Boston, MA, November 21, 2009– On November 18 Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office filed a lawsuit and obtained a temporary restraining order against Jeffrey Riebman, doing business as “Timeshare Advocates,” for allegedly devising a scam to defraud owners of timeshare properties in Dennisport.
According to the complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Riebman falsely represented to timeshare owners that he was an attorney working with the Attorney General’s Office who could obtain a full refund of the purchase price of the timeshare, plus a refund of closing costs, property maintenance fees, plus interest. The complaint alleges Riebman collected up to $700 from some consumers to file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, a service the Attorney General’s Office provides to consumers at no cost. To induce consumers to pay him a fee to file a complaint on their behalf, Riebman deceptively represented the complexity of the complaint process, misrepresenting that the process takes months, requires significant paperwork and legal knowledge, and that the Attorney General’s Office would reject improperly completed forms.
“Filing a complaint with our office is simple and free of cost. The two-page complaint form requires only basic information about the complaint. Further, employees at our office are trained to provide assistance to consumers in completing the complaint form, if necessary. Any representation that filing a complaint is a cumbersome process is false,” said Attorney General Coakley. “Our office filed this lawsuit today in order to prevent the defendant’s further misrepresentations and to seek restitution for consumers.”
According to the complaint, Riebman operates Timeshare Advocates, an unincorporated entity with a Worcester mailing address. The complaint alleges that since September 2009, through solicitations by mail, telephone, and face-to-face meetings, the defendant deceptively advised owners of timeshare properties at Edgewater Beach Resort in Dennisport that, only by using his services, could they obtain a full refund of the purchase price of their property, closing costs, property maintenance and operating fees, plus interest. Riebman then presented consumers with a form that illegally incorporated the Commonwealth’s official seal and appeared to be an official Attorney General consumer complaint form. Riebman further misrepresented that he was an attorney specializing in timeshare law and was collaborating with the Attorney General’s office to obtain refunds. Based on Riebman’s misrepresentation that consumers would obtain a refund using his services, some consumers paid Riebman up to a $700 fee but have not received refunds.
The Attorney General’s Office alleges that the defendant violated the Consumer Protection Act by engaging in deceptive conduct, misrepresenting himself as a licensed attorney and falsely stating that he was working in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office.
The temporary restraining order prevents Riebman from providing legal advice, representing an affiliation with the Attorney General’s Office, soliciting or collecting payment from consumers in connection with recovery of funds for timeshare properties, and using the seal of the Commonwealth in any manner or suggesting an affiliation with law enforcement.
The Attorney General’s Office is also seeking preliminary injunctive relief, consumer restitution and the costs of the investigation and prosecution of this case. A hearing on the Attorney General’s motion for a preliminary injunction has been scheduled for November 25, 2009 in Suffolk Superior Court.
To file a complaint about Jeffrey Riebman or Timeshare Advocates — or any other consumer complaint — consumers may call the Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at (617) 727-8400, or file a complaint online.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Engel of Attorney General Coakley’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance of investigator Jake Harney.
SOURCE: Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General