Category Archives: news-and-views

LIVING ONLINE: Millennials now most prone to fraud

By Kristina Payne

The Federal Trade Commission has released a 95-page data book that discloses the amount of fraud reported in 2017. According to the FTC, 1.1 million fraud incidents were reported in the United States, and 29 percent of the people affected were between 20 and 39 years of age. The 70 and older age group comprises just 16 percent of the reported cases.

This is an interesting change. Typically, older consumers have been more susceptible to fraud, but people in the millennial age cohort often have more loan debt, making them more susceptible to debt-collection fraud. The numbers reflect this; the type of fraud most reported was debt collection at 22 percent of all cases, whereas timeshare and vacation fraud was only 0.83 percent of all reported cases.

Notably, the older age group lost more money than the millennials—$621 on average for people aged 70 to 79, versus $400 on average for the younger age group.

The total amount of money lost was $905 million, so fraud clearly remains a problem.

Fraud-protection tips

TimeSharing Today has covered fraud-protection tips specific to timesharing in the past. Here are a few more general tips:

  • Your bank or loan company will never ask you for personal information over the phone. If you get a phone call from someone who claims to work at your bank, hang up and call the bank yourself. If an issue really does need addressing, you can do it on that second call. If the first call was fraud, your bank will tell you and then you can report the fraud
  • Emails are a target for fraudsters, too. Sometimes a fraudster will send a very official-looking email from a bank or other big website, with a link to click on to log into your account. Often these links aren’t to the website they claim to be, but to the fraudster’s own site. If you type in your login credentials, the fraudster can collect and misuse that information. Always check the URL address bar at the top of your web browser to see what website you’re actually on. If it doesn’t match the graphics of the website it claims to be, then it’s a fraudulent website. If you think something might be wrong with one of your accounts, type the address into your web browser yourself, just to be safe.
  • Never post anything about your debt or any personal information online. This is the easiest way to get information stolen and to be targeted by fraud schemes. Keeping that information in your private life will help you notice when you get a fraudulent call or email.
  • Keep an eye on the news for information about what companies or banks might have been hacked into. Many businesses keep information about credit cards and transactions in their files, which sometimes are at risk. Knowing what companies have been hacked and when you last had an interaction with them is key to knowing if you’re at risk.

The best way to prevent fraud is to be vigilant and careful. This is increasingly useful advice for millennials now that they have become the new prime targets for fraud.

To download the FTC’s data book, visit

Email your comments about the FTC’s fraud numbers for 2017 to or visit us on Facebook or Twitter to tell us what you think!

Kristina Payne is the social-media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.

The Split Personality of the Timesharing Industry.

By Shep Altshuler

We’ve said it before: The timeshare vacation ownership industry has a split personality. The majority of owners love the product and the experiences. Yet, the mainstream media is filled with horror stories about consumers who felt they were misled. Many have turned to YouTube and other social media to voice their problems.

TimeSharing Today’s pledge is to provide straight talk about the industry. An effective way to demonstrate what we mean by “split personality” is through these two YouTube videos.

Last year, we produced a video from one of our long-time readers, Tom Miller. Tom is a happy timeshare owner who purchased timeshares by attending various developer presentations. He said he and his wife made an informed decision and they are realizing the benefits of those investments; they own at Diamond, Marriott and Wyndham vacation clubs. Tom also provides a straight-forward commentary as to how the industry can do better.

The second video was recently found on YouTube by Kristina Payne, TimeSharing Today’s social media coordinator. Kevin Hopkins is a retired military veteran and his wife Brenda is also a military veteran.  Kevin and Brenda felt compelled to record their video because of their inability to resolve issues that resulted after they purchased timeshares from Diamond Resorts International.


Be sure to watch both videos. They speak volumes about the industry. Please send your comments to, or to our Twitter and Facebook pages. At TimeSharing Today, your opinion really does count.

Texas man accused of scam

By permission of the Times Union, Albany, NY

ALBANY – A Texas man was arraigned Tuesday in a federal court in Albany on an indictment charging him with fraudulently soliciting and receiving payments from timeshare owners, including a Saratoga Springs resident, federal authorities said.

According to the indictment, Walton participated in a scheme to defraud timeshare owners by soliciting “tax” and “fee” payments under false pretenses. The scheme involved offering to pay a timeshare owner in exchange for renting their timeshare property, and then instructing the owner to send payment to Walton’s company, AB Transfer, Inc., for fees and taxes the victim was told needed to be paid for the rental to occur.

Timeshare owners who sent payments to AB Transfer, Inc. received nothing back; Walton on the other hand got more than $285,000 from at least 23 people, authorities said.

Walton was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel, and released with conditions pending a trial.

If convicted of wire fraud, Walton faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of post-imprisonment supervised release of up to three years.

The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Vadim D. Thomas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Albany Field Office.

Nevada Attorney General announced guilty plea in multi-state timeshare scam

Las Vegas, NV –Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that Louis Joseph Curto III, 31, pleaded guilty for his role in a multi-state timeshare resale scam. Curto pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud, a category “B” felony. The fraudulent acts were committed between January 2013 and December 2015.

Curto operated a business in Las Vegas by the name of Bluwyn Management, LLC through which he would solicit owners of unwanted timeshare properties to pay him upfront fees, falsely promising them that he had buyers that would purchase the unwanted timeshares. Despite paying thousands of dollars in upfront fees, the timeshares were not sold and the money was never refunded.

“This guilty plea sends a message that those who engage in timeshare resale fraud will be brought to justice,” said Laxalt.

Securities fraud is punishable by 12-240 months of imprisonment and a court fine of up to $500,000. The sentencing hearing for the defendant is scheduled for June 20, 2018 in the Eighth Judicial District Court.

This case was investigated and prosecuted by the Fraud Unit of the Office of the Nevada Attorney General.

The amended criminal indictment for Louis Joseph Curto III is attached. If you believe you have been victim of timeshare resale fraud, you may file a complaint with our office here. Please attach a copy of any contracts or materials received during the transaction.

10 interesting museums to visit in the US

by Kristina Payne

Taking a vacation doesn’t just have to be about enjoying nature or relaxing on the beach somewhere; it can be about exploring cultures and ideas that you don’t interact with on a daily basis. That’s why taking a vacation to a city you’ve never been to can be a fun and fulfilling trip that can invigorate both body and mind. One way to enjoy these cities and cultures is to visit the museums in these cities. This is a list of 10 interesting museums to visit in the United States. Each one is in a different city, so next time you find yourself in any of these cities, be sure to visit these great museums.

New York Botanical Garden  

The New York Botanical Garden is a national landmark and is the biggest botanical garden in the United States. It has a three-part mission to research plant life, to educate the public about plant life, and to maintain the grounds as one of the top botanical gardens in the world. Located in The Bronx, it has 250 acres of plant life to explore, and 200 scientists studying over 7.8 million plant species. It’s open all year, and should be a fun visit for anybody coming to vacation in New York City.

Grammy Museum at LA Live

Dedicated to the history of recorded music, the Grammy Museum at LA Live is a great place for  an afternoon visit if you’re ever in Los Angeles. It has exhibits for everyone, from Michael Jackson to the history of punk rock. The museum is also dedicated to music education, and sponsors programs that help K-12 teachers explore learning and creativity with music.

Chicago Maritime Museum

Chicago is strategically located on the shore of Lake Michigan and became a hub of lake and river trade and business. The Chicago Maritime Museum is dedicated to preserving the maritime history that’s so important to the city’s identity. This museum is of interest to those who want to learn more about American history.


Located in Houston, TX, DiverseWorks is dedicated to freedom of expression and allowing artists to express their full artistic license in their space. This museum believes that art and expression are the cornerstone of a civil society, and it encourages artists to express themselves and to help the public become engaged with social issues  in the world today. This museum comes with a disclaimer; some of the exhibits may not be suitable for all ages.

Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum is a music-history museum  dedicated to saving and preserving musical instruments from every country in the world. It has instruments from 200 countries. The oldest is a paigu goblet drum from China. This museum also has an innovative technology program. Each guest receives earphones that interact with each instrument in the gallery, letting you hear how it sounds and watch videos about how it is played. If you’re ever in Phoenix, AZ, be sure to visit this museum and learn about the history of music.

American Philosophical Society Museum

Benjamin Franklin started the American Philosophical Society with other early American thinkers to study the world around them, but the studies they were conducting are closer to what we call science today. This Philadelphia museum is dedicated to preserving American history and science for people to learn how our scientific traditions started.

University of Texas San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures

This museum tells the stories of the many different people and cultures that come together to make Texas. Texas has always had an independent culture, this museum is an intriguing look into the intricacies of Texan culture.

The Women’s Museum of California

This museum in San Diego, CA, is one of only three museums in the United States dedicated to women’s history. It has exhibits about everything from the suffragettes to the actresses who performed at the Globe Theater. It tells the stories of all women, and encourages an open conversation with women, men, and children about the women’s history in America.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The Texas Schoolbook Depository Building in Dallas is a historic site — the place where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The sixth floor of this building has been made into a museum commemorating Kennedy’s assassination and the impact of that event on the nation. It was created because people kept coming to the building to learn more about the assassination.

The Tech Museum of Innovation

San Jose, CA, is the home of Silicon Valley and of this museum — an interactive play place suitable for all ages. Here you can, learn about some of the most innovative technology emerging today. It has exhibits on topics as diverse as robotics and healthcare, and offers insights into  the newest ideas coming out of Silicon Valley.

Kristina Payne is the Social Media Coordinator for Timesharing Today.

Wyndham Worldwide Honored for Social Responsibility

Wyndham Worldwide is being honored by FTSE4Good in Europe for its social-responsibility program. Wyndham has also been recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for five years in North America. Both the FTSE4Good and the Dow Jones Sustainability index are based on environmental, social, and governance scales that provide consumers and market insiders with information on how sustainable companies are.

Wyndham’s Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative focuses on five areas:

  1. Philanthropy. Wyndham partnered with Save the Children to help future generations grow and prosper. Wyndham also has an internal charity that helps employees in hardship.
  2. Environmental sustainability. Since 2010, Wyndham has reduced carbon emissions by 33 percent and water waste by 20 percent. It continues to set goals to reduce its carbon footprint.
  3. Human Trafficking. The company offers owners information on how to spot and stop human trafficking, and helps provide victims with safe places to stay after they’ve been rescued.
  4. Associate Wellness.  Wyndham is recognized by the American Heart Association as having one of the best employee health programs. The company encourages its employees to have a holistic health program, including physical and emotional health.
  5. Diversity. Wyndham is one of the most diverse places to work, and takes pride in hiring a diverse employee pool. It was named in DiversityInc’s Top 25 list in 2016, and is one of the safest places to work for LGBTQ+ people.

Timesharing Today extends congratulations to Wyndham Worldwide for being recognized as one of the world’s most socially responsible companies.


Granbury, Texas, October 4, 2017 – America’s Trains Inc. (ATs) is now offering scheduled all-inclusive Journeys by Rail on luxuriously rebuilt passenger ‘cars’ that will travel with Amtrak and regional railroads throughout the US and into Canada.

Journeys are normally for eight days and seven nights. The routes travel from San Antonio to Chicago, then to Portland, Vancouver (Canada) returning to Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco to Chicago, Montreal returning to New York, and then to Miami. Journeys include visits and shorter trips to Glacier National Park, California’s wine country, San Diego and other places. Cars are dropped off and park at appealing en-route destinations to allow passengers to live on board while they enjoy an extensive choice of local off-car attractions and activities, without moving to and from a hotel.

The company’s CEO, Barry Jones, stated that “Our capacity to book initial Journeys will quickly increase as car improvements are finished and they enter service on an expanding number of itineraries.  We will have about 42 passenger plus additional private and other service cars within the first several years.”

Individual (single) vacation Journeys by Rail fares are lower than prices of comparable luxury foreign (there are no others in the US) train vacations.

ATs also offers Train’Shares (timeshares) that include frequent Journeys that can be exchanged for luxury resort vacations worldwide. Owners have unique rights not normally attached to typical timeshare ownership. If they don’t use Journeys no maintenance or other fees have to be paid. Train’Shares retain a resale value, and ATs will buy them back at any time after a first Journey is used.

America’s Trains Inc. (“ATs”) provides unique, luxurious Journey by Rail vacations throughout the USA and into Canada, with intriguing en-route layovers where passengers live on board while enjoying endless local activities and attractions.  ATs rail cars are not older units with new paint, fixtures and furniture. They are fully redesigned, rebuilt and refurbished to exceed Amtrak’s mechanical specifications, with interior amenities that retain classic features and provide utmost passenger gratification. 


Media Contact: Alex Davies


Airbnb’s New Apartment Complex

By Kristina Payne

Airbnb announced on October 12, 2017, that it will partner with a Miami-based development group to build a new apartment complex in Kissimmee, FL. The details of this deal could create competition for Florida timeshare owners, resorts, and companies.

Airbnb is a website that lets homeowners rent out their home, or just a part of it, to vacationers. This is useful to people who live near tourist locations, as it can sometimes be cheaper for the traveler than staying at a hotel, and offers an extra source of income for the renter. Airbnb also provides a more home-like environment than a hotel, which directly challenges the timeshare marketplace.

However, Airbnb has been under fire lately from the cities in which it operates, as sometimes homesharing can disrupt the communities in which the homes are located. Landlords of apartment buildings and condominium homeowners’ associations also are upset at Airbnb; some rental apartments and whole-ownership condo buildings have turned into a rotating revolving door of random people whom landlords and boards don’t know and can’t hold accountable if anything goes wrong.

Airbnb’s solution is to create Niido Powered by Airbnb, which will build and retain full ownership of a 324-unit apartment building. Renters will be able to Airbnb their apartment for 180 days a year, or they can stay in their apartment at the same time as a vacationer and be able to rent year-round. Niido will provide other services that make this situation more like a timeshare, in that they’ll have keyless entry and a concierge.

This seems awfully close to timesharing. One person could rent out his own place for 26 individual weeks, but timesharing still has the edge over Airbnb. With a timeshare, you aren’t living in someone else’s space for a little bit, you’re living in your own. Timesharing companies provide the cleaning and other amenities, whereas Airbnb doesn’t automatically provide that service. With a timeshare, you pay for better accommodations that you know are going to be high-quality, and you aren’t staying in some stranger’s spare room, which can be a real risk with Airbnb.

The relationship between Airbnb, Niido, and individual tenants could be a rocky one, as the tenant will share the profits with two companies instead of one. The extra income a tenant gets from this relationship will be significantly less than that of a normal Airbnb host. The exact division of the money is unknown so far.  

This type of living arrangement may not be wanted everywhere in the U.S, or it may become just like a timeshare under a different name. Whether this partnership between Niido and Airbnb will be successful isn’t known yet, as the building doesn’t exist yet. It’s a developing situation on which the vacation industry as a whole should keep a close eye.

Kristina Payne is the social-media coordinator for TimeSharing Today.

Living online: Social media and Timesharing

Living Online is a new feature written by our newest contributor, Kristina Payne! This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 issue of Timesharing Today.

By Kristina Payne

Millions of eyes are on social media every day. Many of those eyes belong to Millennials—people born from the early 1980s through the first years of the 21st century. This emerging generation is becoming a prime market for timesharing, but Millennials aren’t attracted by the timeshare industry’s traditional marketing, sales, and customer-relations techniques.

I am a Millennial. To connect with me and my generation, your enterprise has to be on social media in a significant way, individual to each specific resort or company and to each target consumer base. It is possible; it just has to happen on our terms—in the little spaces between our normal daily activities.

The first thing I do in the morning is look at my Twitter account. A lot of my friends do that, too. I find it’s to be a nice way to start my day. I like seeing what happened last night while I was sleeping, and it’s an easy way to get my brain started and ready to take on the day.

Twitter isn’t the only thing I check in the morning. My routine goes Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, shower, breakfast paired with some YouTube, makeup and hair while listening to music, and then starting some school work or regular work—whatever my day calls for.

Throughout the day

But that’s not the only place for social media in my life. I check between classes, at lunch and dinner, before bed, and just when I’m bored. There’s no rhyme or reason to when or why I check social media. I just use it. It’s part of my life.

I think social media enhances life in a way that normal interaction doesn’t. The internet has anything and everything you want to know and also access to any person you want to know about at any time.

If I want to know everyone’s opinion of the most recent news or product or controversy, I can go to any number of websites that will let me know what everyone thinks. I can also participate in a bigger discussion, and defend or change my opinion when listening to others. Social media is a great big constant discussion.

It’s a complement to normal life, too. I can be at school in Connecticut and still talk to my best friend who goes to school in New Jersey. I never have to feel isolated if I’m just sitting home alone. I can always talk and interact with people.

This has obvious problems. You can become so obsessed with online engagement that you ignore a physical social life. People can say terrible things online without suffering the same repercussions as t in real life. It’s a balance.

Most Millennials use social media to talk to real-life friends who aren’t physically in the same place. We use it to make plans, discuss homework, or any number of topics. The biggest way we all use social media is to connect and communicate with each other.

Online interaction has social norms and mores about that are vastly different from real life, and even different from website to website. The way I act on Twitter is not the way I act on Facebook. That’s the same in real life, too; the way you act at a party with friends is not the way you act at a family party.

So, what is each website for and how is it useful to you?

Facebook is the place everyone is on, from your favorite celebrity to your parents. You act a little nicer and more professional on Facebook.

Twitter is like a school hallway; you can post only 140 characters at a time, and it can be anything—nonsense, advice, a joke, political discourse—and anybody can chime in.

Instagram is where you post artsy pictures with cute captions; it’s where you go to make your life look better than it actually is.

Snapchat is where you post pictures of your actual everyday life. It has a nice dose of realism.

Other social-media websites include Tumblr, Reddit, Pinterest, and YouTube, but the four I mentioned are the really big ones that everyone will be on. These are free-to-use websites on which anyone and everyone will take part. Use them to your advantage.

Kristina Payne is a senior at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. She also runs the TSToday social media pages! Go to our Facebook or Twitter to ask any questions you might have.