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Time-share Scams: How They Work

Source: Time-share Scams: How They Work

Time-Share Bandits

How police brought down one shady time-share operation

 

“It’s a business. It’s an industry,” is how one regulatory affairs expert describes time-share fraud.

She’d had enough. Just two years after Nancy Adams and her sister, Edith, bought their time-share condo, Nancy wanted to get rid of it.

The siblings had gotten swept up in the pitch from a time-share company that had offered them a free weekend in April 2012 at one of its properties, in Charleston, South Carolina. Nancy, currently 78, had grown up working at her grandfather’s Florida resort; she wanted to be the pampered guest for a change. Before the weekend was over, the sisters had bought a unit.

But now Nancy was regretting that decision. The sisters had used the unit several times, and they had applied accumulated “points” to stay once at a separate location run by the resort. But after several expensive “upgrades” to their membership, their total investment in the time-share was more than $20,000. Now the sisters wanted out.

So Nancy, a retired bank teller, posted a for-sale ad on a website called BuyaTimeShare.com in December 2014. Within a week, the sisters’ phone was ringing off the hook with offers. But most of the calls came from 800 numbers, and for months the sisters ignored the sales calls. Finally, someone with a Florida area code called.

“Kevin” was from a firm called International Marketing Solutions. He said he was representing a couple from Montreal who wanted to buy the unit, and provided Nancy with their contact info. When Nancy called, a woman confirmed everything Kevin had said and expressed her eagerness to buy.

The deal came together quickly. Nancy received faxed documents already signed by the buyers and wrote a check for $2,250, to be refunded later, to set up escrow and title services.

Weeks and months passed; Nancy never heard from Kevin again. She had been caught up in a new wave of fraud that has systematically targeted vacation property owners like her.

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