>> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS
ANYWHERE: “Everything old is new again,” says the old Peter Allen song, and I’m not inclined to argue.
Appearing on the Mexico timeshare fraud scene this week is an old recovery/refund scam with a new (to me) twist, which is that the operators are supposedly working out of the USA instead of Mexico — but are they really? This is essentially the Subprocuraduria scam, but without the obvious Mexican component.
The players: World Wide Recovery Management, supposedly a Pennsylvania company, and (allegedly) a New York attorney named James Arthur Harris (New York Registration number 2393239).
Here’s the email that started this off, from a couple who had previously been scammed by Fidelity First Escrow/Fairmount Real Estate and Equity group:
Yesterday we were contacted by World Wide Recovery Management, James Arthur Harris an Attorney from New York Registration number 2393239, and Mr Paul Graham the contact person for World Wide Recovery. I have attached the document, Attorney Retainer Agreement, which they are requesting signatures and a full recovery of the wire transfer of funds, PLUS the amount for the sale of our timeshare.
I did a search on your web site but did not find any of these names as fraudulent.
Please advise on how we should proceed. I believe this is a follow up scam.
Let’s get right to it. The emailer is right to believe this is “a follow up scam”. To begin with, a search of Pennsylvania’s corporate database shows that there is no legal company in the state named World Wide Recovery Management. It doesn’t exist.
Naturally enough since the company is fake, the address they use does not belong to them either. That address belongs to Comcast Center, a new skyscraper that does not have World Wide as a tenant.
As for the attorney, there is a real attorney with that name and registration # who was admitted to the NY Bar in 1991, but finding him to ask about his supposed affiliation with World Wide is proving to be difficult. For several reasons I suspect that the scammers have stolen that identity. For instance, the document says: This contract shall be governed by the laws of the State of Pennsylvania and any applicable Federal law. A Pennsylvania company is using a NY attorney (Pro Bono!) for investigative and research purposes? But all questions or doubts should be addressed to World Wide via Paul Graham? And the client is given no means to contact the attorney? It does not make sense.
But here’s the thing. World Wide’s website claims, “The World Wide Recovery Management Group is a network of U.S. and foreign attorneys committed to providing a comprehensive investigative and advisory service for individuals and entities seeking the recovery of foreign assets or claims.” Sure you are. Right. Unh-hunh. But that’s their cover, and their website is superficially pretty impressive.
It’s curious to me that I’ve not heard of them before. Their website/domain name has only been registered since May 2014, and was renewed this month (May 2015) for one more year. If they’ve been operating for a whole year I’m surprised I haven’t heard of them before and that there is not much info about them online, complaints or otherwise. Nor do the phone numbers they use (both of them are VoIP (Voice over IP, Internet Phone #’s like Skype or Magic Jack) bring up much of anything.
And though the name is new to me, the website looked familiar. Guess why? That’s where I hit pay dirt. Further research shows identical language on other websites, such as The International Asset Recovery Group (iarg.com); Foreign Asset Recovery Group (domain/website account suspended); and Friedman and Cohen (friedmanandcohen.com/) among others. Yeah, I’d seen it before under different company names!
World Wide has simply copied language used on other websites and pasted it into their own; specifically, the language, structure, links, etc. are identical to the Friedman and Cohen website. Naturally I wonder if World Wide is just the most recent incarnation of those other companies, run by the same scoundrels?
In any case, since World Wide is not a legitimately registered company in the state of Pennsylvania there is no reason to expect their alleged use of a NY attorney to be on the up-and-up either. They may be counting on the difficulty of their victims being able to reach the attorney to ask him about it.
AND of course their promise of “a full recovery of the wire transfer of funds, PLUS the amount for the sale of our timeshare” is a major red flag. No way Jose!
Information on what steps you can take if you’ve been scammed, as well as how to recognize a scam, follows below the squiggle.
►►► CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE ALL OF THE POSTS IN THIS BLOG ABOUT MEXICO’S TIMESHARE RESALE/ESCROW/BANK WIRE SCAMS!
CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE IN DETAIL HOW THE TELEMARKETING BOILER ROOMS IN THE PUERTO VALLARTA AREA OPERATE PLUS THE REAL NAMES OF SOME OF THE SCAMMERS!
CLICK ON THIS LINK TO LEARN HOW TO RECOGNIZE IF YOU’VE BEEN TARGETED IN A RECOVERY/REFUND SCAM ◄◄◄
►►► Keep in mind that operating a scam from within a foreign country does not make anyone safe from the long arm of the law in the USA or elsewhere. For example:
A 21-year-old Florida woman who said she dropped out of school in ninth grade admitted Monday that she defrauded about $800,000 from unsuspecting investors.
Using the stolen identity of a Credit Suisse bank official, a UPS mail drop in Fort Lauderdale and her experience as a timeshare saleswoman, Amy Brook Wilkerson admitted running the scam while living overseas in Turkey and Georgia.
See the rest at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/crime/fl-fraud-broward-credit-suisse-20150112-story.html
But to reach that point authorities must have serious documentation that some kind of crime has indeed been committed. So take whatever evidence you may have, make your case to the proper authorities and make sure you explain that others across the country (and internationally) are doing this, too, that the scheme affects many people from all over to the tune of millions of dollars. ◄◄◄
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; Make sure to mention it is an international, 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.
It isn’t likely to help you get any of your funds back, but eventually it might help obtain some sort of justice in shutting them down/getting some of them arrested. Keep in mind that many of the scammers are US Citizens, Canadians and Brits; they can all be prosecuted (including Mexicans) if enough evidence is collected by authorities and if they can then be located and arrested.
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 [email protected]
“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: [email protected]