Mexico Timeshare Scams: How to Avoid Them
Timeshare scams have become a common problem for vacationers in Mexico, causing significant financial and emotional distress for many unsuspecting tourists. To protect yourself from being taken advantage of, it’s necessary to be aware and knowledgeable of the strategies scammers use and how best to remain safe by staying away.
First and foremost, if approached, always conduct thorough research before jumping into a timeshare property. Check the credibility and reputation of the company or timeshare developer, read reviews from previous buyers, and verify the legitimacy of the business with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or other reputable consumer protection organizations.
When traveling, be aware of any aggressive sales practices and bear in mind that it is customary for Mexican businesses to give you the opportunity to ponder your decision. Patience will help ensure that you make an educated choice!
For existing timeshare owners in Mexico, it’s crucial to remain vigilant as well. With the increasing popularity of timeshare properties in Mexico, resale and secondary market issues are also on the rise. This surge in resale-related problems has not only impacted vacationers but also reached Colorado residents. As Coloradans seek to sell foreign timeshare properties, they must be aware of the potential risks and scams lurking in the resale market. The next section will delve into these concerns and provide guidance for Colorado residents to stay safe in the face of such challenges.
Colorado Residents – Targets for Resale Scams
Colorado appears to be a fake hub for various scams targeting timeshare owners – most are resale related. In many cases, the scammers who are based in Mexico use fictitious company names, toll free numbers and a random Colorado business addresses in order to gain the trust of their victims.
Selling Timeshare in Mexico
The Arapahoe County Sheriff told CBS Denver that the bottom line to owners of Mexican timeshares…“There are no buyers.” Sheriff’s Investigators are warning consumers of the scheme in advance that “Timeshares have no monetary value!!”
In recent years, a significant uptick in complaints from Colorado residents falling victim to Mexican timeshare scams has been observed. Such scams usually entail an enticing offer to sell your Mexican timeshare for an upfront fee, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Once the scammers receive your payment, they vanish without a trace, leaving you unable to contact them. In certain instances, these fraudsters go so far as to attempt selling your timeshare to another unsuspecting individual in a scheme known as a “timeshare transfer” scam.
Consumer Advocates Are Sharing Concerns
Tom Martino is a Consumer Advocate spanning a career of more than 40-years in radio, TV and the Internet. He has recovered millions of dollars for consumers who were lied to, cheated and ripped off! Martino, who is also known as the ” Troubleshooter,” has this advice for anyone thinking about selling their timeshare in one of these resale schemes:
“Don’t do it! In almost every case, you will lose your money and still be stuck with the timeshare. When asked about common Mexican timeshare scams he said, “In all of my years of fighting for consumers’ rights, I have seen every gimmick there is when it comes to getting people out of their timeshare contracts.“
Common Mexican Timeshare Scams:
1. The “Upfront Fee” Scam. This is where a scammer will promise to sell your timeshare for a large upfront fee. The company may even provide you with fake purchaser documentation or a false sales contract. These documents look legitimate but once they have your money by wire transfer, the reseller will likely call block you and will never be heard from again.
2. The “Bait and Switch” Scam. This is where a scammer will advertise a Mexico timeshare for sale at a deeply discounted price. When you arrive or contact them in advance for more details, a representative will try to convince you to buy a different, more expensive timeshare instead of the one advertised.
3. The “Phantom Buyer” Scam. This is where a scammer will claim to have already found a buyer for your Mexico timeshare. This phantom buyer is ready and willing to pay a retail price, but the buyer’s agent will require an upfront fee, taxes and other charges in order to complete the sale. Once you pay those fees, the scammer will drag out the transaction, claiming delays and then later require more fees on top of what was originally requested.
4. The “Timeshare Rental” Scam. This is where a scammer will offer to rent out your Mexico timeshare for an advanced fee. They may even provide you with fake rental agreements or signed timeshare contracts. Scammers are looking for upfront monies and will not contact you again after you pay the rental fees. They will also simply ignore you once you’ve paid them.
5. The “Deed Transfer” Scam. This is where a scammer will offer to transfer the vacation membership out of your name to a Mexican company for a fee. Once you pay the transfer/trade fee, the scammer will typically either disappear or try to sell you an invalid deed.
Keep in mind that many timeshares have no monetary resale value and are not an investment. If you’re thinking of selling your Mexico timeshare, you should do so with the understanding that you will likely not receive any money for it. You may even be asked to pay various member fees to have the vacation membership transferred out of your name.
It’s important to be aware of these types of timeshare scams. The best way to avoid them is to only work with a reputable timeshare resale company that has experience in the Mexico market. A reputable and licensed company will not require any upfront fees and will provide you with a sales contract in advance that has all of the sellers costs associated with no surprises. If they have a legitimate buyer, the offer and sale documents can be validated and legally binding without sending any monies through a bank wire.
Regulatory & Law Enforcement Warnings Increase
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a warning about Mexico timeshare scams. The FTC is urging consumers to be aware of these schemes and to avoid doing business with anyone who asks for money upfront through an international wire transfer from a U.S bank to a Mexican bank.
In addition, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office has also previously warned consumers about Mexico timeshare scams. Now regional law enforcement agencies are on the lookout for these types of schemes after an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office investigation revealed a local victim had lost $50,000 to a timeshare telemarketing scam.
If you have been the victim of a Mexico timeshare scam, you should file a police report, contact the Mexican authorities and file a complaint with PROFECO along with U.S. authorities at IC3.gov. The Better Business Bureau also uses ScamTracker to help identify scams related to timeshares.
Led by timeshare attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer with over 75 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in timeshare related issues. If you feel you need legal assistance with a timeshare problem, contact us for a free consultation.