Mexican Timeshare Rescue Fraud

Have you been the victim of a Mexican timeshare resale fraud?  Beware the next scammer coming your way: the rescue fraud.  Here’s how it works:

You finally realized that you had been victimized, stopped wiring more money to Mexico, and contacted your local authorities.  They probably told you that there is little chance that you will get your money back and little chance that the perpetrators will ever be identified, let alone brought to justice.

Your name gets passed from one set of scammers to another.  A new phone call or letter comes, seeming to be an answer to your prayers.  The Mexican authorities have broken up the criminal cartel that was responsible for scamming you out of tens of thousands of dollars.  You have been identified as one of their vicitms.  Sometimes they claim that the Mexican government has set up a compensation fund, and sometimes they claim that they are an attorney in Mexico who is authorized to seek compensation on your behalf.  All it takes is a small up front fee to retain the lawyer, or to stake your claim from the Mexican authorities.

Desperate, and hoping to undo some of the damage from the last scam, you send the money.  You’ve been hooked again.  Just as the last group did, they will ask you to send more and more money, always promising that this is the last small hurdle to recovering your losses, there is just one new fee that needs to be paid to a bureaucrat in Mexico before you can finally be made whole.  In reality, there is no compensation fund set up, or the lawyer that you are paying is not in any position to obtain any compensation for you.

Mexican Timeshare Resale Fraud

A widespread method of defrauding current Mexican timeshare owners is to promise to broker the sale of the existing timeshare in exchange for a small commission of approximately 5% to 10%.  The scammers’ methods will include sending documents that appear to be legitimate and which appear to contain contractual protections for the seller, satisfaction guarantees, and money-back guarantees.  Using common technology such as VOIP (voice over internet protocol), the timeshare resale scammers make it look like they are somebody (or somewhere) that they are not.  In some cases, the call is coming from a call center in Mexico, but appears to be coming from a U.S. phone number.  In some cases, the caller is actually in the United States but the phone number is fake.

First stage of the scam: “we can sell your timeshare.”  Your initial contact is from a company offering to list your timeshare for sale, or claiming that they have a pool of buyers lined up who are looking to buy timeshare similar to yours.  If you express interest, they send bogus contracts.  You agree to pay a commission or listing fee, having been told that there is no risk.

Second stage: “we have a buyer lined up and we will be ready to close soon.”  After letting you believe that there is a buyer ready, the first request for money will come.  Often this is a request for you to pay the “listing agent” or broker their commission.  Warning: if this money is being wired to a bank account in Mexico, there is almost no chance of ever recovering the money or reversing the wire.

Third stage:  “Just one more wire transfer needed.”  Once you have sent good money, they will try to extract as much from you for as long as possible.  The exact words and claims made by the scammers will vary, but here are typical examples:

  • Title search fees
  • Advance maintenance fees
  • Mexican title transfer fees
  • Sales tax
  • Mexican real estate taxes
  • Capital gains taxes
  • Legal fees
In almost all cases, the scammers reassure you that the buyer is more than willing to pay these fees out of escrow after closing, but that you will need to front the money to make the deal go through.  There is no “escrow.”  If you are wiring money to an account in Mexico, the money is gone.  If there is no buyer (and anything that they show you to convince you that the buyer is legitimate can be faked), then the money is gone.  Forever.
The third stage will be prolonged for as long as you are willing to keep sending money.
Fourth stage.  “The number you have reached is not in service.”  When you stop paying or start to question them too intently, the scammers cease contact.  The number you have been calling goes into the dustbin.  The location where you thought they were located is likely an empty office or a non-existent address.  Your money is gone.  They are already on stage one with a new victim.
For more information about timeshare resale fraud and how to avoid it, check out these resources: