Attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips, founder of Castle Law Group, was disbarred by the Supreme Court of Tennessee after 93 consumer fraud complaints and federal lawsuits filed by Orange Lake Resorts, Diamond Resorts, Berkley Resorts, and Westgate Resorts. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” Phillips received thousands of clients through referrals from “exit,” “relief,” “referral” and “liquidation” companies that directly targeted and solicited timeshare owners. Castle Law Group was at the epicenter of many Exit Company scams. The financial arrangements Phillips made with a company and/or clients, in almost every case, created conflict and confidentiality concerns.
“We take an aggressive approach when it comes to protecting our owners from companies and lawyers that prey on consumers,” said Tom Nelson, President & CEO of Orange Lake Resorts. “In most cases, these fraudulent groups charge exorbitant fees and instruct owners to stop payment on their contractual obligations, placing them in additional financial peril. It’s important for owners to understand that if they decide they no longer can utilize their products they have options, like our Horizons by Orange Lake Resorts program. Many other large timeshare brands have their own programs in place to help.”
Many Exit Companies use similar online, radio and television marketing methods to entice timeshare owners into signing a contract to “help” them exit their timeshare, while others utilize cold-calling from large call centers to contact owners directly. Once an owner has signed a contract and sent an upfront fee, the Exit Company would then split that fee with a lawyer like Phillips. The extent of Phillips’ work was to send a letter to the owner’s timeshare developer requesting that all communications with the owner cease, thereby allowing the Exit Company to keep the fees and let time pass while it targets the next consumer. Phillips’ main purpose in this elaborate scheme was to serve as an impediment between the developer and its customer. An Exit Company could then succeed at its smash-and-grab approach to collect upfront fees, provide an immediate false sense of security and hope that owners will never ask for a refund. In reality, Phillips and his various accompanying Exit Companies placed owners in a worse financial situation.
It is typical in the “timeshare relief industry” for an Exit Company to promise a refund if the timeshare is not successfully canceled within a prescribed time period. However, most, if not all of Phillips’ clients (which are also the Exit Company’s clients) have not obtained a refund. Presumably, an Exit Company that ultimately paid Phillips a portion of the fees collected from owners had a vested interest in the outcome of Phillips’ “representation.”
Additional lawsuits against Exit Companies and lawyers that work with them continue to be pursued by Orange Lake Resorts and other timeshare developers.
About Orange Lake Resorts
Orange Lake Resorts encompasses 26 resorts and 7,400 villas in the U.S., with more than 340,000 timeshare owners and 5,000+ employees.
Orange Lake Resorts, a leader within the vacation ownership industry with more than three decades of proven success, operates Holiday Inn Club®. The Holiday Inn Club Vacations® brand was created in 2008 through a strategic alliance with IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world’s leading hotel companies. The Holiday Inn Club Vacations flagship property in Orlando, Fla., located next to the Walt Disney World® Resort, was established in 1982 by Holiday Inn® founder Kemmons Wilson. The timeshare brand includes 26 resorts across 13 states. For more information on Holiday Inn Club Vacations or to book reservations, visit holidayinnclubvacations.com. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/hiclubvacations or Twitter at twitter.com/hiclubvacations.