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Florida USA Timeshare News: June 17, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS

ORLANDO: At least two timeshare companies — Westgate Resorts and Orange Lake — have filed federal lawsuits against several businesses and businessmen for allegedly orchestrating a nationwide timeshare cancellation fraud scheme. Since the two lawsuits are very similar, and because I happen to have a copy of the Orange Lake complaint in front of me, I’m going to concentrate on that one. It is was filed in the District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division on June 8, 2017. For the record, it is Orange Lake Country Club, Inc. et al v. Castle Law Group, P.C. et al, flmdce 6:2017-cv-01044.

The entities being sued by Orange Lake (and Wilson Resort Finance, LLC) are as follows (you might recognize some of these names):

  • Castle Law Group, PC
  • Judson Phillips, ESQ,
  • Castle Marketing Group LLC
  • Castle Venture Group, LLC
  • Resort Relief, LLC
  • William Michael Keever
  • Kevin Hanson
  • Sean Austin

Among other things, the lawsuit specifically accuses Judson Phillips, a well known Tennessee attorney who is the founder of Tea Party Nation and senior partner of Castle Law Group, of orchestrating a nationwide timeshare cancellation fraud scheme along with the other named businessmen.

According to the complaint, Castle blanketed timeshare owners around the U.S.A. with pitches on how Castle would help them to cancel their timeshare contracts; the advice generally involved telling them to stop payment on their contracts and that Castle would sue the company on their behalf. In cases where a client was “accepted” an upfront fee was charged, some as high as $7,500, and in many cases lawsuits were never filed on behalf of those clients, according to the complaint.

The complaint also says that between 2015 and 2016 the defendants’ marketing campaign culminated in an average of 300 clients per month for Castle Law. Do the math. 😐

As a side note, a company is mentioned in the complaint that is not named as a defendant but is of particular interest to those of you who keep tabs on this kind of thing. That company is Aston Business Solutions or Aston Marketing Group, hired to send postcards advertising timeshare relief services to Florida residents via direct mail. According to the complaint, these postcards are made to appear as if they are coming directly from Castle Law, who allowed Aston to sell its services as authorized representatives of Castle Marketing. You know who “Aston” is, right? That would be David MacMillan, who has been facing legal issues of his own in recent times related to several of his own timeshare relief companies.

What are the actual official charges? Well, so far Orange Lake alleges that “the defendants solicited via postings on various websites and direct mailings, Florida residents who owned timeshare interests with Orange Lake (many of which are in Florida). Through the false and deceptive advertisements, Defendants lure the timeshare owners to retain their services which underlie Orange Lake’s claims for tortious interference with contracts, tortious interference with advantageous business relationships, and violations of Section 721.121, Florida Statutes.

Orange lake is demanding a temporary and permanent injunction to be entered against all the defendants, their agents, representatives, employees, affiliates and anyone else who might be involved, from publishing false and misleading misrepresentations on their website or in any other electronic or print media or materials regarding their owners’ cancellation of their timeshare interest without any legal basis; and from contacting and/or otherwise interfering with Plaintiffs’ contractual and business relationships with their owners.

They are also asking for compensatory damages, special damages, interest, attorney’s fees and costs, and “such additional and further relief this Court deems just and proper”.

Timeshare transfer, cancellation, relief, rescue, disposal — call it what you want. We all know by now, or should know, that many of those companies are costing timeshare resorts/HOA’s, etc. big money and even threatening to force some legacy resorts into bankruptcy as they leave owners’ associations with unpaid annual assessments and expensive foreclosure actions, meaning more debt for the association and a larger burden on remaining owners. All too often the less ethical cancellation/transfer companies also end up harming the credit worthiness of their clients and failing to hold up their end of the bargain. It’s a serious issue.

popcornYou’ll need to read the complaint to get all the grimy details (and I do mean grimy) of how Castle et al have allegedly been operating their business. It’s a darn good read, but you’ll need to snuggle down into a comfy chair with some popcorn and a beverage and your reading glasses because it’s 31 pages long.

Have at it!

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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