Orlando Timeshare Scams Explode!

February 16th, 2011

During the last month alone, 3 high-profile timeshare scams have been raided by police in Orlando, Florida. In at least twenty news pieces on these developments, the public has been treated to images of SWAT teams busting down doors, police confiscating computers and printers, and the ubiquitous ‘deal board’ being dragged from a shady office by regulators. Taken at face value, these images may be reassuring; certainly, scandalous Florida-based timeshare resale companies give the industry a bad name. But, it takes a timeshare industry insider to recognize these stories are not good news – not at all. Behind the headlines are regulatory follies that threaten the very existence of a secondary timeshare market.

Exactly one year ago, this blog warned of a timeshare scam designed to convince owners that their properties were ‘already sold.’ Of course, to complete the deal required payment of an enormous up-front fee. Despite our best efforts (and those of numerous other legitimate timeshare companies) to warn timeshare owners, some continue to fall for this obvious fraud. The effects of the ‘It’s Already Sold’ scam have been devastating to real timeshare resale companies: forcing them to become apologists for their now-tarnished industry.

Making matters worse for the industry, reporting on timeshare scams rarely draws a distinction between real timeshare resale companies and criminal fronts. A notable exception is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who warns of “scammers posing as timeshare resellers,” describing them as “fake.” All too often, descriptions of timeshare-related crimes are so vague and subjective they border on misleading: The Orlando Sentinel quoted police Sgt. Amy Ameye, stating victims “were told If you send money… we will get the paperwork going, we will get your timeshare sold for you” – a statement that could conceivably apply to any timeshare resale company, legitimate or otherwise.

In a press release from July 2010, the Florida Attorney General describes “actively pursuing timeshare resellers as part of a statewide initiative” – a blanket statement that presumably includes all timeshare resale companies. Given Florida’s prejudices, should it really surprise anyone that timeshare scams there have exploded? The State’s witch-hunt regulatory environment leaves no room for legitimate timeshare resale companies.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The ‘It’s Already Sold’ timeshare scam is clearly a crime that should be prosecuted. Possible Federal and State charges include Grand Theft, Organized Fraud, Intentional False Advertising, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and that’s just for starters. So what crimes were the Orlando timeshare scammers charged with? Unlicensed Telemarketing, a third degree felony in Florida.

In Florida, timeshare resellers fall under the authority of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DOACS), where they are regulated as telemarketing companies. According to DOACS investigator Sasha Velez the problem of timeshare resale scams in Orlando is “huge… We have over 40 to 50 cases unlicensed right now that we are looking into.” Of course, no one asked Ms. Velez the obvious questions:

What if these Orlando timeshare scams had telemarketing licenses? Would you have allowed them to continue defrauding consumers across the country? What if they scammed people in person, or via email?

This is the down-side of excessive regulation; the need for regulators. Folks that may be well-meaning, but just don’t get it. Solutions put forth by the DOACS, and others in Florida, have sought to criminalize the entire timeshare resale industry. The problem in Florida is not timeshare resale companies, it is criminals. If your State has criminals committing wide-scale fraud, the solution is not issuing telemarketing licenses, it is criminal prosecution.

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Entry Filed under: Avoiding Timeshare Scams,Bill McCollum,Orlando,Perceptions,Resale Market

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark  |  March 11th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    As the owner of a timeshare resale company I am sick of reading about these companies that cold call timeshare owners telling them they have already sold their ownership. They are crooks and are committing serious fraud. The timeshare owners need to beaware that any cold calls with a sales rep telling them they have already sold is complete misrepresentation and is not true. Always register your ownership with a safe reliable company who is not telling you a buyer is waiting!

  • 2. Timeshare Scam Help  |  October 27th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Yes, the government, law and bad timeshare companies seem to be going in all directions. “Increasing worse?”

    While stopping the bad, phony resale scam companies is very important, stopping the original scam is just as important!

    The one that happens at the timeshare resort to begin with… the lies and/or misrepresented facts that are presented during the sales presentation.

  • 3. kim hall  |  November 12th, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    just sacmmed by Rick Bell saying he was ith first american fiance. lost 1683.31 he willl now not return any call and deal is gone. shame on me

  • 4. Steve Paden  |  June 9th, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Has anyone ever heard of a company called Resort Line Networks located at 1800 Pembrook Dr., Orlando Florida. Anthony McDermott said they could sell my Timeshare for what I purchased it for, at about $15,000. Anthony McDermott wanted to charge my credit card for $884 up front. He said their Telephone number is 1-386-308-0106. Has anyone had any dealings with Anthony McDermott or with Resort Line Networks? They called today, at about 8pm Saturday June 10, 2012.

  • 5. Doug  |  June 10th, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Hi Steve,

    I’m not familiar with that specific company, though a quick check showed me they’ve been in business down in Florida for about 2 years. One thing you may want to consider is that, since this company is using telemarketing from Florida to solicit customers, they will be facing new and onerous regulations beginning July 1st of this year. It is likely that the effects of these new regulations, including having you sign a contract prior to your credit card being charged, will be financially devastating to timeshare resale companies in Florida. Thus, even a well meaning company could go belly-up – and you would have no recourse. (This is exactly what happened in July 2009, when the last Florida timeshare law was enacted, and 90%+ of all resale companies were bankrupted.)

    I do have to wonder, though, in light of the regulatory environment in Florida, why any serious businessman would open a timeshare resale company there in 2010??

  • 6. janice  |  June 29th, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    An escrow company called Phirman and Associates has been working with us on our resale of our timeshare. Phone number shows on caller id and we have been able to contact him. Contracts and resale process has been sent via e-mail. To close this deal they want us to pay the capital gains and fee for the certified check before we can close. The total being $3,500. I looked up the address online and the suite number. NOT AN ESCROW COMPANY. I contaced this business and asked if they knew of Phirman and Associates. She didn’t and transfered me to building security. No business by that name was in their building.
    How can you find a legit company?? So mad right now.

  • 7. Doug  |  July 2nd, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Janice,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your dealing with that fraudulent company, and wish you the best of luck in recovering all of your funds. As far as finding a legitimate company, the best advice I could give you is to avoid deals that sound ‘to good to be true.’ An actual timeshare resale company (as opposed to the “fake” company that scammed you) is not going to be able to guarantee you a sale, and you will have to pay an upfront fee to advertise your timeshare. This is the way legitimate companies work… Of course, you will want to find out what kind of advertising a company does, and how long of a period they will be advertising your timeshare.

    Unfortunately, it is all too often that a timeshare owner contacts my company looking to sell, then refuses to pay an upfront fee without some sort of absurd guarantee of performance, only to go on and lose thousands of dollars by paying the first person that calls them offering a ‘risk-free’ already-sold scam. It would be better for everyone involved if timeshare owners accepted some limited risk by advertising their property through a legitimate company, than continuing to insist on only paying fees for a guaranteed buyer. Put simply, if there were no market for companies like the one that took your $3,500, then companies like that wouldn’t exist.

  • 8. Anon  |  June 22nd, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Appreciating the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you provide.
    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information.
    Great read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google
    account.

  • 9. Emilie Houston  |  January 6th, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Timeshare sales are very common these days. Resort companies and worried owners are doing all that is possible to sell their timeshare properties, but the problem is that the supply exceeds the demand by far. If you go on vacation to a well known touristic spot, it is very probable that you will be approached by a timeshare salesman. No matter where you are: at the airport, on the streets, on a restaurant, timeshare salespeople are everywhere! And if that’s not enough, the internet is also infested by thousands of timeshare sales deals.

  • 10. Lindsay Stewart  |  April 9th, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership.

  • 11. Joellen  |  June 16th, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    What do you know about Prime Restort International ? Are they good to do resales? They say they have a buyer but I need to send about $700 in to pay for doc stamp tax. What is that?

  • 12. Doug  |  June 17th, 2015 at 12:04 am

    We’re not familiar with that specific company – but anytime someone contacts you claiming to have a buyer they are definitely lying. Among other things, the exact size of your unit is not a matter of public record – So, how could they have sold your timeshare without knowing how many bedrooms it has?

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