Timeshare Scammers Indicted in New Orleans Federal Court
The dangers of high-pressure sales pitches of timeshare companies are well reported, but what you might not be well aware of are scammers taking advantage of those trying to exit their unwanted timeshare. Unfortunately, we live in a world full of people ready to prey on the vulnerable. And those trying to find a way to be free of their timeshare are incredibly inclined to fall for scams promising to help them. With rising fees causing owners financial stress, people are willing to do just about anything to be free of their contract for good. So when a company comes along promising to sell their timeshare for them or get rid of the agreement, people throw their money at them.
But, these stories don’t end well. Timeshare scam exit companies will take this money and run. Many disappear for good, with no contact with the timeshare owner at all, while others will continue to bleed more and more cash from these vulnerable people over time.
If you have suffered at the hands of a timeshare scam exit company, or want to be aware of what to look out for, then keep reading. As timeshare experts, Athena Law has compiled a list of what you need to be mindful of when looking to exit your contract, as well as what we can do to help those who have been scammed.
Case Study – New Orleans
A federal grand jury in New Orleans has indicted several Mexican nationals who were allegedly involved in a phone scam which netted upwards of $10 million. Their victims were from the U.S., Canada and South America, showing the far reach of scam companies like this. The scammers operated under the names of phone businesses ‘Planet Travel’ and ‘Newport International’ to appear as credible companies.
They would call people who owned timeshares and promised to sell their units and contracts and free them from the payments and fees associated with their timeshare. But all for a price, of course. Then, rather than helping these desperate timeshare owners, the scammers would pocket the money and never sell the unwanted timeshare.
The FBI finally got involved when a couple from New Orleans claimed that they were scammed out of more than $500,000 as they continued to pay fees to the scammers to facilitate the sale of their timeshare – which never happened.
In the U.S. alone, there were more than 50 victims, more than 40 of which were over the age of 60. It highlights the sales tactics of scam exit companies like these who target the vulnerable who may not be able to protect themselves.
Lies and Manipulation
What should you look out for when trying to find a company who will help you exit your unwanted timeshare? The timeshare industry is rife with people willing to make more money off vulnerable timeshare owners, so you need to make sure a company is 100% legit before you give them any money.
You might have been told that any company which asks for money up-front is a fake. This isn’t necessarily true as many legit companies might ask for up-front fees for various cases they think will need more work or are harder to fight. Cases which can be a straightforward win might be done on a no-win, no-fee basis. You need to look into the company you are using and scour their website to learn more about their specific methods of payment. If there is little information bar a ‘pay us this much’ phone call, then be more hesitant to offer them your money.
Cold calls are popular ways for timeshare scam exit companies to gain ‘clients’ and take their money. They will call up people they know own a timeshare and make promises of selling their unit or getting them off their unwanted contract for good. But, this isn’t the only way they manipulate timeshare owners. Older timeshare owners are becoming targets for many scam exit companies who coerce owners with free lunch and dinner seminar invitations to get them to listen to their pitches. This is similar to the tactics of timeshare salespeople, so it might be easier to recognise this tactic and say no.
The first thing you should do when you come into contact with any timeshare exit company is to research them thoroughly. Look into them as much as you can – beyond just their website – and see if you can find reviews from those who have worked with them before. It’s easier to trust the opinion of a previous client that words from the mouth of a salesperson.
If you have already given money to a timeshare exit company and are worried you are being scammed, then lookout for the following:
- Have they stopped contacting you? Try and call the company for an update on your case. If you continiously call and no one answers, even during regular working hours, then it might be time to start getting concerned.
- Have they told you that the timeshare deed has been transferred? Rather than just accepting this, stopping your maintenance payments and moving on with your life, you need to ask for evidence. You should be able to get proof from the company that this transfer has happened beyond a simple confirmation over the phone.
Don’t take anything the exit company says for granted and always ask for evidence. Otherwise, you can stop paying your fees when you should be paying, and end up with ruined credit.
What Can You Do?
So what can you do if you have an unwanted timeshare? Once you have made the decision you need to let go of your timeshare for good, you should try to get legal help. Athena Law are timeshare experts and can find ways to exit a contract you may have never thought of before. It can be hard to exit a contract for good, but the lawyers at Athena Law know what to look for.
Athena Law can research the timeshare company in more depth as well as look closely at your contract, and see if there are any exit clauses or ways for you to smoothly leave your agreement. Some companies allow owners to surrender their timeshares, though they may have you prepay maintenance fees. Rather than threatening the company and halting your payments (and rusk ruining your credit), speak to an expert who can advise you on what to do.
Sometimes people may have been mis-sold a timeshare or have faced illegal high-pressure sales tactics. Those who feel like they are stuck with a timeshare which is different from what they paid for need to take photos of everything and contact Athena Law as soon as possible.
Athena Law takes each case individually and looks at ways we can end unwanted contracts based on the unique circumstances of each client. Some will be easier to negotiate than others, while some clients may end up fighting in court. But with Athena Law by your side, you can relax knowing you have experts supporting you who care about the outcome and not just the money. Check out our website today to learn more about Athena Law and how we can help you.