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Timeshare owners plagued by scams

If you own a timeshare and haven't had any luck selling it, you're a prime target for scammers.

By Mitch Lipka May 1, 2013 4:42PM
Fort Myers Beach, Fla.© Ilene MacDonald, AlamyTimeshare owners across America, who have long enjoyed their vacations but for various reasons no longer want to use their weeks away, are in the cross-hairs of scammers taking advantage of the difficulty many have had unloading the properties.

While timeshare reselling scams are nothing new, they're surging again, prompting warnings from attorneys general and the Better Business Bureau.

"There are almost endless variations of timeshare resale fraud," Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington said in a warning about the scams. "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."

The way the scams usually work is the timeshare owner will be approached by someone who claims they can sell the property. They might claim they have a buyer or that they can actually help sell the timeshare for a profit.

The claims can be pretty tempting to someone who has unsuccessfully tried to sell a property for years and has been paying maintenance fees.

Scammers thrive on consumers' desperation. The more frustrated you are, the easier you are as a target. Some of the scams are elaborate and are easy to believe, especially when you really want to believe that someone can actually help you get rid of the property. Scammers will use professional-looking websites and even pretend to be from legitimate real estate companies.

The big red flags
But what really sets the scams apart from any legitimate attempts to market a timeshare property is the request for money up front.

You should never advance anyone the anticipated proceeds of a sale of property. When the deal's done is when everyone gets paid.

Another huge red flag -- really huge and really red -- is that not only will they want payment up front, but they'll insist that you send it via a money transfer service such as Western Union or MoneyGram.

A desperate and vulnerable potential victim wants to believe the scammer's many promises. They might offer a guarantee or some other reassuring gesture that ends up being hollow. Once your cash is gone -- which is what happens in a money transfer -- it's gone.

Scammers don't want you to check them out, so they'll most likely apply pressure to try to get you to make a decision on the spot. Don't.

Washington's attorney general's office recommends that you "Ask companies to provide paperwork and get all promises, fees and obligations in writing." This way you can take time, think about the offer and check it out. When a potential victim steps away from the pressure of a slick, hard-selling scammer, the deception becomes more apparent.

For those who want to sell a timeshare -- or give one away -- there are options. As much as the resale market for timeshares present challenges for sellers, there are some marketplaces like My Resort Network. You could also consider transferring the property to a friend or relative who might have more use of it or approach the timeshare company to see if they would be willing to take back the property -- something that would only work if you no longer owe any money on it.

You should also check out these tips from the American Resort Development Association.

More from MSN Money:


12Comments
May 1, 2013 5:54PM
May 4, 2013 5:53PM
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they got scammed when they first signed the contract. live and learn i suppose.
May 3, 2013 8:33AM
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Sell your timeshare with authorized resale companies recognised by the RDO,  use www.travelandleisure.co.uk or any other recognised resellers.
May 2, 2013 4:33PM
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Timeshares can be a considerable option for those who love traveling, but they come with huge financial risks. Besides the initial purchase price and the down payment, there are other fees to consider. Timeshare maintenance fees are the most important charge that the resorts make to the owners: 
Jul 14, 2014 4:57PM
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This fraud is increasing fast. The typical scheme involves a cold call from a timeshare broker claiming to have a buyer willing to pay big bucks. People are entice to get money and the timeshare out of their monthly expenses. The con man asks for upfront fees to complete the transaction, if they hear again from him is only to request for more money. http://www.timesharescam.com/

Jun 3, 2014 11:21AM
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Timeshares need to be looked up as a purchase and not an investment. Regardless of how timeshares are presented, they don´t perform as well as a house or stock investment. If you look around the resale market for timeshares on websites like EBay, Redweek, or TUGBBS will find that you can buy a timeshare for far less money than what the first owner purchased it for. http://www.timesharescam.com/
May 27, 2014 4:27PM
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Thousands of International travelers, particularly from the US and Canada, have fallen victims of while vacationing in Mexico. Resort developers hire skilled salesmen to represent their timeshares as many different attractive packages, such as , deeded properties, or vacation clubs, just to increase their sales. http://www.timesharescam.com/
Mar 21, 2014 2:50PM
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Timeshare industry is known for being very susceptible to scams.  Year after year, thousands of people around the world feel they were scammed by a timeshare developer. The reason why fractional ownership is successful, it’s because shared properties have become a tremendously profitable way for resorts to sell real estate- mostly suites in important touristic destinations. On the other hand, despite the success, timeshares have gained a bad reputation. http://www.timesharescam.com/
Oct 15, 2013 12:20PM
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Timeshare industry is known for being very susceptible to scams.  Year after year, thousands of people around the world feel they were scammed by a timeshare developer. The reason why fractional ownership is successful, it’s because shared properties have become a tremendously profitable way for resorts to sell real estate- mostly suites in important touristic destinations. On the other hand, despite the success, timeshares have gained a bad reputation. 
May 31, 2013 12:46PM
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The timeshare industry has two faces: on the one hand, has guaranteed vacations in beautiful and luxury suites at amazing places and promise to be less expensive over time to travel through a travel agent. On the other hand, unfortunately is also rife of deception, misrepresented promises and scams by unscrupulous sellers who are not interested in nothing but their welfare despite leaving an innocent purchaser with unnecessary debt. There are some scammer resorts that like to defraud people, one example is Villa del Palmar avoid it: 
May 10, 2013 12:24PM
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The timeshare resale market is in rough shape, owner need to be really careful. If they don't have luck selling, there are other options like donating the week to charity, there are charities like the National Foundation for Cancer Research that will still take them.
May 6, 2013 12:44PM
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Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise. This is a good article on how most of these scams are being committed: 


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