Over in the U.S even more timeshare scammers have been sentenced in a timeshare resale scam, which targeted vulnerable people over and over.
Ronald Carapellucci, from Florida has been sentenced to 6 years in prison and Manuel Parrado sentenced to two and a half years for their part in a timeshare resale scam. The pair set up a company which targeted timeshare owners and promised to help get them out of their contracts by selling the properties on to buyers they claimed to have ready to purchase. Over the course of the scam the pair, along with 14 of their employees, would call timeshare owners and pretend to be officials and property agents. They claimed to owners that they had buyers ready to purchase their specific timeshare and they would pay a good price to do so.
As the scam went on these callers would eventually start demanding money from owners before a sale could go through. The pair and co-conspirators would string victims along promising sales were going through and then request fees such as taxes, legal fees, and property taxes. In a heartless attempt to keep defrauding people, they would continue to ask for money until people realised, they were being scammed or simply could no longer afford to pay these exuberant fees.
The company’s fraudulent activities only came to light after victims complained to police and officials began to investigate. Hundreds of people were targeted in this scam, and although not all fell for it the company were able to scam hundreds of thousands from victims who were desperate to get rid of their timeshares. Fourteen other people pleaded guilty in court for their part in the scam and received lesser sentences.
What is a timeshare resale scam?
Timeshare resale scams are more common in the U.S, mainly because they have a buoyant timeshare resale market which is basically non-existent over in Europe as timeshares are not really worth anything. They depreciate in value the minute you purchase one. However, there are far more timeshare owners in the U.S than anywhere else in the world. Because of this the timeshare resale scam has become popular amongst con artists looking to make a quick buck, and what better place than amongst people who are literally desperate to be rid of something that acts as a financial noose around your neck.
A timeshare re-sale scam will usually start with a person being cold called by a company or ‘real estate agent’ claiming to be able to sell a timeshare for a fee. Fraudsters or criminal gangs pose as genuine real estate brokers and cold-call timeshare owners claiming to have buyers ready to purchase timeshares for inflated prices. Victims often report that they are offered sometimes up to 70% more than what they originally purchased it for.
The fraudster will ask the timeshare owner for an upfront payment of property taxes, and escrow fees before any funds can be released. The scammers continue to extract money from owners for fees, lawyer costs and taxes until finally the victim realises, they have been conned. Fake companies will pose as legitimate businesses using slick looking websites and fake reviews, to help fool victims.
How to spot a timeshare scam:
A cold call informing you they have a buyer ready to purchase your timeshare, they may even offer you more than you paid for it. The chances of someone offering to buy your timeshare for more than you paid for it, is extremely unlikely.
Do not be fooled by a professional looking website, the cost of creating these sites is very affordable and easily set up.
Stay Safe Online Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered, you can check this by looking to see if there are any slight changes to a domain name.
Check paperwork you should check all your paperwork including receipts and invoices as well as terms and conditions.