There has been a significant increase in the number of timeshare scams targeting owners of resort properties in Mexico in recent years. These sophisticated timeshare resale schemes typically involve individuals claiming to be representatives of a brokerage firm, travel agency, title company, or escrow agent who contact timeshare owners by phone and promise to pay a large sum of money for their property.
Often these international con artists work in coordinated teams to pull off scams that range from 5K to 400K. It’s so lucrative that even small-time telemarketing criminals are getting in on the action with copycat scams. While there are many different variations of this timeshare resale scheme, they all have one thing in common: the scammers end up pocketing the money and the timeshare owner is left with an unrecoverable loss as a result of paying through a wire transfer service.
Federal and state officials have been sending warnings to the public and through the media in the hopes that proactive campaigns and consumer alerts will help to educate those who own timeshares about the dangers of resale schemes.
Here are just a few:
CBS4 Denver – Colorado Timeshare Scam Victim Loses More Than $50,000.
CBS 12 West Palm Beach – Elaborate Timeshare Scam Costs Man Thousands
Why This Timeshare Resale Scheme Is So Effective
You can see some examples of timeshare resale wire scams submitted to Finn Law Group. In each case, these scammers used very official-looking logos on documents, created lengthy resale contracts (Sub 1) (Sub 2), and went to great efforts to construct notarized title and closing paperwork. To make their offer appear more legitimate, they concoct fictitious stories of unique and limited purchase offers for vacation properties. They may even go so far as to set up a toll-free phone number, fake website, or social media account using the name of a real company. (Sub 3) (Sub4)
Regulators are on the trail of these scammers, but the bad guys keep coming up with new ways to evade detection and they have deployed expensive technology to cloak themselves. Even Talk show host Dr. Phil hired private investigators to track scammers who stole a woman’s life savings after she continuously wired money to a resale company in Mexico. They too were unsuccessful in finding the culprits behind the wire resale scheme.
Millions of dollars have been lost in wire transfers sent to real banks in Mexico from bank accounts in the U.S. But international cooperation between Mexican and U.S. authorities is not clear and it appears that chasing the volume of fraudulent wire transfers has become a major cross-border engagement. That’s why it’s so important for timeshare owners to be aware of the warning signs of this scam.
States like Missouri have been a hotbed for resale and timeshare exit scams but the Mexican wire transfer scheme is not just isolated to the United States. In fact, this scam has been reported in countries all over the world, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. It’s a global operation that has enforcement agencies sharing even more information with the public.
“With the advancement of technology and the availability of personal information online, fraudsters are able to prey upon the good nature of citizens through sophisticated schemes to steal and deceive,” said Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. “If you receive an unsolicited call, take the time to investigate before turning over any of your hard-earned money.”
Owners Need To Know How To Avoid Being Scammed
We’ve reported on a number of these fake timeshare resale outfits and their tricks in the past (you can find some of our previous coverage here, here, and here), but it’s worth highlighting a few key points to keep in mind if you’re approached about selling your timeshare.
First, beware of any unsolicited offers from a company claiming that they want to buy your timeshare, especially if they contact you out of the blue via phone or email. Second, never wire money to anyone in connection with a timeshare sale, no matter how legitimate they claim to be. Finally, do your research before doing business with any company, and never sign or commit to anything until you’ve had a chance to review the documents with a timeshare attorney.
Just to make sure the consumer protection message is clear. Do not engage with timeshare solicitations. Just hang up the phone, delete the email, or throw away the letter. If you have any doubts about a company that says it’s interested in buying your timeshare, you can always contact the timeshare resort directly to see if they have any information about the resale brokerage.
The Finn Law Group has a fairly extensive list of timeshare resale companies that use wire transfer scams.
Have You Been Scammed By a Timeshare Resale Scheme?
If you’ve already fallen victim to a timeshare resale scam, it’s important to act quickly to try to recover your lost money. First, contact your bank or credit card company and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with your state attorney general’s office. Be sure to include as many details as possible, including the name of the company, the contact information, any documents you received, and how much money you were asked to wire.
Remember, if you own a timeshare in Mexico be very careful about any unsolicited offers to buy your vacation property, especially if the offer seems too good to be true. Be sure to do your research and never wire money to anyone in connection with the sale of a timeshare.
This article is for information purposes and should not be taken as legal advice. If you have any questions about timeshare resale scams, or if you believe you may have been a victim of one, please contact an experienced timeshare attorney for help.
Led by attorneys Michael D. Finn and J. Andrew Meyer, Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm that specializes in timeshare law. Our practice includes timeshare cancellation, resale fraud, and misrepresentation cases against timeshare companies and developers.