American holidaymakers that own timeshare interests in Mexico are being warned about a surge in fraudulent schemes targeting the popular tourist location.
Mexican timeshare scams are nothing new as, for Americans, it is by far the most popular tourist destination. According to American news channel CNBC, of the 126 million households in the United States, 9.2 million own at least one timeshare or holiday product. Many of these timeshares and holiday products are sold with lengthy, financially binding contracts, so for those who find their circumstances have changed or simply want out from the timeshare, they find the options are limited. Resorts are often obstructive when it comes to relinquishing owners contracts and this makes it easier for fraudsters who are keen to take advantage of people who are desperate to get out of their timeshares.
Mexican timeshare resorts are famous for their abundance of facilities, dining options and beautiful beachfront locations. In fact, if you search ‘Timeshare resorts Mexico’ into TripAdvisor over 10,000 different options appear. Mexico has a lot to offer holidaymakers of all budgets, from it’s famous white powdered beaches, Mayan ruins, water sports, culture and delicious cuisine, it’s a favourite for many American tourists.
So, it goes without saying that along with an abundance of timeshare resorts, Fraudsters looking to prey on people desperate to get rid of them, will be lurking around every corner. Because of this officials in the U.S have issued fresh warning about an increase in fraudulent schemes. The problem has escalated so highly that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also issued warnings to Americans who may own timeshare in the popular location.
There are several scams they are warning about, but all seem to be a new version of an old one, taking advantage of holidaymakers who have little knowledge of Mexican Law. The scam works like this, fraudsters will cold call timeshare owners claiming to be representatives of a re-sale company, travel agency, law firm or estate agency and promising vast sums of money to purchase their timeshares. In some circumstances they have claimed timeshare owners are entitled to valuable shares in stock if they liquidate their timeshare, for a fee to the agent.
Fraudsters will seem perfectly legitimate in their operations; they provide unwitting victims with sophisticated and realistic official documents and create websites that mimic official U.S based organisations to provide legitimacy to their operations. Once they have gained the trust of their victims, they will start demanding owners must pay a tax or fee before proceedings can be completed. The fraudulent company will then claim that prior to receiving any money for the timeshare or stock, the victim must open a separate bank account (usually based in Mexico) and deposit a sum of money into it. They will continue to do this, under the guise of various fees need to be paid, this will usually continue until the victim realises they are being scammed. Incredibly, in some cases the fraudsters have taken it one step further and some victims, once they have become suspicious have been contacted by people posing as police officers and bank officials claiming to be able to help them re-coup the money they lost in the first scam.
To avoid becoming victim to one of these scams officials in the U.S are advising the following tips to spot a timeshare scam:
1. 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.
2. Do not be fooled by a professional looking website, the cost of creating these sites is very affordable and easily set up.
3. 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.
4. 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 types 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.