Timeshare Resale Broker Fraud
Excerpt from Chapter 5
Broker Identity Theft Fraud
More timeshare consumers realize today that to create more legitimacy and to help to avoid fraud in a resale transaction that they should only work with licensed real estate agents. But what if you thought that the “resale agent” was licensed, and it turns out that they’re not? That is the case with a rising number of “identity theft” cases surfacing today. The criminals will illegally use an actual real estate broker’s name and license number in an attempt to “legitimize” the transaction. To maintain their cover, the scammer will usually create their own website, email address and phone number to be provided to the timeshare owner; creating a false sense of confidence to those who do little background research. Those victims are easily led to believe that they’re dealing with a legitimate organization and licensed agent. In which case they are not. In the event that the unsuspecting timeshare owner attempts to contact the illegitimate “broker”, the scammer is the party retrieving their calls or emails.
TIP: To help to protect yourself from scammers posing as licensed agents, it’s important to get the name of the solicitor calling or emailing (or ask for the broker’s name) and look them up with the State Real Estate Commission. You should then get the phone number listed through the commission (when possible), and call the licensee to verify the identity of the agent and confirm that they contacted you.
Third Party/Partnership Scam
Creative con-artists today have found a way to make it more difficult to believe that they could be pulling a fast one. An easy cover to keep their prospective client trusting them is to suggest the services of an alleged third party company. Examples of these associated companies include appraisal companies, escrow companies, title services, interim rental companies, and more.
What makes the unscrupulous reseller seem trustworthy is when they declare “no upfront fees”, but in reality, money can be expected be paid to their “partners-in-crime” company for services deemed necessary.
Utilizing a third party seems logical and, presumably, a “protective” suggestion; such as, “safely” transferring funds by wire transfer, to a “secondary” escrow service company. Yet still expecting funds in advance of a sale. What the unsuspecting scam victim doesn’t realize is that the third party companies are often in cahoots with them!
In some cases, the listing company, escrow company, rental company, and travel companies are all in one building or owned by the same business owner(s), making their deceptive practices all the easier.
TIP: Keep your guard up and know who you’re doing business with! Verify the validity and background of the party calling, said company, and the escrow company, before sending money and renegotiate to have any costs that you are responsible for (as the seller/owner) to be paid by credit card upon receipt of a legitimate signed sales contract from a verifiable buyer of your timeshare. Otherwise, research and choose your own reputable escrow and title company. Mention to a resale agent that your title and closing company will take care of everything, and a plotting perpetrator will recognize that you aren’t an easy target and will most likely disappear.