The phrase “Viking Ship” doesn’t just refer to that ancient culture’s practice of burial at sea; it’s also a particularly common scam, used to dupe consumers by means of fake names and shell companies.
One such “Viking Ship” scam involving timeshares came to a close in Wisconsin recently, with a consent judgement coming down against a Waunakee businessman, Uri Fried, and his companies, The Timeshare Group and The Timeshare Company, according to the Wisconsin State-Journal.
According to the State-Journal, Fried was accused by the state of Wisconsin in 2015 of “violating consumer protection laws in marketing and selling ‘timeshare transfer’ services nationwide.” State regulators also accused Fried of “making repeated false, deceptive and misleading statements and practices in marketing via postcard and video and the internet.”
The details of the scam? According to the civil complaint, Fried set up 24 “Viking Ship” LLCs, intentionally using names that sound like names of real people; these fronts would process “tens of thousands” of timeshare transfers from owners looking to break free from “legal obligations quickly and easily, in return for payment of a fee,” according to a complaint cited by the State-Journal.
Meanwhile, “those units racked up bills to resorts that were never paid,” according to the State-Journal. Even when resorts refused to authorize transfers to Fried’s LLCs, he would continue to solicit timeshare owners at those resorts.
The consequences of all of this? Per the State-Journal:
“The consent judgment includes a $145,000 settlement, of which nearly $32,000 goes to reimburse 14 consumers; $30,000 to be distributed between seven timeshare owners’ associations; $60,000 in forfeitures and assessments; and $23,000 to reimburse the state’s costs.
Fried is barred from the timeshare business and he has to return the timeshares to resorts, if they want them back, the complaint said.”
For more on this fascinating case, including official documents, we encourage you to read the full story here. For more on this troublingly common type of timeshare transfer, resale, or redemption scheme, we encourage you to check out “The Five Stages of a Timeshare Resale Scam,” available in our Learning Center.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.