May 19, 2017 — In the United States as well as all around the world, and going back centuries if not since the dawn of time, there continue to be organizations that operate outside the law. In Japan, for example, the “Yakuza” is probably recognized as that nation’s top organized crime group. In China and nearby nations there are the “Triads”. In the USA we’ve got our own ‘mob’ and in the former Soviet Union, now Russia, they have their own mafia known as the “Bratva” (brotherhood).
So Here’s The Scoop: Then, south of the U.S. border in Mexico they, too, host their own organized criminal groups such as the notorious “Sinaloa Cartel” which arguably, even with the capture and deportation of the big boss (Jefe) Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán to the U.S. – is still one of the biggest (if not the biggest) syndicates in the nation of about 130 Million citizens.
As a reminder only, all these criminal groups are usually involved locally, regionally nationally and/or internationally in all sorts of activities including but not limited to: illegal gambling, murder, kidnapping, terrorism acts, counterfeiting, fraud, extortion, money laundering, blackmail, loan-sharking, copyright infringement, prostitution, cyber crime, political crime (corruption), human and drug trafficking, weapons ‘running’ and all other forms of racketeering.
To put that another way if there is a serious ‘buck’, Peso, Yen, Euro, Yuan or Ruble, etc. to be made they’re all in and, quite frankly, that includes setting up and operating legitimate types of businesses such as a chain of retail operations as a ‘front’ in an attempt to conceal their other activities.
And then there is what I’ll call the Russian Syndicate. For some time now our very popular Timeshare Blog section The Gatehouse has been reporting that among the millions of U.S. and Canadian timeshare owners/members many thousand continue to be ripped off by scammers operating in México, collectively, to the tune of millions of dollars (USD) each month.
For those who haven’t been following the story, the thugs are contacting TS owners/members with a bogus exit/resale offer for those who need and/or want to get out of their timeshare plans and what started out several years ago as a small boiler (phone) room operation in Mexico has grown significantly with ‘offices’ spreading throughout the nation and beyond.
Indeed this ‘racket’ has become so large that I am personally of the belief that with hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Canadian timeshare owners/members likely desiring an ‘exit’ from their TS plan – and with these criminals charging thousands of dollars (minimum) per victim to get them ‘out’ – the amount of money on the table has to have attracted syndicates that are demanding, at a least, a ‘cut’ of the action from the criminals who started the whole tamale.
Okay, but why would I claim there might be Russian mobsters involved in this timeshare resale scam in Mexico?
Well, I don’t have any concrete evidence but like many of you I have also read that the “Bratva” has been spreading their tentacles outside their traditional A/O (area of operation) in Russia & Europe – and according to various sources their new target market (aka: nations) includes Mexico and English-speaking tourists vacationing there.
For example, one article in the “Daily Mail” claimed that just in the Cancun area the Russian Mafia may also be stealing millions of dollars each month from tourist using ATM’s to withdraw cash while on holiday.
And there are other articles suggesting that while hundreds of thousands of Russians are visiting Mexico each year for legitimate vacationing and business purposes, a small percentage of those folks may also be staying beyond the time their visas permit – which begs the question, if true – why and/or what could they be up to and/or doing?
Lastly, a couple of Expats living and working in our industry in Mexico have told me the Bratva seems to have become involved in timeshare activities in Mexico including funding and managing timeshare marketing operations, etc. and that the Russians, by the way, aren’t playing ‘nice’ with others.
Between what these tipsters have told me and what I have suspected for some time it is possible the ‘brotherhood’ could be involved in one or more of these timeshare boiler room (resale) operations in Mexico that are fleecing tens of millions of dollars each month from Canadian & U.S. timeshare owners/members.
But even if the Russian ‘mob’ isn’t involved in this scam the big rip, so to speak, continues and once again I plead with all timeshare developers, the exchange companies, ARDA and the HOA’s etc. to contact their owners/members immediately via (e.g.) an eblast and warm them.
I call for this ‘eblast’ because here at InsideTheGate.Com (ITG) we hear from many owners/members each and every week and some, once they understand the magnitude of the heist, are not happy that our industry and/or their ‘home’ resort did not even have the decency, courtesy or common sense to at least give them a ‘heads-ups’ – and I concur.
Good luck Out There,
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