On November 25, 2016, columnist Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times profiled Patricia Williams who was wrongfully terminated after she blew the whistle on fraud at former employer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the nation’s largest timeshare company. A San Francisco Superior Court jury the week earlier awarded Williams $20 million for her lost earnings and emotional distress, and punitive damages.
During her tenure at Wyndham, Williams told her superiors about an array of dubious activities with a focus on defrauding elderly customers. Salespersons falsely told customers that Wyndham would buy back their ownership stakes if they no longer wanted them. Credit card accounts were opened for buyers and charged without their knowledge and approval.
Morgenson wrote that Williams “succeeded in bringing to light abuses at a powerful corporation that wanted to keep them hidden.” Chris Dolan, who served as co-trial counsel for Williams, stated, “I hope this case sounds an alarm for corporate America. Change your behavior — or a jury will change it for you.”
The San Francisco Chronicle also reported on the verdict, noting that among evidence presented at trial was a sales practice known as “TAFT” days. TAFT stood for “Tell Them Any F**king Thing,” a practice that encouraged sales representatives to say whatever was necessary to get customers to further invest in their timeshares.
Learn more about the Wyndham timeshare fraud whistleblower lawsuit.