William “Bill” Ogburn entered a tangled web of timeshare deception beginning in 2019 when his wife began her battle with cancer. Bill relies on his wheelchair and a walker. Ongoing medical expenses led them from one timeshare disaster to another and their battle rages on to this day as they continue to wage war with Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Sheraton Vacation Club, and interrelated exit companies Dream World International, Resort Management Group, CCS Group, LLC. They have an outstanding loan of about $5,000 with Sheraton Vacation Club.
ABC News 8 reporter Rolynn Wilson’s June 30, 2023 news report about Bill paying $18,000 to exit companies
Frustrated with efforts attempting to reach out to Wyndham and Sheraton, including spending one night in jail after Sheraton Broadway Resort Villas had Bill arrested, he turned to third parties. An attorney Bill retained was able to get the charges expunged, but Bill incurred significant expenses as a result of having his handicapped van impounded, the transport by ambulance, and ER expenses.
Bill said he had been convinced that by buying more Wyndham points to achieve “million point buyer status” all costs associated with his timeshare would be eliminated. Instead, he ended up with a loan and higher maintenance fees. The diligence of an ABC News 8 reporter in central Virginia in 2020 resolved that dispute.
ABC News Report March 11, 2020 report on the “million point buyer” up-sell:
Bill was left with his original problem – not being able to afford maintenance fees. In 2021, Bill received correspondence in the mail from Dream World International offering help with his timeshares. He jumped at the chance.
How Road Show Exit Companies Work
The names of Exit Companies all sound alike. We could not find information about Dream World International. There was a Dream World Travel Enterprises. According to the BBB, this “Travel Club” is no longer in business or changed its name. Travel Clubs often sell RCI points in exchange for release from a timeshare, but those who succumb often find themselves stuck with an unwanted Travel Club AND their timeshare. Bill doesn’t think he bought into Dream World’s Travel Club.
The “roadshow” begins with correspondence sent by “Postcard” companies, so-called because they use the mail to lure timeshare owners to dinners and seminars. After attending Dream World’s seminar, Bill paid $12,000 for help with his Wyndham timeshare.
It was not necessary for Bill to pay anyone anything. He has no loan. We have referred many of our readers to Wyndham’s voluntary surrender program Ovations or Certified Exit-Backed by Wyndham. Given Bill and his wife are both in their 70s, with medical expenses, there is no question Wyndham would have allowed Bill to exit for free.
A legitimate exit company would have advised Bill to contact Wyndham before accepting him as a client.
Bill and I contacted Wyndham last Friday, July 21, to see if they would take his Wyndham points back, despite being overdue on maintenance fees. Bill was not aware of Wyndham’s Ovations program and was still traumatized by the Wyndham transaction that increased debt rather than lowered it. We explained to Wyndham’s representative, Keto, who works in the Wyndham Cares department, all that Bill had been through, and that he paid $12,000 to an exit company with money that was all but lost. Keto said her records showed Bill attempted to exit in 2022, but efforts ended because he had retained a third party. Bill has already been turned over to Collections. Then Keto hung up on us. Bill receives collection calls from Pinnacle.
Can it get any worse?
On July 14, 2023, Bill received a heart attack-making package of documents from Howard and Howard, PLLC, a Las Vegas law firm. Bill thought he was being sued for $800,000! The cover letter said Howard and Howard had been retained by CCS Group, LLC, in regard to “a payment dispute between it and Resort Management Group.” Bill knew the name of Dream World International, but could only remember that Dream World turned him over to a company that started with Resort. Given the plethora of exit companies that sound alike, we had little hope of determining who that company was – until Bill received the documents from Howard and Howard.
The $800,000 amount stated in the pot-calls-kettle-black lawsuit, included the$12,000 Bill paid to Dream World. He was listed as a “client” of CCS, a company Bill had never heard of. CCS, aka Complete Closing Service, is a Missouri company operating out of Nevada. Dream World, better named Nightmare World, turned Bill over to Resort Management Group operating out of Conroe, Texas. CCS filed its lawsuit against Resort Management Group.
On the evening of July 20, 2023, James Scott, identifying himself as being with CCS Group, informed Bill he was “working with” the law firm Howard and Howard. He wanted more money to help Bill get out of his Wyndham timeshare. James called from the same phone number as Jennifer from Dream World, who processed the $12,000 transaction. We can find no information on Dream World.
Remarkably, this same week, we heard from another Marriott owner who could have netted well over $30,000 selling her deeded Marriott weeks as they were high-demand weeks, according to Tom Kessler, with True Timeshare Realty. Tom is a licensed broker that specializes in Marriott resales. The owner paid CCS Group $25,000 to be released from deeded weeks with no sale proceeds forthcoming. This owner also spoke with James Scott.
The plaintiff in the CCS lawsuit is Travis Dibben. In 2017, Mr. Dibben was accused of taking thousands of dollars from people through his company then called Escape Resolutions. His history includes selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. As reported by KY3 News in Springfield, Missouri, Steven Bingham, a former telemarketer for Paramount Communications, another Dibben-owned business, was quoted:
“He (Travis Dibben) seemed like a totally normal, good guy,” Bingham recalled. “He was always kind of saying ‘This is God’s work.’ ” In fact, Bingham said employees were trained to imply to customers that the company was on a mission from above. “They told us to never preach to them, but just, you know, ‘Well, God’s looking out after you’ and stuff like that.”
Bingham’s job was to get timeshare owners to attend the company’s seminars; he said he never dealt with the cash end of the business and had no knowledge of customer complaints or Dibben’s past. Bingham did, however, have a gut feeling that something wasn’t right, and he quit after just one week.
He said he was only paid for three days and after repeatedly trying to collect his full earnings, he was given various answers. “The check is in the mail now,” he recalled. “But after that, it was like, I would call back, and nobody would answer.”Although he believes he’ll never see the rest of his paycheck, Bingham feels worse for the people who reportedly lost thousands; he said, “It’s sad to see.”
BBB warns customers about Springfield’s Escape Resolutions, owner Travis Dibben
Bill estimates he spent about $130,000 with Wyndham since 2003. He bought points to travel during holidays to escape the grief he carries after losing all three of his children, an infant to SIDS, a 3 ½-year-old son to an accident, and a daughter at age eleven whose symptoms included Grand Mal seizures. He estimates spending close to $100,000 on Sheraton Flex points and Vistana Resort.
Bill has paid $18,000 to two exit companies. Bill could not pay his Sheraton Vacation Club maintenance fees either, so retained another exit company paying them $6,000. Bill has an outstanding loan balance of approximately $5,000. That exit company said they would refund Bill his $6,000. With no computer or email, Bill was not a good candidate for their services. There were no deceptive tactics used to sell Bill his Sheraton timeshare. He just can’t afford it. Our next step is to contact Marriott and see if they will accept the money Bill receives from the exit company to end this unending timeshare nightmare, now going on five years.
Given no secondary market for a timeshare with an outstanding loan, financed at 12% to 19%, timeshare exit companies flourish. Imagine if you could not afford your personal home mortgage, yet could not sell it to downsize. With a timeshare, often the only option is to default.
How Bill found us
Tom Kessler’s friend in Richmond saw Bill on television and shared the segment with Tom. Saddened, Tom researched and found a physical address for Bill. He sent him an old-fashioned letter as Bill does not use email. Tom also reached out to Ms. Wilson at ABC New 8, suggesting she reach out to me through our nonprofit Timeshare and Resort Developer Accountability, Inc. (TARDA). Our volunteers support those who feel they have been harmed by a timeshare company or a timeshare exit company. Tom only works in Marriott/Sheraton and Disney timeshares, as he feels they have the best resale and rental value.
Developers feel exit companies and even law firms, are not needed for timeshare disputes. If there is one thing we have learned hearing from over 2,500 timeshare members and owners, is that timeshare members and owners need some place to get straight answers. There is too much reliance on the oral representation clause and many sales agents with multiple complaints are allowed to continue. We don’t have search engines or an advertising budget, but still, calls never stop.
How did accepting an invitation to stay at Sheraton Broadway Resort lead to Bill being arrested and jailed for one night?
A VA Chaplain and Combat Army Veteran loses money to a Travel Club
$38,000 almost got paid to an exit company seeking release from Wyndham and Vacation Village contracts
Thank you Irene for putting together “Bill’s” story, Once again we see the main problem being the developer’s intransigent stance on exits, leaving the field wide open for their members to be scammed. In Europe and especially the UK, owners were bombarded with these “road-show” style of “presentations“, all promising some form of “exit” from your timeshare, all were proven to be scams.
The most notorious of these “Travel Clubs” was probably Designer Way Vacation Club, an elaborate scheme that morphed from one name to another, until it was closed down by the UK authorities. Other “clubs” who also followed the same model appeared and eventually included the “claims” pitch. These were sparked off by the success in the Spanish courts against the major developers in Europe, including Diamond & Marriott.
All followed the same pattern, full of promises and legal jargon all carefully designed to lure you in, their ultimate goal, to get your money. It makes no difference what they call the “presentation“, it could be called “Timeshare Exit Workshop” and marketed as “advice on how to successfully exit your timeshare without cost” If you are invited, then the chances are they want your money.
That’s it for this week, Have a great weekend, we intend to as Baby Dog is showing by his excitement, just told him I’m finished and we can go out to play.