June 6, 2013
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced the state of Missouri's participation in a joint multi-state, multi-national law-enforcement initiative, coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission, to combat deceptive timeshare resellers and travel promoters.
Often, deceptive timeshare resellers will falsely claim to have buyers or renters in place who are ready to pay top dollar for consumers' timeshare properties, asking property owners to pay hefty up-front fees. Consumers end up losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in bogus closing costs. Many scammers promise refunds to consumers, but don’t return payments.
A similar deceptive practice involves travel promoters tricking consumers into purchasing discounted or no-cost vacation packages supposedly worth thousands of dollars; most consumers, however, receive nothing of value after making considerable payments or being required to attend lengthy high-pressure timeshare sales presentations.
In March, Koster filed a lawsuit against a travel-package business that took consumers' money without providing the vacation promised them. The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that between December 1, 2009, and January 3, 2011, Christian County resident Andrew Callison, who operated Mr. Nice Guy's Vacations Corporation, took upfront payments from at least thirty-five consumers for Branson vacation packages. When consumers complained that they did not receive either the promised trips or refunds, their calls to Callison and Mr. Nice Guy’s Vacations were not answered or returned.
"Missouri offers numerous affordable and enticing vacation opportunities for visitors from all over the world. We want to ensure that Missourians traveling in-state or abroad, as well as visitors to our state, receive the travel accommodations they were promised and are not cheated by scammers. This initiative enables us to educate consumers and show fraudulent actors we’re serious about enforcement," said Koster.
Today's announcement coincides with the announcement by the FTC of 190 law enforcement actions in 28 states and international law-enforcement actions in 8 countries.
Missouri consumers who have done business with any travel or timeshare provider that has failed to provide promised services, including those who have done business with Mr. Nice Guy's, should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-392-8222 or file a complaint online.
The Office of the Attorney General also offered the following tips for consumers to prevent becoming the victim of a timeshare or travel scam:
Additional tips for avoiding travel scams are available on the Missouri Attorney General's website at: http://ago.mo.gov/publications/travelscams.htm and from the Federal Trade Commission: ftc.gov/travel.