A woman from the US has been conned out thousands in a Mexican Timeshare Scam.
The woman owned a timeshare in Cancun, but had never actually vacationed there. So when she was cold-called one day, by a company claiming to be backed by the Better Business Bureau, she was keen to see how they could help her get out of her useless timeshare.
The timeshare was costing the woman and her husband $1,200 a year in maintenance fees, so when the company claimed they could sell her timeshare she agreed to sign up to their services. The told her they had a buyer lined up to purchase her unit, and they were willing to pay more than what she had originally paid, so she stood to make a profit.
But as the fees started to add up, the woman and her husband began to think they had fallen victim to a scam. First, they paid a registration fee of $3,679, then a ‘Permit Fee’ of $4,139, followed by a tax of $5,208. The company even went on to charge them over $10,000 in admin and closing costs. Unfortunately, for these timeshare owners, they lost more than $40,000 in the scam and have no hope of ever seeing a penny back.
What is a Mexican Timeshare 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, which has to be passed on to the Mexican government 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 avoid a Mexican timeshare scam:
You could get a call out of the blue asking you to sell your timeshare and they have buyers ready for your highly sought after timeshare. They may even offer you a large profit, the only catch, you have to pay a fee for this service. More than likely this will be an Escrow Fee, which you can recoup when the sale has gone through. Owners will be asked to transfer funds into a legitimate Escrow account, it is actually owned by the scammers but will look genuine. This is a very profitable scam running in Mexico, the many people who do send their Escrow Fees, never ever see their money again and are still stuck with their timeshares. To make matters worse, and to continue the con, the scammers will send authentic looking documents to their victims, and often the owner does not realise they have been scammed for quite some time.
Incredibly, some owners have been cold-called and informed that a branch of the Mexican government has set up a fund to reimburse victims of timeshare fraud in Mexico, and they are eligible for a claim, they even have documents to prove it. Another massive scam, there is no such scheme in Mexico.
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.
They may claim the Mexican government is offering to reimburse victims of timeshare fraud, 100% untrue. They will ask you to transfer a few thousand to pay a tax to allow them to open a Mexican account in your name. They will request funds to be transferred in ways that are difficult to trace, such as cashiers cheques and money orders. The scammer will ask you to transfer funds into an Escrow account, this will be for transfer of deeds fee, none of the services they promise will occur and you will never see this money again.
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.