During the last week, timeshare resale related stories have appeared in the news twice - which is actually a lot for a niche industry! Additionally, both stories relate to previous posts here at Helptimeshare.com:
Back in May, I pointed out the threat posed to timeshare owners by timeshare recovery companies. Yesterday this issue was highlighted in an article by Diane Lade of the Sun Sentinel. In it, she states that the "Florida Attorney General has received more than 600 complaints in the past 12 months" regarding recovery companies. While it's great to see these fraudulent entities receiving some attention from the media and regulators, I have to wonder how many thousands of timeshare owners have been victimized in the four months since I originally reported on the problem. Lade goes on to point out that some timeshare resale companies have "closed down but then reopened as a timeshare recovery business" - an astute observation echoing my post describing a recovery company as "a failed timeshare resale company."
According to Lade, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services regulators are hard-at-work investigating "about 20 timeshare recovery businesses." Hopefully, these efforts will protect timeshare owners from being conned out of their hard-earned money. ...and Kudos to Lade and the Sun Sentinel for calling attention to this phenomenon!
On September 3rd, an article by Jon Burnstein (also of the Sun Sentinel), provided some follow-up information on the ongoing timeshare fraud saga of Timeshare Mega Media. In what the FTC has called a "naked fraud," Timeshare Mega Media contacted timeshare owners claiming "we have a buyer for your timeshare." According to Burnstein, the operation collected an "estimated $5 million in less than a year," before closing their doors in May 2010. Not to sound like a broken record, but HelpTimeshare.com reported on the "It's Already Sold" scam back in February of 2010. Apparently, our warning went unheeded by some 10,000+ consumers in Florida alone... More to the point of why I consider this a 'bad' story, Burnstein repeatedly refers to Timeshare Mega Media as a "timeshare resale company." He goes on to refer to the timeshare resale industry as "fraud-riddled," and states that "many of the unscrupulous resale companies operate the same way." I suggest that, for anyone in the media, using this sort of language is, at best, irresponsible: Timeshare Mega Media was clearly anything but a timeshare resale company. According to Burnstein's own article the company was no more than a criminal front, operated not by timeshare industry professionals but by felons and associates of major crime families.
Please, call them "fake" timeshare resale companies or something, but a distinction needs to be drawn by the media between criminals and timeshare resale companies. There is nothing to suggest Timeshare Mega Media, or its affiliates, had any connection whatsoever to the actual timeshare resale industry. No one in the press refers to the Swiss Watch Industry as "fraud-riddled," though fake Rolex watches are still a-dime-a-dozen throughout the U.S.