Reports show that fraudsters are offering to sell victims a timeshare on a holiday property for an advance fee. However, once victims have paid the advance fee, they find they are unable to contact the ‘salesperson’ and struggle to have their money returned. Often it is discovered that the holiday property doesn’t even exist.
We received 30 reports of timeshare fraud between May and August this year with a total loss of £94,089.
Fraudsters impersonating police
Further reports show that fraudsters are also taking advantage by cold calling the victims of previous fraudulent or mis-sold timeshare schemes. The fraudsters claim to be from the Spanish authorities or legal firms that either do not exist or are clones of genuine firms.
The fraudsters are advising previous victims that they are owed compensation and simply need to pay a fee to obtain this money; or the fee is requested under the pretence that this is an administrative fee for the courts, after which the amount ‘owed’ to the victim can be released. The fraudsters are aware of the victim’s personal details from the previous fraud and possess knowledge of their previous investment, giving the fraudsters false credibility.
Protect yourself from timeshare fraud
Stay safe online: Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered by slight changes to a domain name – such as going from .co.uk to .org
Check paperwork: You should study receipts, invoices as well as terms and conditions. Be very wary of any companies that don’t provide any at all. When booking through a holiday club or timeshare company, get the contract thoroughly vetted by a solicitor before signing up.
Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up.
If you’re asked to pay, or give your bank account details, end all contact.
Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website as the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable and can be set up by fraudsters.
Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation.
Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making an investment.
Protect yourself from fraud recovery fraud
Be aware of recovery fraud if you’ve fallen victim to fraud in the past. Challenge or ignore any calls, letters or emails from people you don’t know or companies you’ve never contacted yourself.
Ask how they found out that you had been a victim. Any report of fraud is protected by law and can’t be shared with anyone else outside of law enforcement agencies.
Detective Inspector Chris Felton of the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said: “With £90,000 worth of timeshare fraud losses reported to Action Fraud since May, we are urging people to be cautious. Fraudsters lure people in with an attractive timeshare offer on a holiday property only to then cease contact once the victim has paid an advance fee.
“As with all victims of fraud, our reports show that timeshare fraud victims are vulnerable to recovery fraud. Recovery fraud is a common way in which fraudsters attempt to defraud people who have already fallen victim to fraud by offering to return what they have lost.
“If in doubt, always check directly with the relevant organisation to ensure the correspondence has come from a legitimate source.”
If you believe you have fallen victim to fraud or cyber crime, please report it.