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This Timeshare Salesman Stopped Scamming and Became a Consumer Advocate

Dana Micallef got sober and smart.

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Dana Micallef wants to know what he did in a past life that was so cruel he was relegated to being a timeshares salesperson in this life.

PhotoAlto | Frederic Cirou | Getty Images

Back in the 90s, timeshares in where as ubiquitous as college students on spring break. Living in the Daytona area, Micallef easily landed a job as a salesperson. It was a great, although limited, run, and Micallef made some money. However, deep down inside, he knew something was amiss. He wanted to look behind the curtain but knew he'd find information that was not congruent with his morals and better judgment. So, he drank some cocktails instead. This practice of using alcohol to cover up the seedy world he was partaking in became a habit and a real issue for Micallef and his wellbeing. You could say that his job drove him to drink. However, as the saying goes, there is a reason for everything.

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One day in 2011, Micallef woke up in a jail cell. Not a metaphoric one -- at a real prison. Not knowing how he got there, in the sobering morning sunlight and the smell of a dark, dank cell, he decided that something had to change. Micallef checked into rehab and evaluated the life choices that lead him to this point. He knew he was on this Earth for a reason but had not figured it out yet. After the 90-day stint in a rehab, he went back out into the world. He needed a job so he went back to what he knew -- timeshare resales.

It only took a few weeks for Micallef to figured out he could not survive in the corrupt industry. He quit with no job waiting for him. The rehab experience changed Micallef's way of thinking, and he knew he had to figure out a new path. He thought about his in timeshares and in finance and thought of a way to help people. He wanted to give back to society somehow.

Micallef had been operating a credit repair business on the side called "A Consumer Credit." He had witnessed, while working for timeshare resellers, that people were being scammed by timeshare resale companies. Actually, in 2011, timeshare resale frauds where the top reported con in the state of Florida by a large degree, according to the state's attorney general's office.

Suddenly it dawned on him. His sobering thought was the fact he could give back by helping people not fall victim to timeshare resale fraud by simply educating the public and telling the truth. The timeshare advocate was born. Micallef used his mission of helping people to help himself stay sober. It was so much better than working a "normal" job, Micallef lamented. He was able to stay sober by changing his thought pattern and letting his mission to help people be his fuel to be a better person.

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Finally, Micallef knew what his calling was, and his mission stood before him. The business concept of the "rip-off" that was prevalent around the country -- but mostly in Florida -- was people posing as timeshare resale companies. Their promise was that they could sell your timeshare for you. No fuss, no muss. Many people wanted out of their timeshare because the cost of maintenance and taxes were increasing so much that it made the timeshare a financial burden more than a pleasurable vacation getaway. See, the catch is, timeshares have zero value. All the owner has is a deed to use a room for one week per year in a hotel or resort. What makes it worse is the timeshare contract is a deed and the holder cannot walk away from it. It is forever, in most cases. So even when the person who bought the vacation room passes away, their children are stuck with the yearly payments. It never ends, you can't get out of it, and there is not enough value in a timeshare to sell it.

When the phone rings in a timeshare owner's home, and the voice on the other end says "You probably don't know it, but there are folks who want your timeshare, and I can sell it for you," it sounds very appetizing. The person on the line explains that the process to sell a timeshare is simple. Just pay a fee for the advertising and listing the vacation room. A short time later, the person calls and says, "Congratulations! We have a buyer for your timeshare. All we need now is $4,000 for the closing costs, and you're out from under this albatross." The unsuspecting timeshare owner gladly sends the check and after it's cashed, they never hear from the timeshare resale company again. This has happened to thousands of people around the country.

Micallef realized that most perspective timeshare owners do not really understand what they are getting into. But now, Micallef provides that education. In addition, his company can help people negotiate a very equitable route out of their timeshare responsibilities. Micallef's mission is to educate prospective timeshare buyers and advocate for those who are stuck with their units. He said he couldn't be happier doing what he does.

So, this kid from the party, resort town of Ormond Beach, Fla., sees a sobering way to help people not fall prey to the fraud of timeshare resale companies. Now, this scam is nowhere near the top of frauds committed in the state of Florida, thanks to Micallef and his team. "I am proud of the road I have taken and now am giving back by being an advocate for the people," Micallef said.

One of the biggest lessons he learned through the timeshare world is that you shouldn't trust everyone right out of the gate. In the words of President Ronald Reagan, "Trust but verify."

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Building a solid business from the ground up is difficult, but Micallef learned that having a strong team around you makes all the difference. That is evident by the raving fans of his company.

Lastly, Micallef said that he attributes his success to surrounding himself with positive, can-do people. Looking back, he said many people told him he was crazy and to just get a job. But he had perseverance and a will to do good in the world. It is a mission. Even out of the darkest of times comes good. Micallef and his company are a testament to that.

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