Timeshare Owners Lose Millions to High-Pressure Sales Tactics and Fraudulent Recovery Services
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued a warning regarding a widespread scam targeting timeshare owners who own vacation properties in Mexico. In 2022, the IC3 received over 600 complaints, amounting to a staggering $39.6 million in losses. Scammers are contacting unsuspecting victims, offering to sell or rent their timeshares using high-pressure sales tactics and fraudulent promises.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve heard this before, because the scale of these criminal groups is immense and their access to resources takes fraudulence to a new level. These perpetrators masquerade as sales representatives for timeshare resale companies and even executives from different parties involved. They hire telemarketers who use aggressive tactics in order to create an atmosphere of urgency with “buyers” ready and willing to purchase.
When a timeshare owner is willing to sell, they are often duped into paying fees covering listing and advertising costs, closing expenses or foreign government taxes upfront. Sadly, after several wire transfer payments have been made, the scammers become unresponsive–disconnect their phone numbers or make their websites inaccessible. In some cases even worse-they invent more fees that victims must pay before the transaction can be complete!
Scammers don’t just stop at the initial fraudulent timeshare scheme, they continue on to lure victims into their traps with fraud recovery companies. These fake firms guarantee they can recover all of the funds lost in a resale scam, but ask for additional upfront wired payments before providing any services. In some instances, scammers may even pose as government entities on paper, requesting payments for fees related to the timeshare sale. It’s all a very sophisticated scam that the FBI tracks closely with assistance from the IC3.
What is the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)?
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Established in 2000, the IC3 serves as a centralized hub for receiving, analyzing, and referring internet-related criminal complaints to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. It aims to combat cybercrime and protect citizens from online fraud, scams, and other cybercrimes.
Individuals and businesses can report suspected internet-based crimes to the IC3, which collects the information and then collaborates with law enforcement agencies at the local, state, federal, and international levels. The IC3 also plays a crucial role in raising public awareness about the latest cyber threats and trends by publishing annual reports and bulletins.
Although the IC3 does not have power to take action or make arrests, they are an invaluable asset in helping law enforcement apprehend criminals. They do this by providing valuable intelligence and data that can be used during investigations. It is IC3 where consumers play a significant part; tips, leads, and any other information given to them can help bring bad actors down!
Why Does IC3 Investigate These Timeshare Scams?
When criminal patterns that lead to significant losses are identified, the IC3 intervenes in order to prevent further harm. Actions by the FBI typically draw attention from both public service announcements and social media outlets. Currently, timeshare scams have been exploiting vulnerable people for their own gain – however when law enforcement works together with consumers and IC3 they are better positioned to hold these timeshare scams accountable!
Finn Law Group’s Collaborative Approach: Raising Awareness of Scams and Supporting Investigations
With the consent of timeshare owners impacted around the country, Finn Law Group has disclosed multiple alerts online for others to read and given them to law enforcement departments that are examining these matters. Gaining insight into these warnings will allow timeshare owners to recognize the complexity of them and be aware of how criminals manipulate victims into believing their illegal activities are legitimate.
If you own a timeshare, your financial and personal information may have already fallen into the hands of scammers who are lurking in the dark web. As a timeshare owner, it is absolutely essential for you to stay up-to-date on new resale scams so that you can protect yourself from potential dangers.
To avoid falling victim to timeshare resale scams, the IC3 recommends the following precautions:
- Be cautious of unsolicited phone calls, texts, or emails from individuals expressing interest in your timeshare, especially if the company is dealing with Mexican entities.
- Thoroughly research all entities you interact with and independently verify any representatives’ authenticity by contacting their company directly. Seek the assistance of a trusted attorney or the BBB.
- Be aware of high-pressure tactics and time-sensitive offers employed by scammers.
- Remember that if an opportunity seems too good to be true, it often is.
If you have experienced or are aware of a timeshare-related scam, don’t hesitate to file a complaint with the IC3 at www.ic3.gov – include as much detail as possible such as contact info, company names involved in the transaction (even if no money was lost), and records about any interactions with scammers. Timeshare owners can protect themselves and other by staying vigilant and reporting anything out of the ordinary that they may observe.
This article is an informative resource and should not be construed as legal advice. If you require help with a timeshare-related issue, make sure to seek the counsel of an experienced timeshare attorney or consumer protection agency in your state.
Led by attorneys J. Andrew Meyer and Michael D. Finn with a combined experience of over 75 years. The Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. If you feel you have been a victim of timeshare fraud, contact our offices for a free consultation by phone or by email at [email protected]. You can also refer to our website for more information about the firm and timeshare law.
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