The Federal Trade Commission has halted the telemarketing and timeshare businesses of a South Florida couple that took upfront fees of $1,996 from consumers who thought they were being provided buyers for their timeshare properties.
The couple conned the property owners by telling them that buyers were lined up and to expect a contract to purchase their timeshares, according to the FTC’s complaint.
What they received turned out to be a contract to market and advertise their timeshare, and not a sales contract.
Many consumers signed and returned the document thinking it was a sales contract, the complaint alleges.
Pasquale Pappalardo and his wife, Lisa Tumminia-Pappalardo, agreed to settlements with the FTC that permanently ban them from telemarketing and taking part in timeshare resale services.
When consumers demanded their money back, they found it nearly impossible to get a refund, or even get a call back, the FTC said.
The agency estimates that in the 20 months the defendants operated, thousands of consumers were defrauded out of at least $2.7 million.
In October 2010, a federal court halted the operation and froze the defendants’ assets, pending resolution of the case.
The order against Pasquale Pappalardo imposes a judgment of almost $2.7 million, which will be suspended when he surrenders the proceeds from the sale of a condominium. The full judgment will become due immediately if he is found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
The case against Timeshare Mega Media and Marketing Group, Inc. is part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to crack down on con artists who use fraud and deception to take advantage of consumers in financial distress.