ClickCease

The “Money Back” Scam

The Money Back Scam Timeshare Resale

You’ve seen the ads: “We Guarantee to Sell or Rent Your Timeshare Property!” Or, “Money Back Guarantee if We Don’t Sell Your Timeshare!” They sound too good to be true, and unfortunately, they are!

For years, the money back timeshare resale scam has been the preferred choice of con artists and telemarketing companies seeking to take advantage of timeshare owners. And, it’s on the rise once again. This time, however, the scammers have upped their game, adding new variations to the scheme and using more sophisticated methods to defraud timeshare owners.

What is the “Money Back Guarantee” Scam?

In a nutshell, the scam works like this: you’re promised that your timeshare will be sold or rented (usually within a year or less), and if it isn’t, you’ll get your money back. You’re then asked to pay an upfront fee for the marketing and sale of the timeshare (usually a few thousand dollars). The scammer then disappears with your money, leaving you holding the bag. In some cases, the timeshare resale company will set up a fake website and listing service that looks legitimate but is just a front to collect upfront fees from timeshare owners.

In late 2021, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office filed a five-count complaint against a timeshare resale company after investigating numerous complaints from timeshare owners about contract disputes, service guarantees, and refund requests.

The defendants, Williams Andrews Burns LLC (“WAB”). WAB, led by its President, William O’Hanlon solicited timeshare owners and promised money-back guarantees for its rental services. The company even offered a lifetime rental program that made the promise of revenue for multiple years. The timeshare scheme failed to deliver any timeshare rentals or resales it had promised owners, not one.

To skirt the service guarantee, and in an attempt to collect refunds from companies who had allegedly scammed WAB customers prior, the company would sometimes file timeshare fraud complaints on resale companies with regulators. WAB also filed chargeback disputes with credit card companies, attempting to represent victims of timeshare resale fraud as a “complimentary” service.

Some of WAB’s clients were quite elderly and were never provided with any documents to sign. The company however gained access to the bank accounts of customers and transferred monies into WAB accounts. Some seniors paid thousands of dollars for promises that were not kept or honored by the timeshare company’s 180-day money-back guarantee scam.

New Jersey AG Timeshare Resale Case

The court found that WAB targeted timeshare owners nationwide, including New Jersey consumers, with its unconscionable, deceptive, and misleading conduct. In total, some 782 instances of conduct that violated New Jersey state law were undertaken by the Defendants. As a result, the court entered a judgment against WAB and its owner to pay over 10 million in civil penalties, restitution, and attorneys fees for prosecution. The company and its owner are also permanently enjoined from the advertisement, offer for sale, sale, and performance of Rental Services and/or Collections Services within the State of New Jersey.

This is one of the most significant secondary market takedowns in over a decade. It also reflects a nationwide shift in law enforcement’s emphasis on shutting down timeshare resale fraud and sending a message to companies engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices against seniors. The Acting New Jersey Attorney General told Mid Jersey.News

“These defendants took advantage of consumers – many of them senior citizens – by taking their money in exchange for what turned out to be empty promises,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin.

The preliminary statement in the state’s complaint against WAB can also help those who don’t own a timeshare to understand how one might be ensnared in a scheme with a predatory resale or timeshare exit company.

The State says…

“Unfortunately, timeshare owners are frequent victims of sharp sales practices and other deceptive and misleading conduct in the timeshare industry. Rigid rules imposed on owners regarding usage of their timeshares; the low resale value of timeshares; and onerous fees that last the lifetime of timeshare ownership are not often properly disclosed to buyers. Indeed, many owners do not even know the true cost of the timeshare or understand restrictions on its use at the time of purchase. 

Annual maintenance fees pose significant financial burdens for owners, especially for those who no longer use their timeshares, but have not sold (or cannot sell) them. Typically, these fees fund taxes, insurance, and other recurring expenses associated with the timeshare property. Nationally, in the past decade, these fees have risen approximately 5% a year across the timeshare industry.”

For these reasons, among others, timeshare owners are increasingly looking for ways to get rid of their timeshares. Many timeshare owners are solicited by resale or exit companies that promise to help them sell or otherwise get rid of their timeshares for a fee. These companies use a variety of high-pressure sales tactics and misrepresentations to convince timeshare owners to pay them substantial sums of money for services they either do not need or that the company cannot or does not provide.

While timeshare resale and rental scams are not new, they have been on the rise in recent years. The timeshare resale industry has come under increased scrutiny and regulation, making it more difficult for scammers to operate. However, some scams have adapted and become more sophisticated in their approach. The “Money Back Guarantee” scam is just one of the many timeshare scams that owners need to be aware of.

If you are contacted by a timeshare resale or rental company that offers a “Money Back Guarantee,” we urge you to do your research and beware. There are many reputable companies (most are real estate firms) in the industry, but there are also many scammers. Do not be fooled by empty promises and guarantees. Timeshare owners should always be aware of the potential for timeshare scams and consult with an experienced timeshare attorney if they have any doubts or questions.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

———————————————————————————————————————

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 specializing in timeshare related matters. J. Andrew Meyer is a licensed New Jersey attorney.

This article is for information purposes only, it does not represent legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with the Finn Law Group or any of its timeshare attorneys. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified timeshare lawyers on your specific timeshare matter. Follow us on Twitter.

Need Help With Your Timeshare Cancellation?

Call: 855-346-6529

Schedule Free Consultation

Client Testimonials & Reviews

Not Sure How To Cancel Your Timeshare Contract?

We legally assist consumers in terminating timeshare contracts.

Request Consultation

Skip to content