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BBB issues warning after locals sued in Arkansas

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The private consumer nonprofit Better Business Bureau issued a fresh alert about local businessmen who were sued last month by Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office.

A BBB news release this morning issued another warning against Bart Bowe and Brian Scroggs, after they were sued on July 30 along with their business Real Travel LLC for alleged violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The lawsuit, filed in the Natural State’s Benton County Circuit Court, indicates Real Travel was legally based in Arkansas but was operating from Springfield.

Rutledge’s office filed suit after receiving 12 complaints from Real Travel customers. They alleged the company did not provide services valued at $136,310 and engaged in high-pressure, deceptive sales practices related to exiting their timeshare properties, according to a separate news release from the Arkansas attorney general.

“Real Travel preyed on consumers who were desperate to get rid of timeshares that they no longer wanted or could not afford,” Rutledge said in the release. “Sadly, good people were left with unwanted timeshares and thousands of dollars in fees for services not provided.”

Through the suit, Rutledge’s office is seeking to recover restitution for the affected customers, as well as civil penalties and attorneys’ fees and costs. The suit also seeks to ban Bowe and Scroggs from the timeshare industry in Arkansas.

Reached this morning, Scroggs said Rutledge’s office has not spoken with him or asked him any questions about the complaints since the suit was filed a month ago.

“Though I have great respect for the attorney general's office, I find this lawsuit to be without merit,” he said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to working with the AG's office to show them that we are committed to fixing any issues and helping our clients complete their services.”

In the statement, Scroggs also took issue with Rutledge’s office filing suit against his company, rather than timeshare sellers themselves.

“They don't blame the resorts who have thousands and thousands of AG and BBB complaints,” he said. “They want to blame another industry.”

Bowe and Scroggs also were named last year in an ongoing lawsuit by a group of Wyndham companies, with allegations that the two, along with co-conspirators, used false advertising and untrue statements to directly harm Wyndham’s timeshare businesses. The BBB issued a consumer warning a month later in late 2018, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Two of Scroggs’ former businesses, Vacation Consulting Services LLC and The Transfer Group LLC, were named by Wyndham, the BBB and, now, the Arkansas attorney general’s office. The Arkansas lawsuit alleges Real Travel “functioned as an alter ego” for VCS and The Transfer Group, “as lines were blurred between them by sharing employees, owners, officers, business addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and work activities.”

Real Travel, VCS and The Transfer Group have F ratings on the BBB’s website.


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