When you read about timeshare scams, most have to do with sales practices and relief programs. But sometimes the misconduct goes on behind the scenes. Ever since the beginning stages of timeshare travel, some people have chosen to take advantage of fractional owners. Whether buyers are looking to get out of timeshare agreements or not, thousands of dollars on their behalf is processed every year. This past month, a former resort manager was sentenced for embezzling a number of these transactions for nearly $2 million.
After investigating consumer complaints from Harbor Hill timeshare owners, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) found that Donna Zoppi had been manipulating the resort to her advantage from the late 2000’s all the way until 2015. While the criminal actions of Zoppi were definitely disturbing, what she did wasn’t a simple case of stealing. A lot of effort went into robbing the resort and its innocent timeshare owners.
Zoppi (now 63) first set herself up for big paydays when she started dismantling Harbor Hill’s board of trustees. Once she was able to remove oversight on her day to day activity, Zoppi began treating herself to the resort’s profits. When sentencing concluded a few weeks ago, the AGO’s prosecutor listed off a number of ways that Zoppi went about skimming at Harbor Hill.
How the Timeshare Manager Robbed Harbor Hill Resort.
Aside from wiring money from the resort’s account to hers, she used the company’s debit card for personal use, made cash withdrawals and wrote herself checks from company bank accounts that included timeshare owner fees and special assessment payments. It was also reported that the former manager bought her stepdaughter a horse, owned membership stage seats in New England, purchased multiple luxury vacations and even went to NYC’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – amongst other things.
Now that Zoppi has plead guilty, Harbor Hill Resort is in the process of repairing the damage she left behind. The Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s Office announced that the town and those that own shares at the property blame Zoppi for the demise of the resort. Because of the selfish decisions made and the limitations of financial resources, Harbor Hill wasn’t able to pay employees and was scheduled to disconnect phone services. In the end, bankruptcy was the final outcome.
According to court documents, once the 1000+ timeshare owners at the resort found out about the misconduct, it was said that over $900K was owed to Provincetown and the IRS. Unable to combat the prosecution, Zoppi was sentenced up to three years in state prison. As the timeshare company filed for bankruptcy, she was being charged for larceny by the Barnstable Superior Court. A little over $1.8 million was reportedly stolen.
What Provincetown is Doing to Repair the Damage.
Over the past few years, Provincetown has been looking to purchase the property and the board of directors has since been reconstructed and the timeshare operation shut down. They’re currently planning on developing a year round rental housing trust for a market-rate community housing project after winning an $8.1 million bid at a bankruptcy auction in early 2018. Funding for the facility has already been approved and 20 new units are in the pipeline for construction and will be ready for move in by the end of the year.