A man using the alias Joseph Manning, is back, operating his timeshare scam. Thanks to the Timeshare Specialists Scam Hotline another victim is spared.
Joseph continues his ruse of claiming to be hearing impaired and now adds to his story with an impromptu hospital visit to restore 30% of his hearing. He is also claiming he won’t be home for 8 weeks and needs everything to go through his broker.
It’s the same scam we previously busted, this time with an extra layer of lies to deceive and manipulate potential victims. This time Joseph Manning contacted a Worldmark by Wyndham owner who had his timeshare listed for sale on an online listing site. His first email seems harmless enough, but we could easily spot the tell-tale signs of a scam…
“Hello, Thank you for your reply to my inquiry regarding your vacation resort week. Please note that although I am a private buyer, I am interested in purchasing your timeshare because I am about to start a vacation rental company so I need a number of timeshare weeks to be able to commence. I am NOT a broker or a listing company. I hope we can come to an agreement on the sale at a reasonable price. Please provide information on your vacation resort week/timeshare(s) such as weeks of availability, yearly maintenance fees and if your resort can be exchanged via RCI or interval. Do you have a clear title? what is your asking price? I will wait to hear from you. Joseph Manning”
First off, Joseph Manning saw this listing so he knows that it is WorldMark Credits. If he is starting a Vacation Rental company as he claims wouldn’t he know that WorldMark Credits don’t have a title? Wouldn’t he know that it trades through RCI? And the last part about the asking price; you don’t list a timeshare without an asking price. Unfortunately, for most timeshare owners it is not as easy to catch on with this first email.
The timeshare owner follows up with an email explaining the details of his ownership, and a request to make an offer. Manning responds with an email inquiring about the asking price. The timeshare owner responded with an asking price of $15,000. Joseph responded within 2 hours saying he will pay $14,000 and closing will commence within the next few days. When Manning gives his offer, this is where he claims to suffer from hearing impairment. He also states all closing formalities will be handled through his Broker and the closing will be processed by First American Title and they will hold all funds in escrow as well.
The timeshare owner emailed back saying they will take $14,500, and Joseph will be responsible for the closing costs. Joseph agreed to the $14,500 and then a requested the owners’ full names, mailing address, and phone numbers so he can mail a deposit check to the timeshare owner for $500. Joseph then told the seller to let him know when the deposit was received so he can put the timeshare owner in touch with his broker to arrange documentation and title transfer.
The timeshare owner started to get suspicious at this point and reached out to us at Timeshare Specialists. And thank goodness he did! He emails Joseph back with this email, which is great.
“Now I have bought or sold a dozen or more homes in my life time, but don't have any idea what is entailed in selling a timeshare. I do know it has to go through escrow, just like a house sale. I don't know if there is a "title" per se, like a house though. But I am sure that your broker will know more about this and contact me. Thanks and be in touch.”
Here is where it the scam gets shady real quick. The following is Joseph Manning’s response to the timeshare owner’s last email. This is also where a second mystery man comes in, Carl Lubrowsky.
“Many thanks for your patience. Just to let you know that I had to travel and will be away from home for the next 8 weeks. I do not know if I have mentioned this before but I have a disability. I was informed by the hospital which I am registered with that a new hearing aid which is supposed to be able to restore 30% of my hearing ability has just been delivered and they would like to test run it with me. This is impromptu so I had to make speedy arrangements. I tried to reach my broker but I got an auto response that he is currently not available for few days. As a result, I have been unable to determine how and where to send his fees. I have however sent him numerous email messages along with your contact information and expect him to be in touch with you as soon as he receives my messages. Because I was unable to contact Carl to send his brokerage fees, title transfer fees and escrow fees, I visited my bank and got a certified check for $3,850 which I have also mailed out to you and will be delivered through Postal service. Upon receipt, please deposit the check, funds should be available immediately, I would need you to deduct your earnest deposit of $500, this is to affirm my willingness and seriousness to buy this property and fend off other offers while closing processes are arranged by my broker. Then, forward the balance $3,350 to Carl Lubrowsky as his fees for your timeshare closing, First American title service charges and escrow fees whenever he gets in touch with you. This is to circumvent any delays rather than wait for my return in 8 weeks. It is my assumption that Carl will provide additional instructions on how to get the fees to him. Carl Lubrowsky is my personal broker and would be responsible for all the documentation and deed of transfer. Carl will work with First American title transfer company who would be handling the closing. Note that the balance for your timeshare would be held in escrow. As soon as my broker gets in touch with you and finalizes the sale, the balance will be released to you before you transfer the title deed. Please notify me as soon as you receive contact from Carl. Do watch out for any mails to your address and notify me as soon as you receive my check. Although I am away from home, I would still have access regularly to my email and would be in touch throughout the process. If you need to reach me quickly, you can send me a text message on 305-676-0137 Thanks for your understanding and sorry for the minor inconvenience. Please respond to this email so I am aware that you have received my message. Awaiting your feedback. Sincerely, Joseph Manning”
As you can see Joseph really hams up his disability and tries to make a case for himself. Fortunately, for the timeshare owner, he had already contacted Timeshare Specialists and was informed this was a scam we had seen before. John Kushman at Timeshare Specialists explained what was going to happen next, and like clockwork, the timeshare owner received the email laying out the instructions to deposit the check for $3,850 and keep a $500 deposit and then forward the balance to Lubrowsky for his fees and the closing fees. Joseph claims that Lubrowsky is his personal broker and responsible for the transaction from here on out. Manning and Lubrowsky are most likely the same people. Why would a scammer want to share in his scam when he can mask behind a deaf person, and a broker and any other character he wants is the scheme? Joseph was nice enough to leave us his actual phone number of 305-676-0137, which is a land line, in Marathon, Florida.
How this scam is supposed to play out is this: the timeshare owner deposits the check and then wires or sends a check to the “broker”, Lubrowsky, with the balance to cover his expenses and closing costs. However, the check is a fake, and the timeshare owner will receive a notice from the bank within a week later notifying them of this fact. If the scam goes through the timeshare owner is out the total amount they sent the broker.
Thankfully the timeshare owner, in this case, knew it was a scam. So when he received the check he took it to his bank and let them know it was a fake. He also contacted the issuing bank, Northern Credit Union, in Adams, New York, who also knew it was a fake check and informed the timeshare owner that the Chief Auditor would work with the New York State Police to try to help track down the sender. The check the timeshare owner received was sent by a man named Joseph Graham from Anaheim, CA.
Before the timeshare owner received the bogus check in the mail he received an email from the mysterious broker, Carl Lubrowsky. Lubrowsky apologizes for a delay in getting touch and that he has been away. He says that Manning informed him that the initial deposit of $500 is already on its way along with his fees of $3,350. He outlines the 7 steps that will happen next.
From Lubrowsky’s email verbatim:
“1- As soon as I get my fees, I will contact First American title, Inc to begin the process. When I pay the title transfer and escrow costs, we will be issued with a title transfer agent or contact person who will handle the process. I will provide the contact information of that person so you can be in touch with him or her if you like. 2- Broker(Carl Lubrowsky) initiates the closing process with First American title, Inc by completing simple online forms. 3- Buyer and seller receive an email from First American Title Inc., (with username and password) requesting that he or she complete the online buyer and seller forms for the timeshare details and verify information. 4- Seller and buyer receive an email that includes the escrow number. 5- First American title company., Inc prepares and emails escrow instructions, the transfer deed and closing documents to seller and buyer. Seller and buyer review documents, provide necessary signatures and return documents to First American title company, Inc per instructions. 6- First American title, Inc emails or faxes an estimated closing statement to the buyer and requests the funds necessary to close escrow. You have the option to verify and confirm that your balance funds have been paid into the escrow account by the buyer.When funds are received, First American title company., Inc closes the transaction. 7- First American title, Inc notifies all parties of the closing (including the proper resort management company or HOA), provides funds to the seller, and sends all necessary documentation to both the seller and the buyer. Please be aware that I am currently in Istanbul on vacation and will coordinate the Sale and title transfer from here. This would not affect the closing as my input is minimal. Please answer questions below so I can determine how best to proceed. 1- Do you have a clear title or do you owe on the property? If yes, How much do you owe? 2- Are your maintenance fees up to date? If no, how much is the maintenance fees? 3- Please provide a phone number and indicate the most convenient time to reach you so I can get in touch with you as soon as I get payment. Please answer the above questions, when I hear from you, I will provide wire details so you can wire my fees to me upon receipt of the check. When I receive funds, I will proceed immediately. Closing time would take anywhere between 15-20 working days using the expedited option. I have copied my client on this email so he can follow up accordingly. You can reach me on (747) 200-5686 Reply soon. Respectfully Submitted, Carl Lubrowsky”
Nice of Carl to give a phone number for a landline in Burbank, California, even though he is on vacation in Istanbul. While his email looks professional and asks legitimate questions, they are not necessary at this point. His question about the title being clear or about a potential outstanding balance on the property should have been the first thing that Manning asked prior to making an offer. His questions about maintenance fees were already answered by the timeshare owner in a previous email to Manning. The last paragraph about closing time taking between 15-20 days is completely bogus, but sounds great to a potential seller! Anyone who has done a transfer of a WorldMark ownership knows that it takes 3-6 weeks to receive the transfer paperwork from Worldmark, and then another 12-16 weeks for WorldMark to complete the transfer once they receive the paperwork.
Now the timeshare owner lets Lubrowsky know that he had deposited the check but the bank told him it would take several days to clear. He lets Carl know that he can proceed with the sale and hopefully it won’t take much longer.
Lubrowsky response verbatim:
“According to his client, the check should clear in 1-2 days so that shouldn’t be a problem. I have proceeded with the timeshare transfer title, and they will need $1,720 which will cover the expenses. So if it’s alright by you, can you send the fees through Western Union today so we can complete the closing soonest. Carl”
The timeshare owner emails Timeshare Specialists again with an update on the whole scam and Timeshare Specialists recommends telling Carl and Joseph that he would feel much more comfortable using Resort Closings Escrow out of Bozeman, MT for the closing. He says he has spoken with Resort Closings and they are very familiar with WorldMark closings and would have no problem simply holding escrow if that is all that is needed.
The timeshare owner responds to Carl that he is not happy to use Western Union for sending of funds. He asks for the name of the Title Company and person he can speak with so he can wire the funds or a certified check. He says this is the way he has always done real estate transactions.
“Hello Jack,Set featured image Am really sorry if you misunderstood me, the title company didn't dictate if they want the funds through Western Union. Rather, it’s my agent whom will be running the title transfer for me that said it would be easier and faster for him. That is because to him, he would get funds within 1 hr and he can proceed. Nevertheless, Find below the information to send funds to the agent. Please visit a Western Union and wire transfer $1,720 via Western Union Money Transfer using the information below. Name : Daniel Savage Address : 18680 Vista Park Blvd, Weston, Florida. 33332 Amount : $1,720 Kindly have the Western Union transfer charges deducted from the transfer, Please send me MTCN & exact amount sent as soon as the transfer is done and I will be in touch to commence the title transfer process immediately. I am copying Joseph Manning on this email message so he is aware of all arrangements because he is willing to take possession of the timeshare soonest. Respectfully Submitted, Carl Lubrowsky”
Now we have a third mystery man, only this one needs some sort of identification to actually pick up a money wire at Western Union. Of course, Lubrowsky says it’s his agent and using Western Union would be easier and faster for him. Again, timeshare transfers take time, so the urgent need to wire money is completely unnecessary. If they want funds are needed immediately a reputable company would simply take a credit card. Unfortunately, scammers know that credit card transactions can be traced and disputed.
The timeshare owner responds that he is not trying to be difficult but Carl has still not supplied the name of the Title Company and person he can speak with regarding the transaction. Now he is wanting him to Western Union someone in Weston, Florida $1700. Again, the timeshare owner requests that Resort Closings do the closing and hold the funds. The timeshare owner requests that Carl respond quickly as he is anxious to complete the transaction.
The timeshare owner also emails Joseph Manning requesting to use Resort Closings Inc. He says he wouldn’t mind using a closing company in the state he is located, but he doesn’t understand why sending it Florida is the right way to proceed.
Joseph responds within 10 minutes:
“Now I understand your point, but the distance might slow down the process. It will be a lot better when we use First American which is a Nationwide title company because you will have to sign the title transfer to me AFTER you have received your full payment. And it's only logical, that you go into the nearest First America title office with the details you will be given by my broker, sign the papers in the office and walk out. As for sending funds to Florida, that is where the agent is located in person, but the Title company itself is nationwide. So, i strongly advise you proceed accordingly but keep me informed.”
The timeshare owner replies:
“OK, I guess, but seems to be very confusing and unnecessary. But whatever works…:
“Thanks, am sure at the end of it you will be glad we are able to close faster than sooner. Keep me informed”
The timeshare owner then emails Carl that he explained to Joseph why he would prefer to use Resort Closings even though they are located out of state, they have handled hundreds of closings for WorldMark and are therefore familiar with the timeshare. He then tells Carl he is not set on the closing company and if it is a deal issue then he will use First American Title. He then asks Carl for the name and address to send a check to overnight. The timeshare owner says he would prefer to use American Title in the state is in, and hopefully, Carl is OK with that.
Now it gets even more seedy. Lubrowsky says that Manning is more comfortable using First American because they have handled a transfer for him in the past. Earlier the story was Lubrowsky would be the one handling the transfer with First American! Lubrowsky then asks for the timeshare owner to go to a Krogers, Safeway, or Albertsons and purchase a Reloadit Pack for $1,500. He then instructs him to scratch the silver panel on the Reloadit pack and to send Carl the 10 digit number.
There is absolutely no way to track funds sent through a Reloadit Pack. The timeshare owner emailed Joseph explaining that he does not feel safe sending money through this method. He tells Manning that he is not comfortable working with Carl any longer. He explains that it’s a deal breaker if he has to continue working with his “broker”. The timeshare owner says he will refund Manning his money if this ends the deal.
Manning then replies that he agrees, Carl’s method of conducting business is troublesome. He asks the timeshare owner if, “for the sake of my time and effort invested in this” please reconsider. He claims he can’t buy this timeshare through his own means because he is still in the hospital, so he has no choice but to use Carl as the broker.
If Manning was a real buyer he would have no problem using Resort Closings to close the timeshare and would be able to do so without the hassle of a his “broker”, Lubroskwy. Extra, unnecessary hoops buyers have to jump through are just more tell-tale signs that your timeshare deal is a fraud.
The timeshare owner says he does not feel comfortable with this transaction and will have the funds returned once the check clears his bank.
He asks Manning the address he would like the check sent to and he replies
“Just as Carl predicted, I think you have plans more than we all know. I will be putting an immediate stop to my check. Thanks for wasting 2 months of my time.”
The people involved in this scam, whether the names are at all real or not, has yet to be determined.
Joseph Manning – Scam Buyer email@example.com 305-676-0137 – Land Line in Marathon, FL Carl Lubrowsky – Scam Broker firstname.lastname@example.org (747) 200-5686 – Land Line in Burbank, CA Daniel Savage – Person to Western Union Money to 18680 Vista Park Blvd, Weston, Florida. 33332 – The closest actual address is Cypress Bay High School Joseph Graham – Person who sent fake check 1050 N. Armando St, Anaheim, CA 92808 – address on USPS label. – Address is a self-storage facility in Anaheim, CA