Timeshare scams are on the rise as fraudsters up their game.
What is timeshare scam and why is it on the rise?
Timeshare scams are on the rise and this is mostly down to the pure and simple fact that fraudsters can make quick, easy and incredibly large sums of money from this type of fraud, not to mention, the thousands of victims they have to target. Fraudsters working within timeshare prey on the fact that many timeshare owners would consider selling their timeshare given the chance, if they are not already actively trying to sell their timeshare. They use this knowledge to look to exploit weaknesses or concerns of the timeshare owner such as rising costs, the death of a loved one or will put pressure on the owner to consider the impact of timeshare on dependents after they are no longer around. Timeshare scammers are professionals in their line of trickery and know how to talk persuasively to convince you that you need to part ways with your timeshare for an upfront cost.
According to Police Professional, almost £8 million has been taken from timeshare owners by scammers in the first half of 2018 alone. This shocking figure exposes the vulnerability of timeshare owners throughout the UK and highlights the fact that timeshare owners are a target of fraud and that people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances can be tricked. Timeshare scams can operate in various ways (as we outlined in more detail in this blog). Some scams involve fraudsters promising they can sell or rent your property quickly and easily for an upfront fee before disappearing, others find victims that have already been subject to fraud and trick them again by posing as lawyers or solicitors and promising to help them. They may say they can put in a claim for them and get their money back or help them finally sell their timeshare properly only to again take an upfront fee and then not take any steps to help them legally exit their timeshare contract.
How do timeshare scammers operate?
Timeshare scammers can operate in different ways. Some are very small operations run from home spanning right up to huge intricate criminal networks looking to bring in millions each year from their victims. This article by AARP magazine exposes the shocking reality of the scale of timeshare fraud. Talking to a criminal who had operated illegally in timeshare very successfully, the article uncovers the fact that timeshare victims are being exposed through their contact information. By listing properties on sites like craigslist or gumtree along with phone numbers or other contact information, timeshare property owners open themselves up to fraudsters. The scammers already know some detail about the property and the situation and can use this to spin a convincing narrative claiming to be from a reputable company or even the resort itself. As well as sites like these, some fraudsters buy contact information from dodgy employees of the resort that are happy to pass on the information. Many timeshare sales are public information and all of this means that fraudsters can find a way to make that first point of contact and begin their persuasive tactics to get you to part with your money.
Some scammers don’t only operate by making direct contact through a phone call or a letter in the post. They may build fake websites promising incredible deals on new timeshare units or may have websites claiming to be timeshare solicitors or lawyers. These websites can look incredibly realistic and trick people into believing their credibility. The website will encourage the victim to pay a sum, perhaps a few thousand pounds, for a product or service that seems like an incredible deal. The website may then disappear a few weeks later along with your money.
How can I avoid timeshare fraudsters?
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true then chances are, it probably is. Never agree to signing a contract on the spot – always ask to take the contract away to give yourself time to read the small print and seek the advice of a lawyer before you sign or make any payments. A reputable company should have no problem with you doing this – and if the company in contact with you says no or puts pressure on you to sign immediately then warning flags need to go up and you should walk away. The Cheshire Police recommend getting any verbal promises from the company in writing and stress the importance of remembering that you can walk away from a presentation at anytime or put down the phone on a cold caller offering their services. Some of these fraudsters can be incredibly persuasive and are experts in getting their victims to agree by way of false promise.
If you think you may have already fallen victim to a type of timeshare fraud, then you are amongst the thousands of others suffering at the hands of these criminals. Get in touch with us today for professional, trustworthy advice on the next steps you can take.
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