Contempt Judgment Obtained Against Owner of Two Travel Businesses Engaged in Unlawful Vacation Club Sales Scheme
BOSTON – The owner of two companies who allegedly engaged in a scheme to sell essentially worthless vacation club memberships was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay $310,000 in civil penalties, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The court also ordered Charles R. Caliri of Woodstock, Vt. to pay into the court $430,000 to be held until a final judgment is entered in the lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office in July 2010. The lawsuit alleges Caliri and others engaged in an unfair and deceptive vacation club sales scheme through his former businesses Only Way 2 Go Travel of Plymouth and Fantasia Travel Group of Methuen.
Last October, the AG’s Office initiated a contempt proceeding in Suffolk Superior Court against Caliri for violating the terms of a temporary restraining order issued July 1, 2010, the day the lawsuit was filed, as well as a March 2011 preliminary injunction. Both orders prohibited Caliri from disposing any assets, including funds held in any bank accounts. The AG’s Office alleged that Caliri, one day after the preliminary injunction was ordered, withdrew $480,000 from four bank accounts in the form of treasurer’s checks payable to himself.
“This was a blatant violation of court orders and we’re very pleased that decisive action was taken to ensure that the defendant will be held accountable for those violations,” AG Coakley said. ”Our office is committed to pursuing this case and working to bring restitution to consumers.”
On May 9, the court found that Caliri violated the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction by:
- withdrawing $480,000 from bank accounts he maintained on July 2, 2010;
- engaging in a pattern of serial withdrawal and deposit of those funds using cashier’s checks payable to himself in order to conceal the existence of the funds from the Commonwealth and maintain exclusive control over them;
- making at least eight material omissions on financial disclosures he made to the Commonwealth, including the failure to list several bank accounts he maintained and the failure to disclose money he was holding; and
- making a “gentleman’s agreement” to sell his 34-foot yacht.
The July 2010 lawsuit alleges that Caliri, as owner of the businesses Only Way 2 Go Travel and Fantasia Travel Group, as well as multiple individuals associated with those enterprises, used unfair and deceptive marketing and sales tactics to sell memberships for a vacation club called Outrigger Vacation Club that offered few, if any, of the benefits promised. The temporary restraining order obtained by the AG’s Office at the time of filing shut the two businesses down.
None of the consumers who complained to the Attorney General’s Office ever received the prizes or gifts initially promised to them for attending sales pitches. Instead, they left the Plymouth and Methuen sales presentation venues having spent as much as $8,500 for vacation club memberships that were essentially worthless when compared with travel arrangements they could make themselves using one of the major Internet travel search engines or by calling airlines, hotels and resorts directly. To date, the Attorney General’s has office received more than 335 complaints from consumers who were victims of the scheme.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Gillian Feiner and Sara Cable of Attorney General Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from paralegal Krista Roche, also of the Consumer Protection Division and Amanda George and Monique Cascarano of the Investigations Division.