Mexico Timeshare Scams: How to Avoid Them
Mexico has long been a popular destination for vacationers from around the world. With its stunning beaches, vibrant culture and fascinating history, it’s no wonder that so many people flock to Mexico each year. Unfortunately, Mexico is also home to a number of common timeshare scams. These scams have fleeced millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims who own vacation memberships at various Mexican resorts.
Colorado Residents are Targets for Mexican Timeshare Scams
Colorado appears to be a fake hub for various scams targeting timeshare owners. In many cases, the scammers who are based in Mexico use fictitious company names, toll free numbers and Colorado business addresses in order to gain the trust of their victims. 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!!”
Over the last several years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of complaints from Colorado residents who have been targeted by Mexican timeshare scams. These schemes typically involve an offer to sell your timeshare for an upfront fee, often thousands of dollars. The scammer will then disappear with your money, leaving you with no way to get in touch with them. In some cases, the scammers will even try to sell your timeshare to another victim, in a so-called “timeshare transfer” scam.
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.