Divine Getaways Perpetuating Vacation Club Membership Scam Nationwide Victims of Millions
On August 5, 2011, I file formal complaints with the Attorney Generals of the States of California, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and the U.S. Postal Service Investigations-Fraud unit against Divine Getaways, Reservations Services International, Celebrity Productions LLC, Passport To Travel, Fun Time Vacations, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Carnival Cruise Corporation.
The formal investigation were sought to identify what appears to be a joint conspiracy and fraud perpetrated by these entities with regards to the business practices of conducting vacation membership clubs and which appear to be a scam. I alleged that each of these entities played a specific role in the perpetration of the scam which has resulted in tens of thousands of purchasers paying tens of millions of dollars for services and products which these entities after signing agreements have failed to fulfill. I sought an investigation for the purpose of having the States take specific actions resulting in injunctions against these entities from conducting such business practices and to further pursue legal complaints against these entities as individuals and companies, as applicable.
In March 2011, I received a complimentary promotion card sent to me in a mass mailing through the U.S. Mail in Southern California. It invited me to a promotion presentation of Divine Getaways, a vacation membership club business. Apparently, they had set up a permanent office in one of the local hotel banquet rooms and were using a private drop-off post office box as the business address.
The promotional card provided that the entities sending the card were Carnival Cruise Corporation and US Airways. It provided that a "Complimentary 8-Day/7-Night Cruise for 2 with an outside cabin, leaving from any major port in the U.S." had been awarded to me as a complimentary gift by simply calling a toll free telephone number and attending a presentation whether or not I purchased the vacation membership club package. The card also indicated "This is not a timeshare or land sale offer". The promotional card had the official logo of Carnival Cruise Corporation and US Airways imprinted on it and a picture of a Carnival ship.
I returned a telephone call and was advised that this required me to participate in a 90-minute presentation conducted by Divine Getaways. Before attended the presentation, I investigated as to whether or not this company was a reputable vacation membership club business and travel seller authorized to transaction business in the State of California. I contacted the State of California Office of the Attorney General and was advised that Divine Getaways was registered with the State (Registration #2104377) and that the registration expired March 14, 2012.
I recently called the 800 number on the promotional card and was advised that the same program had relocated from its original location and was now being offered under the name "Package Vacation" at a different hotel.
On March 16, 2011, I attended the 90-minute presentation. During the presentation it was represented that Divine Getaways was the legal representative and affiliated with Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Corporation, and Reservation Services International. The vacation membership club was offered at a one-time $8,995.00 membership fee and an annual fee of $149.00, and contained certain terms, conditions, limitations and restrictions. Based on the presentation, representations and negotiations of the terms and conditions, I purchased the membership package for $2,995.00 and paid the first year's annual fee of $149.00. After signing all of the documents, I was provided with the "certificate" that would allow me to receive the complimentary and "free" cruise.
In order to receive the free cruise, I was required to mail in a "cruise certification card" to Celebrity Productions LLC in Woodbridge Virginia with a fee of $98.00 payable to Celebrity Productions LLC as the "Vacation Activation" fee. The certificate provided "Upon receipt a reservation forms would be provided within 15-days. The certificate also stated "When you receive your reservation form, you will be responsible to pay your taxes, all services charges, fuel charges, additional security fees due to 911, which will range from $179 to 259 per person, depending on the destination". The signed certificate and $98.00 was mailed on March 19, 2011 to Celebrity Production LLC. The certificate indicated that the cruise would be on a major cruise line such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruises.
In addition, a second certificate for two round trip airfares was sent to Celebrity Production LLC with a required fee of $70.00. This certificate also had a provision that stated "When you travel you will be responsible to pay your taxes, all service charges, fuel surcharges, additional security and surcharges due to 911 which may range between $50.00 to $65.00 per person".
I then received from another company, Fun Time Vacation located in Clarksburg Maryland, a "vacation voucher" card which set forth the "Cruise Vacation Details". In addition, to the card stating the details of the vacations and cruises, it had the logos of Carnival Cruise Corporation, Royal Caribbean, Caribbean Cruise Line and Discover Cruise Lines printed on the card. It was represented that Fun Time Vacation was a legal arm of these companies. Further, the card indicated that in order to register for the free cruise, the vacation voucher had to be registered and that "Travelers are responsible for $29.00 registration fee, government taxes, and cruise fees starting at $59.00 and up depending on length of the vacation. A small fuel charge may apply during peak season". It also stated "There is a $50.00 per person processing fee require by Carnival/Royal Caribbean cruises only". Finally, the voucher stated "Celebrity Productions LLC (stamped on the voucher) is not responsible for the fulfillment of these reservations. Fulfillment is the sole responsibility of Fun Time Vacation".
In order to receive the reservation, on March 13, 2011 a credit card charge of $58.00 and on March 19, 2011 a credit card charge of $100 was processed by Fun Time Vacation in order to receive the reservation.
On or about April 22, 2011, I received a U.S. Mail certified envelop that contained the "Registration Validation Form" as a brochure from Passport To Travel located in Tamp, Florida, now a third company in the process as I was trying to secure the free trip. It provided that the Registration Validation Form be completed and mailed to Passport To Travel with a fee of $75.00 as the "cruise deposit", and that the participating sponsor was Fun Time Vacation. The Registration Validation Form was issued on April 26, 2011.
At this point, it appeared that in addition to Divine Getaways receiving the initial vacation membership club fees, that three separate and distinct companies, Celebrity Productions LLC, Fun Time Vacations, and Passport To Travel had intervened and had sought and received fees for the processing of three different documents to simply get to the point of being able to make a reservation. I had already spent $326.00 ($98.00 to Celebrity Productions, $70.00 to Celebrity Productions, $100.00 to Fun Tim Vacation and $58.00 to Fun Time Vacation). I chose to pay no further fees to Passport To Travel. After considerable chaos, emails going back and forth, and the threat of litigation, I requested refunds of the prior amounts. On April 13, 2011, I received a refund from Fun Time Vacations in the amount of $58.00. On April 22, 2011, I revived a refund from Fun Time Vacation in the amount of $100.00. On May 13, 2011, I received a refund from Celebrity Productions LLC in the amount of $98.00 and then $70.00. I never received a refund from Divine Getaways or any of the services which were provided for in the Vacation Club Membership I purchased.
Throughout this ordeal that began in March 2011, a Ms. Leslie Lenel, Director of Administration for Divine Getaways had consistently represented in emails and telephone calls that she would resolve this matter and arrange for the cruise reservation. She failed to follow through on any of her commitments.
I now understand that there is a parent entity by the name of Global Holidays, Inc. also involved. Additionally, I have determined that there are other entities involved in this matter including LifeSource Foundation, Inc. and God's Luv International Ministries Church. I have also determined that the lead person involved in the religious and vacation club membership entities is a Pastor Pierre Bennett. Pastor Bennett is the President and founder of LifeSource Foundation, Inc. and is the creator of God's Luv International Ministry, both of which are non-profit religious institutions that are promoted to be philanthropic and faith based.
In addition to Pastor Pierre Bennett being affiliated with all of these entities, it is shown on the LifeSource Foundation website that Ms. Leslie Lenel is a member of the Board of Directors of LifeSource Foundation, Inc. and the direct contact person for Pastor Bennett and these entities as the Administrative Director of Divine Getaways and the other travel companies. In addition, her husband is a member of the Advisory Board of LifeSource Foundation, Inc.
There are tens of thousands of individuals in States throughout the nation which are victims of the vacation club membership scheme that is being implemented by Pastor Bennett and Ms. Lenel through either LifeSource Foundation, Inc., God's Luv International Ministry, Global Holidays, Inc. and the various other affiliated entities.
Other companies related to Pastor Bennett include Paradise Escapes, Inc. also doing business as Divine Getaways, Packaged Vacations and Fantasy Vacations, and Package Vacations, LLC, and Global Holidays, Inc. As it becomes publically known what the schemes are that are being offered by these entities, they relocate to other geographic locations to re-establish business activity using the same tactics. They most often establish temporary business offices in hotel conference rooms to conduct their activities and implement their schemes. They avoid establishing permanent business locations where they are conducting their business.
In Johnson County, Olathe, Kansas, the District Attorney in August 2011 filed a temporary restraining order against the vacation companies Paradise Escapes, Inc., also doing business under the names Divine Getaways, Packaged Vacations and Fantasy Vacations. Similar actions are being initiated in other states, while some states have not pursued this due to not having received adequate complaints to date to begin an investigation and not having conducted the required investigations.
I have confirmed that Pastor Bennett is the founder and president of Global Holidays, Inc., a travel and marketing company which is stated to be based in Vienna, Virginia. Global Holidays, Inc. is a corporation formed in the State of Virginia (SCC ID: 06418552) July 22, 2005. Their address is 12020 Sunrise Valley Road, Suite 100, Reston, Virginia 20191.
I have also confirmed that Pastor Bennett is the President and Executive Director of LifeSource Foundation, Inc. which is stated to be based in the State of Virginia (SCC ID: 06310353) and formed February 4, 2005. In addition, God's Luv International Ministries, Inc. was formed by Pastor Bennett in the State of Virginia (SCC ID: 07312200) on December 15, 2010. The principal address of these entities is 2427 Cabots Point Land, Reston, Virginia 20191.
The website for LifeSource Foundation indicates that their contact information is LifeSource Foundation, Inc., 12138 Central Avenue 664, Mitchellville, MD 20721, 703-956-5066, firstname.lastname@example.org, Pierre@lifesourcefoundation.org, email@example.com.
The website for God's Luv International Ministries Church indicates that their contact information is Lake Anne Village Center, 1609-A Washington Plaza N., Reston, Virginia 20190, 703-395-1430 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Lenel's and Divine Getaways contact information is Divine Getaways, 12020 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 100, Reston, Virginia 20191, 703-476-2286 (office), Traderbaby@yahoo.com
On October 3, 2011 I filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service to seek appropriate steps related to these entities seeking civil and criminal remedies.
The actions of these entities are clear evidence that these entities appear to have conspired and conducted fraud resulting in direct damages to me and other.
As one reviews the Internet, it appears that this scam is being conducted all over the United States and that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people that are being misled and taken advantage of. They are continuing to conduct business in California and in the States of Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. without any enforcement of State and Federal laws, rules and regulations. Their conduct is continuing the perpetration of fraudulent business practices on others, thereby causing damages in the tens of millions of dollars.