Perpetuity Timeshare Contract Owners Are Scammed Once Again
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A holiday for life might sound like a dream for many, but when they come into contact with timeshare companies, they often face financial ruin instead. We have spoken extensively on the dangers of timeshare contracts as well as timeshare exit scam companies. Today we want to warn those who are willing to enter a timeshare contract about timeshare scam companies.
Another success story regarding the prosecution of those associated with scam timeshare companies has come to light. Two individuals, a father and step-daughter, have been ordered to pay back £424,560 for their part in a ‘leisure club’ scam. The confiscation orders were given in Birmingham Crown Court in February 2020 to Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly (paying 274,560 and £150,000 respectively) for their part in running Eze Europe Ltd and linked businesses.
Keep reading to learn more about the O’Reilly case as well as for some top tips on how to avoid scams like this yourself.
The Timeshare Scam
Dominic O’Reilly was sentenced in March 2019 to a total of 28 months in prison, and Stephanie O’Reilly received an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years. If they fail to pay back what they owe, then they both face further prison time.
This isn’t the first time the O’Reilly’s have faced charges associated with timeshares. The pair previously pleaded guilty to offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for mis-selling. Between 2014 and 2017, they managed ‘Eze Group’ which supervised various interconnected businesses such as Eze Europe Ltd, Dreamland Breaks, Regency Shores S.L, Timeshare Information Centre, Everywhere Travel Ltd and Timeshare Advice Bureau.
The father and step-daughter duo set up these businesses deliberately to appear independent from one another, when they were part of a more significant operation to coerce consumers to attend a presentation run by Eze Europe Ltd. Eze group businesses would invite individuals who were usually existing timeshare owners, to a ‘free mini-break’ which included a presentation by Eze staff.
It was reported some of these presentations lasted up to 8 hours long and attendees were subjected to aggressive and highly manipulative sales tactics to encourage them to sign up for services they didn’t want or need. This included services to dispose of timeshares and a ‘club membership’ offering discounts that didn’t exist.
Furthermore, the presentations made false claims that existing timeshares would last in perpetuity and the owners would pass on massive debts to their children when they die unless they signed up to Eze timeshare disposal services. As a result, many consumers reported they felt trapped in the venue until they signed up for the services.
The consumers thought they could cancel their agreement afterwards, but the Eze Group avoided ending the contracts, refusing them their cancellation rights. They continued this despite ongoing warnings by Trading Standards from late 2014 that cancellation rights applied.
Action was finally taken in April 2016 by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team in central England, supported by officers from Warwickshire Trading Standards. However, complaints continued to be received about the sales practices until 2018, by which time the group was only operating from Spain.
How to Stop a Timeshare Scam
If you want to avoid making the mistakes these victims made when choosing a timeshare company, then follow these top tips:
- Timeshare companies who invite you to presentations are likely to use sales tactics which are aggressive and manipulative. If you are invited on a free break or a presentation, only go if you are strong-willed and know you can face the potentially hours-long presentation without feeling the need to give in. If not, you should avoid it and take a hard pass on the free holiday.
- Scammers can often cold-call you or send enticing but unsolicited emails. They buy their sales leads from brokers on sites like Craigslist or directly from employees at resort companies who are willing to steal customers information for them. If you receive a cold-call or unsolicited email, it might be because they have stolen your information – be wary of these companies.
- Before signing any contracts, it is best to ask for a copy for your lawyer to look over. If the company doesn’t want to give you a copy, then this is often a bad sign there are things in there they don’t wish for expert eyes to see. More often than not, scam companies will want you to sign something there and then on the day without even properly glancing at the contract.
Check out our website today to learn more about Athena Law and how we can support your claim against timeshare companies you feel have trapped you in a contract or mis-sold you a timeshare. By getting to know you and your situation, we can provide expert guidance and support your journey to financial freedom.