AG Coakley Obtains Injunction Against Several Individuals for Defrauding Cape Cod Timeshare Owners and for the Unlicensed Practice of Law
The order, granted on July 15, 2010, by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda E. Giles against Timeshare Advocates, My Timeshare Advisor, All Resorts Marketing LLC, Jeffrey Riebman, Charles and Valerie Whiteman, Catherine Stevens, and Carol Riley, provides a broad range of relief and prohibits the defendants from engaging in the unlicensed practice of law or any unfair or deceptive conduct related to promises to obtain refunds for purchases of Cape Cod timeshares.
This order expands the injunction obtained by Attorney General Coakley in December 2009 against Timeshare Advocates and Riebman, to cover additional defendants and conduct. In accordance with the Attorney General's motion, the Court also prohibited the transfer of assets and issued attachment orders against the assets, including bank accounts, of defendants Valerie and Charles Whiteman, Jeffrey Riebman, Carol Riley, and All Resorts Marketing, LLC.
According to the amended complaint, entered on June 30, 2010 in Suffolk Superior Court, for a fee of up to $3,085, the defendants "guaranteed" consumers a refund of the purchase price of their timeshare, maintenance fees, and closing costs. The complaint alleges that the defendants collected fees knowing that the service they offered would not lead to the recovery of any refunds for the individuals. The Attorney General's Office estimates that over 300 consumers paid for the purported services, but the defendants did not obtain a single refund for consumers.
"A consumer who has a problem with his or her timeshare may contact our Office, or consult with a licensed attorney. Consumers should be wary of persons who are unlicensed to provide legal advice, or who guarantee legal results," said AG Coakley. "Filing a complaint with our Office is simple and free of cost. Our Office is committed to helping, educating and protecting consumers from those who seek to take advantage of their situation."
To recruit victims, the complaint alleges the defendants aggressively solicited timeshare owners by mail, telephone, and at hotel seminars. According to the complaint, the defendants falsely asserted that they were part of a legal team, and provided unlicensed legal advice, telling consumers to reject settlement offers, and advising consumers to stop making required payments of timeshare fees. The defendants also misrepresented an affiliation with the Attorney General's Office, provided consumers with papers they claimed to be official complaint forms of the Attorney General's Office, and falsely asserted that they were working in cooperation with the Attorney General's Office.
The amended complaint alleges that Timeshare Advocates collected over $250,000 from victims. The order, among other conduct, prevents the defendants from engaging in the unlicensed practice of law, representing any affiliation with law enforcement, and soliciting or collecting payment from consumers in connection with the recovery of funds for timeshare properties. The Court further allowed the Attorney General Coakley's request to freeze the assets of certain defendants, issued writs of attachment on the defendants' properties, and issued trustee process to banks at which those defendants maintain accounts. The Attorney General's Office is seeking to recover restitution for consumers and penalties for the defendants' illegal conduct.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Engel of AG Coakley's Consumer Protection Division is handling this matter, with assistance from Paralegal Lois Martin and Investigator Jake Harney.