Blogs & Comment

Another elderly couple scammed

March is Fraud Prevention Month. Here is the story of an elderly couple who were recently scammed. By allowing their story to be told, it is hoped others can learn from their experience and avoid becoming victims.
Off the coast of the southern United States, there is an island. Its a popular vacation destination with lots of beachfront, abundant foliage and numerous cultural activities. It was in this idyllic setting where 80-year-old David French says he was scammed.
He and his wife had come for a vacation. While checking into a resort, they were invited to a presentation. Mr. French, an Ajax Ontario resident now retired, refused on the basis that it would be nothing more than a sales pitch.
The response from the attendant was (paraphrasing): Oh no! This is not a sales presentation. We just want you to be aware of everything the resort has to offer, so you can maximize your enjoyment!
As it turned out, Mr. French and wife had walked into a time-share presentation. When Mr. French told the Ambassador that he and his wife owned all the time shares they needed and were not interested in buying more, he was asked: Would you be interested in trading your current time share in?
To make a long story short — as Mr. French says — that offer led to him and the Ambassador drawing up a package to arrange for Mr. Frenchs time share to be purchased at a set price. The only obligation, he thought,was a down payment of $1,200 (U.S.)
Signing a stack of papers
Next came the drawing up of documents. The signing process involved some 22 legal-sized pages, each packed with legalese, as Mr. French recounts. Over 120 separate signatures from my wife and I was required in less than 20 minutes!
I queried 3 or 4 points and each of my challenges were answered plausibly. On the face of it, and as best I could determine as the papers flew past, the documents summarized what we had agreed to.
Mr. French started to become suspicious about 2 weeks later when he received documents from various sub-agents of the resort enforcing the agreement in ways that differed from his understanding. The more he delved into the matter, the more he realized that he and his wife had been duped.
In essence, we had purchased a time-share with no rights of recourse and were liable for the full price. The sale of our current property turned out to be a 12-month arrangement to list that property in the Internet! On top of everything, we were committed to a financial contract at 18% interest, despite our rejection of any financing whatsoever!
Even the canny are susceptible
In retrospect I was ashamed of myself for falling for it, confesses Mr. French. Our lawyer shook his head and, with a tone of sadness, said: And I always thought you were so canny! It only goes to show that even the more careful of us needs to be on our guard all the time.
I find myself wondering how I fell for this con. The answer is that the average individual is an amateur and these people are polished professionals. The moral is that you should not sign anything until it is checked by your lawyer.
Taking action:
Mr. French and his wife were not content to walk away quietly. After some investigation, they discovered the states Law Society, where a delightful lady referred us to a choice of lawyers. The lawyer they spoke to commented that he had been involved in similar cases with this resort, but no one had been inclined to push the matter.
We decided to proceed. He has prepared our complaint, a document on whose cover is the heart-warming note Trial by Jury requested. It has been lodged with the Court and served by the Sheriff. Now we await the resorts response.
Our intent is to kick up as big a stink as we can to make life as uncomfortable as we can for these slick operators — this being our only come-back. Getting our money back is secondary. But if no one fights back, the crooks get away unscathed.
Here we are on the steps of the court-house in a fraud trial … and we always thought we were so canny and such peaceable folk.