The FTC has released an article detailing a timeshare exit scheme that is in the crosser hairs of Wisconsin’s attorney general. They filed a suit against a company called “Consumer Law Protection,” and their related companies, owners and operators. The scam targeted the Elderly and was able to pocket over 90 million dollars from its victims.
This scam used high-pressure sales tactics as well as multiple different company names to hide their actions. The Scammers would force elderly victims to hand over thousands of dollars for timeshare services they never intended to deliver.
The scammers operated under many names, including “Square one,” “Consumer Law Protection,” “Premier Reservations Group,” “Resort Transfer Group,” and “Timeshare Help Source.” They used in-person seminars and direct mail to put pressure on senior citizens to make them pay for bogus services.
The FTC also reported on the harm done to the victims of these scammers.
- Making bogus affiliation claims: The scammers pretended to be affiliated or “authorized” by major timeshare companies. This lie made victims feel that they were receiving legitimate services.
- Lying about the options: The Scammers would claim that the only way to exit a timeshare was through their services. They would also claim that they could never get their services unless they signed up right away.
- There are many ways to exit a timeshare, including, but not limited to, the Recession and litigation.
- Stocking fears about Successor Liability: The scammers would scare their victims by claiming that the debt would be carried down to their children unless they got their services (even though they were not lawyers).
- Failing to give consumers refunds: These scammers would “guarantee” that if they failed, they would refund the consumer all their money. This never happened, they would make up excuses ranging from the Covid pandemic to non-existent laws. They would deny almost every refund.
- Pressuring consumers to sign non-negotiable and unenforceable contracts: The scammers would also pressure victims into contracts. These contracts denied the victims the right to cancel the service. This is against the FTC’s Cooling off rule. This rule allows consumers the right to cancel a contract like this within three business days of sale.
As of now, the FTC wants to state that this is an ongoing case with “reason to believe” that these people are doing something illegal. Ultimately, they are innocent until proven guilty by a court.
Desperate people often turn to these Scammers, and it is hard to know what to look for, however, the FTC also just released an article on how to look out for these scammers. Their tips are listed below.
- If you are considering going into a timeshare, you must read (or have an attorney read) the entire contract. Understand what you are getting into, but also, more importantly, how to get out of it, if it’s even possible without a resale, however they do not sell on eBay for $1.00.
- If you are considering hiring a company or law firm to get you out, here are some steps to take before you sign up.
- Research the company. Search online for the company’s name, plus the word “scam” or “complaint”.
- Study the paperwork on your own: get the offer in writing, and go home to read it, and get advice from a Lawyer, it is your right to do so.
- Ask about your ability to cancel your contract. in certain circumstances, you have the right to a cooling off period, where you can cancel the deal after you’ve signed the papers, but make sure their answer is in writing within the contract.
While we applaud the action taken by the Wisconsin attorney general, It is important to remember that these scams are common in the other 49 states across the country. Rather than celebrate this as a victory, it should be a warning to us all on the importance of doing the research before handing your money over for a claimed timeshare cancelation that in reality is just Con-Artists (often former timeshare salespeople) that are trying to steal your money.
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