connect the dots and identify scam artists then it can save you a lot of frustration and money.

4.  Last but not least, if you’re brave enough to make an online timeshare donation then it’s important to know where it’s going and who’s receiving it. Most timeshare scams are geared towards collecting money without relieving buyers of their obligations. If representatives aren’t able to explain things to you, think twice. When there isn’t a paper trail, then you have to assume the end result will not work out in your favor.

Vacation Ownership Donations Can Be Risky.

The FTC has been on a mission to put an end to timeshare donation scams over the years. Help the Vets, Inc. was shut down after becoming a major player as they collected over $20 million dollars from victims between 2013 and 2017. Travis Deloy Peterson was also charged for his attempt to target innocent timeshare owners with a military ploy.

No matter how many scams regarding deeded timeshare donations are eliminated, there will always be con artists looking for a piece of the timeshare industry pie. This is why consumers need to take additional steps to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.

If you’re tired of struggling to enjoy vacation ownership and you want to find a way out, donating the property might not be the best solution. Learning about your options and finding legitimate timeshare solutions will guide you towards the goal you’re looking to achieve.

FTC Exposed Timeshare Exit Program That Sold Resale Services

FTC Exposed Timeshare Exit Program That Sold Resale Services

Misconduct in the timeshare relief realm is nothing new. It’s tough for vacation owners looking to escape perpetuity. The internet has simply made it easier for criminals to scam and consumers to read about it. But greed has been prevalent since the beginning stages of fractional ownership. While today’s crackdown on nearly every single timeshare exit program is encouraging, there was a time when consumers were limited by legalities. Things began to change earlier this decade when the FTC took legal action against a major player, Edward Lee Windsor.

How Windsor’s Operation Defrauded Timeshare Owners.

By 2012, Information Management Forum Inc. (IMF) had deceived thousands of vacation owners by manipulating them to consider recouping portions of their purchase. Some were even led to believe they could remove their financial obligation by selling their timeshare quickly. Windsor and his team initiated the scam by cold-calling deeded property owners and harassing them about eager renters and buyers. But they didn’t just make claims. 

The fraudulent operation went as far as detailing the types of renters and buyers they supposedly had at their fingertips. Victims of the scam were told IMF had professional relationships with prominent corporations that had pressing needs for available timeshares. PepsiCo and Home Depot were some of the major brands mentioned during phone conversations.

What IMF Was Offering Didn’t Really Exist.

While Windsor’s timeshare exit program made an effort to protect themselves, the phone script (that was filed with the court) was very telling. The introduction was strategically conveyed to make owners believe the opportunity carried weight. “What we do is market and advertise the rental and sale of resort properties to corporations who use them for conventions, training seminars, employee perks, business trips as well as their own vacation time.” 

Their demise was inevitable once their telemarketing approach involved false claims. The script went on to say, “The reason that I’ve been calling you is because this weekend there is going to be a major event. We currently have over 700 corporate buyers and renters coming into town for this event.” Not only did Windsor’s phony timeshare exit program create a sense of urgency but a misleading guarantee. But their aggressive, unethical approach didn’t stop there. 

They went on to specify that these business professionals were willing to pay $1,800 in weekly rental fees or $18,500 for the timeshare mortgage in the next 90 days. Talk about a huge opportunity to cash in on a purchase that might not be worthwhile. In order to combat disinterest, the scam promised to provide full refunds to those that didn’t benefit from IMF’s program within a certain period of time. 

All the owner needed to do was front the timeshare exit program anywhere from $500-$2k to get started. Profits were said to be available shortly after payments were processed. But IMF didn’t follow through with anything. While they might have been advertising to potential audiences, they couldn’t really guarantee that interested parties existed. When complaints began to pile up for IMF, Windsor simply changed the company name to Vacation Property Marketing (VPM) and continued making calls.

False Claims Buried the Phony Timeshare Exit Program

The paper trail of deceit finally caught up to the fraudulent operation when a multitude of timeshare owners began demanding a refund. Despite some victims receiving small portions back, Windsor’s team went out of their way to drag out the process and fight all chargebacks in an attempt to protect the business. They were adamant that payments went towards ads on the website “onlinevpm.com.” But even this URL screams scam. 

After hundreds of consumers filed complaints, the FTC had heard enough. Backed by Pam Bondi (the Florida Attorney General) they took legal action against Edward Windsor and his fraudulent timeshare exit programs. After a continued denial of refunds, the plaintiff asked the court to halt all operations (for IMF and VPM) and to freeze the defendant’s assets “pending further investigation.”

This monumental case saw the defendant prosecuted for violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule, the FTC Act and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The commission was unanimous in their vote to file the complaint and pursue charges. Multiple consumer protection agencies came together to ban the phony timeshare exit program from telemarketing and providing resale services for fractional owners moving forward. 

As a result, $319k was eventually mailed to reported victims of the scam.

Failed Timeshare Development in South Carolina Goes Bankrupt

Failed Timeshare Development in South Carolina Goes Bankrupt

An Ocean Boulevard property down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina recently gave up on their quest to build a popular destination in the U.S. Southeast. Sand Castle Timeshare Owners Association Inc is now filing for bankruptcy in order to deal with their unobtainable dream. The failed timeshare operation got started back in 2007 by putting 2,028 weekly intervals on the market. But the operation quickly realized the demand for their resort just wasn’t there. Over the last decade, only 35% of their units have been occupied. 

Leading up to court proceedings, the exact reasoning behind the noteworthy timeshare downfall has been vague at best. It’s been deemed one of the oddest bankruptcy claims to hit the South Carolina docket in a while. Local attorney from Nexsen Pruet, Rick Mendoza, told local news outlets that the filing was unique to anything the state has ever seen. He currently represents the failed timeshare owner’s association with law partner Ron Jones. He said, “This is the first time I’ve been involved in something in this particular situation.” 

Apparently, hundreds of timeshare owners initially invested in what was once called Sand Castle South, only to simply lose interest. Although the property management company purchased two full floors at the popular Sandcastle Oceanfront Resort in one of the most popular tourist cities in America, they weren’t able to keep buyers engaged. In the end, investors-turned-fractional-owners quietly stopped paying the obligations that kept the resort alive. Maintenance fees and other costs were abandoned, along with essentially all the 39 vacation units across both floors.

Secondary Investor Plays Role in Failed Timeshare

What makes the bankruptcy claim interesting is the fact that Sand Castle South received financial help from Festiva Adventure Club back in 2013. Herbert H. Patrick claims his company took a chance on the Myrtle Beach resort by purchasing its unsold inventory – even though it was on the verge of becoming a failed timeshare. While Patrick acknowledged the deal was not “financially well” from the get-go, he told reporters he believed his experience in the industry would stabilize the operation.

You see, Patrick’s Festiva Adventure Club is a derivative of another one of his companies called Zealandia Holdings. This venture is a stakeholder in a number of timeshare investment projects. Oddly enough, Patrick is also the president of the Bankrupt Owners Association. During July 9th’s meeting of creditors, he remembered being overly optimistic even though “the association (he invested in) was on the verge of bankruptcy.” After funneling over $1 million into the revival of Sand Castle South, he thought it would only be a matter of time before he’d reverse the resort’s previous fortunes

But unlike Patrick’s other investment ideas, he quickly found out “there just wasn’t any usage for those weeks.” After paying nearly $1000 for every interval, Festiva Adventure Club was unable to cultivate any public interest and eventually walked away, officially classifying Sand Castle South as a failed timeshare investment. After five years on lifeline, the resort lost its financial heartbeat and Patrick moved on to pursue other financial obligations with alternative investors.

Did Sand Castle Ever Stand a Chance?

Since the summer of 2019 began, all of Sand Castle’s condos have basically been vacant. While some owners are still considered in “good standing,” there aren’t a lot of perks to owning a piece of this failed timeshare operation. The property management company has never been able to figure out how to sell their units or how to hold their buyers accountable for payment. It’s hard not to assume something fishy is going on down in the Southeast. It wouldn’t be surprising considering a multitude of scams swallow up consumers in this popular tourist region.

Either way, the five hundred – or so – fractional owners at Sand Castle South will be receiving a lovely notice of foreclosure soon. The good news is, after creditors are paid in full, leftover proceeds could be paid to the timeshare owners who remained current. According to Rick Mendoza, the property management company hopes to sell the remaining 39 units at a court auction. Jones claims they are currently “looking for a buyer.” Hopefully a successful tenant at the Sandcastle Oceanfront Resort can take over and turn things around.

Failed Timeshare Ownership Isn’t Always the Buyer’s Fault.

The outcome of this story goes to show how unpredictable buying a timeshare can be. Hundreds of failed timeshare operations impact the pockets of consumers every year. While it may be difficult to see something like this coming, there are certain things you can look for to avoid let down. Before you agree to buy into something that seems promising, make sure you’re sure it’s best for you.

If you find yourself in a timeshare contract that just doesn’t make sense, there’s no reason to give up hope. Being proactive and exhausting all of your options with the resort will inevitably help you legally walk away from your agreement, free and clear of all obligations. Preventative measures will help you avoid foreclosure and the thought of facing bankruptcy yourself. To learn more, you can schedule a free consultation with us or proceed with an eligibility form below.

Failed Timeshare Refund Causes Alabama Man to Hire a Lawyer

Failed Timeshare Refund Causes Alabama Man to Hire a Lawyer

Many aspiring travelers can’t afford luxurious getaways and the timeshare industry speaks to them well. Upon purchase, most are led to believe they’re receiving a bargain. But down the road, they realize it’s not that great of a deal after all. While plenty of vacationers enjoy fractional ownership, it’s not for everyone. The problem is, it’s rather difficult to get out from under timeshare contracts. Will Sims, from Pickens County, Alabama can now attest to this. He’s currently working with an attorney after failing to receive the timeshare refund he was promised.

Sims came across the timeshare opportunity while he and his newly-wedded wife were checking into a Florida hotel prior to sailing off on a cruise for their honeymoon. But he wasn’t necessarily intrigued by the resort’s initial pitch. Matter of fact, Sims wasn’t given much of a choice but to tune into their Pompano Beach timeshare offer. “Before we could go to the hotel, we had to go to a meeting,” he recalled.

How the Timeshare Company Basically Forced the Couple to Buy

Even though the couple was abruptly forced to attend the timeshare presentation, Will and his wife didn’t want to start their trip off with conflict. They figured they’d be able to take a peak and walk away after being courteous. All they wanted to do was check into their hotel and enjoy the waking hours of their marriage. Little did they know that the inconsiderate approach was a sign for what was to come. 

After telling the timeshare salesmen that fractional ownership just wasn’t for them, Sims started to notice the aggressive nature of the sale. The high pressure tactics continued even after he told them he couldn’t afford it. Sims started to realize that the only way he and his wife would get any alone time was if he were to say, “Yes.” What inevitably gave him peace of mind was the salesman’s ploy that he could process a timeshare refund within 10 days. 

The buyer’s right to rescind their contract is a big reason why a majority of new fractional owners give in after long hours at the presentation. In hindsight, Sims now sees that the inconvenience really played to the timeshare’s advantage. Holding people hostage at the start of their vacation is “probably the easiest time for them to make this kind of stuff happen,” he said. “During that time I was more susceptible, I guess, to what happened.”

A Timeshare Refund Wasn’t Given During the Rescission Period.

When their honeymoon was over, Will had a chance to review the contract with family and friends. After minimal thought, he decided to dump the timeshare instead of keeping it. But the rescission process wasn’t anything like the timeshare reps made it out to be. “I tried several times to get a hold of them in that 10-day window and the only people I got a hold of told me that I got to call somebody else back. It was a very painful process,” said Sims. Although he followed the cancellation instructions to a “T,” the timeshare refund failed. 

To date, Sims claims he’s already paid the resort over $12K. Now that he has legal representation, he’s trying to pursue the best course of action. At the same time, you can easily see he’s on the verge of paying his Lawyer a lot more money for no resolve. Instead of simply terminating the agreement, he’s set on making the timeshare company pay for his inconvenience. “I’d like to see me being the last one that this ever happens to,” Sims said.

Scams Are Overwhelming in the Timeshare Relief Market.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sims is not the first and he won’t be the last. If you find yourself chasing a timeshare refund, hiring a reputable exit company to guide you is your best best. Attorneys and inexperienced relief programs typically only add to the damage control. If you’d like to learn more about our attorney based process, you can always schedule a free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.

Timeshare Property Resale Scam in Oregon Exposed by the BBB.

Timeshare Property Resale Scam in Oregon Exposed by the BBB.

In recent years, consumer-focused websites and programs have expanded their investigative efforts on timeshare fraud. Timeshare relief has deservedly received special attention. Although a decrease in criminal activity within the industry will take time, a strong message is being sent. In the past, it’s taken a multitude of complaints to bring attention to a typical timeshare property resale scam. But today, different platforms are working together, for the consumer by studying complaint trends that help lead them to misconduct.

2019 has been a busy year for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in this regard. They’ve made it a priority to act on the complaints they receive, especially from timeshare owners. We just published a news article covering the Bureau’s plan to target relief agencies in southwest Missouri. It’s apparent the BBB now understands just how troublesome and costly owning a timeshare can be. Like us, they too want owners to learn about deception before it’s experienced. 

Portland-Area Company Fails at Selling Timeshares

At the end of May, the Northwest Pacific BBB had an alert to share with consumers as well. They’ve officially categorized M&T Property Management as an operational timeshare scam in Portland, Oregon. After investigating the agency and analyzing the lack of their rebuttals, the BBB determined M&T is simply acting as a timeshare property resale company. There’s essentially no evidence showing the company actually knows how to help timeshare owners sell their property or offload their contract

According to the report, M&T has gone above and beyond to make their company seem real. Their website and other online profiles are full of misleading statements, inaccurate business information and phony credentials. Come to find out, the operation doesn’t even have proper licensing for property management, real estate, escrow and construction in the state of Oregon. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The BBB confirmed that M&T also stole the identity of a recently closed company in Oregon in order to deceive victims.

Even the Oregon Real Estate Agency attempted to contact M&T with no prevail. After further research, investigators believe the timeshare property resale scam is also connected to another fraudulent operation in Seattle by the name of Beach Property Management. They’re purportedly utilizing the same verbiage that M&T used on their website and in their contracts. At this point, it’s hard to tell how many co-conspirators are actually involved.

The BBB clearly wants the public to know how misleading timeshare exit fraud can be. Not every business claiming to offer real estate investment or brokerage services can actually help you. No matter how good the solution sounds, you have to be sure before handing over thousands of dollars for something you know little about. M&T Property Management hasn’t even been in business one year and their customers are already screaming fraud. With almost $37K in total losses already reported, it’s a shame so many people fell for the timeshare property resale scam.

You Can Easily Avoid Timeshare Resale Fraud.

Even when a website seems official, there are always telling signs when it comes to identifying fraud. A majority of the fractional owners that fell for this scam had some sort of interaction with the company online. If they would have looked at the online registry for the business or it’s online domain (web address), they would have found that M&T barely got started in August of 2018. Since the company didn’t possess a proven reputation for reselling timeshare properties, consumers should have already been skeptical.

No one has to be a victim of timeshare resale fraud. But consumers need to take the time to research their options before they attempt to resell a timeshare property. By doing your homework, you’ll easily find out that most timeshares are un-sellable anyways. The non-existent market should tell you all you need to know about businesses claiming to be experts at selling timeshare properties.

If you or someone you know has endured a timeshare property resale scam, you can always file a report with the BBB or reach out to other consumer protection programs for assistance. If you’re tired of trying to sell your timeshare and are ready to legally cancel your agreement, you’re more than welcome to schedule a FREE consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.

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