WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – A group of people swindled time-share owners twice by first getting an up-front fee for lining up a supposed buyer and taking another fee in the guise of a law firm trying to recover the initial fraud, the Center for Legal Justice claims in Palm Beach County Court.
The center, which calls itself “a Florida Bar-compliant legal-referral service,” says Innovative Resorts International targets victims for its bogus time-share resale business through telemarketing and the Internet. The lawsuit names Hector Reyes as the individual who controlled Innovative and defrauded the customers it attracted.
“Commencing on a date unknown, but beginning at least in September 2009, Innovative and Reyes initiated contact with prospective customers via the telephone and falsely advised the prospective customers at the time of the initial telephone call that Innovative had procured a buyer for the prospective customer’s timeshare,” according to the complaint. “Innovative and Reyes advised during the initial telephone call that the prospective consumer had to sign a contract for the company’s services and had to provide an upfront fee for paperwork, handling costs, deed preparation and title searches to name only a few.”
Innovative allegedly took up-front fees from its customers, promising to return the money if it failed to sell their time-share within 120 days. But the contracts told a “completely different” story, according to the complaint.
Reyes instead pocketed his clients’ money and funneled it into another business, Consumer Protection Agency (CPA), which he used to con the same customers for a second time, the Center for Legal Justice claims.
The lawsuit says Reyes registered an Internet domain name for the agency. Nonparty Jeffrey Fields incorporated CPA, identifying defendant John Egan as vice president.
Egan’s wife, defendant Vera Egan, and another individual defendant, Karin Fowler, also profited from the scheme, according to the complaint.
“CPA, John Egan, Vera Egan, and Fowler would contact consumers that defendants John Egan, Vera Egan and Fowler previously contacted through their time share resale marketing company under the guise of now recovering monies paid for the time share resale marketing services,” the lawsuit states.
Once again, co-conspirators asked the same clients for an upfront fee, this time for alleged legal services representing 30 percent of any recovered funds, the Center claims.
Vera Egan worked for the center for about a month but quit “abruptly” after getting access to its client database, according to the complaint.
The center says Vera falsified consumer complaints in the names of its clients to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to “mislead a pubic servant in the performance of his official duties.”
Seeking damages for unfair trade practices, tortuous interference with a contractual relationship and civil conspiracy, the center is represented by Paul Kennedy with Compass Law Group of Delray Beach.