Bamboozled May 28, 2019: He went to jail after stealing millions in a travel scam. Now he may be at it again with a timeshare rip-off, customers say.

Daryl Turner is taken into custody after his sentencing in 2014. (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

Daryl Turner is taken into custody after his sentencing in 2014. (Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger)

DitchMyTimeshareNow.com, a business that purportedly helps people get out of expensive, unwanted timeshares for a fee, offers this proverb on its website:

“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.”

But the proverb apparently doesn’t apply to Daryl Turner, a man who appears to be associated with the business and whose exploits have been written about extensively by Bamboozled.

Turner, who served less than three years of a seven-year prison term for scamming hundreds of people out of millions of dollars by selling sham travel club memberships, appears to be back in business, according to four consumers.

The consumers believe that Turner, using the names Daryl Thomas or Daryl Young, collected their money, promising an easy way out of the timeshares. They say the man they believe is Turner told them to stop paying their timeshare bills and to ignore communications from the timeshare companies because his lawyers were on the case.

Some customers are now at the mercy of creditors looking to collect and threatening foreclosure for non-payment.

“It’s not fair that he gets to drive around in Porches while I’m stuck with paying a timeshare that I still owe on, that he said he’s going to get rid of,” said Ashanta McGhee of Flagstaff, Arizona, who said he paid $1,650 to DitchMyTimeshare.com and got nothing in return.

When reached by phone, Turner, who now appears to live in Merchantville based on the address listed on a traffic ticket he received in March, forcefully denied any involvement in the company.

“I have done my time,” Turner said. “I have nothing to do with the travel industry. I have nothing to do with travel at all.”

The DitchMyTimeshareNow.com Facebook page and the Daryl Thomas Facebook profile were taken down hours after our phone conversation with Turner.

Turner called the Daryl Thomas account a “fake account” and said he reported it to Facebook. Facebook didn’t respond to our inquiries about the removal of the profile and the page.

When told that consumers identified photos of Turner from past Bamboozled columns as their DitchMyTimeshareNow.com contact, and that Turner is linked to the company by public records and a wire transfer receipt, he said it wasn’t him.

“I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” he said. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

The Division of Consumer Affairs, which investigated Turner’s past travel companies, has taken interest in the new consumer claims.

“The Division is concerned about these allegations against Daryl Turner and is looking into them,” a spokeswoman said.


The allegations

In May 2018, Ashanta McGhee looked online for information about selling his Las Vegas timeshare.

Soon after, an advertisement appeared in his Facebook news feed, he said.

He clicked, and that’s when McGee said he met a man who he says called himself Daryl Young, a representative of DitchMyTimeshareNow.com, on Facebook. McGee said he had Facebook chats with the man on a Facebook account for someone named Daryl Thomas.

McGhee said he was skeptical at first, but “he made me believe he was the real deal.”

McGhee paid $1,650 to the man, whom McGee says he believes is Turner, with a three-month payment plan, records show, and he also handed over personal information and details about the timeshare.

“He instructed me not to respond to [the timeshare] while the lawyers were in litigation with the property on my behalf,” McGee said.

According to transcripts of Facebook messages provided by McGhee, McGhee was advised to stop making payments on the timeshare and to forward any letters he received.

McGhee would check in regularly, messages show. In between talking about sports, sharing birthday wishes and discussing the lavish lifestyle the man displayed in Facebook photos, he would explain delays in the process, McGhee said.

“The attorneys have written to developers and spoke to them. Waiting on a response from them,” one message said.

Another message said, “All is going as planned lawyers have been in contact with developer. All good.”

As McGhee received nonpayment warnings from his timeshare, he’d send them over to his contact, he said.

Then he got a foreclosure threat.

Soon after, McGhee came across a series of Bamboozled columns about Turner on NJ.com. When McGhee saw Turner’s photo, he realized it could be the same man, he said.

That’s when he reached out to Bamboozled and filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

We reviewed McGhee’s Facebook messages, documents and photos he copied from the Daryl Thomas Facebook page. McGhee also supplied screenshots of other consumers who complained about DitchMyTimeshareNow.com on Facebook.

This is a screenshot of a boat called "Turnerworld" on Daryl Thomas' Facebook page. The page has since been taken down.

This is a screenshot of a boat called “Turnerworld” on Daryl Thomas’ Facebook page. The page has since been taken down.


Other customers

That’s how we met Tom and Catherine Crowley. They said they first talked to the man they believe to be Turner over Facebook in April 2018.

“Daryl told us that going with him would be painless and one of the best decisions that we ever made,” Catherine Crowley said. “He promised us financial freedom, but it has turned into a financial nightmare.”

The California couple said they paid $5,699 to the man, who was using the name Daryl Thomas on Facebook, for help getting rid of their timeshares in Orlando, Florida, and New York City.

Thomas is Turner’s middle name, according to public records, and the couple said Daryl Turner’s photos in Bamboozled columns looked like those of the man they did business with through the Daryl Thomas Facebook profile.

Rather than pay the DitchMyTimeshareNow.com fee by credit card, the Crowleys said the man instructed them to wire money to a credit union account. When they asked why, he said some customers, after they get out of their timeshares, would dispute the credit card charges, they said he told them, so he was just protecting the company.

They also said they asked why the wire should go to the name Daryl Turner.

“He justified it by saying that Daryl Turner was the owner,” Catherine Crowley said. “He said that he, Daryl Thomas, was just sales.”

According to the couple’s wire receipt, the payment went to “Daryl Turner.”

A redacted copy of the wire transfer from Tom and Catherine Crowley to Daryl Turner for DitchMyTimeshare.com services.

A redacted copy of the wire transfer from Tom and Catherine Crowley to Daryl Turner for DitchMyTimeshare.com services.

Catherine Crowley said she was told to stop making payments on the timeshares. Over time, she was told their case was progressing, but the man stopped replying to messages in February, she said. He blocked them on Facebook in March, she said.

The Crowleys said they reported the possible scam to their timeshare company, and they’re discussing how to bring the accounts into good standing after not paying for so long on DitchMyTimeshareNow.com’s advice.

The couple also filed a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs.

Wendie Kleider Redman also said the photos she saw on Daryl Thomas’ Facebook page appeared to be the same as man as Daryl Turner, based on photos published with Bamboozled reports. She said she paid $2,100 for the company’s services but got nothing in return. Her timeshare went into collections, records show.

She said she saw the Facebook ad for DitchMyTimeshareNow.com in December 2017.

“I talked to [him] for one year. I’ve seen his vacations and friends on Facebook,” said Redman, who lives in Idaho. “He told us to not pay our monthly payments, and he was in contact with the lawyers to get my timeshare taken away and have money back to us. 100% money-back guarantee.”

Screen shots provided by Redman of her Facebook messages with Daryl Thomas show that over a year, he offered many excuses when Redman questioned the status of her case: He was in trial. The lawyers were almost done. It’s in final negotiations.

But nothing happened.

“I feel real stupid, but he was really convincing,” Redman said. “I hope he gets caught.”

She also filed a complaint with Consumer Affairs.

Further Facebook searches introduced us to Michael Young, a Kansas man who wanted to get rid of his Florida timeshare. He said he paid $600 to DitchMyTimeshareNow.com through PayPal, but then he became doubtful.

“We were working with them for a bit until they started asking for too much information,” Young wrote on a Facebook post that asked about DitchMyTimeshareNow.com. “When we cancelled (sic) we were assured refund and since, they have stopped communicating and blocked me from messaging them anymore.”

He disputed the charge with PayPal and got his money back, he said.

Three other customers posted similar experiences on various public Facebook pages.

“It’s been 12 months and I can’t get a return phone call or email answered now. We signed a contract with a 12 month money back guarantee. To date no word or follow-up when to expect this. Seems they have dropped the ball. Buyer Beware!?” one message said.

Another said: “Has anyone else paid Daryl Thomas to do terminations and found out he’s full of false promises? Ditch My Timeshare? So glad I paid by card on PayPal. Don’t be fooled by the spiel. Absolute tripe.”


Turner’s alleged connection and a closer look

We took a closer look at DitchMyTimeshareNow.com and its alleged connections to Turner.

The California address listed on the DitchMyTimeshareNow.com websiteis actually a Pack-N-Ship store in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood.

The website offers testimonials from what it claims to be former customers, but they don’t check out.

Three of the testimonials are from people with unusual names who couldn’t be found in Google searches or national databases. Plus, some of the testimonials name a different timeshare company in Florida, not DitchMyTimeshareNow.com.

The site offers informational videos that claim the company has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau, but BBB doesn’t have a listing for the company.

The video also claims there are no complaints against the company.

“We have zero complaints anywhere online,” it said. “You won’t find a single negative review on our company anywhere.”

Untrue, per the many Facebook complaints we found.

The Terms and Conditions page of the website says its parent company is DMT Holdings LLC, based in Montana, doing business as Ditch My Timeshare Now.

But neither DMT Holdings nor Ditch My Timeshare comes up in Montana’s corporate database.

Instead, we found several DMT Holdings in other states. One in Wyoming doesn’t list Turner’s name, but it uses the same Pennsauken, New Jersey, address – the location of a UPS Store – that Turner used to register a different company, The Real Shark LLC, in Montana.

That company’s phone number matches one of Turner’s in public records, and the photo on the website matches those on Daryl Thomas’ Facebook page.

The DitchMyTimeshareNow.com website registration uses a proxy server that shields its owner’s name, but the registration for DMT Holdings’ website is public. It’s registered to Greg Jones at a Cherry Hill, New Jersey, address, home to another UPS Store. Public records connect the phone number on the registration to Daryl Turner, and it’s the same phone number Turner used when talking to Bamboozled.

The DMT Holdings site has an “attorney” page that shows six supposed lawyers and their photos. A reverse image search found all six pictures are commercially available photos. We found they have been used generically on unrelated websites, including the Cleveland Clinic, Verizon and hundreds of others. One site even used the same six photos, with similar names, on its staff page.

The attorney names also give pause. Three of the names didn’t turn up in Google searches or in nationwide databases. The three other names did produce a handful of results, but the people’s ages or genders didn’t match the stock photos on the DMT Holdings website.

We supplied Turner with screenshots of the Facebook complaints and photos that linked the Facebook accounts of Daryl Turner and Daryl Thomas, and The Real Shark website.

He still denied any involvement.

“I am NOT in the Timeshare [business] of any kind,” Turner wrote from his email address, which starts with “CloserEsq.” Though the “esq” in this email address may suggest he is an attorney, or esquire, Turner confirmed he is not. A database search of the email address found it was associated with an unidentified timeshare sales representative, and it was used to register two website domains, including the now defunct TheTimeshareHelpers.com.

“Anyone can write something on a Facebook page or any other page under an alias name,” he said. “I have done my time and am trying to move on without your false allegations.”

Turner also said he knew nothing about the wire transfer or the connections between the companies and him in public records.

“I just want to live my life under the radar,” he said. “I just want to be left alone.”


Turner’s shady past

Turner’s troubles with the law go back longer than a decade. In July 2007, he received four years of probation after pleading guilty to theft by deception. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges of forgery, identity theft and passing bad checks.

Court documents show he was awaiting sentencing on the theft charge when he embarked on his audacious travel club scheme, which involved a dozen fly-by-night businesses that sold travel club memberships for thousands of dollars and promised customers would get discounted vacation packages.

Instead, customers said, they got swindled.

They would try to book vacations, they told Bamboozled, only to learn their desired travel dates were unavailable. Eventually, the travel company was shut down.

Next, Turner and his then-wife would reopen a new travel club under another name and start cheating consumers all over again, court records show.

Daryl Turner at his arraignment in 2013 in Burlington County Court. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Daryl Turner at his arraignment in 2013 in Burlington County Court. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Bamboozled tracked the couple’s misdeeds, often learning of new companies from scammed customers before law enforcement was on the trail.

The couple’s bogus companies included Dreamworks Vacation Club, Bentley Travel, Modern Destinations Unlimited, Blue Water Gateway, Five Points Travel Company, La Bonne Vie Travel and Vacation Clubs LLC.

When the state caught up with them, prosecutors said the couple laundered more than $700,000 from their illegitimate businesses to pay for their Marlton home, which public records showed was worth $751,300 in 2011.

The state put a lien against the home when the couple was arrested in July 2011, and it seized eight bank accounts, a speedboat and five luxury cars, including a Ferrari and a Bentley.

When Turner finally pleaded guilty in 2013 to one charge of second-degree theft by deception in Burlington County Superior Court, he admitted that he pitched phony vacation membership packages and stole millions of dollars from would-be travelers. He served 33 months of a seven-year sentence. His parole ended on June 19, 2018, the New Jersey Parole Board said.

His former wife received five years’ probation after pleading guilty to the same charge.

In all, nearly 700 consumers filed complaints with the state.

As part of their sentencing deals, Turner and his ex-wife were to repay $2.5 million in restitution, but less than $800,000 – money the state received after auctioning off seized property – has been paid, the state said.

Turner and his ex still owe a total of $10.5 million in penalties, restitution and attorney costs to the state, making them one of the top 10 deadbeatswho owe court-ordered payments and settlements to Consumer Affairs for cases settled between 2012 and 2017.

Catherine Crowley, the customer who said she wired $5,699 to Turner, said she would gladly travel from California to help the state prosecute him.

“I expect that they will prosecute and throw away the key,” Crowley said. “He is scum, preying on people.”

NJ Advance Media Research Editor Vinessa Erminio and NJ Advance Media sports writer Bill Evans contributed to this report.

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