Over the years there have been many resale scams, from the “guaranteed buyer” to the “corporate buyer” scam, the one thing they have in common is the inflated prices they offer to entice you to “sell”. These are almost always way above what was originally paid, but this particular case highlighted on CBS News beats all the others hands down.
The story brought by Dana Kozlov* explains the elaborate scam in which a timeshare owner was offered over $1 Million for his Mexican timeshare. Needless to say, his interest was aroused, well to be honest who wouldn’t?
The offer purportedly came from a Chicago-based real estate company, Intercontinental Realty, a company whose address as it turns out was fake. Well not actually a fake address, it does exist, 7 W. Madison St Chicago is actually the dorm for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This is something we have seen in the past and have also highlighted, the fake law firms operating out of Tenerife are masters at this.
Back to our “mark”, he openly admits the $1 million was extremely tempting, this should have set the alarm bells ringing, he did also say he was sceptical, and he later stated, “At the time, it sounds like a scam. It sounds like there’s something fishy,” the owner said. “You need to know upfront – I’m suspicious.” But the offer was so tempting he wanted to know more.
He was then provided with reams of documents, some supposedly “official”, all turned out to be fake, just like all the court judgements and official letters provided by the fake law firms in Europe. As with our European victims, he was convinced and decided to go for it.
This is when the scam really kicked in, suddenly there were “fees & taxes” which needed to be paid, all supported by “official documents and letters”. These came at different times but in the end, the total amounted to $300,000.
Eventually, he hired the service of Joe McGreal, a Chicago-based Private Investigator; he says that within the first hour he knew it was a scam. You can read the full story on his website below.
Continuing his interview with Dana he stated “Foolishly – I mean, I have to tell you, Dana – greed drove this thing. I kept – the little voice in the back of my head kept saying, ‘There’s something not right here,'” the owner said. “But that million dollars kept waving at me.”
The first basic tool of the scammer had been fulfilled, “playing on greed”, offering a huge sum and all sense will go out the window. It is as old as the hills, we see it every day, especially in timeshare. Even the timeshare sales agents use it, “this is how much you can make on renting or selling in the future”.
Is this where the seed of greed has been sown, right at the moment of sale?
Let’s now take a look at reality, the average basic week of timeshare in Cancun costs around $30,000, some may pay more, it depends on what & where you purchased. We also had a look at the average resale price, admittedly we only had a quick look on one site, but they ranged from a few hundred dollars to $90,000 for the Garza Blanca Resort and Spa Cancun. You can see the different prices on the link below.
So as you can see, timeshares are not worth $1 Million, for that you could buy your very own property, in fact, we found this one for $95,000 USD. Not restricted to use, no booking, you actually own it. Timeshare is not real estate regardless of what the “SALES AGENTS” tell you, it does not go up in value, in fact, it will be a total drain on your finances.
This story is yet another warning to timeshare owners, the scammers know how to get you interested, so don’t believe a word of it until you have thoroughly checked them out. The Basic Rule is always, 99% of Cold Calls, Unsolicited emails or texts will be a scam.
On Friday we will bring you the last of our six articles on the military and predatory lending by timeshare sales agents, “Report 6: Active Duty Air Force – Timeshare Renting Jeopardizing Security Clearances”. There are further articles in the pipeline on this subject, but as always we give the developers time to respond, in the end, AIT would rather see a resolution than have to publish.
*Dana Kozlov is an Emmy Award-winning political investigative reporter for CBS2 Chicago. Prior to joining the station in 2003, she worked at WGN, CNN Chicago and WEEK-TV in Peoria, where she began her journalism career in 1992.