It took a while, but the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) doggedly pursued the perpetrator of a buy/rent your timeshare fraud, Information Management Forum , also doing business as, Vacation Property Marketing, owned by Edward Lee Windsor.
On 23 June 2017, the FTC mailed 338 checks, totally more than $300,000 to the people who lost money, with the average check in the amount of $945.
It took almost five years since the original complaint was filed by the FTC and the Florida Attorney General brought legal action against “a timeshare rental/resale telemarketing business and its owner for allegedly deceiving thousands of consumers throughout the country into paying up to $2,000 based on false promises that they had buyers or renters lined up for consumers’ timeshare properties, and then failing to deliver promised refunds.”
The timeshare owners received cold-calls, in which they were told that there were renters or buyers ready to deal. They were also told that the caller had relationships with blue-chip companies. The script used read:
“What we do is market and advertise the rental and sale of resort properties to corporations who use them for conventions, training seminars, employee perks, business trips as well as their own vacation time . . . the reason that I’ve been calling you is because this weekend there is going to be a major event . . . We currently have over 700 corporate buyers and renters coming into town for this event.”
The timeshare owners were told that the timeshares could be rented for $1800/week or that buyers were ready to pay a specific amount, $18,500 within 90-days. Needless to say, none of this came to pass, but in order to be considered, they would have to pay a fee for the deal of between $500 and $2000.
WARNING – Timeshare scams like these continue!
This writer, who owns a timeshare, received a call not two-weeks ago, where the caller knew exactly with whom we owned our timeshare, and told us that she had a buyer ready to purchase our timeshare. My response, we are happy with our timeshare, no thanks. And with that we avoided being roped into a potential fraudulent engagement.
While this scam has been rolled up and processed through the consumer protection arm of the FTC … please note it has taken five years. If you own a timeshare, or know someone who does, please take a moment and re-read the script excerpt above.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to avoid timeshare resale scams:
- Do Not Be Pressured. Do not agree to anything that is presented over the phone. Before agreeing to anything, take your time to think about your decision. Ask the salesperson to send you written information. Do not be pressured by a salesperson that claims your property can be sold immediately.
- Look at the Fees. Avoid businesses that ask for an “appraisal” fee or closing costs upfront. Be aware of businesses that give you a large fee and then slightly decrease it to seem like a “good deal”. Search for a business that will allow you to pay for the fees after the timeshare has been sold. Never wire money and be sure to ask what fees will be included in the cost and if they are refundable.
- Read the Contract Carefully. The contact should include: what services the broker provides, how much and when the costs should be paid, a length of time to sell the timeshare and the refund and guarantee policy. Make sure the contact states who is responsible for the sale.
- Too Good To Be True. Know the estimated value of the timeshare before bringing it to be sold. If the deal the business offers sounds too good to be true, it probably is.