ORLANDO (CN) – The FTC says it’s broken up a ring of crooked telemarketers who took thousands of dollars from people by claiming they had buyers for their timeshares.
Six Orlando-based companies, led by three members of the Velazquez family, squeezed $1,000 to $3,150 apiece out of victims by claiming the closing was days away, then when they got the money they were nowhere to be found.
The six defendant LLCs operated under a welter of names. The lead corporate defendant, National Solutions LLC, also went by Blue Scape Timeshares International, Country Wide Timeshares, Landmark Timeshares, Propertys Direct, Quicksale Propertys, Sun Property Networks, Universal Propertys, and VIM Timeshares.
The seven individual defendants, Leandro Velazquez, Samuel Velazquez, Joel Velazquez, Kiomary Cruz, Edgar Gonzalez, Vicente Virgilio and Aaron Weiss, all live in the Orlando area, according to the Federal complaint.
The alleged schnooks typically demanded $1,000 to $3,150 in “refundable fees” from people who wanted to sell their timeshares, claimed they had buyers waiting and that the money would go for closing costs, the FTC said. They told the victims to send the money overnight by money order or cashier’s check, and it would be refunded at the closing, which was imminent.
“To further induce consumers to pay their fee, defendants often represent that the sales transaction must comply with Federal Trade Commission regulations and that the proposed sale of the consumer’s timeshare property will be reviewed and approved by the Federal Trade Commission,” the FTC said.
Once the schnooks had the money, their victims were cut adrift: “Defendants then employ a series of tactics to stall consumers who attempt to contact them. For example, consumers typically are not permitted to speak to the telemarketer who handled the initial call and are told that the telemarketer is unavailable, out of the office or busy helping other customers. Requests by consumers for return telephone calls frequently go unanswered. When consumers are able to speak to someone, they often are told that the sale of their timeshare property is proceeding but that a delay has occurred. The reasons given for the delay vary but typically relate to missing paperwork or problems with the buyer’s financing. However, the promised sales never close and consumers do not receive a refund at closing of the fees they already paid to defendants.
“When consumers realize they have been deceived and that Defendants do not actually have a buyer for their timeshare property, many consumers contact Defendants to complain and demand the return of their money. These complaints usually go unanswered, and consumers’ demands for the return of their money are routinely denied or simply ignored. Because consumers often have paid defendants’ fee by money order or cashier’s check, they typically cannot reverse or cancel the transaction and get their money back.”
The FTC seeks freezing of assets, rescission of contracts, restitution, disgorgement and injunctions.