Timeshare Scammers Banned
Along with being permanently banned from timeshare resale services and telemarketing, the Florida-based operators behind a deceptive timeshare resale scheme have agreed to surrender approximately $3.4 million worth of assets including homes, vehicles, a Rolex watch, silver coins, and a diamond ring to settle the Federal Trade Commission’s charges against them.
The principals behind the operation and their company, Pro Timeshare Resales LLC, also are prohibited from making a range of misrepresentations during the sale of any other goods or services, are barred from collecting on outstanding customer accounts, and are prohibited from misusing the consumer information they’ve collected.
According to the FTC’s complaint, between November 2011 and December 2016 the defendants called timeshare property owners, falsely claiming that they had a buyer or renter ready and willing to buy or rent their properties for a specified price, or making false promises to sell the timeshares quickly, sometimes within a specified time period.
The defendants charged property owners up to $2,500 in advance but failed to deliver on their promises, the FTC alleged. The FTC noted in the complaint that the defendants strung some timeshare owners along with additional false claims, such as that they would soon receive money from a sale or rental, and often convinced them to pay for additional purported closing costs or other fees. Consumers’ requests for refunds were typically denied or ignored, according to the complaint.
After filing the lawsuit in December 2016, FTC staff obtained a temporary restraining order and, later, a stipulated preliminary injunction in the case. Through these orders the court halted the operation, froze the defendants’ assets, and appointed a receiver to oversee those assets, among other things.
The court order settling the FTC’s charges will ensure that the defendants do not engage in illegal conduct similar to what was alleged in the complaint. First, it permanently bans the defendants from marketing or selling timeshare resale services, or from assisting anyone else to do so. Next, it bans them from participating in telemarketing, either directly or through an intermediary.
The order prohibits the defendants from misrepresenting any material fact regarding the sale of any other goods or services, including making deceptive claims regarding the total cost of a good or service, the terms of a refund policy, or a product’s performance or efficacy.
The order also prohibits the defendants from collecting money from consumers who bought their timeshare resale services, and it prohibits them from selling or otherwise benefitting from the customer information they collected from consumers.
Finally, the order imposes an $18.7 million judgment against the defendants, which will be suspended once they have surrendered assets totaling approximately $3.4 million to the Commission. These assets include $1.84 million in cash currently held by the court-appointed receiver, real property worth approximately $600,000 owned by defendant Jess Kinmont, along with his Range Rover, Ferrari, Bayliner boat, and a Rolex watch.
Defendant John P. Wenz will surrender, among other things, $215,000 in brokerage and bank accounts, two homes, two trucks, silver coins, and a diamond ring. The defendants also are subject to standard monitoring and compliance provisions.
[Source: FTC, May 2018]