Troubleshooter Alert: Beware of offers to sell your timeshare
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Millions of people own timeshares and many are trying to sell them.
The anonymity of the internet has given mass marketers a new way to rip off unsuspecting people looking to sell their timeshare. Many such firms claim they have a buyer and just need the seller to pay an upfront fee.
One timeshare owner said he was thrilled to hear he may finally be able to sell his condo. He had listed his timeshare with "All Seasons Timeshares" at a reasonable rate and felt there was no down side.
Fraud victim Albert Richmond said, “$400 to just list the timeshare. So for $400 I figured, ‘OK.’”
Robert Clark, US postal inspector, said, “On the contract it says, ‘If we don't sell your property within 6 months to a year,’ depending on what type of contract they signed, ‘just fax us back a copy of this signed contract on this date and time to this number and we will give you a 100% money back guarantee.’ And during the course of the investigation, no one ever had their timeshare sold and no one ever got a refund.”
All Seasons Timeshares was owned by George Fetter. After an investigation inspectors learned this was a pattern.
Clark said, “He was running four different companies that we know of. When one company would start to get bad reviews online, he would just change the name and start up a new company doing the same exact thing.”
Richmond said he was, “Disappointed, of course. I spent $400. Now I also find out that the guy ran multiple scams and I was probably in another one of his which I actually lost more money.”
In this case there were over 400 victims with losses of more than $200,000. In Mr. Fetter's case he was just getting the money in and spending it. Many of the timeshare owners said they have learned their lesson and know they need to look beyond a reasonable fee.
Richmond said, “Don't trust anybody that says, ‘Oh, we're a legitimate company.’ Do your homework. Check the Better Business Bureau. Ask them for their contacts so that you can call them.”
Fetter pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was also ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution.
So, if people are considering selling a timeshare, be extremely wary of fraud. Watch for red flags like being required to pay any upfront fees especially by certified check or wire transfer. Remember, these types of payments provide little or no way to get your money back if it is a fraud.