When the Cannefields were solicited by telephone by a man going by the name James Buchanan they had not yet considered selling their timeshare. Although they hadn’t used it in several years, they were still paying maintenance fees and hoped to use it again when their scheduled allowed. Buchanan immediately offered to purchase their timeshare for $49,960.10! An unrealistic price tag for a one bedroom suite at the Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos, but the Cannefields didn’t know how much their timeshare was worth. And considering it was a such a substantial offer for a luxury item they weren’t even using, they decided to consider the broker’s offer.
Several hours later Buchanan sent this email:
Embedded in this email you will see a "Letter of Intent", showing information about your membership and an offer amount. Feel free to verify that the information is correct. This proposal does not carry any legal weight, by signing you are not relinquishing your rights as an owner or committing to the deal, you’re simply letting us know that you are interested in this offer. Also, we need a copy of the front page of your contract which contains details like the purchaser name. It will allow me to solidify this transaction with our client and move to the next step. I will contact and update you on the next step of the process, as soon as you can, please send back your signed letter of intent and proof of ownership. If you have any questions, call me or leave a voicemail at 1-866-898-0995. Best regards, James Buchanan
The Cannefields complied with Buchanans request and sent over their contract details. Over a week later they were sent a “revised” offer for $25000 but this time it was from Agoda not FPNY. Agoda is actually a hotel booking service, not a timeshare agency, or timeshare resort-group.
Using Agoda’s brand name was just a lack-luster attempt by FPNY to fake legitimacy using a well-known brand name service.
Something was off to the Cannefields this time. They were suspicious of the different purchase offers, steep drop in sales price, and the generic nature FPNY’s website, which focused on property rentals. No where on the website is a single mention of timeshare sales or services.
After doing some brief research online the Cannefields found our timeshare scam database and called for help. We reviewed their contracts and website and were able to confirm that First Properties New York was sending bogus offers from their office and impersonating the Agoda brand to and posted in an attempt to get the Cannefields to wire money for “closing fees”.
We are now helping the Cannefields to get rid of their unwanted timeshare and they can rest easy knowing they will never be a target of a timeshare scammer again.
Interestingly enough, the Cannefields had not listed their timeshare on a listing site. These sites have become popular hunting grounds for scam artists to gather info timeshare for sale and gather the owners contact information.
Although many listing companies are legitimate an offer a convenient way to list your timeshare for sale, that doesn’t mean the inquiries you receive are from individuals who are truly looking to buy. A scammer may be using the same site to gather pertinent info, only to solicit you with a phony offer months later, claiming to be a broker or a representative from a “property management company” or “timeshare brokerage”.
That is why due diligence is so important when reviewing a potential timeshare purchase offer. Check the website, do a Google search for reviews, Google the broker’s name and look for him/her on LinkedIn, and using Google Maps to view the address can help you better determine who exactly, you are working with.
In this case, the address was suspect as it showed an office in mid-town Manhattan.
What to do if you receive a call from a reseller
We want to urge you to be cautious when dealing with resellers who approach you with solicitations for your timeshare. You should always exercise skepticism when a reseller A. offers you more than paid for your timeshare B. claims to already have multiple buyers lined up for a property, or C. makes a promise to sell a timeshare within a specific time frame.
And here are several more important guidelines to follow, courtesy of the Better Business Bureau
- -Avoid companies that ask for an up-front fee.
- -Reach out to Better Business Bureau or the Division of Real Estate and ask whether the company that approached you has previously been reported as a scam.
- -Verify with your state’s Real Estate Commission that the broker is properly licensed.
- -Look for businesses that provide a physical address (a PO box is not sufficient).
- -Reach out to past clients for references.
- -Ask for everything—refund policies, sales agreements, etc.—in writing.
- -Be wary of brokers who consistently find excuses not to meet in person or speak over the phone.
If You’ve Been Scammed
- -Consumers may file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as with their state’s Attorney General.
- -File a complaint with your state’s Division of Real Estate
- -Consumers can file reports with the American Resort Development Association.
- -Consumers may submit complaints and reviews with their local Better Business Bureau, and submit tips through BBB’s Scam Tracker website.