OMAHA, Neb. (November 5, 2015) — The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa reminds consumers to be aware of companies claiming they can sell your timeshare if you pay them upfront. A timeshare owner from Montana reported to BBB that she signed on with a company in March 2015 to sell her timeshare, but it didn’t happen.
The owner said she received a phone call from Premier Business Brokers, claiming to be located in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, asking if she would like to sell her timeshare in Mexico. She was told that her resale income from the timeshare property would be $29,854. She agreed to the sale and began working with a company called Executive Title Services allegedly in Omaha, Nebraska. It was supposed to handle the escrow after she wired 10 percent, $2,985.40, to transfer the property for resale. Besides paying in advance for the transfer fee, she has wired a total of $25,575.68 supposedly for: the commission to the man who was conducting the transaction, taxes to release the timeshare, additional taxes due to excess of income compared to Mexicans’ income, closing and administration fees and a fee to finalize the deal.
The victim took out loans to carry out these requests. Throughout her dealings with Executive Title Services, the seller was repeatedly informed that the buyer of the timeshare would be reimbursing her for all fees she paid. To date, she has received nothing and has to pay back the money that was borrowed.
Several weeks ago, the seller received a letter stating that she still owed $12,000 for “using a Mexican timeshare contract.” She did not pay this fee and notified BBB after Executive Title Services began threatening her that it will get her Social Security number, take money out of her bank accounts and place liens on her property. Unfortunately, she did provide Executive Title Services with her credit union account number and has been working with the credit union to keep them informed of her dealings with this perpetrator. Her accounts have had alerts placed on them.
While there may be legitimate entities in the US using these or similar names, BBB believes that both business names involved in this scheme are fraudulent online entities. Over the last several years, many companies claiming to be located in the Midwest and purporting to offer timeshare reselling services have proved to be fraudulent foreign entities. In many cases, they have hijacked the names of legitimate U.S. firms in an effort to lend legitimacy to this scam.
“If you own a vacation timeshare — the use of a vacation home for a limited, pre-planned time — be cautious of bogus resale companies who take advantage of anxious sellers in an overcrowded market,” stated BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty. He advises, “Never wire money to companies or individuals you don’t know personally. The act of requesting a wire transfer as the method of payment is a tell-tale sign of a scam. In addition, if you are contacted by phone regarding your timeshare, get all information in writing. Don’t agree to anything until you have had the chance to thoroughly check the company out with BBB at bbbinc.org or call us toll-free at 800-649-6814.”
BBB offers these tips to those seeking to sell their timeshares:
• Be realistic. In regard to timeshares, it’s generally a buyer’s — not a seller’s — market. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may contact you claiming that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises often prove to be false.
• Be Wary of Upfront Fees. Remember, unless it’s negotiated into the purchase agreement, only buyers pay closing costs. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold. Many complaints to BBB regarding timeshare resellers involve situations where people were told they needed to wire “advance appraisal fees,” escrow funds or that they just had to pay closing costs and their timeshare would be sold. Never wire money to people you don’t know.
• Use a Business You can Trust. Make sure the timeshare reseller you use is a BBB Accredited Business or at the very least has a good rating with BBB. You can research businesses for free at bbb.org.
• Confirm Licensing Requirements. Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company’s salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.
• Get the Facts on the Figures. Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
• Don’t Fall for the Hard Sell or an Offer that Sounds Too Good to Be True. Don’t agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don’t be pressured. You may want to have an attorney review any purchase agreement.
• Watch out for third-party companies. Fraudulent timeshare reselling entities often associate with alleged third-party title or escrow services. Be sure to research those companies as well. If you can’t find any information, it may be a sign that there is a problem.
PRESS RELEASE SOURCE: Better Business Bureau