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Resale ripoff

What timeshare resellers don't want you to know

Timeshare resale schemes have quietly become the most complained-about fraud in Florida. Legitimate companies have been overshadowed by telemarketers who promise anything to make a sale. Many of them have criminal records. Others have been hounded by customer complaints. State regulators know there's a problem, but have done little to stop it.

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An unidentified employee and manager at Resort Property Depot in St. Petersburg.
An unidentified employee and manager at Resort Property Depot in St. Petersburg. BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times
 

See what we learned about these timeshare sellers

The Tampa Bay Times examined dozens of timeshare resale companies in the area and found that many were run by men with criminal records and that none had dodged complaints from customers.

While not every customer walked away unhappy, more than 2,000 timeshare owners across the country contacted the state Attorney General's Office to say they had been tricked by Tampa Bay resale companies.

Many resale company owners refused to speak with Tampa Bay Times reporters. Those who did agree the industry is overrun with fraud, but said their company is legitimate.

The following companies are among those with the most customer complaints in Pinellas county. Click on the photos for more information on a company and its owners.

The company's location at 7737 72nd Ave. N in Pinellas Park. Times photo
 
Officer Louis Curto. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2009 when he was convicted of driving with a suspended license.
Officer Bobby Carpenter. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2011 for failure to appear. He pleaded no contest.
Officer Roy Xiques. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2010 for a battery arrest. Charges were dropped.
 
Carmen DeSocio, general manager, at the company's location in Clearwater.
Officer Nekenja Franklin. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2008 for a battery arrest. Charges were dropped.
The company's location at 321A Southeast Blvd. N in St. Petersburg. Times photo.
 
Inside the company's location at 7250 49th St. in Pinellas Park. Times photo
The company's location at 10950 72nd St. in Largo. Times photo.
 
The company's location at 12682 Starkey Road in Largo. Times photo.
Officer Albert Wilson. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2008 for a marijuana arrest. Charges were dropped.
Officer Michael Earle. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2007 for a violation of probation arrest. Charges were dropped.
 
 

List of all the companies in this report

How we did this story

The Tampa Bay Times started investigating the timeshare resale industry in June 2011.

The newspaper reviewed more than 2,000 consumer complaints against Tampa Bay area companies and tracked down their offices across two counties in an attempt to interview owners and employees.

The Times interviewed more than 100 people, including company employees, victims and government officials who oversee or investigate timeshare resale companies. It also reviewed thousands of pages of court documents and licensing records and closely examined the criminal histories of employees at more than a dozen local resale companies with customer complaints.

The complaints reviewed are those recorded by the state Attorney General's Office, which operates a fraud "hotline" and accepts and categorizes complaints that come in by phone, email and letter.

Contact reporter Will Hobson to suggest further timeshare resale story ideas.

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