The FBI has warned timeshare owners across the United States to beware of scammers targeting their property in Mexico.
Scammers are defrauding timeshare owners of millions of dollars by posing as companies offering to sell or rent victims’ timeshares, the FBI said. Said in a public service announcement on Thursday.
The agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 600 complaints last year, resulting in approximately $39.6 million in losses from victims contacted by scammers regarding timeshares owned in Mexico.
A timeshare is a property ownership model in which multiple people jointly own a vacation property (usually a condominium or apartment) for a specific period of time (eg, one week each year).
While it can be difficult to resell an equity stake in a timeshare property, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that the true value of a timeshare lies in its usefulness as a vacation destination, not as a means of generating profits. I point out that there is.
According to the FBI, the scam involved criminals posing as sales representatives for a reselling company who used heavy-handed sales tactics to persuade timeshare owners to sell or rent their properties. doing. Scams have been around for many years.
Criminals call or email timeshare owners asking for upfront fees for listings and advertising services. However, PSA says the scammers will evade or create additional charges once the payment is made.
The FBI alert states that at this point, “calls are unanswered, numbers are disconnected, and websites are inaccessible.”
In some cases, victims are also contacted by fraudulent timeshare collection companies offering to help recoup their losses for a fee.
“Collection company representatives promise assistance in recovering money lost in sales fraud. Some collection companies require an upfront fee for services rendered,” the alert said. says. “Sometimes scammers pose as government agencies demanding payment of fees associated with the sale of timeshares.”
To avoid falling prey to these scams, the FBI is urging timeshare owners to look out for unsolicited calls, texts, or emails regarding timeshares and to make sure that all contact with them before agreeing to anything. Investigate entities and advise them to seek real estate help. agents or lawyers they trust.
The FBI also warns against heavy-handed sales tactics, reminding people that when an opportunity seems “too good to be true,” it often is.
Timeshare owners who believe they have been scammed can contact their local FBI field office.
FTC Offers Tips To Avoid Resale Scammers
Fair Trade Commission Recommendation Take certain precautions to avoid becoming a victim of timeshare resale scams, such as thoroughly researching resellers.
Timeshare owners can Contact State Attorney General and local consumer protection agency Check to see if any complaints have been filed against the reseller in the state where the reseller is located. Additionally, the FTC recommends searching online using the reseller’s name and keywords such as “complaint” or “scam” to see if there are any negative reviews or feedback.
Other ways to beware of scammers include inquiring about associated fees and choosing resellers that charge fees only after the timeshare has been sold.
If prepaid fees are required, the FTC recommends requesting a written refund policy. Additionally, make sure that your reseller’s agent is licensed to sell real estate in the state where your timeshare is located and that you only work with licensed real estate agents and brokers.
The FTC also suggested seeking referrals from satisfied customers, seeking reseller advertising and promotional strategies, and requesting progress reports.
According to the FTC, make sure your company is proactive in selling timeshares rather than just putting them on a resale list.
The FTC advises, “Read your contract carefully and make sure it matches what you have verbal promises.” If the contract is not what you expected or wanted, do not sign it.”
Timeshare owners are also advised to lower their resale expectations, especially if they’ve owned it for less than 5 years or are located in a less popular area. According to the FTC, a licensed timeshare valuation service can help measure the value of your timeshare.