Over in the United States a judge has ordered the man who operated a timeshare exit company to repay more than 1 million dollars to victims after The Better Business Bureau began investigating the company.
Real Travel LLC was found to be charging customers, often elderly, large upfront fees after cold calling them about their timeshares. The company would claim to be able to release them from their timeshares or have buyers ready to purchase them. Often none of the services they promised were performed and victims were left heavily out of pocket and still tied to their timeshares.
In several instances the company defrauded victim’s multiple times, claiming they needed to pay taxes and additional fees, unfortunately some victims continued to do as asked until they were altered to the fact they were being conned. Some victims lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the scam which ran for years until 2018 when officials started receiving complaints from multiple victims across the United States.
Now the matter has been dealt with and the company closed, the man who ran it has been sent to jail, ordered never to work in anything timeshare related again and told to pay back nearly £2.7 million in compensation for victims and fines.
Unfortunately, because of the nature of the timeshare industry and its reliance on maintenance fees, resorts make it incredibly hard for people to leave their contracts. You cannot simply hand it back if you do not want it anymore or cannot afford it. Often you must pay large upfront fees to resorts to cover future maintenance fees. Even if they do offer this option the sad fact is that most resorts do not offer a viable way out and will use your desperation to leave to sell you a new contract.
For those that cannot find a viable way out, they often become desperate to be free from the burden and this opens them up to the possibility of fraudsters who prey on this desperation and know the timeshare industry inside out. These fraudsters have probably worked in timeshare for many years and understand how to get people to hand over large sums of money with false promises and lies. In a recent article published online, an ex-timeshare scammer claimed he had seen the error of his ways and wanted to expose the secrets behind the scams. Incredibly he claimed that these scam operators often deal directly with people who work at resorts. This means private information like telephone numbers and how much someone paid for their timeshare is purchased by scammers who will then call people up and know everything about them. Scammers will do anything to get people to part with their hard-earned cash and they are very good at it. Understanding a timeshare scam and how it works means you are less likely to fall for one and can spot a scammer when they call.
Protect yourself from timeshare fraud:
Never respond to cold callers – ask them how they got your information, what the company name is and report them. By cold calling you they are breaking the law and a nuisance to members of the public. If people report these instances, authorities can investigate, and they may be able to prosecute them and stop them from scamming future victims.
Do not pay for services upfront: If a company asks you to pay for any services related to your timeshare upfront, the best thing to do is end the call. No reputable company would ask for money upfront before even looking at the merits of your case and doing any work for you.
Check online first: There are many places you can go to look up a company that you are thinking of working with. Review sites can be a great place to start as they will give you a good overall view of how the company operates. You can also check to see if they are registered with any regulatory bodies as well, like the Financial Conduct Authority or Trading Standards. Doing a little bit of research pays off and lessons the risk of you engaging the services of a scam company.