Chicago, IL (Feb. 3, 2010) — Most people are looking for ways to reduce their debt or gain some extra spending money in today’s difficult economic conditions. Selling a timeshare is one way for these property owners to gain a better financial position. This need, however, has spawned new schemes to cheat people out of their money.
“There are complaints being filed across the country about callers, who say they are in the timeshare resale business, and who have been misrepresenting sales potential as well as making promises that are not being kept,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “This is a variation of the well-recognized scam that convinces people to send money on a promise of receiving something in return. It simply has been updated to take advantage of current financial conditions.”
People in the Chicago area have been victimized by one company, Resorts Condos Management, currently holding an “F” rating with the BBB. The company is the subject of complaints to BBBs across the U.S. The complainants allege that Resorts Condos Management, located in Irving, Texas, misrepresents, in telemarketing calls, that buyers are already lined up and the transaction needs a deposit from the seller. But after paying upfront fees of over $2,500, according to complaints, the supposed buyers aren’t there and money is difficult to get refunded.
One Chicago-area consumer stated that this company called and said they had a buyer that would pay $31,000 for a timeshare condo. They told the consumer to pay a fee of $3,000 on a credit card and that the deal would close within six weeks. They kept stalling first saying the buyer’s name was confidential, then saying the first offer fell through but they had another one. This out-of-work married couple tried to get a refund for months, and finally obtained a refund after filing a complaint with the BBB.
Another area resident said she received a call from the company stating that it had a buyer with earnest money sitting in its office. They even gave the consumer a fake transaction number. The victim paid a $2,500 fee on a credit card. The deal did not materialize, but the consumer had to persistently call the company to finally get a refund.
Bernas warned potential customers of timeshare resale businesses to have a clear understanding of all terms and conditions of the company’s contract before signing. Also, if the business offers a listing service, find out where the company’s ads will appear, and determine what criteria the company uses when matching potential buyers and sellers of timeshare properties.
“In a typical real estate transaction the fee is paid from the proceeds of the sale, at the time of the sale,” advises the Chicago BBB president. “You may want to opt for a company which will wait for its fee until the sale goes through. You should also find out if the salespeople are licensed real estate brokers and whether there are any complaints lodged against the broker. Be wary of any high-pressure, too-good-to-be-true claims that the timeshare resale market is ‘hot’ or that a buyer is already lined up. And check out the business with the BBB at www.bbb.org.”
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.