ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN WARNS VACATION TIMESHARE OWNERS OF RESELLING SCAM
Chicago ó Attorney General Lisa Madigan today warned Illinois residents to be on the alert for scam artists preying on owners of vacation timeshares. The scammers are posing as timeshare resellers to deceive consumers out of thousands of dollars.
Madiganís office has received dozens of complaints since January from timeshare owners targeted by the scammers.
The con artists typically contact the owners by phone and claim theyíve found a buyer for their timeshare. Often the fake reseller provides the owners with legal-looking documents to make the potential sale seem real.
If the owners express interest, the scammer tells them they must pay a refundable security deposit or fee to ensure that the sale goes through, and instructs them to wire money to an out-of-state bank account.
As soon as the owners wire the money as directed, theyíve fallen victim to the scam. In most cases, by the time the owners realize theyíve been defrauded, the con artists have closed out their bank account, disconnected their phones and disappeared.
Victims filing complaints with the Attorney Generalís Office have reported wiring as much as $5,000 to the scammers.
In some versions of the scam, the con artists tell the owners theyíve found potential renters for their timeshare. In others, a person posing as a prospective buyer makes the initial call and urges the timeshare owners to contact the fake reseller immediately to complete the sale. Also, in some instances, the owners are asked to charge the security deposit to their credit card rather than transferring the money by wire.
Many scammers briefly rent a P.O. Box or office suite as a business address, and in some cases create Web sites to trick consumers into believing they are legitimate.
Seniors living on fixed incomes and persons suffering the effects of the economic downturn may be especially vulnerable to the scam, because they may view their seldom-used timeshares as a source of much-needed money. Attorney General Madigan cautioned that consumers should never assume they will recoup their purchase price for their timeshare, especially if they have owned it for less than five years and the location is less than well-known.
The Attorney General offered these additional tips for consumers who are considering selling their timeshares:
Consumers can contact the Illinois Attorney Generalís office at www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov or by calling the Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Hotline: