IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – Tom Covington of Irving was looking to sell his timeshare; a houseboat on a lake in Oklahoma. Covington got a call from a company offering to help. “They said we’ll give you a guarantee contract that in 90 days, we’ll sell,” explained the 75-year-old retiree.
Covington says he was told that two buyers were interested in his timeshare and that all he had to do is sign the contract and pay $1,900 up front.
He charged the fee on a credit card and waited. “The red flag came when they didn’t sell it in 90 days,” recalled Covington. “This had scam written all over it,” he added.
Covington recovered his money after convincing the credit card company that he had been scammed. The $1,900 charge was reversed.
Danny Baran of Grand Prairie was not so lucky. The 44-year-old paid $595 up front and never got his money back. “I feel like I was scammed because they gave me the impression that they were the number one timeshare seller,” said Baran.
But all Danny got for his money is a one-line listing on a website with no description of his timeshare at an Austrian Ski Resort; not even a photograph. “I thought it was my best chance at doing it,” recalled Baran. “Of course they get you on the phone and tell you everything you want to hear,” he added.
Both the FBI and the Better Business Bureau say timeshare resale fraud is on the rise. From 2009 though 2011, the BBB received 274 complaints from North Texans and 9,251 complaints, nationwide.
The scam works because the victims assume that paying money up front is normal to cover legitimate listing and appraisal fees.
They soon find out, however, there’s nothing legitimate about it. “Once they get your money, you don’t hear from them,” said Baran.
The BBB says timeshare owners should treat their properties like they were selling their own homes and that any outside realtors, brokers or companies should not receive payment until the property actually sells.