The Department of Justice, together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Wisconsin, today announced a civil enforcement action against 16 defendants for allegedly using deceptive sales practices nationally to sell timeshare “exit services” to senior citizens.
The defendants include five individuals – Christopher Carroll, George Reed, LouAnn Reed, Scott Jackson and Eduardo Balderas – and 11 related companies and trusts they run and operate – Consumer Law Protection LLC, Consumer Rights Council, Premier Reservations Group LLC, Resort Transfer Group LLC, Square One Development Group Inc., Square One Group LLC, Timeshare Help Source LLC, Farmington Allegiance LLC, Mainline Partners LLC, the Jake and Avery Irrevocable Trust dated Sept. 11, 2019, and the Maggie and Lucy Irrevocable Trust dated Sept. 11, 2019.
According to a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, the defendants promised to assist consumers in exiting their timeshare contracts in exchange for large fees, but usually failed to deliver on their promises. The complaint alleges that the defendants, at high-pressure sales presentations at hotels and restaurants in multiple states, convinced consumers to sign up for timeshare exit services by falsely claiming that consumers could not exit timeshare contracts on their own, that the defendants were affiliated with legitimate companies, and that the consumers’ heirs would be stuck with large fees unless they signed defendants’ contracts. The complaint further alleges that the defendants failed to notify consumers of their rights under federal and state law to cancel their contracts with defendants within three business days. According to the complaint, the defendants deceived consumers – who were mostly seniors – into paying more than $90 million to the defendant companies for services that were not delivered. The complaint states that, through these actions, the defendants violated the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive conduct, the FTC’s rule concerning cooling-off period for sales made at home or other locations, which requires disclosures about the right to cancel purchases, and certain Wisconsin state laws concerning fraudulent misrepresentations and direct marketing.
The complaint seeks monetary relief, civil penalties and injunctive relief to stop defendants from continuing to make deceptive claims in connection with the sale of timeshare exit services. The defendants’ timeshare exit services are also the subject of lawsuits filed by the Alaska and Missouri Attorneys General in June 2022.
This matter is being handled by Trial Attorneys Ellen Bowden McIntyre and Amy Kaplan and Assistant Director Lisa K. Hsiao of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Samantha Denny and William Hodor of the FTC. Lewis W. Beilin represents the State of Wisconsin.
For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at www.justice.gov/elderjustice. For more information about the FTC, visit its website at https://www.FTC.gov.