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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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U.S. Vacation

Company details

Opened on: Aug. 1, 2002

Closed on: Sept. 23, 2011

Location: 10950 72nd St. N #107, Largo, 33777

Second location: 7250 Ulmerton Road #B, Largo, Pinellas , 33771

Better Business Bureau rating: F

Business website: Inactive

Company history

U.S. Vacation

The Attorney General's Office has received 125 complaints about this company, many alleging that salespeople promised buyers or quick sales. One customer said a salesman arranged a conference call with the Better Business Bureau to confirm the company's B rating. The company actually had a D at the time. It now has an F rating. 

At left, the company's location at 10950 72nd St. N #107 in Largo.
LEAH MILLIS | Times

Actions against this business

Fined $4,000 in April 2008 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for using an unlicensed salesperson, and for using scripts not on file with the state. 

Sued in September 2010 by the Florida Attorney General's Office under the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The case is ongoing.

Officer

Name: Patrick Scully , president/secretary

Scully is fighting the Attorney General's Office's civil lawsuit against his company. He could not be reached for comment.

Victim

Starke

Name: Michael Starke

Starke, 42, an actuary in Santa Clarita, California, paid U.S. Vacation $941 in October 2009. Starke says the salesman told him he had nine buyers interested in Starke's Arizona timeshare. The salesman made Starke promise to fly to Florida to buy him a lobster and steak dinner after he sold his timeshare. The timeshare never sold.

Starke tried to sue U.S. Vacation, but an attorney told him it would be tough to win his money back.

"They're just scum," Starke said.

Photo courtesy Michael Starke

Customer complaints

U.S. Vacation has generated 125 consumer complaints to the Florida Attorney General's Office since 2008. 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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