Unfortunately, timeshare owners not only suffer because they are largely mis-sold in the first place but often desperate owners wanting to offload them are targeted again by fraudsters looking to take advantage of their situation. Timeshare scams are extremely common and cause a lot of distress to victims who can lose thousands at the hands of unscrupulous companies. It then leaves owners out of pocket and wondering where to turn to next and who to trust.
Over in the Unites States timeshare scams are extremely common and officials do not seem to be able to stop the stream of scammers who spring up just as quickly as another is shut down. Florida is the homeland of timeshare and many of the scam companies operate in the State scamming victims all over the country. The reason there is so many scam companies in the States is mainly since there are so many owners, in fact over 9 million people own timeshares in The United States. Unlike the UK and Europe there is also a fairly buoyant resale market as well, this has created another opportunity for scam companies to target people who want to sell their timeshares.
In Florida, The Attorney General’s office has acted fiercely against the growing stream of scammers and are naming and shaming those that are caught taking money from innocent people. According to an investigation by the Orlando Police Department a company named as Paramount Property Professionals targeted timeshares owners over a two-year period, claiming to be able to sell their unwanted timeshares. The company contacted owners out of the blue claiming they had buyers ready to purchase their timeshares, when in fact the reality was, they did not have people lined up they simply took large marketing fees from victims and left them high and dry. The investigation also revealed the company claimed to issue refunds if timeshare sales were unable to complete, but none of the elderly victims received refunds and were simply fobbed off by staff.
The Attorney General’s Office stepped in and took the company and its owner to court. The owner pled guilty to defrauding more than 50 people and was ordered to pay nearly $90,000 in restitution for victims that were targeted. He was also sentenced to 11 months in prison for his fraudulent scheme and the company was shut down. Detectives working on the case said: “This company knowingly defrauded victims in Orlando and state-wide, most of whom were elderly, using a scheme to sell or rent their timeshares. We are happy that we were able to give some of the victims the satisfaction of getting their money back and knowing this individual will be spending some time in jail.”
Only use a reputable authorised company: We speak to clients daily, who have been through the turmoil of a timeshare scam. It is heart-breaking for many people and can leave them out of pocket, financially strained and sometimes in debt. With so much at stake it pays to do a bit of research. Is the company you are thinking of working with regulated by anyone? Sometimes they say they are but check this out too as this is very common. You can check the Financial Conduct Authority register for registered companies and also your local trading standards.
Finally, if you do find yourself the victim of a scam or you have been cold called by a company claiming they can help you, report them. If the authorities are made aware of rogue companies and people complain they can investigate and possibly take action to stop future potential victims from being scammed out of their hard-earned cash.