Wyndham Destinations working with consumers who lost money in timeshare exit scheme

Resort's law firm says 300 people lost $15M to Ormond Beach Company

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. - Attorneys for Wyndham Destinations announced plans Friday to set up an account and email to help hundreds of consumers recover funds lost in an alleged timeshare exit scheme.

Veteran attorney Alfred “Bud” Bennington, told News 6  it’s not clear how much money will be recovered but the decision could give consumers a financial lifeline.

“They (Wyndham) have authorized me to tell those Wyndham owners victimized by ACC (A Consumer Credit) and/or its principal, Dana Micallef, that any recovery made in any of the court proceedings against ACC and Micallef will not go to Wyndham, but rather Wyndham will  give any money it collects, in a proportionate amount,  to the  Wyndham consumers who were ripped off by ACC and Micallef as a sign of good faith,” Bennington said.

The company’s Orlando law firm, Shutts and Bowen, set up a special email to allow consumers, many who the firm believes may haven't come forward yet, can find a possible restitution. The email is: TimeshareExitScam@Shutts.com.

The release of funds will be based on how much is recovered in the legal action against AConsumer Credit and it’s CEO Dana Mcallef.

A News 6 investigation into the alleged timeshare exit scheme uncovered a trail of alleged victims from Kentucky to Orlando, Florida.

Karen Eaton, of Kentucky, said she used $3,200 of her tax return money last year, to break the contract for her Tennessee vacation timeshare with Wyndham.

“I got burned really bad, she said, I hope we get the money soon, I need the money," Eaton said.

Not all of AConsumer Credit’s unhappy customers were trying to end their contracts with Wyndham Destinations but other timeshare companies.

News 6 has found consumers with Wyndham, Bluegreen, West Gate and Diamond resorts who all claim to have lost an average of $3,500 or more to AConsumer Credit.

Melissa Rhodes of West Point, New York said her credit score dropped from 825 to 525 after her timeshare went into foreclosure.

“It was very expensive," Rhodes said. "If they did what they promised it would have been worth it.”

Bennington said Wyndham rarely gets involved as the plaintiff in a timeshare exit dispute but the wave of alleged bad deals prompted the multimillion dollar company to take action.

“In my 40 years of practice this is an extraordinary circumstance," he said, “I believe that some of the acts that have been committed clearly constitute criminal activity on the part of Mr. Mcallef, no question about it.”

Mcallef filed bankruptcy on Sept. 7, 2018, but this week a judge waived his bankruptcy status.

Ormond Beach Police Department Detective Ray Llanes has been investigating leads involving several timeshare companies.

Llanes, a former Miami white-collar crimes investigator, said he has been receiving complaints about ACC from consumers in several states.

“The cases I’m investigating have a connection to our city within our jurisdiction," Llanes said. “You connect the dots, you have your answer.”

Former ACC attorney Michael Saracco told News 6 he only represented the company, he never was involved in negotiations for individual clients.

According to Saracco, AConsumer Credit was successful at first but when the resorts stopped accepting the timeshare exit forms it fell apart.

Saracco told News 6 he had received complaints from timeshare owners who “were misled into believing” he was negotiating for individual consumers.

Saracco has requested to be withdrawn as Mcallef’s attorney.

Mcallef has placed his Ormond Beach home on the market. He filed personal bankruptcy in November 2018.

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