A FLORIDA TRIFECTA: FTC Goes To Federal Court To Halt ‘Timeshare’ Telemarketing Scheme; ‘When Consumers Realized They Had Been Duped, The Defendants Routinely Dodged . . . Phone Calls,’ Agency Says

BULLETIN: Even as the SEC and CFTC were charging alleged Ponzi schemers and “precious-metal” fraudsters in Florida yesterday, the FTC was preparing to announce charges against an alleged “timeshare” telemarketing scheme operating in the Sunshine State.

Charged by the FTC in the alleged timeshare scam were Albert M. Wilson, David S. Taylor, Frank M. Perry Jr., Vacation Property Services Inc. (VPS), Vacation Property Sellers Inc. (dba Timeshare Experts), and Higher Level Marketing Inc. (HLM, dba Vacation Property Services).

Two of the companies — VPS and HLM — had previous run-ins with law enforcement over timeshare schemes, the FTC said.

Although the telemarketing schemers were eager to sell their scam over the phone, they were less eager to pick up the phone to answer calls when confused or disgruntled customers called, the FTC said.

A federal judge has issued a Temporary Restraining Order that halts the scam in its tracks, the FTC said. The scheme was operating in the St. Petersburg area, the agency added.

Even customers on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list were called by the scammers, the FTC said.

“Defendants target consumers who own timeshare properties,” the FTC said. “Many of Defendants’ victims are elderly consumers and/or immigrants who speak English as a second language. Defendants also deceive many other segments of the population.”

The scheme featured a pitch that the companies had buyers for timeshares, the FTC said. Prospects were told that, by paying an upfront fee ranging from $200 to more than $8,000, the firms could sell the properties and the customers could cash out.

“[C]onsumers ultimately learned the defendants had no buyers lined up to purchase their timeshare properties and no such buyers were in the offing,” the FTC said. “And, when consumers realized they had been duped, the defendants routinely dodged consumers’ phone calls and denied their refund requests.”

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