In response to the growing frustration over his disastrous investments in two of Bobby Ginn's much-publicized high end golf resorts, investor Hilton Wiener decided months ago to set up a web site and blog in order to reach out and communicate with similarly situated investors. Upon comparing notes with other investors, it seemed there was a barrage of complaints against the smooth-talking Bobby Ginn and the Ginn marketing machine.
In fact, several lawsuits have already been filed against Ginn. One suit filed by 99 disgruntled Michigan investors alleges that the entire Ginn machine is nothing more than a huge Ponzi scheme since it was promoted as an investment vehicle, in violation of SEC regulations, and the properties were marketed to be flipped and sold at inflated prices. It is alleged that the early purchasers included Ginn, his buddies and employees who made unseemly and undisclosed profits in simply flipping the lots, reselling them for profits of hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes in a matter of days.
The response to the Ginn web site was overwhelming. According to Wiener, it seems there are literally thousands of Ginn investors spread all over the world that feel that they have been duped and conned. The properties are worth a mere fraction of their purchase prices. In fielding all the responses, Wiener states that every investor had his own story of being hyped, conned and misled. Some have had to file personal bankruptcy and claim that their lives have been ruined by these deals. Many were extremely angry and simply needed to vent. The common theme among the complaining investors was that the property was promoted solely as a vehicle for a quck flip and easy profit. Investors were specifically targeted as well as those that could little afford it, and they were urged by fast-talking salesman to purchase multiple properties.
Ginn hired a law firm to file a complaint to take down Wiener's website, claiming that it (Ginn) owned the trademark and therefore owned the domain name, arguing that Wiener's site could be easily confused with Ginn's numerous trademarked sites which market high end golf resorts. Wiener contends that his site was for the purpose of owners' exchanging information and that it is simply a matter of free speech. Ginn simply wanted to silence communication among its aggrieved investors. Finally, Wiener and some other investors decided it was time to sue.
According to Wiener, "The biggest threat to any developer is when the buyers start communicating with one another and comparing notes. It is only by joining forces that anything is accomplished. It's way too expensive for any individual to do it alone. The unscrupulous developer counts on the purchasers not banding together."
Although Ginn invariably characterizes investors' complaints as nothing more than the fallout from the recent poor real estate market, Wiener points out that the activities being complained of are highly improper and not at all representative of even the most heavily promoted real estate projects. The instances of misrepresentation by the Ginn salesmen are incredibly irresponsible, according to Wiener. " This is way over the top. Put it this way, the Florida market is down let's say 25%. Ginn properties are down more like 90%. Add in the inflated dues and BS fees and you literally can't give this property away. Don't talk to me about 'greedy investors.' This is fraud, plain and simple!"