Latest Windjammer Update - Call from Florida State April 2nd
I just received a call from the Florida Sellers of Travel. Here are the statistics they gave to me:
First of all, more people contacted the Florida Attorney General's Office - 150 complaints. They have no jurisdiction. The proper Jurisdiction is the Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services, FDAC, which oversees the Florida Sellers of Travel.
The Florida Sellers of Travel office called me today to tell me that they received 28 complaints about Windjammer in 2008, 18 of which were resolved with a letter telling the complainer the company was out of business. No security bond was required to be put up by WJ because of the number of years they operated the company without complaints.
The security bond would only have been $30,000 max anyway. That would have cover maybe three complaints as many people were bilked out of over $10,000 per family.
Windjammer did apply for renewal of their Seller of Travel status on November 21, 2007. But there application was sent back, unrewarded, due to what the office described as "application deficiencies". As of January 8, 2008, the seller of travel status was denied due to no response from the company to rectify the problems on the application.
This brings us to the complaints filed with FDAC in 2007. 35 complaints were files in 2007 against WJ. Of those, 14 were finalized with the status of "mediation unsuccessful" - the reason it was unsuccessful was because WJ did not respond to the complaints.
They did not respond. In much the same way they have not responded to requests for refunds sent directly to their offices.
I asked the FDAC if they were doing any investigation into this case. I was advised that any investigations they undertake are not public until they are completed.
The Burkes have gone essentially underground. They have not made a public statement since December 2007. Even though they now know they are officially out of business they have not said a word to anyone.
Rode by W.J. headqtrs. today on my bike. 6 court summons on front door. They have had a sleezy rep with the locals for years. Mike sold his house for 12M. His doper brothers went for over 6M. The office furniture is still in place though.
Thanks for the update. I don't really mean for this to turn into the place for people to call the family names and all, but I sense that you are doing so because of some pretty strong personal feelings.
Do you have dates for when these houses were sold? This is not a story I have heard before. You are local, so you probably have more personal knowledge just based on what you have seen and heard.
Six subpeonaes on the front door does not surprise me, however. I said the Burkes have gone underground and I believe it. My personal opinion is that they are just hoping they can avoid the spotlight long enough for the meager statutes of limitations from the Florida Sellers of Travel laws to run out.
They are only required to keep records for three years. Their last LaMer time share was sold in 2006, and this is already April 2008.
Re: Latest Windjammer Update - Call from Florida State April
Originally Posted by Paul Motter
The Florida Sellers of Travel office called me today to tell me that they received 28 complaints about Windjammer in 2008, 18 of which were resolved with a letter telling the complainer the company was out of business.
I have to say I agree with you. ANY government job in the state of Florida seems to be similarly easy.
I have no idea why the consumers affairs department of Florida would be a subchapter of the Dept of Agriculture. There is no listed phone number for the Sellers of Travel Dept. on the Internet, but there is a general "consumer affairs" phone number at the Dept of Agriculture Web site.
With tourism probably being by far the leading industry in Florida (and agriculture hardly a passing thought) it would make sense to do a little restructuring, wouldn't it?
I will say that the Sellers of Travel office did return my phone call the next day in response to my voicemail, however.
I'd like to point out that many (if not most) booked their cruises from outside of Florida, using electronic media.
This should bring it under the Wire Fraud statutes.
I'm no lawyer, I found this out after losing a ton to a building contractor.
The FBI is usually a bit (read MUCH) more tenacious.
Contact your local Field Office with your complaint.
The crooked contractor got 20 years and his fraud was quite a bit smaller
I'm surprised the Florida "Authorities" didn't refer this to the Feds.
Was the Consumer Affairs Board created to protect businesses from consumers?
I have also mentioned, that between the admiralty courts, IRS and what you just mentioned, wire fraud, I have always had a gut feeling the federal courts would end up with this case.
I would almost feel sorry for the Burkes, but then again, they never got any of MY personal money. Besides that, i don't feel sorry for them because I have seen how they operate. "Ignorance" or "making bad judgements" is no excuse under the law when it means you took millions of dollars in other people's money and moved it to offshore accounts.
No, deep down, I don't feel sorry for them at all, because I don't have the lack of conscience that would allow me to do what they did.
The straw the breaks the camel's back is that glossy brochure showing the "LaMer" - have you seen a picture of that boat lately? Word is the only thing worth even trying to save is the hull, which isn't worth much. But they sold maybe $10,000,000 worth of timeshares on it.