Couple sued for scamming 30,000 timeshare owners

SEATTLE (AP) - An Olympia couple is being sued by the state of Washington for scamming 30,000 timeshare owners.

The civil lawsuit announced by Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Thursday is part of a national crackdown coordinated by the Federal Trade Commission.

The attorney general's office says Jonathan and Christine Gibbs fooled elderly consumers into paying them thousands of dollars to transfer ownership of their vacation timeshares to shell corporations.

Ferguson describes the scam as a large, complicated scheme that harmed about 30,000 consumers nationwide, including 1,500 people in Washington state. He says the couple collected more than $70 million while operating as 25 different companies.

It took Washington investigators 18 months to investigate and shut down the scam.

The Federal Trade Commission is announcing more than 80 civil lawsuits in 27 states.