Wyndham Vacation — fraud, ryan morettini, franz hanning, myra biblowit
Wyndham’s Board of Directors Must Act to Stop the Timeshare Fraud
The following is an excerpt from the lawsuit of Patricia Williams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership, et. al. being litigated in the San Francisco County Superior Court. The facts set forth in the Complaint reveal what is widespread throughout Wyndham. The very same fraudulent sales schemes are being repeated at virtually every Wyndham Resort. These practices constitute an organized pattern and practice to defraud senior citizens in violation of numerous state and federal laws. Consequently, Wyndham’s officers and directors should be held accountable for what appears to be rampant criminal activity throughout its timeshare organization. We call on Stephen Holmes, Scott McLester, Franz Hanning, Ryan Morettini, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards to immediately stop this behavior and reform Wyndham’s timeshare business. We also call on the Board to voluntarily take steps to pay the defrauded seniors back – including settling the lawsuits brought by these poor elderly claimants. You now are on notice that this activity is occurring throughout your company.
Excerpt from Williams v. Wyndham:
“Ms. Williams attended training during the first few weeks of working in San Francisco. During the training, Susan Berstein indicated to Ms. Williams that illegal and/or fraudulent claims or promises were being made to sell timesahres. Mw. Williams immediately reported Ms. Berstein’s observations and the fraudulent conduct to Vice President Tara Dow. Ms. Dow did nothing except threaten to fire Ms. Bernstein .
When [Ms. Williams was conducting tours], Ms. Williams overheard other sales associates making illegal and false representations to various customers. It appeared to Ms. Williams that many of these illegal and fraudulent statements were being targeted towards seniors.
This conduct was also witnessed by co-workers. For example, owners were told that if they increased their points, they could do so at essentially no cost. For example, some owners were informed if they increased their points to the Presidential Reserve level, Wyndham would buy back the points or essentially refund the owners moneys if the owner waited at least eleven months to sell the points back. All of the Plaintiffs heard Anita Howell tell owners that they were going to have “guaranteed buy-back” if they wre enrolled in Presidential Reserve. In reality, the program was something different and instead of a buy-back program, it was a “right of first refusal” program where the owner would first have to find a buyer and then Wyndham could buy the property instead. This fraudulent practice was widespread in San Francisco and Plaintiffs are informed and believe that it happens at other locations too.
Klaleh York made similar fraudulent statements to owners in an effort to induce them to purchase additional points. Other member services representatives falsely represented that they were going to be reducing the monthly payments for owners or that maintenance fees would be “capped, ” when in fact such payments were actually being deferred or they were subject to increases. These “lower monthly payments” schemes in reality were simply a way to fraudulently induce customers into buying more services and borrowing more money.
Several associates also misrepresented the actual amounts the owners were currently paying for monthly payments so that they could be encouraged to purchase more points. Ms. Williams was aware owners were being billed through Bill-me-later when they were being told that there were not purchasing anything additional. Ms. Williams is informed and believes that the owners were billed through Bill-Me-Later so that the owners would not be able to ask for a refund of their money.
Ms. Williams was also aware of sales associates selling timeshares without a license, which she is informed and believes violates California real estate law. Ms. Williams complained to her manager Robert Parker, but nothing was done about the improper sales.
The fraudulent conduct was sanctioned by Wyndham as part of the process to drive sales. In fact, a technique was adopted where Anita Howell started to close deals for other sales associates using the same misrepresentations that Ms. Williams had complained about. In October 2010, Ms. Williams became aware that Ms.See the Top 10 Worst Complaints in Orlando, FL Howell was committing credit card fraud with some elderly clients by getting them to apply for more credit without their knowledge. It appeared to Ms. Williams that the fraudulent practices and misrepresentations violated California law and that Wyndham was illegally taking advantage of vulnerable seniors.
In fact, sales representatives were informed when older patrons would be coming in. They were encouraged by managers to target seniors and direct the “guaranteed buy Back” and “lower monthly payments” schemes at the older owners. Owners were also falsely promised rental income in case they wanted to avoid making their payments.
Ms. Williams was encouraged to engage in the illegal and fraudulent conduct in an effort to drive additional sales. She refused noting that the conduct was unethical and that it violated the California Real Estate Board regulations and that she believed it violated California law.
In August 2010, Ms. Dow hired a new manager, Steven, Savino, who had previously worked at the Williamsburg office. Mr. Savino started conducting training meetings in which he taught employees how to use unethical methods for selling timeshares, [and how to]manipulate customers [by going into] ethical grey areas.
In October 2010, Ms. Williams became aware that Anita Howell was committing credit card fraud on the elderly. She would have owners sign documents that were credit card applications but she told them they were papers to renegotiate their loans with Wyndham. The Ms. Howell would maximize the credit people had on their credit cards and use those funds to purchase additional timeshare points without proper authorization to do so. Ms. Williams became aware of the extent to which Ms. Howell was defrauding seniors who were owners. She would lie to owners about the fees that they were actually paying and deceiving them into purchasing additional products that actually increased their payments, when she was falsely claiming that their payments would go down. Ms. Williams complained about these practices to various managers in the San Francisco office.
Numerous supervisors and managers were aware of the fraudulent practices and targeting seniors. Among these were Robert Parker, Linda Tanner, Jim White, Steve Savino, and Vilen Kazaryan.
Ms. Williams confronted Ms. Howell about her fraudulent practices, and she asked, “how can you do this?” But Ms. Howell who was known as a “sales machine” responded that “you can’t have a conscience in this business.” Ms. Williams complained about Ms. Howell to the Director of Sales, but was told to “keep your mouth shut or you will be fired.”
“…the fraudulent practices were often directed at senior owners due to their perceived vulnerabilities.”
The very same fraudulent sales schemes are being repeated at virtually every Wyndham Resort. These practices constitute an organized pattern and practice to defraud senior citizens in violation of numerous state and federal laws. Consequently, Wyndham’s officers and directors should be held accountable for what appears to be rampant criminal activity throughout its timeshare organization.
We call on Stephen Holmes, Scott McLester, Franz Hanning, Ryan Morettini, Myra J. Biblowit, Brian Mulroney, George Herrera, James Buckman, Michael Wargotz, Pauline Richards to immediately stop this behavior and reform Wyndham’s timeshare business. We also call on the Board to voluntarily take steps to pay the defrauded seniors back – including settling the lawsuits brought by these poor elderly claimants. You now are on notice that this activity is occurring throughout your company. Failure to act in resolving this conduct would be a breach of your duties to Wyndham’s shareholders as well as Wyndham’s owners.
Also, we are calling on all the attorneys at Wyndham to stop fighting against these poor elderly seniors that did nothing but rely on the misrepresentations of your sales people to their very destructive detriment. You add insult to injury when you drag out their administrative or legal claims – essentially calling parents like mine liars. Therefore, Scott McLester, Gregory John Bendlin, Charles Bott, Thomas Alan, Ryan Morettini and all the other Wyndham lawyers need to start having some compassion on these poor people! You’ll find that becoming part of the solution and not the problem will always be in the best interest of your client – Wyndham.
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