AG Kaul, DATCP Announce $566,831 Judgment Against Missouri Timeshare Exit Company and Owners
MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has obtained a consent judgment against Missouri-based Nationwide Transfer, LLC and co-owners Michael Miles and Stacey Hammit (collectively with Nationwide, Defendants) resolving the State’s legal claims for violations of Wisconsin law in Defendants’ marketing “timeshare exit” services to consumers. Nationwide used telephone and direct-mail solicitations to attract Wisconsin consumers to attend sales presentations about its timeshare exit services, where according to the State the Defendants and their agents misled consumers into purchasing expensive “timeshare exit” services that they often failed to deliver.
“Companies looking for customers in Wisconsin must follow our consumer protection laws,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you to DATCP and the team in our Public Protection Unit that worked on this case for securing restitution for 49 Wisconsinites.”
“The Department is proud to enforce Wisconsin’s direct marketing and telemarketing laws, which protect consumers from misrepresentations and unwanted solicitations,” said DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski. “This agreement details that eligible Nationwide customers who did not receive the services they paid for will be refunded, and that future consumers will not be taken advantage of through these unfair and illegal practices. I want to thank and commend DOJ for their hard work obtaining this consent judgment.”
Upon a referral from DATCP, the State filed suit against Nationwide Transfer, LLC in April 2021, and subsequently filed an Amended Complaint adding the company’s owners, Miles and Hammit, as defendants. The Amended Complaint alleges that Nationwide made thousands of telemarketing calls to Wisconsin telephone numbers without being registered as a telephone solicitor as required by state law. In addition, Nationwide allegedly made thousands of calls to Wisconsin telephone numbers that were listed on the Do Not Call Registry, in violation of Wisconsin law. The amended complaint further alleges that thousands of mail solicitations Nationwide sent to Wisconsin residents failed to identify the name of the principal seller, and misrepresented that Nationwide possessed specific information about the recipient’s timeshare. Lastly, the amended complaint alleges that Mr. Miles and Mr. Hammit were personally liable for Nationwide’s violations of Wisconsin direct marketing laws.
The Consent Judgment includes a permanent injunction, consumer restitution, civil forfeitures, and reimbursement of the State’s costs. If Defendants resume marketing to Wisconsin residents in the future, they are prohibited from misleading consumers about their timeshare exit services. They would further be required to escrow all up-front payments until completion of services if the company offers a 100% money back guarantee and document all purported timeshare exits they obtain for consumers. Finally, Defendants must provide a refund to customers who can verify that Nationwide did not obtain a timeshare exit for them, or that they obtained a timeshare exit themselves after paying Nationwide for services.
The judgment for restitution, civil forfeitures, and attorney fees totals $566,831.20. Of this amount, Defendants are required to pay $231,079 to DOJ for restitution to 49 customers who did not receive the services they paid for. The Defendants also will pay $230,00 for a civil forfeiture, court fees and surcharges, and will separately pay $105,752.20 to reimburse DOJ and DATCP’s costs and attorney’s fees.
The State was represented in this matter by Assistant Attorneys General Gregory A. Myszkowski and Lewis W. Beilin with support from Paralegal Wendy Phifer.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved the proposed resolution on September 13, 2023.