Back To the Basics About Timeshare Scams

I’ve written about this before, but in light of Sell My Timeshare NOW‘s press release this week supporting more consumer education for people who buy timeshare resales or sell timeshare resales, it never hurts to pass on this message again.

The “Nigerian scam,” also called the “419 scam,” never seems to go away, although its sources have spread far beyond Nigeria and touched many areas besides timeshare sales. When it comes to selling timeshare, here’s basically how the Nigerian scam works:

The timeshare owner receives a letter, email, or phone call saying that someone wants to purchase his timeshare unit. The phony timeshare buyer, or his phony representative, then sends the timeshare owner a check for more than the purchase price of the timeshare unit, a check that the elated owner deposits. If the timeshare owner makes the mistake of promptly sending to the phony buyer the executed deed to his timeshare and the difference between the check sent and the sales price, then the timeshare owner has lost both his timeshare and the money he or she sent back to the buyer.

Even though many people have heard about this timeshare scam, they get bitten by it because the check they receive from the phony timeshare buyer usually looks so authentic that even the timeshare owner’s bank may initially accept it as either a valid bank check or credit union draft. Despite the fact that your bank accepts the buyers check and at first credits it into your account, days or even weeks later, when the counterfeit check works its way back to the issuing bank, its fraudulence will be discovered.

Why People Still Fall for Timeshare Scams

As old as this timeshare scam is, people still get caught by it. While dozens, maybe hundreds, of bogus deals may cross your desk, never doubt the ability of one lone criminal to craft an approach that sounds so sincere and so genuine, that even savvy skeptics fall for it. Letterheads that look like they come from a timeshare resales company, from eBay, or another seemingly authentic source may trick you into believing that you have a genuine offer to buy timeshare in your hands.

Another variation on this timeshare scam is for you to be contacted by someone who says he or she has a guaranteed buyer for your timeshare weeks or timeshare unit, and asks you to send a check – say for $200 – to cover the transfer costs. Mail that check, and guess what happens next?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

You might as well have taken two one-hundred dollar bills and flushed them away. The loss is not as great this way, but it is still money gone with nothing to show for it.

Reliable Ways to Sell Timeshare

The message here is not a warning against paying fees upfront to sell timeshare, despite what some voices in the timeshare industry try to preach. There are many situations in which it makes good sense to pay someone to help you advertise and market your timeshare for sale. Just make sure you first confirm that the timeshare company you are paying has a proven record of successfully advertising timeshare resales and timeshare rentals in a global marketplace.

More than 1.7 million people visit Sell My Timeshare NOW’s website each month. In 2007, Sell My Timeshare NOW presented over $274 million in offers to buy timeshare or rent timeshare advertised on its website.