Fla. AG's Priorities Questioned Over Timeshare Fraud Probe

Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011 11:39 AM

By Andra Varin

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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has announced a crackdown on timeshare resale fraud, but critics say her time would be better spent going after Medicare fraud, prescription “pill mills” and "robo-signing" on foreclosure orders.
Bondi says her office has received 19,000 complaints about timeshare resale fraud in the past two years, making it by far consumers’ largest complaint. She has joined two Republican lawmakers in sponsoring the Timeshare Resale Accountability Act, The Miami Herald said.

But critics say the bill is being pushed by a Washington-based timeshare trade group called the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), which has given the Republican Party $281,787 this year.

Timeshare groups praise Bondi’s focus, but Barry Ritholz, CEO of the investment research firm Fusion IQ, told the Herald he questioned why Bondi wasn’t concentrating on more high-profile consumer issues.

“If she thinks that timeshare fraud is where they should be directing their attention, that reflects poorly on the people of Florida,” he said.

Florida has the nation’s largest timeshare industry, with more than 400 resorts and about $2.2 billion in annual sales, according to ARDA’s research arm.
A growing with a growing number of companies have been promising to sell owners’ unit — for a large upfront fee — and then failing to follow through, law enforcement officials say.

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