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Resale ripoff

Companies that offer to resell your timeshare may sound like a sure thing, but thousands of customers say they were ripped off. And state officials have done little to stop it.

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Pro Player Timeshare Resale

Company details

Opened on: Sept. 26, 2008

Location: 2460 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg, 33712

Better Business Bureau rating: F

Business website: Inactive

Company history

Pro Player Timeshare Resale

Started by two men with criminal records, Nekenja Franklin and Alfred Allen, Pro Player generated 78 complaints with the Attorney General's Office. Some complaints name Franklin and Allen, and say the men lied about having buyers for their customers' timeshares.

Franklin said he closed the company. He said his new company is U.S. Digest, which sells magazine subscriptions from the same office, just down the street from St. Petersburg High.

 

At left, the company's location at 2460 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg.
BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times

Actions against this business

The Florida Attorney General's Office says it has referred an investigation of Pro Player to another agency, which it cannot identify.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services fined Pro Player $1,000 in 2009 and $5,000 in 2010 for using unlicensed salespeople and charging customers' credit cards without a signed contract.  

Officer

Franklin

Name: Nekenja Franklin, managing member

Franklin declined to comment, other than to say Pro Player is closed, and he now runs U.S. Digest, a company that sells magazine subscriptions from the same office.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office photo taken in 2008 for a battery arrest. Charges were dropped.

Victim

Willick

Name: Jack Willick

Willick, 87, was a retired police officer who died in December after living with dementia in an assisted living facility in Los Angeles.

In Jan. 2010, his daughter noticed a strange charge on his bank statement - $899 to Pro Player Timeshare Resale. She asked Willick about it, and he didn't remember talking to a Pro Player salesman. Willick used to own several timeshares, his daughter said, but he doesn't own them anymore.

Willick's daughter, Beverly Richards, called Pro Player within days to try to get the charge refunded. She says she was first told the person she needed to speak with was on maternity leave. She called back multiple times, and Pro Player salesmen refused to refund the charge.

Richards, 64, is an attorney. She filed a fraud claim with her father's bank, and kept calling Pro Player. After three months of calls, Pro Player agreed to refund the $899.

"They absolutely know what they are doing,' Richards said. "They are predators."

Photo courtesy Jack Willick

Customer complaints

Pro Player Timeshare Resale has generated 78 consumer complaints to the Florida Attorney General's Office since 2009. Search a database of Pinellas and Hillsborough county companies that have been listed in two or more complaints to the Florida Attorney General.

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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