New reports have shown that fraudsters preying on the old and vulnerable are on the rise. These scrupulous con artists are advising consumers who have invested in fraudulent or mis-sold timeshare schemes that and are owed compensation. And yes you’ve guessed it: these companies are claiming they can get you your money back… for an upfront fee!
Consumers need to be aware of how they can protect themselves from timeshare recovery fraudsters.
Here at the Timeshare Consumer Association, we would like to share some tips with you, by way of protecting yourself from these recovery fraud companies.
Tips For Avoiding Timeshare Fraud
The internet is a wonderful way of checking details. Research the company contacting you, check the address, website, phone number, the founders, and reviews. This will help you determine whether the company contacting you is legit or not. Be sure to check every detail, no matter how small, as there are some pretty convincing fraudsters out there posing as legitimate companies.
Always question how they found out that you have been a victim. Any report of fraud is protected by law and this information cannot be shared with anyone else outside of law enforcement agencies. Just because you have been duped once, doesn’t mean they won’t strike again. Be aware of recovery fraud if you have fallen victim to fraud in the past.
Question, or choose to ignore, cold calls or emails from companies you have had no dealings with in the past. Should you be asked for bank account details, cease all contact immediately. Contact your local police and, if you believe you have been a victim, please contact ourselves at TCA.
The latest scam starts with the scammers claiming they work for a recovery fraud company and ask that you pay a fee in order for them to start your claim. The fraudsters claim in phone calls or letters to be from reputable authorities stating that people can claim money back from their timeshare or exit it early for a fee.
The fees range from £2,500 to £9,000, in addition to extra fees to cover maintenance or legal costs. As soon as they have your cash, all contact will cease.
Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud, said:
A shocking amount of timeshare recovery fraud losses have been reported to Action Fraud since January, which is why we are urging people to be extremely cautious. ‘Fraudsters are luring people in with attractive offers of compensation or an early exit on a holiday property, only to then stop all contact once the victim has paid an advance fee.
Callous fraudsters will often attempt to defraud people who have already fallen victim to fraud by offering to return what they have lost…‘If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please report it.
Chief executive of travel association ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said:
Travel related fraud is always distressing for the victim but this particular fraud is one of the worst due to the repeat nature of the crime and the very high amounts of money that are lost, running into tens of thousands of pounds. We would advise people to be extremely wary of any company cold calling you out of the blue to talk about your timeshare and asking for payment. Travel related fraud often involves someone pretending to be a legitimate company when they actually turn out to be fake – so it’s important you check you are dealing with a reputable business before making any commitment.
‘Recovery room fraud‘ refers to scams which target consumers who have already been victims of ‘boiler room fraud’. These fraudsters claim that they will assist you in the recovery of your lost money while posing on behalf of firms which have included IAP Global and Hargreaves Lansdown.
Scammers are using the names of organisations such as the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and the FSA to strengthen their claims that they can help fraud victims, by claiming they are working in conjunction with the big bodies of the industry.
An estimated £200 million is lost to these scams annually in the UK.
If you’ve been hit once, do not be fooled that you won’t be conned again, probably by the original scammer. These companies rip off consumers, re-invent themselves as another company and con again and again.
Such fraudsters have been known to catch out even the savviest of investors, with the biggest single personal loss amounting to £6 million.
Watch out, stay safe, and don’t forget to do your research!
See our recent post regarding buying with caution.
Posted on: September 17, 2018
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk