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Mexico Timeshare FRAUD: March 28, 2015


EVERYWHERE: This week’s exposé is about Riverside Travel Services and Chatham Escrow, which I’ve covered before. But to help future potential victims avoid their trap, one of their victims has given permission to share his experience with you (of course I’ve redacted his identity to protect his privacy). He said, “Feel free to use my story. I wish I would have known about your website before this got started. I made the mistake of trusting the BBB for my research. I also wanted to unload this timeshare so badly that I didn’t trust my gut feelings about the legitimacy of this deal.”

Here, in detail, is how these scam companies steal money from you. Pay attention and remember that though the companies you’re dealing with might have different names they’re running the same identical scam! They’ll start by assuring you that no upfront money is involved — but here’s how that ends up:

On September 2nd 2014 I received the GUARANTEED ESCROW/PURCHASE/SALE AGREEMENT #555555 and was informed that there were no fee obligations to the seller and we would be closing soon. “Once we have both the signed and executed contract along with all the documentation above, I will be able to provide you with an estimated closing date, usually between 30 to 45 days thereafter.” This obligation was met.

  • On September the 17th Ronald Miller wrote “I would like to inform you that your closing has been scheduled for October 23, 2014.”
  • On September 23rd I was informed that I now had to pay Transfer Fees of $ 567.00 U.S. and Administration Fees of $900.00 U.S. On 10/12/14 these fees were paid.
  • On October 21st I was told I now needed to register as a Foreign Investor for a fee of $1,160.00 U.S. On 10/23/14 these fees were paid.
  • On October 27th I was again misinformed, “They have given us a Revised Closing of November 4, 2014.”
  • On October 31st I was told that I now needed to pay 16% Mexican IVA Tax for $ 2,320.00 U.S. On 11/7/14 these fees were paid.
  • On November 13th I was then told I must pay 11% State Tax for $ 1,595.00 U.S. On 11/24/14 these fees were paid.
  • On December 3rd I was again misrepresented about the contract and I was told “I had previously been informed Closing would be taking place 5 to 7 days business days after Receipt of this document.”
  • On December 4th I was told I must pay a 7% City Tax for $ 1,015.04 U.S. and Erasure of the Records fees for 1,480.00 U.S. On 12/5/14 these fees were paid.
  • On December 9th again misrepresentation: “I have been looking into that very matter and have been informed that we are looking at 5 to 7 business days to close on this sale.”
  • On December 16th I was told that I must pay Removal of Liens for $ 1,230.77 U.S. and Transfer of Ownership for $ 1,461.54 U.S. On 12/19/14 these fees were paid
  • On January 7th I was now told now I must pay 29% Capital Gains for $ 2,560.70 U.S.

At this point I started doing some more investigating.

IF you would like more information I have all the emails and documents.

Attached is the letter I sent them to terminate the contract.

I have filed complaints with the IC3, The State Attorney Generals Office, My Local Police and The [local] Division of the FBI. No one seems to be able to help.


Mr. D. understands that he has been well and truly screwed and he’s sick about it, as I’m sure you can understand. It’s not much consolation that he is far from being alone as a victim of those con artists. He did the right thing by reporting it, though it probably doesn’t seem like it, because the only chance any of these victims have is that enough money has been lost by enough people that government entities will investigate and quietly put together a case (or several cases) against the people involved.

These things always take a long time, so just because there seems to be nothing going on doesn’t necessarily mean investigations aren’t under way. I don’t mean to offer false hope, but the possibility does exist that some of the thieves might at least see some jail time even if you never see any of your money again. They took down Keith Kosco, Julie Duffield, Brendan Hawkins, Michael Kelly and a few others (though their scams were of different types); they might also get the crooks who stole from you.

While there’s life, there’s hope. 😉

As a quick aside, I was recently asked if I’d heard anything more about the whereabouts of Frank and/or Matthew Devellano and what they might be doing nowadays. The answer is “No”, and frankly I hadn’t given them much thought in quite a while. I idly gave them a quick google, though, and came up with a decision by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) filed by Daniel Chavez/Grupo Vidanta against Matthew Devellano, which Chavez won. I’ve mentioned this before, but the down and dirty of it is that Matthew registered a domain name using the word “vida” and Chavez objected to it strenuously (with the help of Holland & Knight) as being an infringement on his trademarks, among other things.

What was Matthew doing with that domain name? Check out WIPO’s conclusion (emphasis provided by me):

The Panel finds that the conclusion it has reached under “rights or legitimate interests” above are also indicative of bad faith on the part of the Respondent.

Moreover, this Panel considers the fact that Respondent [Devellano], either by itself of through its client – as Respondent argued in his first response to the Center – is sending emails to Complainant’s [Chavez’s] clients using the an email address @vivagroupresorts.com [sic], the Domain Name, asking for payments, offering discounts for early payments and even contacting customers by phone to discuss payments is a grave case of fraud and evidence bad faith. This Panel further investigated Complainant’s fraud claim, and found that “Trubaesc Mexico, S.A. de C.V.”, one of the companies whose bank information is forwarded to Complainant’s customers via the @vivagroupresorts.com [sic] email address, for customers to deposit certain amounts of money (along with “Global Consulting B1791, S.A. de C.V.”), has been involved in this timeshare fraud before, as seen on the website “www.justanswer.com/law/63wkc-contacted-resort-development-consultants-purchase.html”.

The Panel finds that, by Respondent’s use of the Domain Name, Respondent is intentionally attempting to attract Internet users who intend to access a website operated or endorsed by Complainant to Respondent’s pay-per-click website and that the Respondent must have had the Complainant in mind when registering the Domain Name. Further, Respondent is taking unfair advantage of Complainant’s goodwill by diverting those Internet users to websites including those operated by the Complainant’s competitors.

The Panel therefore concludes accordingly that the Domain Name was registered and is being used in bad faith.

(Note the typos above: vidagroup was mis-typed vivagroup.)

So what ARE the Devellanos up to these days? Keeping a low profile, for one thing. As for anything else your guess is as good as mine, but if past is prologue…

More information on what you can do if you’ve been scammed follows below the squiggle.


The thieves operating these schemes may feel pretty safe because they’re doing their dirty work from a foreign country, but they’re mistaken if they think the long arm of US or Canadian or other international authorities can’t get them, given enough documentation from the victims of their scams to provide proper incentive. It took a few years to get the infamous Michael Kelly, for instance, but in the end he spent 6 of the last 7 years of his miserable life in jail. And now they’ve nabbed Keith Kosco, who has pleaded guilty to multiple frauds and identity theft.

It can be done. 😉

What you need to do if you are a victim of a scam is contact the authorities:

  • Your local police; There’s little they can do, but it does provide an official record
  • your state attorney general’s office; (or the RCMP or the Office of Consumer Affairs if you’re in Canada;) Make sure to mention it is a transnational, multi-state scam so they can coordinate with other attorneys general
  • the FBI via IC3 (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The IC3 not only collects complaints but also analyzes them, links similar complaints, and discerns patterns in order to help law enforcement identify the scammers);
  • the US  Marshals Service;
  • Interpol – United States Central Bureau; Interpol’s databases help law enforcement see the big picture of international crime. While other agencies have their own extensive crime databases, the information rarely extends beyond one nation’s borders. Interpol can track criminals and crime trends around the world. They maintain collections of fingerprints and face photos, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples and travel documents. Their lost and stolen travel document database alone contains more than 12 million records. They also analyze all these data and release information on crime trends to the member countries.
  • the Department of Justice – Office of International Affairs; and anyone else you can think of.

Again: CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE ALL OF THE POSTS IN THIS BLOG ABOUT MEXICO’S TIMESHARE RESALE/ESCROW/BANK WIRE SCAMS! If any of them resemble a scenario that applies to you, EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT EXACTLY THE SAME, assume it’s a scam and walk away.

And if you still think that maybe your case is different and might be for reals, send me the details BEFORE you wire any funds to Mexico (or anywhere else) and I’ll check it out for you. Email gatekeeper@insidethegate.com


“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

Permanent link to this article: https://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2015/03/mexico-timeshare-fraud-march-28-2015/


  1. Scammed in Nevada

    I fell into the same scams as stated above. I was in two scams at the same time. The first was a company called 1st Advantage Realty with their Escrow Empire Title Services. I checked 1st Advantage Realty (out of St. Louis Park, MN – 952-236-4207) and at first it was an A+ with BBB but could not find Empire Title Services (out of Lake Elmo, MN 651-319-5244). I went to DRE and found both companies but Empire Title Services were voluntarily dissolved. But they said I had to pay the renovation fee (which I really did) and to wire the money to them $964, I did. They set a closing date but first I had to pay the $3,412.80 (I have not paid that). At first their phone number would show up on my phone, then it just showed “No Caller ID.” When I blocked these numbers they started using other numbers that I did not recognize. When I answered on one occasion, he said his name was Jonathan Diaz, where all along he said it was Robert Diaz (maybe brothers). I told them that I was not going to send any more money to Mexico and requested my refund and if I did not receive it I would report to the authorities. I have heard nothing from them.

    The second scam involved an attorney saying he is from the federal government Lic. Jose Ramirez Sanchez,Dirección de Verificación clientes.usa@subprocu-verificacion-gob.mx and saying the Mexican Government has awarded me funds from timeshare scams. After a few phone calls from him, he said the federal judge awarded $57,000+ to me and provided me with a number to give to the bank to verify who I was. The second person to call was the bank, I provided him with the number and he said I needed to send $2,299.24 to open the account in my name so the monies I was awarded can be put in there. I wired that money. Then a person by the name of Richard Perez Martinez with Aduana (informes@aduana-gob.mx) called and said I needed to pay $5,380 as it was a duty or sometime of tax, but I would be getting all of the money back. I wired $5,000. Then I get a call from Lic. Fernando Montez Pérez, claiming to be with the C.N.B.V. out of Mexico and I needed to pay an additional $4,417.37 because of taxes. I told him to just take it out of the monies awarded to me and he said he could not. He has called and I told him to email me. He did inquiring as to when he could expect the monies so he could send me the monies awarded. I wrote back that I was not going to send anymore money to Mexico and told him I would report him to all the authorities if they did not refund all the monies I wired transferred. I am in the process of doing just that. I know I will probably never see that money again. But wanted to share my incident with other individuals as well to let them know to not fall for this scam. The documents do look authentic and even the attorney believed they were real.


  2. Susie Got Screwed

    I fell into the same trap along with other people. International Financial Partners and Investment Capital Group as the escrow company. I went to International Financial Partners and their was a business there, but nobody has been back since. Alison Black, Deborah McLauren, Jack Ryan, Carlos Sanchez, Craig Crofton, and a new one as of Monday, April 6, 2015, Alex Castillo. Jack Ryan sent me an email that said sorry he took my money.
    Alison Black and Deborah has nasty smoker’s voices.



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