How Timeshare Scams Work & What To Do

You receive a phone call from a company advising they have a buyer for your timeshare.  The better news is that the buyer is a corporation and they are purchasing several in the same area for an amount greater than the going rate.  All you need to do is make sure your payments and other fees are up to date. The caller will typically say that any money you put toward the sale will be reimbursed at closing.  You end up paying thousands of dollars supposedly into an escrow account for fees such as maintenance, taxes, insurance, any back pay owed, contract fees, recording fees, etc. You are typically instructed to wire funds to an escrow company in the United States (ex. Las Vegas, NV), even though the property is usually in Mexico.  You’re also advised to sign a contract with the realtor, and in the contract you’re expected to include a lot of personal information, and even enclose a copy of your driver’s license. It all seems realistic until the amount of fees owed before closing keep increasing. When the time comes when the deal is about to be finalized, the deal falls through and you’re unable to reach the company you were working with.


Why this scam works:

Many folks get to the point in life where they can’t use the timeshare enough to make the cost worth it.  They want to sell it, but don’t know how. So, when these companies come out of nowhere to help, it seems like answered prayer, especially when you’re going to be receiving back more than the actual value from the buyer. You’re willing to pay some money upfront because you think you owe it, and it’s going to be worth it.  You’ll receive contracts that look legitimate, and they’ll even show how much you’ve put into the deal. You’ll research the company on the Internet and see that they have a website, so you assume they are legitimate. The representatives from the company are very nice and seem easy to get a hold of if you have questions.


What should you do:

Unfortunately, if you own a timeshare in Mexico, the best thing you can do is call the company you bought it from at a number you know to be correct and see if you can sell it back to them.  Don’t expect to make any money off the deal, but if you’re lucky, you can get out from under the contract. Do not trust anyone that says they have a buyer lined up, especially if they’re paying more than the value.  The best advice I can provide is to contact a company you are familiar with, or that you have done business with previously. There are just too many shady companies in that market to know who is legitimate.

Check out any companies with the Better Business Bureau (BBB.org), and also check to see if they are licensed in the state in which they do business. Report any fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.gov), as well as to Internet Crimes Enforcement Network at IC3.gov.

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