Despite well-publicized reports warning of Mexico timeshare scams, we continue to receive a steady stream of complaints. What was unique about a recent report is that when the family was exiting the airport on their way to their Vidanta resort, they saw a man holding up a sign that said Vidanta, along with a few other resort signs. Naturally, the family assumed this was the shuttle to their resort. They boarded the shuttle, but instead of being taken to Vidanta, they were taken to a desk offering deals if they agreed to tour Velas Resorts. Unfortunately, they agreed to purchase, after being assured there was a buyer for their Vidanta timeshare.
A fictitious guaranteed buyer for an existing timeshare is a common complaint. The F.B.I. has been inundated with complaints:
The FBI report said that in 2022, the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center “received over 600 complaints with losses of approximately $39.6 million from victims contacted by scammers regarding timeshares owned in Mexico.”
This also caught the attention of the U.S. Treasury Department. The exit business is so lucrative, at least one Mexico cartel jumped in for a piece of the action. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) distributes fentanyl and bogus timeshare exits in the U.S.
WASHINGTON — Today (March 3, 2023), the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned eight Mexican companies linked to timeshare fraud on behalf of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). CJNG is a violent Mexico-based organization that traffics a significant proportion of the illicit fentanyl and other deadly drugs that enter the United States.
The couple went to tour Velas Resorts in Vidanta later that week. After a litany of “no” to buying another timeshare, because of current debt owed on their Vidanta timeshare (another sad report), the sales agent said he could guarantee the sale of their Vidanta so they could afford to buy Velas. He had left the room to pretend to contact his resale agent and returned with good news! He cautioned the family not to say anything when signing documents as he would be helping them out with the sale of their Vidanta timeshare on his own. He provided them with a paper naming Tom Kessler with True Timeshare, an honest timeshare broker I know (and one who would never accept a listing to sell Vidanta).
The contract the family signed states that there are no outside arrangements. Having been cautioned not to mention the sale of Vidanta, and thinking Vidanta was another timeshare, they signed. After returning home, the victims called Tom. Horrified, he reached out to us. Knowing the glut of unwanted timeshares that have little or no resale value, Tom limits his practice to Marriott Vacation Club and Disney Vacation Club.
The Complaints Board Velas complaint below, from 2008, is almost identical to what happened to this family in 2023. Our couple even recognized the name of the sales agent mentioned in 2008. He was part of their sales tag-team. The only difference between the two complaints is the names of the supposed selling agents and the Velas location. The agent is still at it!
Like the 20 Velas complaints listed on the Complaints Board, our family’s dispute was partially resolved. Given the obstacle of buying in a foreign country, many are not so lucky. Dispute resolutions, whether in Mexico or the U.S., seem to be a pay-to-play strategy, especially since this con has been in operation for a long time.
Velas Resorts review: Timeshare Scam Dec 07, 2008, 12:41 am EST
Beware! I also experienced this unconscionable timeshare scam at Velas Vallarta. The sales representative, K W, told me that Velas would take a trade-in of a timeshare I owned at a different resort to offset the purchase of a Velas upgrade from a studio unit to a one-bedroom. He was essentially offering me the same amount for my other timeshare that I would be spending on the upgrade and closing costs. Mr W referred me to Sierra Rentals and Resales for the closing services.
When I sat down to sign the upgrade documents, I could find no mention of the trade-in in the documents. I asked Mr. W why the trade-in was not in the documents and he told me that it would be on a separate document and that I would receive the confirmation of the purchase before I left. He said he expected the fax very shortly. I told him that my purchase of an upgrade was based on the trade-in and I would not be doing it otherwise. After signing the contract, I was ushered downstairs into the lobby. Mr W came into the lobby with what he told me was my trade-in/purchase confirmation from Sierra and put it in my sales folder.
When I looked at this document after returning home, it stated the trade-in timeshare was being accepted into a listing inventory. The forms Sierra Rentals e-mailed were also not the closing documents I expected and appeared to be for the purpose of listing the timeshare for resale or rental. There had been absolutely no mention of listing the other timeshare for resale or rental in our discussion. Any discussion was solely about the trade-in to Velas. I did not sign these documents and requested the correct closing documents from Sierra Rentals and Resales. Sierra was unresponsive to e-mails and the customer service person from Velas acted as if Velas knew nothing about the trade-in. He stated that the issue was with Sierra. They said they had no copy of the fax from Sierra in their file. That was when I realized this was all a fraud!
When I asked Mr W about a cancellation period before signing the documents, he told me that no cancellations were allowed on upgrades. This was an outright lie as I later found that Mexican law requires a 5-day cancellation period. This also applies to upgrades.
Velas Vallarta started calling about monthly payments for the timeshare and I refused to pay any more to the resort when they were not acknowledging the trade-in. I gave Velas ample opportunity to follow through with either their purchase of my other timeshare or the cancellation of my membership upgrade and the refund of my deposit which amounted to over $7000. They have not done so. Velas recently notified me that my contract was being cancelled.
Please do not do business with this company. Their lies and deceptive practices are plausible enough to believe. The resort appears to be upstanding on the surface and it can be very deceiving. Stay away!
Posted on an exit scam’s website: Velas Vallarta Timeshare Complaints
Many clients have received calls from Sierra about a year after their purchase stating that they have a buyer for their Velas Vallarta property. They are told that they just need to pay for the title search and taxes into an escrow account and then they money from the buyer will be released to the seller. The seller wires the money to the escrow company, and then never hears from them again.
Several owners at Wyndham’s former Canadian Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge Resorts (no longer timeshare) reported that Vida Vacations by Vidanta sales agents promised them a buyer for their Carriage timeshare. They too were only referred to a listing agency. In all cases, the timeshare owner ended up with two timeshares. Carriage owners were ripe for such a scam because the Carriage HOAs would not allow an exit under any circumstances. What other product can’t be sold or given back?
Related article: CRIMESHARE
Thank you, Irene, we did cover the Treasury Department sanctions back in March, along with other articles on the various scams emanating from Mexico, many of which are emulating the scams that have been used in Europe over the years. The one which has followed the European scams very closely is the “award of compensation” by a court for “misselling” in a case you knew nothing about, the other is “your timeshare company is being prosecuted and you have a valid case.” All are supported with “fake” court documents along with other “official” looking paperwork and often using names of genuine lawyers or officials, usually prominent names as they are easily verified on the internet, a trick first found with the original “fake” Law Firm Litigious Abogados back in 2016.
Most of the European scams originate from mainland Spain, with the island of Tenerife being the “hotspot“, these were the “timeshare sales capitols” of Europe. All the tactics for the legal and the resale scams are the very same ones used in Europe for years and we are seeing those very same “sales pitches” coming from Mexico, it would appear the crooks in Mexico have been taking lessons and have learned them well.
The most important lesson for timeshare owners is very simple:
If they have contacted you,
if they want you to part with money,
even if they say there is no upfront fee,
other payments will be asked for such as “TAXES”,
they are there to “HELP” you get “JUSTICE”,
even have a “CASH” buyer,
they are going to SCAM you.
The first line in your defence is you.
Links to previous articles
That is all for this week, we hope you all have a great weekend, Baby Dog is keeping the kids occupied (school holidays here) so is living elsewhere, so here is an old picture which is very appropriate for today.