Sometimes it’s feast in this biz, sometimes it’s famine. Last week it was famine. This week— well, pull up a chair and get some popcorn!
ORLANDO: Getting out while the getting’s good? Premium Timeshare Depot
is was a timeshare resale company that has been in business since 2008. There are lots of complaints about the company in the usual online forums such as ComplaintsBoard.com citing the usual types of tactics often employed by less-than-honorable resale companies and it has an “F” rating with the BBB.
The principals of the business are Brandon Booth, Marco Palermo and Brandon Kennedy. Other companies owned by Brandon Booth include Brandon Booth, Inc and Right Price Point Property, LLC.
Keeping in mind the recently adopted new laws regulating the timeshare resale industry in Florida, along with the number of raids, arrests and fines levied against resale scam companies/individuals, does it seem at all suspicious to you that this company has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (liquidation) at this particular time?
Well, they did. Premium Land Depot LLC, also known as Premium Timeshare Depot, filed for bankruptcy on April 9. They claim $4.43 million in liabilities and— get this— $5,329 in assets.
That’s the company, mind you, not the principals. I wonder what their personal finances look like. And will Right Price Point (incorporated in Feb. 2011) take up where Timeshare Depot left off?
Call me a cynic, but IMO something about this doesn’t pass the smell test.
ALSO TOO: According to an article in the Orlando Business Journal, David Siegel is branching out from his Westgate timeshare empire.
The article states, in short, that Siegel
“…joined forces with residential real estate agent Lorraine Barrett — previously a star Realtor at Coldwell Banker in Dr. Phillips — to resurrect Florida Ranch Lands Inc., a company that Siegel has owned since the 1990s but had its heyday decades prior.
“Florida Ranch Lands is a legendary company,” said Siegel, who bought the brokerage when it was on the brink of extinction after the real estate crash of the 1980s. “Then I got so busy in the timeshare business that I just kind of set the Florida Ranch Lands on the shelf.”
He resurrected the name after bringing Barrett and Cheryl Logue, another former Coldwell Banker Realtor, on board in January of this year. The company has since focused mostly on residential listings and brokered about a dozen sales ranging from $25,000 to $1.3 million and has another dozen or so pending contracts.
Read the whole article: Siegel’s next endeavor is a blast from the past. So what do you think? Is Siegel hedging his bets on the timeshare industry or just broadening his options?
ORMOND BEACH: I love mugshots, don’t you? As long as none of them are ever of me, anyway.
These two winners are Celeste Stalnaker, 45, (left) and Stephanie Tanos, 39, (right). They were arrested recently following a months-long investigation into the workings of HH Holdings by the Volusia County Sherriff’s Office and the Ormond Beach Police Department.
It seems the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency had received complaints about the company for allegedly using a timeshare resale scam to bilk at least 13 timeshare owners out of more than $20,000, and the two law agencies stepped up to the plate to investigate.
According to the complaint against the pair, Stalnaker was provided with lead sheets containing information about potential victims, and she would call them to offer to sell their timeshares.
Upon reaching an agreement, Tanos would get the victims to send money via wire transfer for nonexistent services such as a title search and closing fees. But of course once the money was sent, the victims never heard from them again.
The pair went together to various Walmart stores to pick up the cash, with Stalnaker being the one to collect the money because Tanos had been banned from using Western Union. Tanos gave Stalnaker 5% to 20% of the payment, according to police.
Tanos has been charged with organized scheme to defraud and five counts of grand theft.
Stalnaker is charged with two counts of grand theft, two counts of theft from a person 65 or older, six counts of obtaining property by fraud and four counts of grand theft.
The investigation is still continuing as police search for more victims, and more charges may be brought.
They take a lovely picture, don’t you think?
CAMDEN: Aw snap! No mugshots for this one yet but maybe they’ll be forthcoming. Sixteen mugshots!
Many of you have probably already read the story, broken by Inside the Gate to the timeshare industry on April 18 in this story: Adam Lacerda, VO Group Staff Arrested for Timeshare Fraud. If you haven’t, here’s a brief rundown (go to the story for details).
Sixteen people affiliated with The Vacation Ownership Group, (a/k/a VO Group LLC), including the principals and staff, have been arrested for their alleged roles in a $2.4 million mail fraud conspiracy involving timeshare mortgages. They will be prosecuted in New Jersey, where the company is headquartered. The people charged in the case are:
- Adam Lacerda (President/CEO)
- Ashley R. Lacerda (COO)
- Steven Cox
- Ian Resnick
- Ryan E. Bird
- Francis Santore
- Brian Corley
- Catherine Bannigan
- Joseph Diventi
- Alfred Giordano
- Vincent Giordano
- Joseph Saxon
- Aimee Allen
- Genevieve Manzon
- Eric Reilly
- Eric K. Reiff
The legal complaint against them alleges that the defendants, through the VO Group, participated in a fraudulent scheme in which representatives of the VO Group, often using false identities, telephoned owners of timeshare vacation properties purchased from Flagship Resort Development, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc., and other timeshare developers. They convinced the owners in some cases to submit money to the VO Group, purportedly to pay off the owners’ “mortgages” on their timeshares. The VO Group claimed that the timeshare owner could pay off the mortgage balance at a substantially reduced amount – often by as much as 50 percent the amount of the owner’s original mortgage – by mailing payment to the VO Group at a Post Office box in Pleasantville, N.J.
The charges go on to say the VO Group representatives also allegedly got timeshare owners to send the VO Group money purportedly to have timeshares cancelled or sold. After receipt of payments for the VO Group’s “service,” the conspirators caused those payments to be deposited into a bank account in the name of the VO Group. Rather than paying off the timeshare owner’s mortgage, cancelling the owner’s timeshare, or selling the timeshare, the conspirators used the timeshare owner’s money for their personal use.
According to the complaint, New Jersey’s investigation into VO Group also revealed that in an attempt to cover up the scheme, the conspirators in most cases engaged in a “bait and switch” tactic by purchasing an additional timeshare in the victim’s name without the victim’s knowledge. The victim purportedly had assented to the purchase based on documents the VO Group previously emailed to the victim for signature even though the victim had been led to believe he or she was simply paying off the original timeshare mortgage.
Keep in mind that the charges and allegations contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. That process could take a while.
But in the meantime I’ll bet they don’t look as good in their mugshots as they do in their official photos on their website. (UPDATE June21: Sorry about the bad link. The VO Group’s website has been more or less removed, with a notice of a “system upgrade” in place since at least May 17, 2012, and everything that was on the site is gone. Their NEW business website is up and running, though, at http://www.vofinancial.com/ Unfortunately, neither of the Lacerdas’ names is mentioned on this website, nor are there any pictures.)
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