Attorney General Bailey Obtains Consent Judgment In Timeshare Exit Case

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.- In a major win for consumers, Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced today that his Office has obtained a consent judgment against Vacation Consulting Services, LLC; VCS Communications, LLC; The Transfer Group, LLC; Real Travel, LLC; and their owner Brian Scroggs for failing to let consumers out of their timeshare agreements. Scroggs owned Vacation Consulting Services, a Missouri-based company that offered timeshare exit services around the country.
“One of my biggest priorities as Attorney General is to enforce the law as written, and that involves holding fraudulent companies accountable for preying on Missourians,” said Attorney General Bailey. “This consent judgement is a testament to the work that this office’s Consumer Protection Unit puts in everyday to protect Missourians, and we will continue to use every legal resource available to pursue justice for victims of consumer fraud.”

The State filed a Petition against the Defendants in July 2020 for violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. After more than two years of hard-fought litigation, Defendants agreed to settle the case for $800,000. This figure includes $700,000 in restitution for consumers, $50,000 in civil penalties, and $50,000 to the Missouri Practices Revolving Fund, which will help pay for the State to pursue other future actions on behalf of defrauded consumers.

The Judgment permanently enjoins Scroggs and the other Defendants from marketing or selling third party timeshare exit services in the State of Missouri.

While the consent judgment sets the restitution amount, Scroggs has filed for bankruptcy protection. The Attorney General’s Office continues to pursue Scroggs in bankruptcy court in order to attempt to recover as much as legally possible for consumers.

The consent judgment can be read here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2023-01-06-consent-judgment(13807993-2).pdf?sfvrsn=207a25e6_2

Attorney General Bailey encourages Missourians who believe they may be the victim of any scam or unfair practice to file a complaint by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection hotline at 800-392-8222, or by submitting a complaint online at ago.mo.gov.

Timeshare Exit Tips

  1. For consumers who want to get out of the timeshare contract, they should reach out to the timeshare directly to see if they offer a deed-back or exit program.  If a program is not available, consult with an attorney for further legal advice.
  2. Beware of making upfront payments to timeshare exit companies for the work they promise.
  3. Written guarantees from timeshare exit companies may not offer the protection or promises that consumers expect.
  4. Do your research.  Research the owners and the business carefully before paying any money.
  5. Check with the Attorney General’s office and BBB for complaints prior to doing any business with a timeshare exit company.
  6. If you believe you have been scammed, you can contact the Missouri Attorney General’s office Consumer Protection hotline at 800-392-8222 or visit their website at www.ago.mo.gov

General Timeshare Tips

  • Look on the secondary market first. If you are interested in buying a timeshare, you may save thousands buying on the resale market. Be fully aware of what you are purchasing and from whom you are buying to ensure a smooth transaction. Make sure you have in writing the terms of the sale and what each side is responsible for paying at closing. Read the contract carefully and ask questions of the seller.
  • Don’t bow to pressure. Take time to think about your decision. Ask the salesperson to send you written information about your possible purchase, including a contract that you can review. There is nothing that says you have to sign the first thing that is shown to you. Let the deal breathe before you figure out if it is right for you.
  • Do your research. Compare travel savings with online travel services or local travel agents. Also, check out the company with the Attorney General’s office and the BBB.
  • Act fast if you are not satisfied. If you sign a contract for a timeshare or travel club, you have a short window to cancel the contract if you don’t like what you purchased. Don’t wait until after you get back from your trip to take a second look at the contract and research the company you are dealing with or it may be too late. Also, always pay with a credit card so you can challenge the charge should something go wrong with the purchase.

Alaska Attorney General Action Against Fraudulent Timeshare Exit Company Serves as Warning to Consumers

With the recent lawsuit filed by Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor against seven corporations and eight individuals who are alleged to have operated a fraudulent timeshare exit company, the American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) today reminded timeshare owners to always talk to their developer first when looking to exit their timeshare.

The Alaska Attorney General filed a lawsuit against an interrelated network of timeshare exit companies, including seven corporations and eight individuals, alleging they defrauded elderly Alaskan consumers. The defendants in the Attorney General’s complaint include Consumer Law Protection, LLC, Consumer Rights Council, Premier Reservations Group, LLC, Resort Transfer Group, LLC, Square One Development Group, Inc., Square One Group, LLC, Timeshare Help Source, Christopher Carroll, George Reed, Louann Reed, Scott Jackson, Eduardo Balderas, Sherrod Banks, Courtney Kirkpatrick, and Gary Adamson.

“Consumers should always be wary of companies that use scare tactics to create a sense of urgency,” said Attorney General Taylor, in a press release from his office on June 28, 2022. “A company that refuses to give you a few days to think over a big financial commitment probably isn’t the kind of company you want to do business with.”

“Continued actions by Attorneys General throughout the United States only emphasize how important it is that consumers remain cautious about engaging with unscrupulous third-party companies who require them to pay thousands in up-front fees and offer guarantees that sound too good to be true,” said Robert Clements, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). “If you have done business with one of the companies named, we encourage you to reach out to the Alaska Department of Law.”

The Attorney General’s office alleges that the entities solicited timeshare owners to get out of their timeshare contracts based on false claims and promises in exchange for large upfront payments. According to the Alaska Attorney General’s press release, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants:

  • Targeted timeshare owners using a deceptive direct mail campaign, which lured timeshare owners to sales presentations at Anchorage hotels with false promises of a $250 shopping card and information on how to eliminate timeshare maintenance fees, improve their ownership experience, or legally exit their timeshare; and
  • When the timeshare owners arrived at the sales presentations, the defendants used hard sales tactics, including telling the timeshare owners that their maintenance fees would skyrocket, that their heirs would be forced to pay the maintenance fees in perpetuity, and that the only way to exit their timeshare contracts was to pay for the defendants’ timeshare exit services.

Nine Alaskan victims, and counting, have been identified by the Department of Law, who paid the defendants a total of over $113,000. There may be additional victims who have not yet been identified.

The Alaskan Attorney General’s office has asked customers nationwide who believe they were defrauded by the companies to fill out a consumer complaint form here or file a complaint through the Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at (907) 269-5200.

“This is exactly why we continue to remind timeshare owners who are looking to exit about the importance of going to their developer, resort management company or HOA first,” said Ken McKelvey, Chairman of the Board for ARDA-ROC. “Through ARDA-ROC, we also offer a safe exit resource, that is supported by timeshare developers, through the Coalition for Responsible Exit.”

ARDA-ROC encourages timeshare owners looking to exit to contact their timeshare developer, resort management company or HOA first. Timeshare developers also support using the Coalition for Responsible Exit as a safe exit resource, which offers free or low-cost exit options and can be accessed by visiting ResponsibleExit.com.

Legal Action by Missouri Attorney General Schmitt Against Timeshare Exit Companies Serves as Warning to Consumers

For Immediate Release  |  6/21/2022

Contact: Sarah Bascom  |  Kelsey Deasy

ARDA-ROC Reminds Timeshare Owners to Talk to Their Developer First When Looking to Exit Their Timeshare

Washington, D.C. – In response to recent action by the Missouri Attorney General against an interrelated network of timeshare exit companies and their principals, the American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) today reminded timeshare owners who are looking to exit their timeshare about the importance of going to their timeshare developer first.

The Missouri Attorney General obtained a temporary restraining order against an interrelated network of timeshare exit companies and their principals, freezing several million in funds from their bank accounts. Entities named in the complaint are Consumer Law Protection, Consumer Rights Council, Premier Reservations Group, Resort Transfer Group, Square One Development Group and related entities, and Timeshare Help Source (collectively referred to as “The Companies”). Read more about the action by clicking here.

“Consumers should always be extremely cautious about engaging with unscrupulous third-party companies who require consumers to pay thousands in up-front fees and offer guarantees that sound too good to be true,” said Robert Clements, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). “These companies make false promises, use deceitful practices and prey on owners looking to exit their timeshares, and sadly, thousands of consumers have lost millions of dollars in the process. If you have done business with one of the companies named above, we encourage you to reach out to the Missouri Attorney General’s office.”

The action Missouri took alleges that since 2018, The Companies have:

  • Used “deceptive, unfair, and high-pressure sales tactics to convince consumers to pay them thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars for timeshare exit services that [they] cannot or will not perform.”
  • Made a myriad of false and deceptive statements, including that consumers’ timeshare maintenance fees would escalate unchecked into perpetuity; that unless consumers paid for services, consumers’ children and grandchildren would be saddled with ever-increasing timeshare fees; and that they would provide a full refund if consumers had not been exited within a year.
  • Falsely claimed they are affiliated with timeshare developers, exchange companies, the Better Business Bureau and the industry trade association, ARDA.
  • Failed to disclose, and even taken steps to actively conceal the right to rescind the contract within three days.

The state estimates that the number of victims could be in the thousands with millions of dollars in damages, including damage to consumers’ credit.

The Missouri Attorney General’s office has asked customers nationwide who believe they were defrauded by the companies to file a complaint through the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or submit a complaint online at ago.mo.gov.

“ARDA-ROC continues to shed light on these stories in hopes of reaching more and more consumers out there before these ‘timeshare exit companies’ do,” said Ken McKelvey, Chairman of the Board for ARDA-ROC. “Timeshare owners looking to exit should always go to their timeshare developer, resort management company or homeowners’ association first to discuss what kind of programs they have in place.”

ARDA-ROC recommends owners always contact their timeshare developer, resort management company or HOA as their first source of information regarding exit options. The Coalition for Responsible Exit is also a place for owners to safely explore free or low-cost exit options that are supported by timeshare developers and can be accessed by visiting ResponsibleExit.com.

ARDA-ROC is a 501(c)4 non-profit entity funded by over 1.5 million individual timeshare owner’s voluntary contributions. ARDA-ROC is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and enhancing vacation ownership through smart policy and sensible regulation. ARDA-ROC advocates for local, state, and federal policies that enable the vacation ownership industry to thrive and provide consumers with an enriched vacation ownership experience. For more information, visit ARDA-ROC.org.