Friday, September 26, 2014

Hilton Head Island: Timeshare Scam Capital of the World?

Seemingly endless complaints of timeshare fraud on the small island of Hilton Head have been relentlessly reported since at least the early 2000s. No one doubts that timeshare fraud is real and rampant; however, Federal, State, and Local governments have failed to address what has become a glaring and embarrassing blight for Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and other communities.
Is Hilton Head Island the timeshare scam capital of the World? Only the United States? Or just South Carolina? The egregiousness of the reported fraudulent activity and overwhelming numbers of reported timeshare fraud are astonishing, startling, and just plain shameful.

Before the internet became widely used and easily accessible, timeshare companies could conduct their fraudulent activities without fear, hiding in plain sight, keeping their fraudulent practices secret. Ineffectual and incompetent government regulatory entities offered no meaningful assistance to timeshare fraud victims. Attorneys General largely ignored the criminal elements of the timeshare fraud (but note that the New York Attorney General has very recently taken some action and many are now being prosecuted and imprisoned for timeshare resale scams). Timeshare fraudsters had little to fear.

And then the internet gave everyone a voice. Timeshare fraud victims' complaints were not destined to be filed away by an impotent or corrupt bureaucrat or tallied in a back office of the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau now maintains records on timeshare companies online. Two of the three known timeshare developers on Hilton Head Island have "F" ratings with the Better Business Bureau and have 295 and 85 complaints, respectively, reported to the Better Business Bureau in the last three (3) years alone. Those numbers are staggering and appalling, but you cannot view the actual complaints or the substance of the complaints.

The Better Business Bureau is not a government agency. The Federal Trade Commission, however, is a government agency. Anyone can send a letter (also known as a Freedom of Information Act Request) to the Federal Trade Commission requesting complaints of timeshare fraud on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and anywhere else. In the case of Hilton Head Island, you will receive thousands of pages of complaints.

You can read one or you can read them all. But they are all similar or the same in substance. Should you have the heart to read too many of the complaints, themes will develop: the same lies are complained of; the same people and timeshare companies are complained of; the same fraudulent tactics are reported; the same senior citizens and the elderly are being targeted and having their bank accounts and retirement savings emptied.

The complaints from the Federal Trade Commission will be sent to you in nicely formatted form pages with typed information. Impersonal. Inhuman. But should you send a Freedom of Information Act Request to other government entities like the Town of Hilton Head Island, you should receive what I received: handwritten letters from the elderly pleading for help and detailing the outrageous timeshare fraud. They sadly note their late age, ashamed that they were taken by timeshare fraudsters, in despair that they are now without their retirement savings and living on fixed incomes. Instead of enjoying their hard earned golden years, they now have to work for their survival until they are room temperature.

Timeshare fraud is real. It is not a game where a timeshare company should be permitted to do whatever it takes to get the senior citizen to sign on the bottom line and hand over their credit card. Timeshare companies do not accidentally defraud people. There is no excuse for timeshare fraud, not even the tens of millions of dollars of income some timeshare companies make each and every year. Not the Mercedes and BMWs. Not the $5,000,000.00 homes. Not the freedom to live and do whatever one can imagine in a lifetime with seemingly limitless wealth.

The victims of timeshare fraud are more frequently taking their fight to the Courts, and they are quite frequently taking their complaints to the internet. Aside from making Freedom of Information Act requests to government entities, you can easily access seemingly endless complaints of timeshare fraud on the internet at www.ripoffreport.com, www.complaintsboard.com, www.redweek.com, www.pissedconsumer.com, www.tugbbs.com, and on and on and on. Most folks do not reasonably have enough time to read all of the complaints for Hilton Head Island alone, much less the entire State of South Carolina or the United States.

It is possible that all of the complaints of timeshare fraud are just a well coordinated conspiracy of senior citizens since the early 2000s to defame the timeshare industry. However, that possibility is just as likely as pigs flying and Hell freezing over. Yet, confronted with undeniable reports of timeshare fraud, the Federal, State, and Local government largely does absolutely nothing.
Why? That will be left to another blog post where I will review and analyze the motivations of individuals and entities, including timeshare sales people, the residents of communities where timeshares are located, Federal, State, and Local publicly elected officials, Federal, State, and Local entities and regulatory agencies, and the media.

Need Hilton Head attorneys? For more information, please visit our Hilton Head lawyers on the web at: www.LowcountryLegal.com

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