7/19/2011 FTC News Release:
At the Federal Trade Commission’s request, a federal court has temporarily halted a telemarketing operation that targeted consumers trying to sell their timeshare properties. The defendants allegedly charged consumers thousands of dollars, falsely claiming they had buyers lined up for sales that supposedly would be reviewed and approved by the FTC. As part of its continuing crackdown on con artists who prey upon financially distressed consumers, the FTC seeks to permanently end the defendants’ deceptive practices and make them refund consumers’ money.
According to court papers filed by the FTC, the Orlando, Florida-based defendants, who operated out of mail drop addresses in places such as Las Vegas, Boston, and Orlando, contacted consumers trying to sell their timeshare properties and told them they had buyers for their properties. In order for the sale to proceed, the defendants charged consumers up to $3,150 – either as an “earnest money deposit” to commit them to the sale, or for sale-related expenses – which, consumers were told, would be refunded when the sale closed. The defendants instructed consumers to pay by cashier’s check or money order sent by overnight delivery, and to immediately sign and return a “sales agreement” or “seller’s document” that would be mailed to them. Telemarketers who spoke with consumers often represented that the property sale would be reviewed and approved by the FTC.
The FTC’s complaint alleged that the “sales agreement” was merely a marketing contract for advertising the property, not a sales contract. Consumers who signed the contract and sent their payment to the defendants often were not contacted again, and consumers’ properties were never sold. Consumers who called the defendants were given the run-around, and refund demands were routinely ignored or denied. Contrary to the defendants’ alleged assertions, the FTC does not review or approve timeshare sales.
The FTC charged the defendants with violating the FTC Act and the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule by misrepresenting that they had buyers willing to pay a specific price for consumers’ timeshare properties, that they would refund their fee when the property was sold, and that the FTC would review and approve proposed sales.
The court froze the defendants’ assets and appointed a receiver to take control of the businesses. The defendants are National Solutions LLC, also doing business as Blue Scape Timeshares International, Country Wide Timeshares, Countrywide Timesharesales MA, Landmark Timeshares, Propertys Direct, Quicksale Propertys, Sun Property Networks, Sun Property’s, Universal Propertys, and VIM Timeshares; Landmark Marketing LLC, also doing business as Blue Scape Timeshares, Country Wide Timeshares International, Propertys DRK, Quick Sale Advisers, Quick Sale International, and Universal Propertys International; Red Solutions LLC, also doing business as City Resorts and Resort Advisors; Enterprise America, LLC, also doing business as American Timeshares, Exit Week, and Resort Advisors International; Investments Group of Florida, LLC, also doing business as Resort Advisors AM; Multiglobe LLC, also doing business as Universal Propertys; Leandro Velazquez; Samuel Velazquez; Joel Velazquez; Kiomary Cruz; Edgar Gonzalez; Vicente Virgilio; and Aaron Weiss.
The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 5-0. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.
To learn how to avoid pitfalls when selling a timeshare unit, read the FTC’s Selling a Timeshare Through a Reseller: Contract Caveats.
NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendant has actually violated the law. The case will be decided by the court.
Click here for the original news release and additional information.