More Companies That Couldn’t Get Rid of Timeshare Purchases.

More Companies That Couldn’t Get Rid of Timeshare Purchases.

When people purchase a timeshare for the first time, negative repercussions are never at the forefront of their minds. It’s pretty much sunshine and rainbows in the beginning stages. While the sales presentation might have been overwhelming, new buyers are usually extremely content with their initial decision – and some remain that way. Others experience remorse quickly after they realize front-end disclosure was vague, misrepresented, or outright omitted. This can occur when owners realize availability isn’t what they were promised or when they stumble across hidden contract obligations. Unexpected annual fees often catch first time owners off guard. When a timeshare owner ends up feeling conned or trapped they usually start looking for a company that knows how to get rid of timeshare purchases.

Unfortunately, like our last article pointed out, finding relief is a lot easier said than done. Every year, tens of thousands of people are robbed during their quest to cancel a timeshare. Not only are resorts working against them to keep them under contract, but 3rd party “solutions” are bombarding them with ambiguous promises.

Far too many fractional owners truly don’t know their timeshare is perpetual. They think they can ask for a refund if it doesn’t work out. Once they realize they can’t cancel (because their rescission period has passed), they tend to begin losing hope in the resort. Especially if their decision to upgrade packages (as a solution commonly offered by their resort) backfires too.

But trusting 3rd party resolutions isn’t always fruitful either. Some buyers become desperate at a certain point which causes them to be irrational. Predatory agencies love consumer desperation. Truth be told, some timeshare owners really get drug through the mud after they sign the dotted line. The budgeted expense can turn into a devastating financial setback if you’re not careful. Since you can read all about this in some of our other blogs, let’s turn our attention back to some of the companies that claimed they knew how to get rid of timeshare purchases – but they just couldn’t get the job done.

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Resort Release Files for Bankruptcy After Collecting Fees.

This year is already proving to be a progressive one when it comes to halting unethical timeshare cancellation services. A number of bankruptcies have already been filed while even more scams have been exposed. Incompetent operations, that persuade vulnerable timeshare owners to hand over thousands of dollars for nothing, are slowly being held responsible. To say regulatory agencies have been busy is an understatement.

When timeshare exit companies first came about, they had their way with fractional owners. Vague accusations didn’t warrant lawsuits. Now that laws and regulations are in place, prosecutors can begin holding scam artists accountable. Because buyers are asking more questions and understanding their rights, they’ve been able to prove they’ve been lied to more than ever before. Especially when guarantees are involved.

This was the case when Resort Release LLC – also known as the American Resource Management Group, LLC (ARMG), Resort Exit Team and Redemption Services – recently attempted to sweep their inaptitude under the rug. The timeshare relief service filed for bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida in April this year. During their hearings, some major red flags were uncovered. This forced the court to order a Chapter 11 Trustee to take control of the business and review all of their financial affairs.

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An Unethical Trend Causes Them to Throw in the Towel.

Shortly before filing bankruptcy, Resort Release began receiving multiple complaints on their BBB profile. To date, their response to every grievance has remained consistent. They’re claiming none of the dissatisfied customers ever did business with them. Hopefully they’re not leaning on denial to escape penalty. If a business promotes an ability to get rid of timeshare purchases, it’s rather clear what the end result should look like.

Ever since Resort Release’s filing, legal questions surrounding their up-front costs have been a hot topic amongst those overseeing the investigation. What they were giving in exchange for payment wasn’t adding up. But it wasn’t the only thing not making sense. During proceedings the defendant continued to claim they were located in the midwest but the company was clearly operating in Florida. Little lies like this led others to believe something unethical was going on.

The ignorance of their approach was concerning to say the least. Apparently, they thought they could lie to the court and it would be glazed over. ARMG also didn’t have ample financial reserves to cover their 100% guarantees. Not only was the company making promises they knew they couldn’t keep, they didn’t even have the capital to back it up. In the meantime, their clients had no idea.

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What many can’t figure out is, how does a company that collected millions of dollars in upfront fees have no money? Keep in mind, they didn’t just sell their services to a few dozen people. Resort Release told thousands of fractional owners they could help them get rid of timeshare purchases, guaranteed. As the public’s awareness of the bankruptcy claim grows, more and more people are filing suit for false advertising and a failure to adhere to the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. We’ll keep you updated.

Escort Release Sued by Major Timeshare Chains.

Positioned as an advocate company, Escort Release recently was targeted by a number of major hospitality organizations for misleading timeshare owners. While there isn’t a lot of information online about this situation, we know they immediately filed for bankruptcy following pending lawsuits.

What an advocacy group does is represent unhappy buyers in their attempt to get rid of timeshare purchases. They basically support their client’s stance by advocating on their behalf. Call it a sophisticated hype man if you may. There is no legal approach to this. Escort Release essentially told their prospects that they could negotiate a settlement with the resort without taking legal action. Unfortunately, we don’t know of any advocacy agencies that’ve been able to sustain their ability to eliminate timeshare contracts.

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Vacation Owners Group Linked with Wesley Financial.

This is probably one of the more complex operations that’s been exposed to date. Not because of the amount of money or number of victims, but the level of deception. When it comes to identifying timeshare exit fraud, a company with numerous aliases should always raise a red flag. Vacation Owners Group definitely falls under this category.

Otherwise known as VO Group and VO Financial, the operation solicited timeshare owners and offered to settle their outstanding timeshare mortgages by negotiating with timeshare property associations, banking and lending institutions. The owner of Wesley Financial Group, Chuck McDowell, is being tied to these companies through a number of online resources. Already being linked as a key player behind multiple companies deemed scams, McDowell purportedly exited VO Group just before legal action was taken and arrests were made. But let’s backtrack a little to follow the paper trail.

Vacation Owners Group got its start nearly a decade ago by soliciting timeshare owners about their new relief program. They initially engaged their victims by claiming they were calling regarding a complaint they had about their timeshare. It was used as a way “to get their foot in the door” and gather more information about the timeshare property. When owners would open up about their frustrations, solicitors would then tell them they could easily get rid of timeshare purchases if they really wanted to.

Victims say each company solicited them with claims to be able to recover money from timeshare companies (Mainly Wyndham) for fraudulent sales practices on a contingency basis (10%) and no up front fees. Many that were scammed have since come forward, revealing the contract provided by Vacation Ownership Group actually contradicted these claims. Over the years, thousands of people have taken the bait and still own their timeshares.

The Public Realized VO Couldn’t Get Rid of Timeshare Purchases.

The VO Group’s trail inevitably caught up to them when they fell under federal investigation. Victim testimonies and defendant interviews exposed the company’s deceitful ploy. In an FBI conducted interview with Adam Lacerda (co-owner of The VO Group), he admitted, in substance and in part, that The VO Group did not work with any banking or lending institutions. Yet, in another interview, Ryan Bird (a co-conspirator) stated that he told customers The VO Group worked directly for banks and had the ability to settle customer’s timeshare mortgage debt. Like many other timeshare scams, the lies ran rampant in this scheme, proving the services rendered were fraudulent.

Victims of The VO Group said their timeshare was never paid off (by any means or by settlement) after paying thousands to The VO Group. But continuing payments on the timeshare they wanted to get out of wasn’t the only letdown. They later found out they also fell victim to a “bait and switch” scheme where they unknowingly became liable for an additional timeshare. All because they trusted a relief company to help them get rid of their timeshare purchases. One of the company’s former attorneys even went on record saying he attempted to cover VO Group’s tracks by obstructing justice in a federal criminal case back in 2013. It’s no wonder McDowell slipped out the back door.

Casualties Have Continued to Pile Up From the Scam

To this day, timeshare owners are still complaining about the predatory scam. Whether the sales pitch was coming from VO or is currently coming from Wesley Financial Group, customers are voicing their complaints on both companies. Some victims have even claimed Wesley Group is using the same phony reviews as VO was. Although sources show McDowell was the VP of both operations, it appears he’s somehow been able to escape consequence. There is a saying that you may be familiar with, “a leopard never changes its spots.” Hopefully, this proves not to be the case for Wesley Financial Group, although customer complaints on Wesley Financial Group’s BBB page are proving otherwise.

While online documentation does connect the owner of Wesley Financial Group to a number of scandals that didn’t know how to get rid of timeshare purchases, it’s not our place to say history is repeating itself. Maybe he’s learned from mistakes. Either way, it’s ultimately up to you to do your own research and make your own determination before doing business with any relief company.

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You Deserve to Enjoy a Timeshare Experience.

Timeshare ownership isn’t always a devastating experience. But in order to thoroughly enjoy the purchase, you have to understand what you could be getting yourself into. Whether we like it or not, unwelcome and damaging solicitations lurk around every corner. In order to avoid costly decisions, you must review the details of everything you agree to, research every business and always ignore appeal. We live in a digital world with information at our fingertips. Stay up to date and obtain factual information that equips you make informed decisions.

At VOC, we remain committed to spreading awareness on misconduct so consumers can make smart choices online. All we can do is state the facts and hope for the best. In the meantime, we look forward to sharing more of our clients stories. To learn more about our industry-leading reputation, you can subscribe to our blog, schedule a Free consultation or proceed with the qualification form below.

These Companies Didn’t Know How to Get Rid of Timeshare Properties

These Companies Didn’t Know How to Get Rid of Timeshare Properties

The ever-evolving digital world has allowed the timeshare cancellation industry to explode over the last decade. The problem is, not all exit services are created equal. Many have the intention to benefit themselves and not the consumer. Because fraudulent timeshare operations are being exposed more than ever before, exit programs are taking a lot of heat. At VOC, we’ve realized consumer skepticism comes with the territory. But it doesn’t change the fact thousands of buyers are still looking for an effective way to escape timeshare contracts. In order to extend the life of our 5-star reputation, we have to prove that we actually know how to get rid of timeshare properties the right way.

Speaking with tens of thousands of unhappy timeshare owners has allowed us to truly understand their remorse behind the purchase. Most fractional owners simply feel betrayed and discarded. They just want to find someone willing to listen and fight for them. They need someone they can trust. But that’s difficult to find when many solutions only tell you what you want to hear. You deserve to know what’s realistic.

No matter how the cancellation industry is perceived, timeshare owners need to be able to navigate their options and identify deceit on their own. In order to differentiate the way we go about our business, we wanted to discuss a few companies that ceased operations in the most inconvenient of ways. Listen, finding someone that actually knows how to get rid of timeshare properties is easier said than done. But by helping you recognize fraudulent activity sooner, we believe we can help you avoid costly decisions. With that being said, let’s take a look at the pitfalls of some cancellation companies and how their deception eventually caught up to them.

Castle Law Group Was All Talk and No Walk.

Judson Phillips launched Castle Law Group PC while he was employed as a legal representative of a timeshare company. After realizing a number of timeshare owners were being scammed by timeshare exit teams, he figured he might as well give it a try. So he used illegal data from previous resources to formulate an action plan. Without any form of credibility, he began marketing a seemingly promising solution to timeshare owners.

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According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Phillips launched his company on September 16th, 2014. Before reaching the midway point of his first year in business, the BBB already had a case open against the company. Dozens of consumers were claiming Castle Group wasn’t communicating with them and that the company hadn’t made any progress on their timeshare cancellation requests. The company’s integrity was also in question when consumers weren’t receiving the refunds they were promised.

Despite not following through with their guarantees, Phillips and the legal operation continued to go about business as usual. Days after the BBB file was opened, Phillips attempted to combat warnings by establishing a local business for his firm. Everything about the operation was sketchy from the get go. If you do the research, you’ll see the company never really knew how to get rid of timeshare properties. Most of their efforts went towards sales and deception. Since the company refused to work with the BBB to resolve complaints, they eventually received an “F” rating. By this time, most consumer platforms were well aware of the dark cloud hovering over Castle Law Group.

After processing nearly 100 complaints on the lawyer’s operation, the Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred Mr. Phillips on August 24th, 2018. While the attorney’s sale’s pitch might have been compelling, consumers could have easily picked up on his empty promises. Even with the advantage of timeshare data, there’s no reason anyone should believe something that hasn’t been proven. If the company doesn’t have a steady flow of positive reviews proving they know how to get out of timeshare contracts, then the exit service is probably phony.

As you’ll continue to see throughout our articles, thoroughly researching relief programs will help you avoid incompetent solutions and costly decisions. Phillips claims he was only offering mediation and arbitration for his clients and that the services he rendered were billable. To date, hundreds of timeshare owners have been left without restitution and more debt because of Castle Law Group PC.

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A Consumer Credit Suddenly Files for Bankruptcy

In September of last year, American (“A”) Consumer Credit became the latest timeshare relief company to bite the dust. The questionable service unexpectedly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy late last year. The Florida Middle Bankruptcy Court eventually notified the general public to “obtain a proof of claim form” if they needed to process “monetary claims.” A Consumer Credit left hundreds of people hanging when they suddenly realized they didn’t exactly know how to get rid of timeshare properties. Fractional owners went from thinking they were finally free from payment obligations to receiving past due balances from timeshare.

Out of the 208 complaints the BBB has received over the last 3 years, 181 have been closed in the last 12 months. Customers continue to leave complaints on the BBB’s website but they’re immediately resolved because the company is no longer in business. Some of A Consumer Credit’s clients are just now realizing the company isn’t getting rid of timeshare properties anymore. While they’ve been waiting to hear about relief, owner Dana Micallef is moving on. Even the company’s attorney, Michael Saracco, has notified the media he’s no longer associated with the business.

As we noted in our guide to identifying timeshare exit fraud, researching company employees and stakeholders can help you determine the legitimacy of the service. The latest complaint on the A Consumer Credit’s BBB profile proves the value in this. The former client stated he researched the representative he was talking to and found out she had a criminal record for similar misconduct. It goes to show that vital red flags can be found if you take the time to look.

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What’s troubling about American Consumer Credit is that they knowingly used the reputation of a bankruptcy and consumer debt counseling service with the same name. They must consider themselves experts now that they’ve experienced bankruptcy for themselves and their clients are in debt from trying to get rid of timeshare purchases. All jokes aside, the real American Consumer Credit took legal action against the latter company’s mischief nearly 3 years ago. Customers constantly got the two companies mixed up, damaging the reputation of the counseling service. It seems as though this mix up was able to cover their tracks for an extended period of time so they could rip off a few thousand more timeshare owners.

Like many unethical operations in the timeshare relief realm, it’s possible they’re preparing to retarget those they’ve already ripped off. Think about it. After regretting their timeshares, many buyers make decisions they regret even more. Thousands of dollars are wasted when they try to sell the property or attempt to litigate with an attorney. Some continue their misfortune by hiring inadequate cancellation services.

When timeshare owners continue to end up right back where they started, there’s a good chance they’ll need credit repair services. What many disgruntled buyers don’t realize is, they end up paying the same operation for resale, cancellation and credit repair services. These “companies” are one in the same. They simply rebrand themselves and bombard former victims with a new service that caters to their pain. All of this is intensely connected and very real.

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Unfortunately, a good number of scams in the timeshare industry are able to tear down shop just as quickly as they set it up. By the looks of it, A Consumer Credit could be another predatory agency looking to milk the pockets of timeshare owners. Who knows what’s to come from the question surrounding their operation. They could possibly be in the final stages of what has been a complicated scam, executed over a long period of time. Only time will tell.

Filing for bankruptcy might’ve saved them from immediate consequence, but we expect their sketchy paper trail to eventually catch up to them. Either way, tons of timeshare owners never got their refund. That’s the price of doing business with a company that never even knew how to get rid of timeshare properties.

Trust is Everything When Getting Rid of Timeshare Purchases.

While the aforementioned operations had no business selling timeshare cancellation services, they did. Even though thousands of people deserve to be relieved of fractional ownership, they’re not. Educating the general population on the details behind the deceit is the only way we can save them from misfortune. Nearly anyone can create an online business these days. Whether the products or services rendered are real or not, consumers need to know what they could be getting themselves into. Informed decisions make a big difference.

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When it comes to timeshare ownership, a number of things can hinder the enjoyment of your experience when you’re not paying attention to the details. From the timeshare contract to 3rd party solutions, one wrong turn can cost you a lot of money. It’s important you understand not everyone plays by the rules in the relief industry. You might think a promise is a promise. But here, unless you have something in writing, assume nothing is guaranteed.

Misleading companies know the tendencies of timeshare owners and it’s easy for them to prey on consumer desperation. But it’s just as easy for you to research companies before doing business with them. If you’re willing to locate coupons for groceries, then you better be willing to find reputable companies that know how to get rid of timeshare properties.

At the end of the day, we take pride in providing you with supporting evidence that backs up our guarantees. Genuinely helping timeshare owners sort out their options allows them to trust and believe in our company. You can learn more about our detailed qualification process by scheduling a FREE consultation or proceeding with our intake form below.

VOC’s Checklist for Avoiding Timeshare Exit Fraud

VOC’s Checklist for Avoiding Timeshare Exit Fraud

At VOC, our timeshare cancellation guarantees are actually backed by 100% success rates. We don’t need to pay for client reviews or public endorsements to establish our credibility. Since 2014, we’ve taken pride in offering a quality service that people can trust and rely on. If you were to reach out to any of our clients on social media, they’d be more than happy to expand on their experience. We’re not here for a piece of the timeshare pie, we genuinely want to help you vacation the way you deserve. With that being said, here are some tips for avoiding timeshare exit fraud.

  1. Check with the Secretary of State or Corporate Commission for the state the exit company is claiming to be located in order to validate their length in business and good standing. If the sales rep states they’ve been in business for 10+ years, then their state filing should mirror this.
  2. Ask as many questions as you can about the company and the city they claim to do business in. You’ll easily be able to detect timeshare exit fraud by catching salesmen in a lie.
  3. Analyze the consistency of reviews. If the exit company says they’ve been in business for 5 years but all reviews are within the last 90 days, they’re more than likely fake.
  4. Look for clusters of reviews. In other words, if a majority of their reviews are within a few weeks of each other or there are lapses, their reviews are more than likely paid for.
  5. Reach out to people on social media platforms that have left positive reviews and ask about their experience. Our clients would be more than happy to endorse us!
  6. Determine if all of their reviews are only 1 and 5 stars. It’s highly likely that the 1 star reviews are real and the 5 stars are paid for to bring up their overall star ratings.
  7. Look for power words like “escrow” in their marketing. Scam artists use certain lingo to make the service appear trustworthy and safe. Don’t be fooled, they mean nothing.
  8. Research company stakeholders and employees (or “agents”) on social media. Linkedin is a good place to assess their work history. Manufactured Home Salesman or College Admissions Representative to CEO of XYZ Timeshare Exit should be a red flag.
  9. Look on Glassdoor for previous employee reviews.
  10. Dig for previous lawsuits filed on the company or any of its affiliates. Past employees could have cases filed against them and co-conspirators normally have a track record.
  11. Review the company’s guarantees. Make sure the guarantee of service is actually in writing. Moreover, promises regarding your credit can’t be made without fully executed release or settlement documentation from your timeshare (prior to you falling behind on any payments or dues). If they state anything to the contrary, they’re falsifying information.

Preventing Vacation Ownership Exit Fraud with Integrity.

Although timeshare exit fraud continues to grow, there’re always a way to battle misconduct. We believe the best way is to educate fractional owners on the reality of the industry. At VOC, we take the time to ensure all paperwork is validated and at your disposal. Transparency and available documentation has allowed us to build a trustworthy reputation over the years. In fact, we’ve already pursued a majority of major travel corporations and won. Before advising you to cease payments to the resort, we confirm the timeshare has acknowledged our terms. We believe we’ve gone great lengths to show timeshare owners we’re sincere about helping them.

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When it comes to canceling timeshare agreements, we’re solely focused on protecting you as the consumer. In order to uphold our reputation, we have to keep your best interests at the forefront at all times. This typically means providing thorough communication and actually following through with our promises. To learn more about our exit company, you can either schedule a Free consultation or proceed with our qualification form below. Otherwise, use this checklist to help you discern the right choice and avoid timeshare exit fraud.

Identify Fraudulent Timeshare Exit Companies + Other Scams.

Identify Fraudulent Timeshare Exit Companies + Other Scams.

Unfortunately, the timeshare industry is full of scams that prey on desperate vacation owners looking to escape their perpetual purchase. While negotiations with the timeshare company can be quite the struggle, many owners don’t realize how bad it can get once they venture into the realm of 3rd party relief. But you can’t blame them for seeking outside help. Over time, users become tired of the broken promises and disadvantageous upgrades or points programs. Although they’re told to avoid external solutions due to misconduct, it’s easy for them to lose faith in the legitimacy of the timeshare’s in-house advice. In turn, judgement can be clouded when it comes to recognizing fraudulent timeshare exit companies or scams.

Trusting the misleading messages of 3rd party programs is more common when consumer regret brews with desperation. A majority of resale and cancellation services know this and use it to their advantage. Targeting unhappy buyers with an empathetic pitch allows them to persuade some to pay a lot of money towards bogus offers. This causes misfortune to repeatedly rear its ugly head and timeshare owners continue to end up right back where they started.

If you follow our blog, you’ll come to realize most of our content is geared towards helping fractional owners avoid regret by making logical decisions. We’ve kind of taken it upon ourselves to expand on the deceit within the industry. Hopefully, overwhelming the market with educational material helps more people find the relief they deserve. With that being said, let’s look at some ways you can identify fraudulent timeshare exit companies and other relief scams.

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Understand How Fraudulent Timeshare Relief Programs Operate.

Before uncovering timeshare scams, you have to understand how fraudulent operations go about their business. The fact of the matter is, no one sees a scam coming. If they did, then they wouldn’t have been scammed. Realize that these conglomerates operate in an uncommon way. Unless you’re a criminal, it’s very difficult to identify manipulation.

The average consumer doesn’t want to assume the worst. We’d like to think scams are slowly deteriorating; but the crack down only causes fraudulent activity to become more complex. Therefore, you have to try to get inside the mind of a criminal and understand the psychological tactics they’re taking towards persuasion. While services may seem legit at first glance, there’s always a chance there’s more than what meets the eye.

Online Cancellation Companies May be a Mirage.

Proficient scams know how to make themselves appear reputable. Regarding timeshare relief programs, looking beneath the surface of the sales pitch is essential. Before you even listen to the offer, the validity of the company needs to be confirmed. There are a number of ways scam artists manipulate storefronts, especially online. Many people don’t realize fraudulent timeshare exit companies and co-conspirators can operate from anywhere in the country when they have a digital presence. Since many of us Google everything, all they need to do is establish some form of credibility.

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The easiest way they appear real is by stealing another company’s online identity. Fraudulent operations do this by claiming to represent a business (commonly a lesser known LLC) and building a phony website around their branding. All they need to do is link to credible review platforms to come across as credible (more about this below). Using an actual business also allows them to appear as though they’ve been in business for quite some time. While this may seem like it would be easy to figure out, you’d be surprised.

Even when another company’s identity isn’t being used, it’s just as easy for predatory agencies to create a fake business. Their approach really depends on how much capital they have for “start up costs.” Some scams even go as far as quickly changing their name and services in order to retarget victims once the initial plan runs its course.

How Phony Timeshare Exit Companies Further Mislead Consumers.

In today’s digital world, nearly any piece of information can be manipulated. Practically every scam involves some sort of documentation that isn’t real. Several of our clients have been persuaded by cohesive letterheads and email signatures alone. Most of them didn’t even consider how easily that type of stuff can be created. Assuming a company is real because their logo is the same on invoices and paperwork is very risky. This is one of the psychological tactics that fraudulent timeshare exit companies use. Some fractional owners subconsciously believe they can trust the scam because of consistent branding and a physical address.

Telecommunication Strategies.

But physical appearance isn’t always enough. In order to get people to fall deeper into their pit, scam artists make sure they leave no room for skepticism. Phone calls from area codes where the business claims to be located makes things even more believable. Some scams even go as far as creating customer service hotlines with re-routed phone numbers. People value being able to speak to someone with a name and title. Subtle tactics like, “Hello my name is Jan and I’m the customer service manager at X,” really carries weight to most consumers. Some scammers study the weather in certain locations just to prepare for skepticism.

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Fraudulent timeshare exit companies also rely on influence to deceive their victims. Thoughtful scams will spend thousands of dollars for phony publications or paid promotions to make themselves seem real. One article or recommendation from a credible source (even if they’re tricked themselves) can also carry a lot of credibility. But review platforms are where they really do the most damage. Someone on the fence can be easily persuaded by a handful of “satisfied” customers.

Phony Review Services.

Even though stealing another business’s 5 star rating is easier, some would rather take the “safer” route. There are other ways to misrepresent the customer experience. Believe it or not, marketing services geared towards unethical review generation do exist. Pools of online profiles are ready and willing to leave fake 5 star reviews in exchange for money! There isn’t really a known platform that regulates insight effectively. Yelp claims to disallow phony feedback – but in reality, they don’t. Ironically, fake profiles with thousands of reviews are deemed credible there. You’d be surprised to learn how the Better Business Bureau goes about hiding consumer complaints. Even TrustPilot gives their users an opportunity to alter reviews. While this may be disheartening to say the least, we created a checklist with some great ways to identify this type of misconduct. 

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Be Prepared For Cunning Responses and Question Everything.

No matter what concerns or drawbacks you have, fraudulent operations will always know how to keep you engaged. They’ve practiced and prepared for your push back. Once they’ve got your attention, there’s normally a script they follow to gain your trust. Presenting you with the above information is their effort to establish credibility with you – whether it’s real or not. When it comes to getting out of a timeshare, you have to be critical. You need to assume the worst and take some time before pursuing relief. Any company that aggressively rushes your decision doesn’t really have your best interest at heart.

Listen, it’s not the first rodeo for many of these criminals. For the most part, they’re very intelligent people. Instead of working hard for their money, they’d rather steal. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it just means they’re selfish and greedy. These types of people will do anything to make pay. Like we said before, the surface can be very deceiving. Understanding their capabilities and how they go about conning you will help you avoid what can be a devastating transaction – or set of transactions moving forward. 

Since 2014, our company has provided 100% success rates and satisfied every customer along the way. You can view our checklist for avoiding fraudulent timeshare exit companies or proceed with our qualification form below.

If You Want to Get Out of Your Timeshare, Watch Out for This Resale Scam

If You Want to Get Out of Your Timeshare, Watch Out for This Resale Scam

Timeshare ownership can be a difficult road to navigate. Once you’ve become immersed in the purchase, misconduct typically appears from all directions. It can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re unaware of the actual intentions behind a majority of “can’t miss” offers. Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time educating timeshare owners (or those considering the purchase) on the possibilities of resort life. No matter how many hypothetical situations we express, we’ve found that actual stories resonate best. While most people don’t want to believe they’re being duped, listening to someone else’s bad experience tends to heighten awareness.

While it can be difficult for the average consumer to point out crafty misconduct, it’s important that they understand what other timeshare owners have gone through. The fact of the matter is, not everyone has had a bad timeshare experience. At the same time, many owners are left reeling when the purchase doesn’t work out. Dissatisfaction can easily lead to further mistakes that put them in a deeper hole financially. Some decisions can be life changing and even psychologically draining. In order to help you understand how, let’s take a look at Darren Kittleson’s story.

How The Experienced Realtor Was Scammed

When it comes to timeshare scams, even people that know real estate can be easily taken advantage of. This was proven when a savvy realtor was led to believe he could make money on his timeshare property. After being robbed of more than $24,000 for trying to sell his Garza Blanca Resort property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Darren is now speaking up about his experience. He still can’t believe he didn’t see the scam for what it was. Despite 30+ years in realty, he was fooled during a real estate transaction. Even though he repeatedly did his due diligence throughout the scam, he wasn’t able to uncover anything that worried him. If you take anything from this article, we hope it’s how good the modern day pickpockets are.

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While losing that much money was tough, he views it as a learning experience. Now that he has closure, his goal is to help other timeshare owners avoid similar losses while spreading awareness on the deceptive practices of predatory resellers. In an interview with AZ Central, he touched on how he thought everything was 100% real by saying, “They were so sophisticated in how they did it.” No matter how many times he rekindles the experience, he can’t get over how “stupid” the whole thing makes him feel.

Sadly, many consumers are led to believe in timeshare solutions that don’t exist. The complexity of some of today’s scams are disturbing. The worst part is that relief-seeking timeshare owners are eagerly trying to get out of timeshare contracts when they’re bamboozled. Instead of finding resolve, they increase their loss. In Darren’s interaction with the phony reseller, everything seemed to add up perfectly. No matter his level of skepticism, the salesperson was always able to (shrewdly) reassure him that everything was going to work out in his favor. What’s sad is, he’s not alone. Fraudulent cases like this one tend to have a detailed plan throughout.

The Initial Phone Call and Supporting Misconduct

When Kittleson was first contacted by the scammers, they claimed to represent Westwood Realty in Phoenix, Arizona. They knew everything about his upcoming reservations and offered to buy the dates he booked. When he researched the company, the credibility of the Arizona business and brokerage seemed legit. At first glance, nothing stood out to him. Even their licensing was up to date. The manipulation that went into this first impression was crucial for the scam to work.

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What Kittleson didn’t consider was the simple fact that the caller did not actually represent Westwood Realty. It’s hard for most people to understand how easy it is to create a fake online business presence. Moreover, most law-abiding citizens can’t even begin to think like a criminal. No matter the level of deception, the average consumer is already at a disadvantage. What “they don’t know” is normally used against them. Since the scammers knew about Darren’s travel plans, it was easy for him to assume a con wasn’t in place. His ability to easily find company information and reviews only added to his confidence. A fraudulent company wouldn’t post their information online, would they?

Scammers Know How to Eliminate Disbelief.

Despite the persuasiveness of the phony broker’s business presentation, it wasn’t the only thing that gave Darren (and other timeshare owners) peace of mind. They even went as far as providing timeshare owners with bank statements that included real company letterheads and contact information. It’s almost as if they mastered the mistakes of other scams. Even phone numbers included area codes that validated the company’s level of congruence.

Once he was able to confirm that Westwood had a local brick and mortar location and zero complaints dating back to the 80’s, Darren was hooked – for a lot of money. According to Kittleson, he thought he was doing everything he needed to “in order to verify, verify, verify,” He even went as far as setting up a Google news alert for Westwood Realty in case something went sideways.

The internet has been a huge boon to unethical companies preying on timeshare owners. What many people don’t realize is, the lifespan of these fraudsters doesn’t have to last long. Once enough money is collected, they tear everything down and wait for the dust to settle before rebuilding the scam under a different brand name. It’s a scary thing to ponder. In Kittleson’s case, the scammer didn’t even go this far. They were simply using the credibility of an actual business to manipulate the sale. Westwood was nothing more than a bystander. In the end, there was nothing to tear down.

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If an Offer Seems too Good to be True, Don’t Take it.

Once the scammers established a level of trust with Kittleson and other targets, they made an aggressive proposal that was basically irrefusable. What many owners don’t realize, is the resale market for timeshares is basically non-existent. It’s hard to understand this until you experience it for yourself. While some resorts will tell you that you can always resell or rent your property (if it doesn’t work out), it doesn’t mean it’s true. Diamond Resorts actually got in a heap of trouble for selling prospects on this during presentations. Far too many fractional owners learn this reality the hard way. An unexpected, amazing resale opportunity should be the first sign that you’re involved in a scam.

Instead of continuing to shop for a reseller, Darren was absolutely thrilled with the price he was given. It was nearly 60-70% higher than what he actually paid for the property. Since the beachfront hotel in Puerto Vallarta had grown in popularity, he didn’t even think twice about the offer. “It didn’t seem far off,” he said. Not only was he talking to people whom he thought represented Westwood, he also believed in the best deal he’d received up to this point. Since he was called about his bookings, nothing really drew a red flag.

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How the Scammers Continued Leading Him On..

As the complexity of scams continues to be underestimated by Americans, Darren’s experience helps us highlight how deep the deception can go. When it comes to scams that rob people of tens of thousands of dollars, a simple bait and switch wasn’t going to be enough to pull it off. Once Kittleson signed a letter of intent with what he thought to be a local broker, he received a call from an escrow company in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At this point, he was informed that a Mexican bank would be working with them to deposit his funds from the timeshare sale.

The logistics of these transactions caused some doubt to surface for the realtor – but after researching both companies, he came away relieved again. What he didn’t know was the scammers were using the same tactic they used with Westwood to proceed with the transaction. Confirmations and communication also seemed legitimate and Darren was eager to put timeshare ownership behind him.

Additional Documentation Provided Peace of Mind

“All of a sudden, I get an email with a bank statement that looks like any bank statement here in the U.S. showing the funds have been deposited,” he said. Even when he called the phone number on the statement to double check, an actual person answered in Spanish, giving him the company name and their title. From his perspective, he was so close to receiving closure.

Although the anticipation was real, a few weeks passed and he still didn’t receive a payment. Amidst frustrations, he continued to pursue the resolution when he was told by a “company rep” that he needed to get a Mexican tax identification in order for the sale to go through. This forced him to make another payment via a wire transfer to an attorney the scammers referred in Mexico city. “I went online and looked at the Mexican consulate website, and it had this form they needed. It made sense,” Kittleson said.

Scammers Appear to be “Helpful” During Manipulation

Once again, he was relieved and the process wasn’t too far from ordinary. Shortly after, a document with a formal-looking government stamp arrived in the mail. This included what he thought to be his new tax ID. When the sale and his payment still wasn’t being processed, the scammers told him he needed to pay his taxes and the buyer would reimburse him. He was concerned, but his experience in real estate trumped his doubts. “I was nervous, but I thought, ‘OK, this is the first time I’ve done a property transfer in Mexico.” He even went as far as researching Mexican taxes online. He felt good about it and wired over more money. But the stalling continued when he was told he needed to pay additional taxes in the state of Jalisco.

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In order to feel good about making another payment, Kittleson initially wanted to fly down to Jalisco and make the payment himself. But he was informed that it wouldn’t be necessary. “They said, ‘It’s not like the U.S. You can come down, but nothing will happen for you,'” said Kittleson. Since he’d paid so much already (and had all the bank statements), he agreed. At this point it was almost as if he trusted the scammers and valued their opinion. This is how deep he had gotten into the scam. Money spent and documentation blinded him from the harsh reality. Because of the confidence in the deal, he didn’t even consider saving money to cancel the timeshare altogether.

Until You Abort, The Timeshare Scam Never Ends..

Although his payment for Jalisco taxes was taken care of, he was once again prompted to make another payment. This time, it was for an insurance bond so the bank could release the funds. The scammers claimed that it was necessary to protect the bank from possible “cross-border” fraud. Again, he offered to withdraw the funds in person, but was told the bank wouldn’t do anything without the bond.

“They had an answer to everything I asked about,” Darren said. It had now been 10 months since he made his first payment. When he was prompted to make another payment for another bank bond, he decided he’d had enough. Thinking back to that moment in time, Kittleson remembered, “At that point, I said, ‘I’m done.’ It was like, ‘Oh, I just got scammed.’” $24,000 was flushed down the drain and the timeshare was still his.

Aside from his desire to exit the timeshare contract, Kittleson pursued restitution by filing complaints with the BBB, the Arizona Attorney General’s office and even the FBI. Once he confirmed he was most certainly being scammed, he learned other victims had filed as well. Their complaints had already resulted in the Department of Real Estate filing a cease-and-desist order against the claimed names of the fraudsters. While the Arizona Attorney General is now helping people like Darren spread awareness, victims understand the probability of the criminals being caught isn’t likely.

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The Benefit of Getting Rid of Timeshare Contracts For Good

Stories like these can immediately create a paradigm shift for timeshare owners or those pursuing vacation ownership. Many people believe stuff like this can’t happen to them. They’re blinded by the possibilities of the deal. While a timeshare property can be the centerpiece of family memories, it can also be the root of financial hardship. This is why it’s important to take the time to thoroughly research travel opportunities and make sure you’re 100% confident in large purchase decisions.

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion and always be skeptical of timeshare solutions. Far too many are scams are present in today’s travel industry. As you can see, not everything is what it may seem. If you’re looking for a way to get rid of your timeshare agreement, we’d be more than happy to go over your options with you. We take pride in avoiding pressure sales and we always take the time to qualify every prospect for timeshare cancellation services.

Timeshare Sales Laws That Regulate the Industry

Timeshare Sales Laws That Regulate the Industry

The timeshare business has been booming for quite some time now. But demand hasn’t necessarily been the driving force. Since the 70’s, a nearsighted salesforce has been at the wheel despite a diminishing reputation and an increase in competition. At the same time, timesharing isn’t the only travel option that takes advantage of impulse buyers.

Nearly every industry requires a set of laws to keep greedy businesses from taking advantage of customers. There’s always someone who ruins it for everyone. Helping you understand what a purchase of this magnitude entails is important to us. Now that we’ve pointed out the challenges of regulating timeshare marketing tactics and advertising lingo, we wanted to shed light on some of the timeshare laws that protect consumers from misleading sales strategies.

Understanding What Timeshare Sales Laws Regulate

In the early stages of timesharing, when expansion was occurring rapidly, many resorts utilized “misspeak” to promote products that didn’t actually exist yet. Like we mentioned in an article about timeshare history, travel solutions were kind of made up as they went along. Consumers were inevitably left hanging while timeshares figured things out. Without regulations, developers were able to take risks at their customer’s expense. This eventually caused regulatory and consumer protection agencies to form and spring into action.

Even though consumers have become more informed over time, a layer of protection is needed now more than ever before. Since the internet provides a boatload of inaccurate information, it’s important that people can make educated decisions before signing over tens of thousands of dollars. While most of society is aware of what timeshare ownership can entail, not everyone is. Besides, the internet is flooded with sales jargon, so consumers are still easily swayed by the craftiness of timeshare sales teams. In order to combat misconduct in the industry, more and more timeshare laws regarding sales practices have been implemented, revised and reinforced.

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Unlike unethical marketing campaigns, sales presentations and conditional offers are easier to regulate. At this point in the sale, marketing tends to reveal its hand and misleading transactions begin to take place. In some instances, it’s where salesmen are caught in their bluff. No matter what is said to get people to attend an initial presentation (or ownership update meeting), it’s not as damning as the terminology used right before the contract is signed. Sales teams realized that this may be their only chance to lock in a new fractional owners. In other words, desperate times (in their minds) call for desperate measures (to make money).

Why Some Timeshare Salesmen are Motivated to Say Anything

There is an awful lot of pressure to sell intervals because the financial reward is tremendous. Timeshare resorts are always looking to maximize profits, especially to overcome some of the turnover they experience. In order to do so, they have to continuously find ways to fill fractional owner vacancies. The less they have, the more they count on current owners to cover expenses. While re-marketing current users isn’t as costly, they realize the real revenue comes from acquisition. The more timeshare owners acquired, the more consistent their revenue will be. This also gives them flexibility to continue developing and expanding properties.

At first glance, you might think it’d be easier to simply sell each unit individually. But, that leaves too much money on the table for resorts. Instead of selling a single condominium unit, timesharing gives resorts an opportunity to make money on 52 interests sold for each unit (52 weeks in a year). It’s pretty hard to tell timeshare developers to stop when they’re able to make 20-40% margins on each sale. It’s simple math. Sell the unit for $1 million or sell 52 weeks for $25,000 and make $1.3 million.

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The revenue potential isn’t even close and that’s not factoring in maintenance fees. Besides the fact resorts can charge whatever they want per unit if revenue is low. Most timeshares even limit availability by continuing to sell retail packages. The continual chase of revenue is why resorts don’t mind investing mass amounts of money into strategic endeavors to persuade.

To give you an idea on how much timeshare companies spend on new acquisition, roughly 30-50% of all revenues goes towards sales and marketing efforts. As you can see, the urgency to keep condos filled with fractional owners is real. The problem is, timeshare companies ignore the fact they’re biting the hand that feeds them. While they may promise timeshare owners a plethora of things during the sale, not much comes into fruition. This is where laws are needed to ensure buyers get what they paid for. Let’s take a look at an example so you can see how timeshare sales laws work.

Manhattan Club Caught Taking Advantage of the Elderly.

An investigation of the Manhattan Club began after the Office of the Attorney General received repeated complaints from many timeshare owners that were unable to make reservations at the resort. Despite paying tens of thousands of dollars for their timeshares, the rooms were rented to the general public rather than the timeshare owners, which was in direct violation of the timeshare contract.

But, illegal practices began even before purchases were made. Investigators found that timeshare sales teams repeatedly deceived potential buyers regarding reservation procedures, the ability to sell back shares, and other specifics of the contract. High pressure sales tactics even went so far as to state that their timeshare ownership was “better than money in the bank.” Seniors were (and still are) sold on an experience that’s not realistic.

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The sales pitch inevitably promised public use of rooms, an easy reservation process and scarce constraints regarding reservations for owners. All of these claims were found to be false by the Office of the Attorney General  and proven in court. In this case, timeshare sales laws protected a good amount of fractional owners that could have been taken advantage of for a long time.

How Timeshares Create a Demand for No Availability

Common timeshare sales tactics tend to surround the overselling or misrepresentation of travel products. In other words sales teams state that owners will have access to all of the inventory while distracting them with an array of intriguing possibilities in order to get the tour to sign the dotted line. What they don’t explain is that they’re selling the lowest level of access and buyers will have to dish out more cash or jump through more hoops to make this a reality.

Salesman know that once the prospect is under contract, there isn’t much they can do to get out of the agreement. The sales system is set up to continuously persuade users to upgrade no matter their frustration. Timeshare infrastructure is built to overcome conflict and upsell. They purposefully create no availability but demand payment. This is why the regulation of the sales pitch is so important.

We hear these types of situations from our clients all the time. One woman was told she could go to Jamaica (which was her sole purpose for purchasing the timeshare) so they could visit their family once a year. When she went home, she immediately called reservations but they told her there were no properties left in Jamaica. They told her to check back in a few weeks, ironically once the rescission period was over. After multiple complaints, they promised to give her a “fully loaded” golf or beach view casita elsewhere. Since she couldn’t cancel the timeshare agreement anymore, she accepted their offer to upgrade and funded the down payment on a new contract. She ended up being a guest at a dingy unit in a sister resort with a parking lot view.

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Timeshare Sales Laws Do Regulate Unethical Tactics

These types of situations happen more often than people realize. The thing is, buyers aren’t aware of the laws that protect their rights. While salesmen may tell you your contract is final, unethical terminology used can work to your advantage. If you feel like you’re being set up for another bad experience, then you need to document what’s being said. Without any proof (especially when it’s in person), the probability of things working out in your favor aren’t likely.

Sales Pitches on Investments and Potential Income.

Understanding timeshare sales laws will help you identify and expose false promises that eliminate your obligation to pay for the property. Timeshare companies and sales teams can be penalized if the product is being sold as an investment or prospects are being told they can make money renting out or re-selling the property.

The Florida Vacation Plan and Timesharing Act specifically touches on some of this jargon. “The purchase of a timeshare interest should be based upon its value as a vacation experience or for spending leisure time, and not considered for purposes of acquiring an appreciating investment or with an expectation that the timeshare interest can be resold.” The California Vacation Ownership and Timeshare Act of 2004 also clearly restricts this verbiage.

In other words, it’s a purchase, not an investment – and claiming you can make money on it is against the law. Sadly enough, this causes many timeshare owners to believe they can actually sell the property. This results in them wasting even more money on resale services that rarely pan out. Instead of learning how to get out of a timeshare, they dig a deeper whole due to deception.

Additional Unethical Timeshare Sales Claims.

Leading timeshare owners to believe the property holds more value than it really does is only one tactic that sales teams use. Leaving out pertinent information can also result in consequences. If you’ve signed a contract and the timeshare hasn’t disclosed the right of rescission, right to increase maintenance fees or liability of ownership that results in assessment fees – then you have the right to void your contract.

Another enticing offer for potential timeshare owners is the Survivorship Clause that’s sold as a “Legacy Pitch.” This basically means the timeshare company tells you that you can pass on the property to family when you pass on. In reality, you’re basically dumping the perpetual expense on an unexpected heir. Aside from being extremely inconvenient and a terrible memento, it doesn’t even guarantee the recipient will be able to use it. One of our clients actually speaks about this in one of our testimonials. “Because of the changing industry, they were basically stuck with the cost and nothing to show for it.”

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As you can see, there are a number of ways timeshare companies bend the truth and con aspiring travelers. The worst part is that it can take years for those wronged to find restitution. Because of the power timeshare conglomerates have, they can easily bully consumers with expensive legal teams. Unfortunately, most cases don’t even make it to court. But that wasn’t the case for Diamond Resorts in 2016. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced a $800,000 settlement with the timeshare giant.

Many timeshare owners found relief when the state found the company was violating timeshare laws regarding annual fee increases, resale claims, rental opportunities and counterfeit discounts on other travel needs. While this was a big deal for the timeshare industry, we still have a long way to go to right the ship. If you’re thinking about buying a timeshare, we encourage you to consider these points before signing the contract. Although we may not be able to do anything about the unethical practices of the industry, we can take a stand to educate consumers on the possibilities of ownership.

If you feel as though you’re stuck in a timeshare contract and want to be relieved of your obligation to pay, we’d be happy to review your options with you. Timeshare cancellation services aren’t always necessary and we take pride in ensuring our clients exhaust all options before investing more money into the purchase.

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