Friday’s Letter from America: Timeshare Fraud

Welcome to the latest edition of Letter from America, again Inside Timeshare thanks Irene for her time in preparing this week’s Letter and also all those that contributed with information and proofreading. Today’s article follows on from previous ones which focus on the industry and the related scams. Timeshare owners from both sides of the pond and indeed the world are all familiar with the tactics that have been employed to fleece them of their hard-earned cash. These articles are to highlight this ongoing problem and make the industry change of its own volition, failing that, then governments need to step in and legislate as they have in Spain. The ball is squarely in the court of the industry.

CRIMESHARE: Anatomy of an Ongoing Timeshare Resale Scam

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In representation of XYZ Properties and Mr. ABC, we are thrilled to inform you that your membership has been appraised and has obtained an offer to be purchased (for $300,000). Please find attached to this email our statement of intent. 

Email from a wire fraud expert 

By Irene Parker

June 18, 2021 

Retired Canadian Military Armed Forces Police Officer Earl Sharpe was concerned enough to share on TIMESHARE TALKS about how he and his wife Faith were scammed by a resort in Mexico, and by a sophisticated ring of timeshare exit criminals. Those defrauded by a dark web exit scam or a dishonest timeshare sales agent have long memories. Earl volunteers to help research scams for those who have been contacted with bogus offers to buy or sell their timeshare. 

Earl told me about Timeshare Specialists, Inc., an honest timeshare resale company that has gathered the names of over 100 resale and transfer scams to try to prevent scams before they happen. I have my own shorter list. It is alarming to me that I did not recognize any of the names. One of the entities actually went by the name Just Fly Corp! (Claiming to be part of the legitimate company/website)   

https://timesharespecialists.com/timeshare-scam-database/

As explained by Timeshare Specialist’s website: 

Most timeshare owners never see it coming. They think they’ve just closed a deal to sell their property when in reality they’ve just been scammed out of thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars!

Also alarming is the orchestrated level of sophistication. When I attempted to insert the statement of intent mentioned in the email above into this article, it would not allow the offer to be displayed. That’s never happened to me before. 

Earl is not ready to disclose the real name of XYZ Properties because he has not yet finished researching the scam. It would be amusing, if not so tragic, this disclaimer appearing at the bottom of the email Earl received:  

Disclaimer: The information in this e-mail and any documents and files transmitted with it are confidential and for the use of the intended recipient only. If you are not the intended recipient, please delete the message and statements immediately and notify the sender. Alternatively, please contact XYZ Properties on telephone 877 xxx xxxx. Any unauthorized dissemination or copying of this E-mail, or any misuse or wrongful disclosure of the information contained in it, is strictly prohibited and may be considered illegal.

What’s the problem? What’s the solution?

In 2017, Red Week reported that at least 1.15 million timeshare owners want out of their timeshares. The California Real Estate Commissioner’s warning from 2017 holds true today: “The glut of properties and owners desperate to get rid of them has created easy prey for unscrupulous timeshare exit companies.”

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/07/07/questionable-timeshare-exit-companies-profit-off-desperation/

The article mentions that the trade association for the timeshare industry (ARDA) advises owners who want to get rid of their timeshares to contact the resort directly to see if they can work out an exit solution. It also advised that timeshare owners not pay an upfront fee to anyone offering help getting rid of a timeshare. However, ARDA-ROC advised one timeshare member to contact an ARDA member to list their points (that have no resale value) – and pay an upfront fee. Such listings quickly grow cold. 

It was a pleasure speaking with you today.  I am sorry to hear about your experience.  I would recommend calling their customer service department and file a formal complaint…… 

ARDA has a list of timeshare advertising and resale companies. Please click here to access the list of ARDA members specializing in timeshare advertising and resale. Please note: there is an up-front fee for these advertising services and that fee varies by company and advertising package selected. We always recommend using an ARDA-member company for your resale needs to avoid being the victim of a scam, however, you can also list your timeshare “for sale by owner” on websites such The Timeshare Users Group or eBay, just note these groups are not affiliated with ARDA

Thank you again for contacting ARDA-ROC. If you have any additional questions, please let me know.  

Sincerely,

B G

ARDA-ROC Consumer Support

TIMESHARE TALKS

If you would be interested in sharing your timeshare experience, bad or good, contact host John Raymond, founder, and owner of Resort Reseller. We thank Earl, our first official guest, his wife Faith, and Service Dog Raven, who has been drafted as our official Timeshare Talks mascot. Earl’s interview, linked in this article, includes good advice from former timeshare executive Wayne C. Robinson, author of Everything About Timeshares

https://tarda.org/f/crimeshare-%E2%80%93-a-sophisticated-timeshare-resale-scam

Wayne worked at many resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean and is well aware of the tactics Earl and his wife Faith experienced. Consider subscribing to Timeshare Talks to help us spread the words: 

Buyers Beware!

The Canadian Government issued a warning about Mexico timeshares (surprising published by Yucatan Times), and the Canada travel advisory for Mexico  provided tips on their website on what you should do before purchasing a timeshare:

  • gather as much information as possible
  • review carefully the contract; anything not included in the contract will not be honored
  • provide your credit card only if you are sure you want to make the purchase
  • keep copies of all correspondence

At some resorts, the presentation won’t happen if you don’t provide your credit card in advance. There are many reports of people who could not leave a presentation because the sales agents refused to return their credit card and driver’s license. 

I would add to the due diligence list what consumer advocates advise – never buy the same day an offer is presented. One wonders if this industry would survive if that rule were to be applied. 

Related articles: 

The Solution: What’s a Legacy Resort and Why are they Struggling?  

https://tarda.org/f/what%E2%80%99s-a-legacy-resort-and-why-are-they-struggling

TOWB is about Transparency in Timeshare:

https://tarda.org/f/towb-is-about-transparency-in-timeshare

Earl and Faith’s Mexico timeshare experience: 

https://tarda.org/f/memorial-day-honors-all-who-died-serving-our-country

Thank you all again for your contributions, Inside Timeshare wishes you all a very happy weekend. 


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