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.
Vacation Property Resellers
Opened on: Feb. 3, 2009
Closed on: Aug. 1, 2011
Location: 12682 Starkey Road, Largo, 33773
Better Business Bureau rating: None
Business website: Inactive
The Attorney General's Office received 264 complaints about this company during its 2 1/2-year existence. Many customers say they were told by salespeople that buyers were ready to close on their timeshares. An employee the company's president said was in charge of advertising was arrested last year and charged with maintaining a marijuana grow house not far from the office.
Actions against this business
Fined $2,000 by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in July 2009 for using sales scripts that had not been approved by the state.
Name: Debra Gibb , president
Gibb owns the strip mall that used to house Vacation Property Resellers. She says the company offered legitimate advertising. Gibb says she just did the books. When asked about the advertising, she said another employee was in charge of that.
"Everything was on the up and up," Gibb said.
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.
Vacation Property Resellers has generated 264 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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