Timeshare Scams | Why you need to be vigilant
The timeshare industry is rife with scams from outside groups and individuals who prey on vulnerable timeshare owners. As we have talked about in our other blogs, many timeshare owners can feel trapped in their contracts for a variety of reasons and are on the lookout for a way out of their timeshare agreement. Timeshare resorts are responsible for making it so difficult to leave your contract in the first place, but this very difficulty, unfortunately, provides the perfect opportunity for timeshare scammers to prey on those who are vulnerable. Fraudsters that work within timeshare know that many people would like a way out of a contract and they use this to their advantage. There are many different types of scams to be aware of some of which we will look at in more depth in this blog. The shocking statistics from Action Fraud’s latest research revealed that: “Between January 2018 and July 2018, 1,155 reports of timeshare recovery fraud were made to Action Fraud. In the same period, victims reported losing £7,893,028 – an average of £14,000 per victim”. It is clear that many people are falling into these traps laid out by timeshare scams and this is why it is so crucial for you to be vigilant.
Timeshare recovery fraud
Fraudulent timeshare lawyers or fake firms claiming to be solicitors can scam you out of your hard earned cash in ‘double dip’ timeshare fraud. As the name implies, this is where you are hit twice by fraudsters before you have time to realise what has happened. Timeshare owners, mainly between the ages of 50 – 81, are being contacted by these types of people claiming that they can help them gain compensation for a mis-sold timeshare or even for a first timeshare scam that has seen them out of pocket. These reclaim scams work by contacting victims (usually by phone or letter) and offering them the opportunity to reclaim lost money or to exit their contract early for a fee. It can seem so believable because these fraudsters are manipulative, they have already made themselves aware of your personal details from your previous purchase giving them false credibility. They may request fees for their services that will be released back once a case is won and these can range as far as £9,000 in some instances. Be sure to check the details from any organisation contacting you. Check their website, email, address and phone number and cross-reference these with more research. If any of them are incorrect, this should send up a red warning flag. Remember that victims of fraud are protected so unless you have made contact first there is no legitimate way for them to have found out about your circumstances or fraud you’ve fallen victim to in the past. Challenge any calls, letters or emails from companies who have got in touch with you first. Be vigilant about this and above all, never give out your bank account or card details to these fraudsters. While it is not unusual for reputable timeshare lawyers to request an upfront fee for their services there are circumstances to be wary of. If you are asked to send money abroad or if the amount seems too high then it is a clear warning you may be about to be scammed. Similarly, if a company won’t accept a credit card payment (which protects you against fraud) and will only accept a cheque or direct bank transfer do not trust this without checking it out first. If you are in doubt about a letter you have received, seek professional advice from a source you can trust.
Cyber fraud is on the rise in many industries across the world and timeshare is one target for cyber scammers. The difficulty with cyber fraud is that sites can now be cloned to look like an almost direct copy of a reputable, real website. They might only have a slight difference in their URL and look visually identical so it can be practically impossible to detect that you are on a scammers website – which is how they trap their victims. They offer prices to sell you holidays that are significantly lower than their competitors to entice you to take advantage of these discounted rates. However, as the saying goes “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” and this applies to scammers websites. Unfortunately, the reality is that if you book through a fraudulent site, you could end up with no holiday and severely out of pocket. One very recent example saw an estimated 500 British people losing a joint sum of £15 million in timeshare fraud that sold ‘fake’ holidays. Be vigilant and stay away from websites advertising these types of deals. Never part with your cash until you are certain you can trust the source and if in doubt, seek advice first.
Timeshare Ponzi schemes
Ponzi schemes are a type of investment scam which promises to pay large and substantial returns to investors from their own money or money paid by other investors. The truth is there is no investment scheme. These fraudsters are simply taking your money themselves and leaving you with nothing. This type of scam happens across a range of different industries but has been known to operate within timeshare scams. Ponzi fraudsters are professionals in their trickery. They may avoid any official paperwork and claim that the plans for the investment scheme are elaborate and avoid going into close detail of how your money will make such large returns. They will claim to be able to give you a huge reward for very little risk and promise that this is the case no matter the current market conditions or financial climate. No market is entirely stable, and if you are being told this information to entice you to sign up, you should walk away. Timeshare should not be sold as an investment, and if a company is claiming that you will see huge returns on your money, this is a warning sign. If you’re worried you have already fallen victim to this time of Ponzi scheme or you have been approached by a suspicious offer it is essential to seek legal advice immediately. Even if you’ve not been personally scammed, you could be helping to highlight a fraudster who can be brought to justice.
At Athena Law, we pride ourselves in our professional, trustworthy advice. If you have been a victim of any of the above types of fraud or feel that you have been tricked involving any other kind of timeshare scam, then get in touch with us today for free and professional advice.
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