Several days ago, repeat customers of Timeshare Specialists called us regarding a suspicious offer they received from a broker with “International Sales Group” (ISG). The owner had received phony offers to purchase his timeshare before and was able to ascertain they were illegitimate. However, he was unsure about the offer presented by ISG, so he contacted us. (This smart couple processed two divestments through us and say they will continue to do more as they reduce their timeshare portfolio).
This scam is unique in that the buyer claimed to be a corporation that wanted to buy a timeshare for their employees of whom are located in many different offices. However, the corporation could not be revealed to the seller until he agreed to the purchase offer. We have not seen buyers claiming to be corporations yet, and this could be a new story line to watch out for.
Here are the essentials of the “offer”:
-Email ‘intent letter’ to purchase timeshare for $77,900
-Seller asked to sign the intent letter and return it to them
-Seller asked to forward proof of ownership to International Sales Group (ISG) to verify ownership.
-Seller to contact Vida (management company of Grand Mayan) and pay the penalty of 5 times the current annual maintenance fee, and provide ISG a copy of the clean title.
-The closing company the phony buyer wanted to use was “Emerald Escrow”. There is a legitimate escrow company by this name, but their services would never be required in a “transaction” like this because the scammer takes the wired money and runs ( http://emeraldescrow.com/).
-The buyer was to send a certified cheque or wire cash to a bank account of seller’s choosing.
-The seller was to pay ISG 9% commission on the sale within 10 days of the transfer of funds.
Folks, there are so many red flags here:
- The $77K asking price tag. Rule number one with timeshare resales: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is! On average, a Grand Mayan is selling for a fraction of that amount.
- The seller has to pay the transfer fee. How convenient, seller to pay the transfer fee, effectively making the timeshare transferable into anyone’s name, typically the buyer pays the transfer fee in timeshare resale transactions.
- Seller choosing the escrow company. Again another convenience for the seller. Any legitimate transaction can use an escrow company of the buyer’s choosing.
International Sales Group is also the name of a legitimate luxury real estate firm in Florida. The name is generic in nature so many victims could potentially Google the name, see a website related to real-estate and not think twice about it. You can do the digging yourself (click here to read a post that explains some of the tactics we use to uncover hucksters) or call us at 877-316-9181 and we’ll review your offer and any documents to determine whether you are being targeted for a scam. Even if you have already sent money to company we still would like to hear your story. We will add your case to our Timeshare Scam Database so that other consumers can avoid being a victim.
Canadians who wish to report timeshare fraud should contact the Canadian Antifraude Center at 1-888-495-8501.