- Someone contacts you and tells you they have a buyer/renter for your Mexican timeshare who is willing to pay you more than you originally paid for it. THE TRUTH: Sorry, but no one is going to purchase or rent your timeshare for anything near what you paid.
- Someone contacts you saying some branch of the Mexican Government has set up a fund to reimburse victims of timeshare fraud in Mexico, and you’re one of the lucky ones. THE TRUTH: There is no such fund! It is a bald-faced lie, no matter how legitimate their documents look!
- AND THE BIGGEST RED FLAG: YOU ARE ASKED TO BANK WIRE FUNDS TO AN ESCROW ACCOUNT IN MEXICO (OR SOME OTHER COUNTRY) TO PAY FOR SOME SORT OF FEES AND/OR TAXES. THE TRUTH: The “escrow account” is fraudulent; the fees/taxes are fraudulent; once you wire the money you will never get it back.
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 get anyone’s 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.
One of the more vile timeshare resale frauds now proliferating is what we call the Mexico Escrow Scam or the Mexico Bank Wire Scam. Our weekly blog, The GateHouse, has covered this issue fairly extensively but it needs permanent discussion here since the problem has become an epidemic and the chances of victims ever recovering any of their lost money are slim to none.
First, the WARNING: If you own a timeshare in Mexico and someone calls or emails you to tell you they can get you out of that timeshare or has a buyer for it (usually for as much as or more than you paid for it), put your tinfoil hat on. ESPECIALLY if/when you are asked to wire money to an escrow account in Mexico. This is a hot and very profitable scam running in Mexico, and if you send money you will never see it again. AND you will still own that Mexican timeshare. The part that really stings is that most of those scams seem to be operated by American and Canadian expats. DO NOT, we repeat DO NOT WIRE OR OTHERWISE SEND THEM MONEY!!!
We call these scams “the Mexico escrow fraud” because they eventually ask you to wire funds to a Mexican escrow company to lull you into a false sense of security. BUT:
- There is no escrow fund. The money gets deposited in a legitimate Mexican bank to an account owned by the perpetrators of the scam.
- There is no legitimate escrow company.
- There is no buyer for your timeshare.
- There is no legitimate title company.
- These companies do not exist at the addresses in the USA they claim.
- Their phone numbers show US area codes but they are usually really calling from Mexico.
- There are no extra fees (taxes, etc.) required by Mexico to sell your timeshare.
- Please visit this link to see the step-by-step process used to con you out of your money http://insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2015/03/mexico-timeshare-fraud-march-28-2015/
In early 2012 our GateHouse blog ran an informative post about this scam that we’re republishing here so you can learn how it works and avoid the grief associated with these scams. Be aware that the names of companies associated with this fraud change in a heartbeat, so you have to be alert. Follow that link and scroll down to where it says Mexico for the blow-by-blow.
The people running these scams are very sophisticated and the documents they will send you look genuine — but they are not. Do not fall for it! Do not EVER wire funds to what you think is an escrow fund in a Mexican (or any other) bank. Once that money is wired you will have little to no recourse to ever getting it back.
You can find out more about these scams as reported in many US States, being operated from Vallarta to Cancun and even Los Cabos, and various names they used by following this link. Or simply go to The GateHouse and type “Mexico Escrow” or “Mexico scams” (without the quotes) into the search bar.
Knowledge is power, said the wise man. Be powerful!