- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Justice Department on Tuesday took court action against companies accused of using deceptive practices to hawk timeshare exit services to seniors.

The civil complaint was filed on behalf of the Federal Trade Commission against five people and 11 entities.

“The defendants used scare tactics and high-pressure sales pitches to coerce seniors into forking over thousands of dollars for timeshare exit services they didn’t deliver,” FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Samuel Levine said.

The alleged scam brought in over $90 million from clientele, who were mostly senior citizens, according to the complaint.

The defendants are accused of numerous deceptive practices, including using logos of legitimate timeshare companies to suggest their services were endorsed by those companies.

The FTC also alleges that consumers were told that they could not exit their timeshares by themselves without paying exorbitant sums and that defendants “threatened consumers to buy their service on the day of the sales pitch or they will never be able to exit their timeshare.”

The 16 Missouri-based defendants are Christopher Carroll, George Reed, LouAnn Reed, Scott Jackson and Eduardo Balderas and 11 related companies and trusts they run and operate, according to the Justice Department.

They are accused of stoking fears among their elderly clientele that, if the exit services were not purchased, their heirs and surviving family would be forced to pay more and more maintenance fees on their timeshares.

Promises of refunds were also false, the FTC alleged. The defendants are accused of denying refunds based on litigation and the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the defendants are alleged to have induced consumers to sign contracts with illegal terms, such as barring them from canceling the contract.

The Wisconsin attorney general joined the suit. The attorneys general of Alaska and Missouri filed separate lawsuits against the defendants in June 2022.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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