OLYMPIA, WA (April 30, 2013) — Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the Better Business Bureau are teaming up to remind consumers that scammers never take a vacation. Both the AGO and the BBB have seen a recent spike in “Timeshare Reseller” scams. Together both agencies have received more than 20 complaints since the start of the year.
“There are almost endless variations of timeshare resale fraud,” warns Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. “Timeshare owners need to be wary when thinking about retaining the services of people and companies promising to market and sell properties on their behalf.”
Fraudsters will pose as and use the identities of legitimate real estate brokers and then demand cash up front from eager buyers who are convinced they’re getting a deal. One complainant told the Washington State Attorney General that his elderly mother lost $8,000 in advance fees to a scammer offering to purchase her timeshare.
“No matter what name the company uses, no legitimate timeshare resale business cold calls timeshare owners offering more than what the owner originally paid,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “One of the easiest ways to spot a scam is to refer to the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
BBB and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office say the best way to detect fraud is to identify the red flags:
- Upfront Payments. Be cautious of advance fees. Opt for a company that charges fees only after the property is sold.
- Cash or Wire Transfer Only. Scammers will often demand that buyers pay with cash or wire transfer so that it makes it next to impossible to get the money back. Use a credit card so that it’s easier to dispute the charges.
- Failure to Disclose Information. Watch out for companies that may be unlicensed or refuse to provide a phone number and/or address.
- Unqualified Guarantees. Be wary of “money-back” guarantees and promises that a timeshare can be sold within a certain period of time.
- Don’t agree to anything right away. Ask companies to provide paperwork and get all promises, fees and obligations in writing. Don’t be pressured; think it over and seek advice from an unbiased legal professional.