More than 184 individuals face criminal prosecution by U.S. Attorneys and local law enforcement.
MIAMI – The Federal Trade Commission announced 191 actions to stop fraudulent operations hawking timeshare property resale services and travel prizes, including three FTC cases, 83 civil actions brought by 28 states, and 25 actions brought by law enforcement agencies in 10 other countries. More than 184 individuals face criminal prosecution by U.S. Attorneys and local law enforcement.
“Con artists take advantage of timeshare owners who have been in tough financial straits and are desperate to sell their timeshares,” Charles A. Harwood, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said during a press conference in Miami. “They persuade owners to pay fat up-front fees by saying they have someone ready to buy the property, but that’s a lie. Our message to timeshare owners is simple: never pay for a promise, get everything in writing first, and pay only after your unit is sold. Our message to timeshare resale scammers is simple, too: law enforcement agencies at every level of government are working together to put an end to this problem.” He was joined by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Jay Levenstein, Deputy Commissioner of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and a victim of an unscrupulous timeshare resale operation.
“We cannot allow our elderly and vulnerable real property owners to continue to be the target of fraud schemes,” Ferrer said. “For that reason, our respective offices – federal and state, criminal and civil – have joined forces to combat Florida-based fraud schemes victimizing timeshare unit owners across the country. These victims, many of them elderly or in financial distress, looked to sell their units to help make ends meet or pay other bills. Instead, they were defrauded out of more than $14 million in total. Such fraud will not be tolerated.”
Bondi said, “We will continue to pursue scam artists who attempt to essentially steal from timeshare owners, and the Timeshare Resale Accountability Act that I worked with the Legislature on in 2012 is already having a great effect on ending this type of fraud. With strong partnerships among federal, state and local leaders, we will continue to protect Floridians.”
Fraudulent timeshare resellers lure consumers into paying hefty up-front fees, falsely claiming to have interested buyers ready to pay top dollar for the properties. They claim sales are about to happen, but there are no buyers, and consumers lose hundreds or thousands of dollars. Deceptive travel prize promoters trick consumers into paying for discounted or “free” vacation packages supposedly worth thousands of dollars, but most people get nothing of value or have to attend high-pressure timeshare sales presentations. All of these scams reach consumers via unsolicited email, mailed travel vouchers, and radio, TV and online advertising.
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