LAS VEGAS, May 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Diamond Resorts®, a global leader in the hospitality, vacation ownership and entertainment industries, is echoing warnings from federal and state authorities urging consumers to be cautious of an increase in financial scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), people have reportedly lost $13.44 million dollars to fraud, with the top complaint categories related to travel and vacations, online shopping and bogus text messages.
As financial scams pick up, vacation owners are particularly at risk of being approached with false information. Diamond Resorts has heard from its members of a substantial uptick in so-called "timeshare cancellation companies" targeting them with scare tactics related to COVID-19 travel restrictions. These unscrupulous companies flood social media, radio and television with false advertisements of their illusory service, induce members to stop paying on their timeshare obligations, all the while charging the unsuspecting victims thousands of dollars in upfront fees. These companies rarely deliver on their promises, as they are unable to provide any legitimate service. Instead members are left in financial peril, with their credit harmed and sometimes face a foreclosure judgment.
"We are disturbed by this alarming increase in all sorts of financial scams especially those that target our members," said Mike Flaskey, CEO of Diamond Resorts. "Getting taken advantage of should not be anyone's concern during a time of crisis. We are committed to doing everything in our power to protect our members and we applaud Attorneys General and other authorities for taking a strong stance against fraudulent timeshare exit companies."
In February, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued one of the most visible of these cancellation companies, Timeshare Exit Team and its founders, Brandon Reed and Trevor Hein. The suit alleges that "virtually every aspect of Defendants' operation is deceptive." According to the lawsuit, the company spends about $1 million each month on advertising to new customers, "despite having yet to deliver services for nearly 15,000 pending customers." Many customers are left waiting years for any service, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to this action, there have been numerous civil suits filed against Timeshare Exit Team for their business practices, which include allegations against law firms Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, PS and Law Offices of Mitchell Reed Sussman & Associates, who partner with the exit company. Sadly, law firms working with so-called timeshare cancellation companies often obstruct Diamond's communications with its members, leaving Diamond members unaware of their true account status – often resulting in default or foreclosure.
Earlier this year, Missouri State Attorney General Eric Schmittfiled a lawsuit against Martin Management, a timeshare exit company and its owner Steve Martin. In 2019, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledgefiled a consumer protection lawsuit against Brian Scroggs, Bart Bowe and their company Real Travel, LLC for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Numerous other agencies have also warned consumers about timeshare cancellation companies including the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Diamond Resorts remains committed to protecting its members from timeshare exit scams, which not only hurt vacationers, but also break the law. The company has pursued more than 14 separate legal actions against so-called timeshare exit companies. Diamond has obtained permanent injunctions in more than 10 lawsuits and has had one attorney disbarred. Most recently, Diamond obtained a permanent injunction against US Consumer Attorney, P.A (USCA) and 1 Planetmedia. As part of the settlement, 1 Planetmedia will cease all future "timeshare exit services" and USCA will be forbidden from targeting Diamond Resorts members.
Diamond Resorts encourages timeshare owners who may be interested in adjusting their contracts to contact their developer for options. To learn more about red flags and report possible fraudulent third-party exit activity, visit TimeshareCancellationAwareness.com.
About Diamond Resorts Diamond Resorts® offers destinations, events and experiences to help members make a habit of breaking from the routine. From unforgettable getaways to exclusive concert series to VIP receptions and dinners, members turn to Diamond to recharge, reconnect and remind each other what matters most. Our focus on quality resorts, customer service and flexibility means members can return to a favorite resort, book a cruise to explore new countries or attend a once-in-a-lifetime event with the same level of confidence and anticipation. With access to a world of entertainment and activities, a Diamond membership ensures that people are always looking forward to vacation.