A federal court has temporarily halted a telemarketing operation that targeted consumers trying to sell their timeshare properties.  The defendants allegedly charged consumers thousands of dollars, falsely claiming they had buyers lined up for sales that supposedly would be reviewed and approved by the Federal Trade Commission.
According to court papers filed by the FTC, the Orlando, Florida-based defendants, who operated out of mail drop addresses in places such as Las Vegas, Boston, and Orlando, contacted consumers trying to sell their timeshare properties and told them they had buyers for their properties.  In order for the sale to proceed, the defendants charged consumers up to $3,150 – either as an “earnest money deposit” to commit them to the sale, or for sale-related expenses – which, consumers were told, would be refunded when the sale closed.  Consumers were instructed to pay by cashier’s check or money order sent by overnight delivery, and to immediately sign and return a “sales agreement” or “sellers’ document” that would be mailed to them.
In the complaint, the FTC alleged that the “sales agreement” was a marketing contract for advertising the property, not a sales contract.  Consumers who signed the contract and sent their payment to the defendants often were not contacted again, and consumers’ properties were never sold.
Contrary to the defendants’ alleged assertions, the FTC does not review or approve timeshare sales.