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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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Resort Property Depot

Company details

Opened on: May 27, 2008

Location: 321A Southeast Blvd. N, St. Petersburg, 33703

Better Business Bureau rating: D-

Company history

Resort Property Depot

This company, in an office behind a coin laundry and a convenience store, has generated 38 complaints with the Attorney General's Office.

James Gibson, a salesman who did not disclose his nine felony convictions when he applied for a Florida telemarketing license, started working here this year, according to state licensing records. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said it has assigned investigators to review Gibson's criminal history, which he was required to disclose on his application.

At left, the company's location at 321A Southeast Blvd. N in St. Petersburg.
BRIAN BLANCO | Special to the Times

Officer

Name: Sunitaben Patel , officer/director

Patel said she doesn't know much about her company's advertising methods. She told a reporter to call Nick Patel, her husband, who actually works at Resort Property Depot. Nick Patel did not return calls for comment.

Victim

Cox

Name: Susan Cox

Cox, of Richland, Washington, says she has paid more than $10,000 to a number of Florida timeshare resale companies, including Vacation Property Resellers in Largo, Timeshare Registry International in Dunedin, and Resort Property Depot in St. Petersburg. She owns timeshares in Las Vegas, Florida, and Canada that she never visits.

Cox has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a terminal bone cancer. She has had eight surgeries to remove cancerous bone, and has lost most of her hip. She spends most of her time in bed or in a wheelchair. She says she was under the influence of heavy painkillers when the salespeople called.

"They took advantage of me" she said.

Read the story: Sick woman is out $10,000, still stuck with timeshares she tried to sell

Photo courtesy Susan Cox

Customer complaints

Resort Property Depot has generated 38 consumer complaints to the Florida Attorney General's Office since 2010. 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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