There’s a certain appeal of having guaranteed access to a vacation property in a spot that you enjoy visiting frequently on your holidays, which is precisely what timeshares offer. Simply pick up and go without having to jump through hoops to make sure the place is available when you feel like ditching the concrete jungle in favor of something more serene for a little while.
And even when it comes time to sell, there are typically always a pool of buyers who are willing to pay for these conveniences.
But not all resale timeshare sales transactions are good deals. In fact, many of them are downright scams.
While there are plenty of honest sellers who are trying to unload their timeshares to willing buyers, there are also plenty of scammers out there waiting to rip off unsuspecting people.
In fact, this practice is so rampant that the Federal Trade Commission has actually had to step in and cease hundreds of deceitful resale timeshare scams that have been responsible for stealing millions of dollars. When timeshare owners are anxious to get rid of their vacations properties quickly for whatever reason, scammers are lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce.
Before selling or purchasing a timeshare, it’s critical that you do some research first to find out exactly how they work, and how to decipher between what’s a legitimate deal and what isn’t. Scams in the timeshare resale realm are varied and can take on many faces, so it’s important to be wary of them to avoid getting caught in the current.
“I’ve Got Cash Buyers Ready to Purchase”
Lots of timeshare sellers have heard this line. Scammers offer the promise of having a buyer ready to purchase the timeshare, or promise that they can definitely sell it quickly. All sellers need to do, they’re told, is pay an up-front amount to cover expenses like maintenance fees, closing costs, taxes, and so on. Once that money’s been wired over, sellers never hear a peep from the tricksters again – or their money.
Without a paper trail or any contract signed, there’s little recourse for sellers. All they’re left with is a loss of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
“Been Scammed? We Can Help Recover Your Stolen Money”
Scammers are smart, and they often come up with new and more savvy ways to swindle a buck out of unsuspecting victims. Changing the game up a little helps avoid a trail left behind, so they can continue fattening their bank accounts with little chance of getting caught.
In the case of the first type of scam, many thieves continue on with the act by contacting the victims and promising to help get the stolen funds back. But of course, this service comes with a fee. And once the victim is convinced of the legitimacy of this service, more money is wired to the con artists, after which the initial funds are never recovered.
“We Help Connect Buyers in Mexico With Sellers in the US”
It seems there’s nothing a crook won’t do to get their hands on illegitimate funds. A scam that’s recently become pretty popular involves scammers claiming to be the go-between for buyers in Latin America who want to get a visa by purchasing property in the US. By putting their name on title – so the scam goes – these agents acting on behalf of the buyers claim to help them obtain the green card they’ve been longing for. All that needs to happen to get the ball rolling in this purchase is for the seller to send over a transaction fee.
The story ends like the others . . . with the sellers left with a lot less in their pockets.
Many Scammers Are Engaging in Identity Theft to Appear Legit
While there are a lot of people out there who are easily fooled, fraudsters don’t rely on their naiveté to make sure they get away with their nefarious plans. As such, many of them go so far as to steal the identity of trustworthy and reputable names in order to appear legitimate in the eyes of their prey.
Many timeshare scammers hide behind the names of established companies or even government officials in order to extort money from sellers. They even have fake websites, professional-sounding titles, and phony addresses to keep up the facade. Many are putting themselves out there as real estate licensees and use an actual broker’s name and license number in order to make it appear as if the sales transaction is real.
What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
It can be pretty scary to think about the lengths that scammers will go to in order to rip off timeshare sellers, especially when identity theft is involved. Being vigilant is inevitably the best thing in order to protect yourself. It’s better to be highly skeptical with a legitimate service than be gullible with a fraudulent one.
First and foremost, be very suspicious of people who ask for money up front. If the deal is authentic, any fees owed will usually be payable after the transaction is done. And once the fees are due, money should NEVER be wired, nor should they be paid in cash. Instead, funds should only be transferred through a legitimate attorney where a valid and easily-tracked paper trail is left. The former two methods will only make it impossible for law enforcement to recover the lost money.
Speaking of attorneys, you should always have one carefully review any documents involved with sales transactions to make sure you don’t sign anything illicit. Everything should be in writing and reviewed in detail before any sales transaction is finalized.
Even if the reseller seems legitimate with a company name or title that sounds genuine, check into them in more detail to find out if they truly are who they say they are. And if the timeshare being sold is in a resort, call and ask if the resort has a resale program of their own, or if they’ve ever dealt with this particular reseller who’s been in touch with you.
By being cautious and aware of the potential scams floating around out there, you can make sure that the people you’re paying for a resale timeshare are the real deal.