Whilst timeshares are a legitimate sector of the travel industry, fraudsters seek to exploit the public in a number of ways.
What is Timeshare and Holiday Club Fraud?
Timeshares are a form of holiday ownership - you invest your money into the purchase of rights to spend time, usually a week or more, at a property such as a villa or holiday apartment each year. There are also timeshares or holiday clubs which offer the investor the opportunity to stay in a particular holiday resort or even a group of resorts, generally with on-site amenities including swimming pools, bars, restaurants and more.
Whilst timeshares are a legitimate sector of the travel industry, fraudsters seek to exploit the public in a number of ways;
Timeshare Resales: Fraudsters try to take advantage of timeshare owners who want to sell their timeshare. They pretend to be a company who claim to have a buyer lined up who is ready to pay a good price to buy the timeshare. In return for finding the buyer they ask for an upfront ‘introducers’ fee or other type of payment. They may also pretend to be the buyer at the same time as the company and use different contact details so the story is believable. In reality the buyer doesn’t exist and it another way to extract money from victims.
Timeshare Exit & Compensation Fraud:
Timeshare owners are frequently approached by businesses purporting to offer services that enable them to relinquish or exit their timeshare contracts. In many cases, offers of ‘legal compensation are also mentioned.
For more advice, go to https://timeshareexitconcerns.co.uk/timeshare-com
A number of businesses have been closed down in recent years that have sold consumers membership schemes that claimed they provided discounts and benefits on holidays and timeshare or timeshare-related products, including fraudulent relinquishment and compensation services. Prior victims of these schemes may receive an email, a cold call, a letter or contact from a company on the internet which claims to know that they have been a prior victim of fraud. The company will claim that they are able to recover monies and will offer a service in return for an upfront payment of legal or administrative fees which they claim will be returned on a no-win no-fee basis. Often, the reality is that they are the same people who were originally involved in selling the victim the bogus products and are looking to extract more money. Once the upfront fee is sent, the company disappears with even more money.
In the above described circumstances, it is important to note that recovery fraud is the secondary fraud offence and should be recorded as 'NFIB1E recovery fraud' rather than a timeshare.
Bogus or Cloned Law Firms: Fraudsters impersonate well-known and reputable legal firms claiming to offer services to timeshare owners or prospective buyers. They often clone oversees firms so that due diligence on part of the victim is more complicated. Before appointing or soliciting the services of a law firm for any timeshare related activity, consult the Timeshare Business Check website to ensure you avoid any cloned firms; https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/
Bogus Leisure Credits: Fraudsters approach victims offering points, credits or vouchers which can be exchanged in return for holidays across a variety of destinations. They are marketed to imply they afford the investor more choice and flexibility and may include other perks such as website or online shopping discounts. In reality the points or credits sold to the victim don’t exist. Once the money is sent all communication is severed. Occasionally fraudsters will also claim to offer a timeshare disposal service included within the package to entice those victims with an existing timeshare they wish to sell.
Bogus Timeshare Holiday Bonuses and Upgrades: Fraudsters contact timeshare owners claiming to represent legitimate timeshare companies. They explain that the owner has been ‘awarded’ a bonus holiday which they can claim by paying an upfront administration fee. When they arrive on their bonus holiday they are taken to a resort where the owner is persuaded or pressured into upgrading their existing timeshare for an additional fee. They may also believe that they are selling their current timeshare as part of a part-exchange process. In reality the upgrades don’t exist and the fraudsters are simply after any additional fees they can extract from the victim.
- Never respond to cold calls, emails or letters – your details have probably been obtained illegally.
- Investment Opportunities:Don’t be rushed into making an investment. Remember, legitimate organisations will never pressure you into investing on the spot.
- Spot the Signs of Recovery Fraud - You’re contacted by an agency that knows a lot about the money you lost, but they want a fee first. Genuine agencies never ask for fees to recover money lost to fraudsters.
- Seek advice first:Before making significant financial decisions, speak with trusted friends or family members, or seek professional independent advice.
- If you’re looking to sell your timeshare make sure you use a resale company that has signed up to the RDO code of conduct and check that the company is who they say they are and are. You can find a list of RDO members here: https://rdo.org/members-directory/
- Timeshare owners looking to sell or relinquish their timeshare should always contact their resort for advice and guidance. The resort may have an exit programme in place and, depending on their personal situation, they may be able to hand back their timeshare free of charge.
To find out more about your legal rights and to find out how to avoid scams, go to https://timeshareexitconcerns.co.uk
Making a complaint
Check to see if the company in question is a member of RDO – https://wwww.rdo.org – the European trade body for timeshare. RDO requires its members to sign up to its code of conduct and operates a free of charge complaints handling service.
EUROC, the European representative for timeshare owners’ committees – www.euroc.org, whose mission is to help and support resort committees and to protect their owners, has also adopted a code of conduct to encourage best practice amongst its members. Complaints and enquiries should be directed to The Timeshare Task Force (www.timesharetaskforce.org).
If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud.