On June 25, 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (“WI DOJ”), filed a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court against Uri Fried, owner of The Timeshare Group, Inc, and the Timeshare Company, LLC. Mr. Fried is currently in jail serving a sentence for filing a false tax return. The suit alleges that Fried and his companies engaged in a pattern and practice of violations of Wisconsin consumer protection laws in connection with their marketing and sale of “timeshare transfer” services to customers in Wisconsin and nationwide. Fried offered “timeshare transfer” services for customers who owned timeshares in both deeded and non-deeded jurisdictions. Upon contact by an interested customer, or upon referral by a third-party partner, Fried assembled information and documents regarding the customer’s timeshare ownership. According to the complaint, if the timeshare was deeded, Fried prepared a Warranty Deed describing the conveyance of the timeshare owners interest to a limited liability company (“LLC”) that was created and controlled by Fried. If the timeshare was not deeded, Fried filled out whatever transfer form was used at the customer’s resort, requesting ownership be changed into the name of one of Fried’s LLCs.
According to the complaint, Fried created at least 23 LLCs registered with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, with the registered agent being himself or one of his employees. The LLCs were created to hold transferred timeshares. After transferring the timeshare into one of these LLCs, the entity ceased to take any action to exercise the rights and responsibilities of ownership, such as paying annual fees or taxes. As some timeshare resorts began to recognize these LLCs, they refused to accept the transfer paperwork.
As well, according to the complaint, some of the timeshares Fried transferred into his LLCs were later marketed on Ebay for sale.
In addition, postcards were directly mailed to individuals nationwide. The postcards had a variety of claims on them regarding timeshare disposal. In the complaint, it is alleged that these claims are false, deceptive, or misleading; in particular, many customers would incur late fees and other charges for missed maintenance payments as a result of the refusal of the resort to recognize the transfer, even though the postcard claimed a customer could dispose of a timeshare for “only $585.”
The State is seeking permanent injunctive relief, civil forfeitures, and restitution for any persons who suffered a loss as a result of the defendants’ alleged illegal acts.