Officials in the US are warning residents to be aware of a new scam that cost one couple $40,000.

The Better Business Bureau US, are warning residents of Cleveland about a timeshare exit scam, after one couple lost their life savings trying to get out of their timeshare contract. The fraudsters contacted the couple out of the blue, claiming to be from a well-known local real estate agency based in Denver. The told the couple they had a buyer lined up ready to pay big money for their timeshare in Mexico.

This fake real estate agent told the couple they needed to pay upfront Escrow fees in order for the sale to go through. The scammers even created a fake Escrow company, which appeared legitimate at first. Despite telling the couple this was a one off fee, the fraudster continued to ask for more and more fees.

The same Escrow company, was flagged up to the Better Business Bureau multiple times from consumers who had sent money to the company and not received any of the promised services in return. Another woman from New York was scammed out of £11,000 after she was cold-called by a real estate agent claiming to have a buyer ready to purchase her timeshare. All these complaints related to the same Escrow company in Denver, When officials investigated they found the address to be empty.

What is a Timeshare Resale Scam?

Fraudsters or criminal gangs, pose as genuine real estate brokers and cold-call timeshare owners claiming to have buyers ready to purchase timeshares for inflated prices. Victims often report that they are offered sometimes up to 70% more than what they originally purchased it for.

The fraudster will ask the timeshare owner for an upfront payment of property taxes, and escrow fees before any funds can be released. The scammers continue to extract money from owners for fees, lawyer costs and taxes until finally the victim realises they have been conned. Fake companies will pose as legitimate businesses using slick looking websites and fake reviews, to help fool victims.

How to spot a timeshare scam:

A cold-call informing you they have a buyer ready to purchase your timeshare, they may even offer you more than you paid for it. The chances of someone offering to buy your timeshare for more than you paid for it, is extremely unlikely.

Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website, the cost of creating these sites is very affordable and easily set up.

Stay Safe Online Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered, you can check this by looking to see if there are any slight changes to a domain name.

Check paperwork you should check all your paperwork including receipts and invoices as well as terms and conditions.

People who enter into timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract.

There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.

It is also important to remember that purchasing a timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry. These type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or simply want to end your agreement, get in touch with us today to see how we can help with a possible money back claim.