Hello Monday, we start this week with a little bit of consumer advice, the title banner poses the question of spotting the fakes. Over the years scams and scammers have become a little more sophisticated. It is difficult to determine whether they are genuine or fake, an absolute minefield.
Most of the time it begins with a cold call, some are genuine companies, most are scams, this is where they begin the process of getting your money.
Once they have engaged you in conversation, usually with some very convincing “legal” information, they get you talking, your interest is perked with vague promises about your timeshare along with the mention of large sums of “compensation”. You are offered a more in-depth call once they send you some information via email. Typically these will consist of what looks like genuine court documents. Well, if you have never seen English ones let alone Spanish, how are you to know, FAKE or GENUINE?
It is these documents that have snared so many, copies of which are in our records, some of the first that came to our attention was from Litigious Abogados. This was an operation consisting of a fake law firm, notaries and procurators. The documents were quite convincing until you took a closer look.
Firstly, attention was drawn to the case numbers, these didn’t look right, but to you, they would appear to be genuine. How are you going to find out if the case numbers or anything else is in fact true, where do you start?
Don’t be distracted by the contents of the document, if you enlarge it or better still print it, you may just see that there are shadows, which does indicate cut and paste. Some rubber stamps tend to look too perfect and to cap it all the signature shadow can stand out even more.
This particular fake law firm has gone through many incarnations but has always used “court documents” that have been made in word or something similar, all the official crests can be easily downloaded and then pasted into whatever you want.
Open this link and don’t forget to zoom in.
This was a case of forgery, the document which I received this weekend goes one stage further.
The document received is actually genuine, when a search was made the details of the court, the case numbers etc came up with an official website where the original document could be downloaded. This came as a PDF file, when comparing it to the one in our possession it became clear it had been tampered with.
This information was shared with a colleague who passed on the document, it matched his findings, the one received by a consumer was a FAKE.
The genuine document listed a Spanish Company, in its place was the name of the “timeshare marketing” company which was closed many years ago by the UK authorities. Their name was also added to the list of “APELANTE” or Appellant.
Very easy to do in any PDF editor, no cut and paste tell-tales, no silly spelling mistakes and everything is written in the language that only lawyers understand. Then, to cap it all off, if you do know how to search, or even if you did get lucky & stumble on the official websites, chances are you won’t even bother to read it as it is in Spanish.
These are the Fake & Genuine, which is which?
The name of the “company/law firm” is known but further enquiries are being conducted by colleagues elsewhere.
Then we have the fake websites, the most prolific were the many incarnations of Litigious Abogados, these were brilliant.
The website didn’t look too bad, with lots of pictures and text on the various fields of law they undertook, but the names were something else, Ricardo Luncmande, Manuel Limbarta Lilanos and Ricardo Olunkman, obviously made-up names. But it was their use of pictures of actual persons. These included the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Argentina, the Late 39th President of Venezuela and a US District Court Judge, who has appeared on three incarnations as:
Amador Dularta Colatamo, Fernando Olawza Garcia, Fernando Nialgan Torkas,
who is actually
Judge Dana Makoto Sabraw, for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
The latest is to use the name of a genuine law firm, direct the potential clients to their website which then gives the great impression it is genuine. Until you check the email address and telephone number on the contact page. The genuine email will be linked to the website, the ones the scammers use tend to be @gmail, @consultant and a host of others that are free. In most cases there is a UK 0800 number, sometimes a Spanish mobile. The genuine website should also show Spanish landline numbers and they correspond to the place of the business, for example, Madrid, +34 91; Barcelona, +34 93. These are all the first basic points to look for.
One of the most telling points and acts of desperation is the “rubbishing” of genuine law firms and lawyers. This usually starts after they have weeded it out of you during the call, they will probably tell you things like they are being investigated by whichever authority or even the police. They are not doing their job properly, it’s taking too long, sign up with us and we’ll do it in 8 weeks and we will sue the law firm for you.
It makes no difference what they tell you, their intention is to sow the seed of doubt, scare you into signing. From the very day, you walked into the timeshare presentation right through all the cold calls, unsolicited emails, psychology has been used to extract the cash from your pocket and it will continue.
So, yes it is a minefield, although we have not gone into a lot of detail, the above information alone proves the point of how careful you have to be, After Inside Timeshare is here to help you with the correct information, if we can’t find out then maybe our contacts can.
Some Things Are Universal (A US perspective)
The problems are suffered by timeshare owners and legitimate providers the world over. This article includes an interview with John Kushman of Timeshare Specialist, highlighting business identity theft. John’s Timeshare Scams DataBase demonstrates the extent of the problem.
Although this primarily focuses on the scammers in the US, it will be of interest to our European readers, after all, these scams are all very similar.
Within the article is also a Youtube video of Timeshare Talks, where John Kushman, President of Timeshare Specialist launched this effort after callers claiming to be a Florida satellite office of his company impersonated his business. This is not the first time this has happened to an honest timeshare resale company.
Timeshare Specialist Scam Database
To our US & Canadian readers, you can email us using the email address on the contact page with any questions, we will then pass these to our US volunteers to answer. Find our page on Facebook it will lead you to our associated pages.
This Friday, 28 January, After Inside Timeshare will be publishing another Irene Parker article, “Why Timeshare Lending Poses a Risk to our National Security”.
This is a subject we have covered in the past in the old publication, it is also a subject which really does need to be looked at by the authorities.
The link below is for the article which brought the Scam DataBase to our attention, within, you will also find some interesting and useful information and links.