The world is filled with people who scheme to separate you from your money. The timeshare industry is no exception. For every company conducting legitimate business there is another engaging in fraudulent resale tactics that can cost you thousands of dollars and your property.
Fraudulent resale companies typically obtain your contact information through public records and call you unsolicited, often claiming an affiliation with your resort. They utilize a variety of tactics to con you out of your money. We were recently notified of just such an attempt by an owner who received an unsolicited phone call offering a buyer for his vacation property. The company in this case (First Option Property Management of New Mexico in partnership with Green Leaf Escrow Services) asked for a transfer fee of more than $2,500 to complete a sale of $26,400. If you receive an unsolicited call from a company asking for upfront money to sell your timeshare, it is a scam.
Here are some typical fraudulent tactics these companies employ:
- They ask you to deed over your property by filling out transfer of ownership documents that name the company as the buyer. Then they will request upfront fees to “list” the property or “secure a deposit,” promising to refund the fees upon closing
- They will negotiate a starting asking price well below your original purchase price to provoke a rejection. The salesperson will then “talk” to a fictitious manager and return with a second, more agreeable offer thousands above the original sales price to entice you into selling
- They ask how much coverage you have on your title insurance (typically the amount of the sales price), then claim your timeshare has gone up in value and request you send them a payment to cover the difference
- They tell you your resort is now or will soon be in bankruptcy and that the current phone call represents your only chance to sell your property
Characteristics of fraudulent resale companies include the lack of a website you can readily Google. If there is a site it may contain a PO Box instead of a physical address in the contact information. Often there is no contact information at all. A phone number, if one is listed, is usually a fake. The best rule of thumb is never give important signed documents or upfront money to companies you have not contacted.