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Vt. Atty. Gen. settles timeshare claims

Apex Professionals, LLC, a Nevada-based company will pay over $64,000 to 15 consumers and $65,000 in penalties and costs to the State of Vermont to settle claims that it violated Vermont law in arranging the repurchase of timeshares.

Commenting on the settlement, Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell warned that "if out-of-state companies offering an economic benefit to consumers in Vermont violate the State's consumer laws, they can expect strong enforcement and serious consequences."

In the spring of 2009, Apex representatives came to Vermont, soliciting consumers to transfer ownership of their unused timeshares, so that the original owners could be relieved of timeshare maintenance fees, taxes and other costs. The representatives met with consumers in March at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor in Burlington, and in March and May at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier.

Apex had advertised these meetings with a prior mailing of postcards stating, "Don't play the waiting game in this economy! If you accept our offer we will put your timeshare into closing immediately."

The consumers who met with Apex reasonably understood the term "offer" to mean that Apex would be offering them money in exchange for their timeshares; but in fact, Apex charged them a fee in the amount of several thousand dollars to transfer ownership of their timeshares.

To sweeten the deal, Apex's representatives told consumers that they could offset their payment to Apex by filing for a federal income tax deduction for investment losses on their timeshare, the value of which was claimed to be equal to or greater than their payment to Apex. This, too, was not true, because consumers had bought their timeshares for personal, not investment, purposes and were therefore not eligible for a tax deduction.

In addition, Apex failed to comply with the requirement of Vermont law that whenever goods or services are sold at a transient location like a hotel, the buyer must be given three days to cancel the transaction.

Under the settlement, Apex will send each of its 15 Vermont customers a check in the amount of the higher of (1) what the consumer paid to the company, or (2) the tax deduction its representatives calculated for the consumer-for a total of $64,187.

For more information on the settlement, contact the Attorney General's Office at 828-5507.

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