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Silverleaf Resorts

Posted:    

Scam

Complaint Rating:  94 % with 48 votes
94% 48
4.7
Contact information:
Silverleaf Resorts
17446 Pintail Drive
Flint, Texas
United States
silverleafresorts.com
Silverleaf Resorts sends out mail incessantly saying
"You've won a free vacation!" They say all you need to do is come for a free 1.5 hour presentation on their resort. They also promise a $40 gas card from Spirit Incentives. These guys are a total scam. The presentation is a high pressure sales job preying on what appeared to be low-income families. Spirit Incentives has numerous rules you must follow in order for them to give you four $10 gas cards spread over the next several months. The vacations are also apparently worthless. For example, they are only available during off season times of the year. You have to submit 3 possible dates and it's up to them to decide when you will go. So unless you can go at any random off-season time it's not practical. In short, these guys obviously count on the redeeming of their rewards to be SO MUCH TROUBLE that few people will take them up on the offer. Furthermore, the gas card people -- Spirit Incentives -- do not even mail out the gas cards. When I called nearly 8 weeks later, they said their system was down and promised to mail out the card. The resort itself was appalling ugly. They have a large indoor swimming pool -- which costs $20 to enter. Everything there is designed to drain money out of people's wallets. The guests who were there were all low income families lured by the phony apparency of sharing some of the "good life." Silverleaf and Spirit Incentives are a nasty perversion of reality and a true example of two organizations selling s**t and calling it Shinola.
Complaint comments Comments (99)    Updated: Complaint country United States Complaint category Scam Contests

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N  29th of Jan, 2011 by    0 Votes
I puchased a package from Silverleaf Resort for $59.00 to get a three day two night stay in Texas to tour their resort on 1/15/11. A few days later I was supposed to receive confirmation email with the lodging information...its now 1/29/11 and I haven't received anything! We are taking our trip 2/25 and I'm getting concerned! When visiting the resort on 2/25 I am told I will receive a $40 AMEX giftcard to spend during my weekend. Has anyone else been involved with this same deal? I look forward to this week end get away for my husband and I and just hope to get what was promised! Any comments are appreciated. Thanks
N  7th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
So i received a ton of calls from a dumb girl that said I won a car, or $49k or a vacation, but could not give me any details so i just said i would call back.

A day later another girl called me and was straightforward with me. Sh gave me details about the 90 min presentation and more info on the prizes. I still thought it was a scam but said "sure sign me up for an appt". I just wanted to see the confirmation email that they send. I get the email and read the fine print and of course its a lot of bull crap.

I call back to cancel because I do not meet the requirements of min. age 25 and min. income of $40k. The lady said "those are old requirements that don't apply any more" so I asked her to email me the new and updated fine print, which she did not have. So i got off the phone with her and found this site which just confirmed my suspicions that its all a scam.

I was bored so I called them back just to say that I was not gonna show up for my appt. just to see how they reacted and the lady I talked to said "no you agreed to come, you have to come, we already paid the representative" thats all total crap and I just laughed and said "I'm not going" She tried to transfer me but the other person was at lunch, and she told me that the person would call me back. I responded no need, I am not going, to which the lady just hung up on me.

In the end I am not going to go waste my time with a whole bunch of rednecks running horrible scams. Ironically I just received an envelope from them claiming I had won a prize while I was typing this. Hopefully they do not keep calling me.
A  9th of Feb, 2011 by    0 Votes
LexisNexis Academic
Advertising Age

November 7, 1988

Texas officials probe resort mailings

BYLINE: By DENISE GETSON, Christy Fisher in Dallas contributed to this story

SECTION: NEWS; Direct Marketing; Pg. 30

LENGTH: 566 words


A U.S. attorney in Texas has obtained what he believes is one of the largest-ever mail fraud judgments against a time-share resort company. Now, he wants to nab the company's direct-mailing agency.
The lawsuit, brought by U.S. Attorney Bob Wortham in Beaumont, Texas, last month, resulted in a $1.5 million fine against Freedom Financial Corp., which advertised time-shares by offering prizes to consumers for visiting the resorts.


Among the prizes: an "all-terrain vehicle" that was actually a lawn chair with large plastic wheels.
As part of plea-bargain agreement with the court, the Dallas company pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud relating to the distribution of misleading direct-mail ads for its time-share resort properties from September 1987 to June 1988. Freedom Financial operates five time-share developments in Texas and two in Missouri.
"I plan to change the way these time-share operations do business, and the direct-mail companies are at the top of the pyramid." Mr. Wortham said.
"Freedom Financial was sold a package by a direct mailer who claimed that their tactics were legitimate and had been proven with other resort operations in the county, " Mr. Wortham said. "Of course, Freedom Financial had to be pretty greedy to shut their eyes and be taken in by the claims."
His office is still investigating the direct-mail company's role in the scheme.
An official statement by Freedom Financial implicated a third-party professional mailing organization, which it had contracted with for the creation and distribution of its ads.
However, Freedom Financial's plea-bargaining agreement with the court has been sealed.
Penny Wilson, VP-marketing for Freedom Financial, refused to release the company's name.
Separately, Freedom Financial is paying $219, 000 in fees and restitution to Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma and residents of those states who complained to government agencies that prizes offered for visiting the resorts were misrepresented.
Time-share resorts often entice visitors by claiming that a major prize is being reserved for them.
The investigation by the Texas attorney general found consumers who visited Freedom Financial time-share properties often were subjected to high-pressure sales tactics. In some instances, consumers got virtually worthless gifts rather than the high-price prizes they expected.
In addition to the "all-terrain vehicle" was a ladie's imported black mink coat, which was composed of dyed waste fur parts, including snouts, paws and ears. The value of the coat to winners, after they paid a "redemption fee, " was 5¢.
A Freedom Financial solicitation resembled an official telegram and carried a false endorsement from the Texas attorney general's office.
The attorney general won an injunction requiring Freedom Financial to declare its contracts with mailing organizations to his office. Further, the office will regulate future ads for proper disclosure of prize information and terms of redemption.
Lorna Christie, director of ethics and consumer affairs for the Digest Marketing Association, said vigorous prosecution is appropriate when direct mailers employ fraudulent practices.
"Fraud hurts our business, " Ms. Christie said. "It's in the best interest of this organization that companies engaging in fraud are put out of business."


PERSON: BOB WORTHAM (63%);

COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (97%);

STATE: TEXAS, USA (97%); MISSOURI, USA (92%);

CITY: DALLAS, TX, USA (79%);

COMPANY: FREEDOM FINANCIAL LIFE INSURANCE CO (90%);

SUBJECT: RESORTS (90%); DIRECT MAIL MARKETING (90%); LAWYERS (90%); PLEA AGREEMENTS (89%); JUSTICE DEPARTMENTS (89%); FRAUD & FINANCIAL CRIME (89%); ATTORNEYS GENERAL (89%); INVESTIGATIONS (89%); CONSPIRACY (78%); FINES & PENALTIES (76%); GUILTY PLEAS (75%); SUITS & CLAIMS (73%); SALES PLAN (71%); MOTOR VEHICLES (70%); FUR & LEATHER CLOTHING (62%);

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1988 Crain Communications, Inc.;
The San Diego Union-Tribune

June 11, 1989 Sunday

Fraud charges a threat to lavish lifestyle

BYLINE: Jim Okerblom, Staff Writer

SECTION: LOCAL; Pg. B-1

LENGTH: 1854 words

DATELINE: RANCHO SANTA FE

RANCHO SANTA FE -- David and Annette Hagen would seem to be the picture of success, what with the brand new, $670, 000 five-bedroom house they are renting here, the Cadillac and Range Rover in the drive and the direct-mail business they own in the the pink-stucco Polo Plaza complex nearby. That's what lots of people -- first in Seattle and then in Virginia -- thought about the Hagens.
Many don't think that anymore. "If you deal with that man, do so at your own risk -- he will take your money and run, " is how Desmond Call, manager of the Ad Pro print shop in a Seattle suburb, put it. Over the past 10 years, the 34-year-old Hagen has left in his wake scores of angry creditors, thousands of complaints from consumers, lawsuits, criminal investigations and an eight-count indictment for mail fraud and conspiracy, filed March 31 against him and his wife in Jefferson County, Texas. The Hagens recently opened the Brown Development Institute on Via de la Valle here. Approached at his office last week, Hagen answered to the name David Brown, but later denied that he was using that name.
A promotional brochure for his new company on his desk had his name printed as David Haggin.
He said that was a misprint. Hagen declined to be interviewed for this story, saying past interviews have resulted in "absolute lies" about him appearing in print.
In an interview with the Washington Post last month, he dismissed the indictment, saying, "Someone once said a U.S. attorney can indict a sandwich." Hagen's Houston attorney, Kent Schaeffer, said Hagen and his wife are innocent of the mail-fraud charges.
Schaeffer attributed Hagen's financial difficulties to business setbacks beyond his control. Despite his financial problems, Hagen has managed to live the good life by operating a series of direct-mail businesses that promote time-share campgrounds, resorts and condominiums.
Companies he has controlled in other states have sent out millions of letters -- by one account as many as 250 million -- promising prizes for people who attend time-share sales promotions.
Authorities allege the prizes often were never awarded. But much of Hagen's success, those who have dealt with him say, stems from his uncanny skill at running up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and then walking away from it -- over and over again. "He deserves an academy award -- he's that good, " said Paul Wham, co-owner of LaserPrint, a Seattle-area company that says it lost more than $30, 000 to Hagen. Before moving to San Diego about three months ago, Hagen lived with Annette, his second wife, in Great Falls, Va. There, the two were known as David and Annette DeFusco.
DeFuusco is her maiden name.
Their life in Northern Virginia including driving a $95, 000 Rolls Royce and a Mercedes Benz and living on a 150-acre farm. The mail-fraud indictment stemmed from the Manassas Park, Va., direct mail firm that the couple operated with Annette as president. The Northern Virginia operation used several names, including DeFusco Advertising and Design, Lead Marketing, Leadco, Bureau of Adjustment and U.S. Graphics & Mail Ltd. According to Texas authorities, the operation sent out as many as 26 million letters to people in six Southwestern states offering BMWs, large-screen television sets, up to $10, 000 in cash and other prizes for attending time-share promotions for resorts owned by Dallas-based Freedom Financial Corp. Bob Worthman, the assistant U.S. Attorney in Beumont, Texas, who sought the indictment, alleges that the mailings were a blatant scam.
Unlike many mailings of this sort, Wortham says, the Hagens letters listed no cheap gifts, only expensive prizes such as cars, television sets and cash. "A lot of them said you were absolutely guaranteed to get both of the prizes, " he said.
"And you'd get there and win a book on the 1984 Olympics." Wortham said the mailings, in mid-1987 to mid-1988, prompted more than 2, 000 complaints in Texas alone. "We've handled a lot of major cases in the United States -- drugs, major bank-fraud cases, " Wortham said.
"But no other case I've handled has received the interest of the public as this case." Bill Van Hook, the assistant attorney general in Springfield, Mo., said his office also received close to 1, 000 complaints about the letters. Schaeffer, the Hagens' Houston attorney, argued the mailings were not illegal because they contained a "qualifying number" that had to match a winning number before the prizes were actually awarded.
He also noted that Freedom Financial, which hired the Hagens and approved their mailings, paid a $1.5 million fine but did not face any criminal charges. (The company was named an unindicted co-conspirator.) The couple's trial is scheduled for August. In 1987, the Hagens declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy for their Manassas Park operation. The company listed debts of $875, 000 to 20 of the largest unsecured creditors, with the Hagens personally responsible for none of it, said Gerald O'Donnell, the U.S. trustee overseeing the bankruptcy in Alexandria. There are no substantial assets, O'Donnell said, because much of the property was leased. The company's debts, in a 13-volume bankruptcy file, reportedly exceed $1.3 million to nearly 100 creditors.
One creditor is the doctor who delivered the Hagens' baby three years ago. Another creditor is Tri-State Envelope in Beltsville, Md. David Zukerberg, Tri-State's sales manager, said Hagen came in and paid cash for several small orders, and then asked for credit. "We said, `OK, we'll give you 20 days, ' " Zukerberg recalled. Soon much larger orders came in, and checks began bouncing. "In the space of 45 days, he had us for about $40, 000 or $50, 000, " Zukerberg said. The company eventually recovered close to half the amount, after some heavy-handed collection tactics, Zukerberg said.
Many other companies, banks and the U.S. Postal Service were not so lucky.
They got nothing. Schaeffer blamed the debts on the "amount of heat" put on by government investigators, which he said quickly drove away the Hagens' customers and sank the business. But the stories about Hagen are similar in Seattle. In 1979, Hagen and his first wife, Amanda, filed for personal bankruptcy for a company they owned called Sunbeam Electronics.
They listed debts totaling $296, 955 to 23 unsecured creditors.
All were legally discharged, according to bankruptcy records. After working in the marketing department for a time-share campground company in Bellevue, Hagen formed his own direct-mail marketing company, World Wide Marketing, around 1981 with several partners, said a former business associate who asked not to be identified. Under contract, the company was paid $50 to $85 for each "lead" it could entice to come to a sales promotion for a time-share resort or campground. Hagen liked to brag about his $1, 000 suits and his silk shirts and ties; he drove a Cadillac and stockpiled diamonds and other jewels, said John English, a World Wide salesman who eventually became vice president for sales. World Wide's offices were equally lavish, with $80, 000 worth of custom furniture, including a $6, 000 conference table, $1, 700 leather chairs, a $3, 000 desk in Hagen's office and a $4, 000 reception center, said Edward Webb, owner of Crawford's Office Furniture in Seattle. All of the furniture, Webb said, was leased through a company Hagen provided.
His store, Webb said, received an initial $1, 700 down payment, and then the deal collapsed.
The store finally recovered the furniture after nearly a year by paying a lien to a storage company, said Webb's daughter, Lynn. The last of it has been sold only recently. "It was just one nightmare after another, " she said. When English became vice president for sales, he assumed World Wide was awash in black ink, he said.
Then, when his wife gave birth to a baby prematurely, he discovered money that had been deducted from his paycheck for health insurance had never paid to the insurance company.
Hagen, he said, dismissed it as a clerical error -- but it happened again with another insurance company. Calls from disgruntled creditors began surfacing, English said, "and it became obvious what was going on."
English resigned, still owing $6, 000 in hospital bills. In 1984, after Hagen had remarried, World Wide Marketing was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, leaving debts close to $1 million to dozens of Seattle-area companies. The former business associate said Hagen went on to form two more direct-mail companies -- one called United Prudential Inc. and one called Matrix.
He lived an increasingly lavish lifestyle, the man said, while both those companies racked up more debts. Gary Jones, owner of Westgate Travel in Seattle, said United Prudential paid cash for small amounts of airline travel and then charged $6, 600 worth.
"I never saw a penny of it, " Jones said. While trying to collect the debt one day, Jones said, United Prudential's controller sat "face-to-face across the desk" from him and announced, "We never intend to pay you or any of the others.
It has worked very successfully for us." Call, the office manager for Ad-Pro Litho in Lynnwood, Wash., said United Prudential charged $14, 000 to his company within the first 30 days, paying nothing.
Call said a company official laughed and told him: "If I decide to pay you, I will.
If I decide not to, I won't. And there's not a damn thing you can do about it." Schaeffer, the attorney, emphasized that most of the more than $1 million in debts Hagen left behind in Seattle were legally discharged.
The remaining creditors, he said, had legal avenues they could have pursued. "If all these people were really defrauded out of their money, why wasn't something done years ago?" he asked. Postal inspectors in Seattle spent four years investigating World Wide Marketing, United Prudential, Matrix and two other companies connected to Hagen there, said Stan Pilkey, the inspector who headed the probe.
Postal officials have said thousands of people were promised free trips, most never receiving them, and about 1, 000 lost $200 each in "refundable deposits." Harry McCarthy, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Seattle, said his office received the results of the investigations in January, and is still reviewing it to determine whether a criminal indicment will be sought. "It's fairly extensive, in terms of the number of people involved, " McCarthy said. The Hagens' lavish lifestyle may finally be threatened. In addition to the criminal charges they face in Texas, their company's bankruptcy in Virginia may also be in trouble.
O'Donnell, the trustee, said he has filed a challenge to the company's request to discharge its debts, contending it is in "absolute violation" of the bankruptcy code. It is unclear what business the Hagens' new company, Brown Development Institute, is doing here.
Hagen told a reporter last month that the company would do desk-top publishing and design small ads, and was "staying away" from any time-share promotions. But the promotional sheet for the Brown Institute on Hagen's desk last week -- the one with a name spelled "Haggin" -- was a list of valuable prizes that someone may have won.

The Washington Post

May 14, 1989, Sunday, Final Edition

DeFuscos Are Called Bad Example;
Time-Share Firms Changing Tactics

BYLINE: Mary Jordan, Washington Post Staff Writer

SECTION: FIRST SECTION; PAGE A18

LENGTH: 416 words


David and Annette DeFusco "are to our industry what pornographers are to the publishing industry, " said Gary A. Terry, president of American Resort and Residential Development Association, which represents a majority of the 1, 100 owners of time-share developments in the United States.
The millions of DeFusco mailings -- which promise, but do not deliver, expensive prizes to lure people to resorts or presentations of time shares -- have tarnished the image of time shares, Terry says.
But David DeFusco says that he is being blamed for the sins of an entire industry, and that vacation promoters have always relied on gimmicks and free gift offers to attract people.


"I did what everybody else did, " he said in a recent interview at his offices in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. "Only I ran into a prosecutor who wanted to clean up the industry."
Time sharing -- buying into a resort for a week or more each year -- has become increasingly popular both in the United States and abroad, according to industry figures.
In 1988, 1.3 million Americans owned a time share, according to Terry's group.
Faced with increasingly bad publicity recently, some resort owners say they are rethinking their advertising tactics and hiring lawyers to read their promotional mail.
Outdoor World Inc., which owns 14 vacation spots around the country and once hired the DeFuscos, reviews all its mailings for potential legal problems, according to Bruce Morgan, the company's attorney.
"What David DeFusco has been indicted for is not part of the mainstream, " Morgan said.
"We've never had anybody as nasty as this."
The resort owners who hired the DeFuscos have run into trouble, too. The Dallas-based Freedom Financial Corp. pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy and mail fraud charges and paid a $ 1.5 million fine.
According to federal prosecutors, Freedom Financial paid for millions of the DeFuscos' mailings and had endorsed their use.
In Alexandria, The Hensley Group Inc., a time-share company that also used the DeFuscos' mailings, has been the target of complaints and lawsuits in Virginia, Maryland and Florida. Federal prosecutors said other resorts linked to the DeFuscos also may find themselves indicted or fined for fraud.
"Most members would love not to send direct mail, " Terry said, "but direct mail plus a gift offer is the single most successful [advertising strategy for time shares]. Unfortunately, it lends itself to . . . unethical and misrepresentative material."


ENHANCEMENT: SIDEBAR

COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (95%);

STATE: VIRGINIA, USA (92%); TEXAS, USA (79%); CALIFORNIA, USA (79%); MARYLAND, USA (79%);

CITY: DALLAS, TX, USA (79%);

COMPANY: FREEDOM FINANCIAL LIFE INSURANCE CO (53%); AMERICAN RESORT DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION (84%);

ORGANIZATION: OUTDOOR WORLD INC. ; HENSLEY GROUP INC.

SUBJECT: FRAUD; REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY; MARKETING; ADVERTISING REAL ESTATE (90%); RESIDENTIAL CO-OWNERSHIP (90%); REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT (90%); TRAVEL HOSPITALITY & TOURISM (90%); RESORTS (90%); DIRECT MAIL MARKETING (89%); JUSTICE DEPARTMENTS (89%); INDICTMENTS (88%); FRAUD & FINANCIAL CRIME (88%); INTERVIEWS (78%); LEISURE TRAVEL (78%); PUBLISHING (73%); LAWYERS (73%); GUILTY PLEAS (73%); MARKETING & ADVERTISING (72%); MARKETING STRATEGY (70%); CONSPIRACY (69%); FINES & PENALTIES (67%);

PERSON: DAVID DEFUSCO; ANNETTE DEFUSCO; GARY A. TERRY GARY A TERRY (90%); DAVID DEFUSCO (82%); BRUCE MORGAN (66%); ANNETTE DEFUSCO (66%);

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

TYPE: VIRGINIA NEWS, NATIONAL NEWS

Copyright 1989 The Washington Post
Austin American-Statesman (Texas)

September 13, 1997

Timeshare purchasers seldom satisfied

BYLINE: David Evans

SECTION: Business; Pg. D1

LENGTH: 1004 words

DALLAS -- To Connye and Melvin Eichelberger of Dallas, the proposition from Silverleaf Resorts Inc. was outrageous.
In June, Silverleaf offered $200 to buy back the same timeshare vacation unit in Flint that it sold her for $5, 850 in October 1994. The development is on a lake about 100 miles east of Dallas.
Though the Eichelbergers wanted to sell, they declined the offer.


It was ridiculous, '' Connye Eichelberger said. I thought they were joking.''
It's no joke, however. Many owners of Silverleaf timeshares who want to sell their vacation investments accept the company's $200 buyback offer. That's because the resale market for timeshares -- which grant owners the right to use a condominium for a specified week each year -- is almost nonexistent.
Such transactions contributed to the 94 percent gross profit margin that Silverleaf posted last year, which was higher than that of almost any public company. Silverleaf's stock has gained 44 percent since its June initial public offering of 3.6 million shares at $16 by Credit Suisse First Boston. The stock closed at $22.75 a share Friday.
Silverleaf is one of the largest timeshare vacation developers in the $2 billion-a-year U.S. timeshare industry. It is an industry that is still dogged by customer complaints that, in the 1970s and '80s, led to some timeshare promoters going to jail for defrauding consumers.
For some timeshare owners who want out of their vacation investments, the difficulty in reselling their units is a source of grief. Silverleaf bought back 1, 500 timeshares for $200 a unit at its seven resorts in Texas and Missouri last year. Meanwhile, the company was able to sell units to new customers for an average price of $6, 645.
Silverleaf's average cost for each one-week unit sold to new customers last year was about $387, including buybacks, foreclosures, new construction and units from inventory.
Almost half the 1.8 million U.S. owners of timeshares are interested in selling, according to an industry study released in July. The number of units that Silverleaf bought back last year was equal to a quarter of the 6, 054 units it sold to new customers. Now, Silverleaf plans to buy back only about 500 units a year, according to the prospectus for its IPO.
Sharon Brayfield, president of Dallas-based Silverleaf, said the company buys back timeshares as a favor to its customers. It's kind of a customer service-type thing, '' she said. This is not something we forced anyone to do.''
The market for resale of timeshare intervals is very limited, '' said Silverleaf in its prospectus. Resale prices are substantially below their original purchase price.''
It isn't easy to sell timeshares the first time, either. Silverleaf spent 45 percent of its 1996 revenue on sales and marketing, which is in line with the industry, about $3, 000 for each timeshare sold. Timeshare buyers get title to 1/50 of a resort condominium unit and the right to use it for one week a year. They must also pay maintenance fees or dues.
Regrets purchase
Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, I want to buy a timeshare, ''' said industry consultant John Simon of KPMG Consulting.
Ask Ruthie Seward, an inventory clerk from Frankston who now regrets her $8, 500 purchase of a Silverleaf timeshare last year. She paid $850 down, and committed to monthly payments of $142 for seven years.
It's a lot of money for something we don't even use, '' Sewardsaid.
She said she was lured to the sales presentation by a letter from Silverleaf informing her that she'd won a prize.
Three months ago, Seward paid $200 to list her timeshare with a broker, asking $7, 000, but hasn't attracted any inquiries.
Foreclosures are another source of low-cost timeshare inventory for Silverleaf. In 1996, the company charged off bad debts representing 25 percent, or $12.1 million of its $48.1 million of sales. That's more than five times the industry average.
No Buyer Found
The Eichelbergers weren't able to find a buyer for their timeshare by July 1. That's when Silverleaf foreclosed on it. Even though Connye Eichelberger and her husband owned it free and clear, they were $350 behind in paying the $600 annual dues Silverleaf charges all its timeshare owners.
We kissed $6, 000 goodbye, '' said Eichelberger. Yet she said she doesn't regret turning down Silverleaf's $200 buy offer. I considered that an insult.''
According to the industry's study, the most common reasons timeshare owners want to sell are lifestyle changes, insufficient usage, the continuing expense and wanting more vacation flexibility.
The industry was notorious in the 1970s and 1980s for using high-pressure sales tactics and phony contests to persuade unsophisticated consumers that timeshares were a good investment.
In 1988, Silverleaf, then called Freedom Financial, was convicted on federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges, and paid a $1.5 million fine. The company admitted defrauding consumers by promising them nonexistent prizes in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation.
Robert Mead, who owned Freedom Financial, is now chairman and chief executive of Silverleaf. He holds about 7.7 million shares, worth $175 million. Although his company was convicted of fraud, he wasn't personally charged with any crime. David DeFusco, who provided sales leads for Freedom Financial, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and received a prison sentence.
Yes, we had problems back in 1988, '' said Brayfield. That was a really painful period for Bob.''
Besides the criminal conviction when it was called Freedom Financial, Silverleaf has been the subject of several enforcement actions by Texas and Missouri regulators.
In March, it donated $30, 000 to Texas to settle allegations by the Texas Real Estate Commission that it used illegal sales practices. Silverleaf admitted no wrongdoing.
The commission is now investigating 16 new complaints against Silverleaf, said Beverly Rabenberg, an attorney for the commission.


TICKER: SVLF (NASDAQ) (91%);

COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (94%);

STATE: TEXAS, USA (94%);

CITY: DALLAS, TX, USA (94%); AUSTIN, TX, USA (91%);

COMPANY: SILVERLEAF RESORTS INC (91%); CREDIT SUISSE FIRST BOSTON (69%); SILVERLEAF RESORTS INC (91%); CREDIT SUISSE FIRST BOSTON (69%);

SUBJECT: RESORTS (91%); RESIDENTIAL CO-OWNERSHIP (90%); TRAVEL HOSPITALITY & TOURISM (90%); INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS (89%); STOCK REPURCHASE PLANS (78%); EXISTING HOME SALES (74%); CONSTRUCTION (74%); COMPANY PROFITS (73%); STOCK OFFERINGS (72%); FORECLOSURE (69%); CUSTOMER SERVICE (65%); RESEARCH REPORTS (50%); RESORTS (91%); RESIDENTIAL CO-OWNERSHIP (90%); TRAVEL HOSPITALITY & TOURISM (90%); INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS (89%); STOCK REPURCHASE PLANS (78%); EXISTING HOME SALES (74%); CONSTRUCTION (74%); COMPANY PROFITS (73%); STOCK OFFERINGS (72%); FORECLOSURE (69%); CUSTOMER SERVICE (65%); RESEARCH REPORTS (50%);

LOAD-DATE: September 13, 1997

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 1997 The Austin American-Statesman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)

September 21, 1997, Sunday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION

SILVERLEAF PROFITS BIG IN TIGHT TIMESHARE BUSINESS;
COMPANY HAS BEEN A TARGET OF COMPLAINTS

BYLINE: David Evans; 1997, Bloomberg News

SECTION: BUSINESS, Pg. 08E

LENGTH: 1144 words

DATELINE: DALLAS

To Connye and Melvin Eichelberger of Dallas, the proposition from Silverleaf Resorts Inc. was outrageous.
In June, Silverleaf offered $ 200 to buy back the same timeshare vacation unit in Flint, Texas, that it sold her for $ 5, 850 in October 1994.

Though the Eichelbergers wanted to sell, they declined the offer.
"It was ridiculous, " Connye Eichelberger said. "I thought they were joking."


It's no joke, however. Many owners of Silverleaf timeshares who want to sell their vacation investments accept the company's $ 200 buyback offer. That's because the resale market for timeshares is almost nonexistent.
Timeshares grant owners the right to use a condominium or other piece of property, such as a campsite, for a specified week each year.
Silverleaf is one of the largest timeshare vacation developers in the $ 2 billion-a-year U.S. timeshare industry. The Dallas company has two timeshare resorts in the Branson area. It is building a third one south of Festus, Mo. It also has five in Texas and is building one near Chicago.
Silverleaf posted a 94 percent gross profit margin last year, higher than that of almost any public company. Its stock has gained 44 percent since its June initial public offering of 3.6 million shares at 16 by Credit Suisse First Boston. The stock was trading at about $ 23 Monday .
The timeshare industry is still dogged by customer complaints that, in the 1970s and 1980s, led to some timeshare promoters going to jail for defrauding consumers.
In 1988, Silverleaf - then known as Freedom Financial - agreed to pay the state of Missouri $ 45, 000 after the state accused the company of breaking consumer fraud laws related to its direct mail practices.
Tom Franks, a key officer of Silverleaf, said last week (Sept. 11) that those practices occurred when the company used outside marketers to drum up customers. The company has since brought all its marketing in-house, he said.
A spokesman for the Missouri state attorney general, whose office oversees timeshare resorts, said that it had received no complaints in the past couple of years about the company.
For some timeshare owners who want out of their vacation investments, the difficulty in reselling their units is a source of grief. Silverleaf bought back 1, 500 timeshares for $ 200 a unit at its seven resorts in Texas and Missouri last year. Meanwhile, the company was able to sell units to new customers for an average price of $ 6, 645 a week.
Silverleaf's average cost for each one-week unit sold to new customers last year was about $ 387, including buybacks, foreclosures, new construction and units from inventory.
Almost half the 1.8 million U.S. owners of timeshares are "interested" in selling, according to an industry study released in July. The number of units that Silverleaf bought back last year was equal to a quarter of the 6, 054 units that it sold to new customers. Now, Silverleaf plans to buy back only about 500 units a year, according to the prospectus for its IPO.
Sharon Brayfield, president of Dallas-based Silverleaf, said the company buys back timeshares as a favor to its customers.
Franks said customers are told before closing a deal that Silverleaf makes no promises about buying back weeks or re-selling them for customers.
"The market for resale of timeshare intervals is very limited, " said Silverleaf in its prospectus. "Resale prices are substantially below their original purchase price."
Franks said salesmen are told to tell customers that in order to get value out of the purchase, they must use it.
Silverleaf spent 45 percent of its 1996 revenue on sales and marketing, which is in line with the industry. That amounts to about $ 3, 000 for each timeshare sold.
"Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, 'I want to buy a timeshare, ' " said industry consultant John Simon of KPMG Consulting.
Ask Ruthie Seward, an inventory clerk from Frankston, Texas, who now regrets her $ 8, 500 purchase of a Silverleaf timeshare last year. She paid $ 850 down and committed to monthly payments of $ 142 for seven years.

"It's a lot of money for something we don't even use, " said Seward.
She said she was attracted to the sales presentation by a letter from Silverleaf informing her that she had won a prize.
Three months ago, Seward paid $ 200 to list her timeshare with a broker, asking $ 7, 000. She hasn't attracted any inquiries.
Foreclosures are another source of low-cost timeshare inventory for Silverleaf. In 1996, the company charged off bad debts representing 25 percent, or $ 12.1 million of its $ 48.1 million of sales.
The Eichelbergers weren't able to find a buyer for their timeshare by July 1. That's when Silverleaf foreclosed on it. Even though Connye Eichelberger and her husband owned it free and clear, they were $ 350 behind in paying the $ 600 annual dues Silverleaf charges all its timeshare owners.
"We kissed $ 6, 000 goodbye, " said Eichelberger. Yet she said she doesn't regret turning down Silverleaf's $ 200 buy offer. "I considered that an insult."
According to the industry's study, the most common reasons timeshare owners want to sell are lifestyle changes, insufficient usage, the continuing expense and wanting more vacation flexibility.
The industry was notorious in the 1970s and 1980s for using high-pressure sales tactics and phony contests to persuade unsophisticated consumers that timeshares were a good investment.
In 1988, Silverleaf, then called Freedom Financial, was convicted on federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges and paid a $ 1.5 million fine. The company admitted defrauding consumers by promising them nonexistent prizes in exchange for attending a timeshare presentation.
Robert Mead, who owned Freedom Financial, is now chairman and chief executive of Silverleaf. He holds about 7.7 million shares, worth $ 175 million. Although his company was convicted of fraud, he wasn't personally charged with any crime. David DeFusco, who provided sales leads for Freedom Financial, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and received a prison sentence.
The Texas Real Estate Commission is investigating 16 complaints against Silverleaf, said Beverly Rabenberg, an attorney for the commission. These are in addition to the allegations of illegal sales practices that were settled in March when the company donated $ 30, 000 to Texas. Silverleaf admitted no wrongdoing at the time.
Silverleaf acknowledges using "intensive" tactics with sales prospects, who aren't wealthy. "The company targets audiences which generally are less financially sophisticated and more susceptible to intensive sales practices than more affluent customers, " according to its prospectus.
"Intensive sales practices do not mean high-pressure sales, " Brayfield said. "Intensive merely means giving a special effort or certain emphasis."


TICKER: SVLF (NASDAQ) (91%);

INDUSTRY: NAICS721110 HOTELS (EXCEPT CASINO HOTELS) & MOTELS (91%); SIC6081 BRANCHES & AGENCIES OF FOREIGN BANKS (67%);

PERSON: MELVIN EICHELBERGER (59%); TOM FRANKS (58%);

COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (94%);

STATE: TEXAS, USA (94%); MISSOURI, USA (94%);

CITY: DALLAS, TX, USA (91%);

COMPANY: SILVERLEAF RESORTS INC (91%); CREDIT SUISSE FIRST BOSTON (67%);

SUBJECT: RESORTS (93%); TRAVEL HOSPITALITY & TOURISM (92%); RESIDENTIAL CO-OWNERSHIP (90%); US STATE GOVERNMENT (77%); DIRECT MAIL MARKETING (77%); CORPORATE WRONGDOING (75%); CONSTRUCTION (74%); COMPANY PROFITS (71%); INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERINGS (70%); EXISTING HOME SALES (70%); CONSUMER LAW (69%); FORECLOSURE (69%); JUSTICE DEPARTMENTS (63%); ATTORNEYS GENERAL (50%); RESEARCH REPORTS (50%);

LOAD-DATE: September 22, 1997

LANGUAGE: English

Copyright 1997 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.
Daily News (New York)

July 20, 2000, Thursday

PRIZE SEEKERS BEWARE OF TIME-SHARE OFFERINGS

BYLINE: BY ASA AARONS

SECTION: NEW YORK NOW; Pg. 62 ASK ASA

LENGTH: 380 words

Maureen Arscott wonders whether there's a car at the end of the drive to Massachusetts - or just a waste of fuel.
The New York woman has been trying to decide ever since she received a call from someone at Silverleaf Resorts, a Dallas-based vacation time-share company.
A vacation time-share gives the owner the right to use vacation property for a limited period over a specified number of years.


"I was told I won a car, but that I would have to travel to Massachusetts to collect the prize, " Arscott explained.
Why Massachusetts?
It's the home of Oak in Spruce, one of Silverleaf's 22 resorts nationwide.
The one thing Arscott is assured of finding there is a sales staff eager to tell her about the merits of the vacation property.
According to the Better Business Bureau in Fort Worth, Tex., Silverleaf sends letters offering one of several free awards to consumers who agree to attend a sales presentation.
Not all the consumers have been satisfied.
The BBB reports the company has been the subject of complaints alleging misleading or high-pressure sales tactics.
Other consumers have complained about the award they received at sales presentations.
The BBB added that most complaints have been answered, but not always to the customer's satisfaction.
If you receive an award letter or a call, it doesn't mean you've won a contest.
Though you will receive a gift if you attend the sales presentation, the chances that you will receive a major prize, such as a car or cash, are very slim, the bureau warned.
It found that most consumers receive a package for 10 one-day holidays, which allows use of resort facilities during the day only.
Overnight accommodations and transportation are not included.
Ed Lahart, a vice president at Silverleaf, could not confirm that Arscott won a car.
The company described the call as a solicitation to tour the property and not a guarantee of a specific prize.
Tomorrow: Are time-shares good investments?
Asa Aarons is a consumer reporter who appears on WNBC-TV, Channel 4, News. His Daily News column appears Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Send your questions to: Ask Asa, P.O. Box 3310, New York, N.Y. 10116, or E-mail him (DNconsumer@aol.com). Questions can be answered only through this column.


TICKER: SVLF (NASDAQ) (58%);

INDUSTRY: NAICS334111 ELECTRONIC COMPUTER MANUFACTURING (63%); SIC3571 ELECTRONIC COMPUTERS (63%); NAICS721110 HOTELS (EXCEPT CASINO HOTELS) & MOTELS (58%);

COUNTRY: UNITED STATES (94%);

STATE: NEW YORK, USA (94%); TEXAS, USA (88%);

CITY: DALLAS, TX, USA (88%); NEW YORK, NY, USA (79%);

COMPANY: ASK ASA (63%); SILVERLEAF RESORTS INC (58%);

SUBJECT: SALES & SELLING (90%); RESIDENTIAL CO-OWNERSHIP (90%); RESORTS (90%); TRAVEL HOSPITALITY & TOURISM (89%); NEW ISSUES (89%); BUSINESS & PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS (77%); SALES FORCE (74%); CUSTOMER SATISFACTION (72%); TELEVISION INDUSTRY (50%);

LOAD-DATE: July 20, 2000

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

Copyright 2000 Daily News, L.P.
A  30th of Mar, 2011 by    0 Votes
I'm not the type of person to complain and that's why this has gone on for so long. They call me 2 - 5 times a week trying to get me to come to a so called owners meeting. Well now I know what owners meeting really stand for. It's just to get you to buy something else. My first owners meeting was just 2 months after I purchased the time share. When they sat me down they told me that my purchase was no longer valid so I had to buy another one. Being female and going alone made things even worse because 2 male sales reps hasseled me in a room with just the three of us for over 3 three hours. I felt like I was being interrogated for a murder or something. I finally got up and called my brother because I was so upset. He, being totally opposite of me went and had a conversation with one of the ring leaders and told him he was out of line and not to call me again so now their so called corparte office keeps calling. i went to stay at the villages where my unit is and it was a complete dump and I told them they didn't ever have to worry about me coming back because I wouldn't let my dog stay there. I have been more than nice but now I've have had enough. 2 weeks ago i told a guy to stop calling because i don't want anything they have to offer even if it was free and he said well that's our job we are going to continue to call you. I have been more than nice but i've had enough. I will be filing a complaint with the better business buerua today. silver leaf needs to be investigated so maybe i'll contact dateline or 20/20 while i'm at it.
A  24th of Jul, 2011 by    0 Votes
I am at hill country right now. I have experienced a lot of their bs today and chose not to spend an extra $17k on upgrading from wht to red. I am looking at this place I am staying in an I am very disappointed at how Damaged things are in the unit. I expect that my maintenance cost along with the other 50 owners or how ever many, should be enough to make these immaculate. Mistake doesn't describe silverleaf. Stuck does though. And so I will faithfully pay for it and attempt to make up for it by using rci. By the way this is today's tactic, "the company is being sold and the prices are going to go up because they won't be using foreclosures anymore and all properties will be full price". Load of crap! Who will they sell to then? Wake up call ###- holes nobody can afford the mythical 30k or higher figures you keep pulling out of your hat. Economy sucks! The idea of this is great if you can afford it (I can). But I really don't care too much for the facilities and upgrading is a waste of money. If you don't have the money and buy in, you are a sucker, and an idiot. But if you do have the money, take it elsewhere, I would rather wash my mouth out with buckshot than do this again.
N  15th of Nov, 2011 by    0 Votes
They told us the same thing! They admitted it was wrong a few months later when we noticed nothing on our credit, class action? why not? they should be stopped, look at this board!!
N  7th of Jan, 2012 by    0 Votes
Can anyone verify if the car or the money has ever been won, in the history of this company?
N  9th of Jan, 2012 by    0 Votes
To the comment posted yesterday, jeffw08, the winning of the car or money is a scam. i erased one of the scratch off places and it wasn't a pot of gold. So i told the lady "oh my first one isn't even it so there is no way i would get all 5". she then told me to see if the numbers on the bottom matched any of the "prize" numbers and of course my numbers didn't match. So me, already being skeptical, started scratching off the whole scratch thing and the "prize" lady looked mortified and told me i couldn't do that and tried taking it from me. i kept the sheet until i was done scratching the whole thing and there was ONE i repeat ONE pot of gold on the whole scratch off. So there is no chance in hell i was going to be able scratch off 5 pots of gold!!!

the first sales person i talked to kept lying to me about simple things and then later on would try and say something different and when i asked him about the lies he would say "oh i think you misunderstood me". i ended up telling him no. so he said because of what i do for a living he could offer me a special discount that they don't offer everyone so i had to sit and wait for this complete @$$hole to try selling me the same thing for a fraction of the price. but i still told him no and he was like "well you go on vacations anyways; i don't see why you just don't buy your vacations from us". and got up and stormed off after i told him no once more. then the first salesman got up and just walked away without saying anything. I just sat there like what the crap "i want my free stuff i was promised for enduring this crap". so this lady FINALLY came over and sat down with all my paperwork saying she could give the whole thing to me for a 18 month trial period for an even lower rate and eventually my trial period would pay what i owed for a deed. at this point i was irritated cause i had been there for 3 hours and told her no i just wanted my prizes, gifts, whatever you want to call them and go get my boys from their "play center". so she told me to follow her and just ended up leaving me in another waiting room which brings me to my above complaint. after sitting there and waiting 30 mins someone came and got me...no one came out of this ladies office and there was no one else in the waiting room. so i have no idea why i waited so long again. what my prizes ended up being were an "exotic getaway" that i still have to pay for and register, a "greatwolf lodge package" that i still have to pay part of, and $40 (which is basically getting my money back) cause i had to pay $40 to reserve my spot at this sales pitch!!!
A  9th of Jan, 2012 by    0 Votes
Thank you dontnormallycomplain1
N  10th of Dec, 2012 by    0 Votes
I received the $40 card. That part is real, but the trips I won seem a lil sketchy. Free is free not the bs they telling me to do ... Has anyone been on one of these so call free vacations ? If so where and how good was the room and flight?
N  12th of Jan, 2013 by    +1 Votes
This company ropes you into purchasing a time share with a lot of empty promises. My husband and I supposedly received several free cruises and stays at resorts that we were never able to utilize. We sent in the required deposits and then the time expired and we were just out of money. In addition they had us to make several trips to their Galveston location, under the guise of a weekend away. Each time we were required to come to the office to speak with one of their representatives. These visits were no less than two hours each. Never were we able to stay in the type of suite we were promised. The first we stayed in, which was not even remotely close to what we had seen the first time, had construction going on until around 10pm and then it started up again at 7am. We were told they were sorry and wanted to make it up to us. Only to come out again and have to listen to another 2 hour presentation. We were told that if we upgraded we would definitely get to stay in the suite they initially showed us. However, the next time we were scheduled to go out, we ended up in a "5 star hotel" that was a bigger dump than the facility we had stayed in prior. Again we were required to come to the office for a presentation. (Mind you my husband is on disability and suffers from severe back and leg pain.) On this presentation, the power was out at the facility and my husband and I had to walk up two flights of stairs and were basically held hostage for two hours in a room that had no air conditioning and the temperature was probably 90 degrees, while they attempted to talk us into upgrading again with the promise that this time if we upgraded we would get to stay in the facility that we were initially shown, because we would have "priority". When we told them we were not interested, instead of letting us leave they kept sending in different people to talk with us, with a so called, "deal we couldn't' refuse and just for us they were giving us a deal of a life time not offered to anyone else." After finally leaving this meeting and after having to walk down two flights of stairs my husband was in a great deal of pain and sick because he had gotten overheated. (During this visit his condition was explained to the staff at Silverleaf and their response was to just open the door). Since that time they call all day, every day, first on the home and then on husband's cell trying to get us to give them the names of family members and friends that they can harass in an attempt to get them to buy into the scam. I have told them on numerous occasions that we have no desire to ever return to their facility in Galveston to which they just keep calling and saying they want us to come out again.
N  29th of Aug, 2013 by    0 Votes

Silverleaf Resorts Inc. - scam
United States

Heres what silverleaf dosnt want you to see print these out and bring them in to your appointment you will be pushed right out the door i hope this information was helpful and please dont buy this its a scam plus the intrest rate is 17% go an tell me if im wrong.

/The documents have been removed/
N  5th of Nov, 2013 by    0 Votes
I also got their scamming phone and email. I regret to provide my information to them. Very boring and ridiculous. I know their contact is a scamming and would not answer them.
N  30th of Jan, 2014 by    -1 Votes
Anyone who signs documents and after doing so claims its a scam is an idiot. You are the scam. You have scammed yourself. The rules, regulations, cost, bonus time availability, club dues and their increases, fees for extras and what room you will have access to are all in your paperwork at time of signing. Whether you agree with what the paperwork says is of no matter. That you chose to sign it is. So what's the lesson of the day here? Read, think, decide. Once your decision is made its yours. Stop blaiming others for purchasing things you can't afford.
A  5th of Sep, 2014 by    0 Votes
I just came on here to see if this was a scam before I took a tour and these comments have confirmed my suspicions that it is, so I will not be wasting my time and I sincerely thank you all for the information that you have provided. As for everyone posting about how great this place is, I don't know if you actually work for them or not but considering how many of the complaints I have read also say that they people who work there are rude and obnoxious you seem to be confirming that as well. If you are an actual timeshare owner that is happy with your purchase, great-good for you. Why come on here and spew insults at strangers who are unhappy with theirs? It is exactly those types of posts that confirm the negative ones. If you really feel the need to come on the Internet and get angry and perfect strangers and call them idiots because they don't agree with you or have had a different experience then, even if you are telling the truth, I would never want to vacation where you are anyway.
A  17th of Dec, 2014 by    +1 Votes
I just recieved a letter also from SilverLeaf and it did seem to good to be true .so i called my aunt and she researched them and true enough they are big liars i even asked the guywho was on line if it was a scam bc i just didnt trust this. Thanks everyone for your hinesty so i wouldnt waste my time
A  16th of Jul, 2015 by    +2 Votes
It is obvious that the people like HAHA123123 and svlf4life that are calling others "Stupid" and uneducated are the employees selling these crap timeshares. Before you call people stupid learn how to spell and use correct grammar. I have yet to attend the 90 minute tour. However, based on these complaints I will not waste my family's time. Id rather pay full price for a trip to the Great Escape Lodge than put up with this nonsense any day! I will eat the 40 dollar deposit just to avoid the aggravation!
N  27th of Oct, 2015 by    +1 Votes
Thank you so much for posting your experiences. We were scheduled to attend a presentation two hours away this week. Thanks to this online education of sorts, we cancelled our reservation. The poor girl seemed devastated. Poor thing. I appreciate the save! We'll vacation the old fashioned way! Many, many, many thanks!!!

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