Whistleblower awarded $20 million after exposing wrongdoing at world’s largest timeshare company

by Ryan Smith18 Nov 2016
A San Francisco jury has awarded $20 million to a former timeshare sales rep who was wrongfully terminated for reporting fraud against the elderly, according to a news release.

The jury gave the award to Trish Williams, a former sales representative for Wyndham, the world’s largest timeshare company. In 2010, Williams reported that Wyndham salespeople were defrauding elderly customers by opening and maxing out credit cards without their knowledge and lying about reducing interest rates, maintenance fees and the ability of customers to get rental income from their timeshares, according to the release.

Evidence at trial shows that Wyndham employees engaged in high-pressure sales tactics that involved deliberate lies and misrepresentations, according to the release. These tactics included “TAFT days” (with TAFT standing for “Tell Them Any F—king Thing”), where employees were encouraged to tell customers anything in order to make a sale – so long as they didn’t put it in writing.

“I am grateful a jury of 12 people exposed the facts of this fraud and confirmed that I was terminated for standing up to Wyndham on behalf of the elderly clients they were ripping off. For six long years, I have battled the world’s largest timeshare corporation so that the facts showing their dishonesty would be revealed to an unbiased jury and the American public,” Williams said. “I want to say to others that know people are being cheated by their employers: have the courage to stand up and protect others. It’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to do. I’d also like to thank my lawyers, Anne Costin and Chris Dolan, who took my case and beat back the army of defense lawyers that Wyndham threw at us. We need more lawyers who will fight for what’s right.”

“This is a warning to corporations worldwide: do not steal from the elderly as you will be held accountable,” said attorney Chris Dolan. “Given the aging of our population, more and more elder financial fraud is occurring. Whistleblowers need to come forward, and they should be commended for their courage and sacrifice. If others in this industry, or any industry, see fraud, report it to an outside agency and make a protest to your company’s ethics line. It’s up to individual citizens, lawyers, judges and juries to protect the vulnerable and bring the powerful to justice.”

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