As a result of a complaint written by an FBI special agent, five people are accused of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with an alleged “boiler room” scam based in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, Florida. Each charge brings a maximum of 20 years in prison. The term ‘boiler room’ refers to a telemarketing office that employs high-pressure tactics to defraud victims who will never receive the promised services.
The criminal complaint, which was unsealed in federal court on Tuesday states the entire operation was a deception that succeeded in bilking $2.6 million from timeshare owners across North America.
“There were neither closings nor purchases of any timeshares as promised by the telemarketers in their telephone calls and contracts,” the complaint alleges. “Virtually all of the money received by the scheme was pocketed by the organizers and telemarketers.”
According to the complaint, the scam works this way:
Timeshare owners are first contacted by phone by telemarketers who claim that either their company is prepared to buy the owners timeshare, or the telemarketer has arranged for a buyer of the owners timeshare.
If the timeshare owner showed any interest, they were then turned over to another “agent” known as the “closer” who would discuss the terms of the contract and explain the upfront fees necessary to complete the transaction.
The agent would then send the timeshare owner a fraudulent contract by mail, email or fax and instruct the timeshare owner to mail or electronically transmit their “upfront fees”. The timeshare owner was told the closing would occur in just a few weeks – but the closing never happened!
One of the five people accused in the complaint (who is estimated to have made $326,000 in the scam) told two victims in California that he would buy their unused vacation weeks for $24,000. He allegedly told the victims that a $3,200 fee would be required to complete the sale. On his instructions, they mailed a check to National Timeshare Liquidators in Boca Raton.
“The conspirators frequently changed the name of the company after just a few months,” alleges the complaint, which was filed July 31. “This change of name aided their evasion of law enforcement scrutiny.”
The scheme operated under a half dozen corporations registered with the Florida Department of State. Among those listed are Transatlantic Timeshares LLC, Euroamerican Timeshares, LLC and E.A.T. Sales, LLC. In addition, the operation used the company name of Royal Title Services, which, investigators said, was actually a “fictitious company created by co-conspirators.”
In July, a West Palm Beach man was sentenced to five years for his role in another Palm Beach County “boiler room” operation that stole $3.3 million from timeshare owners across North America.
Advantage Vacation has written numerous articles regarding various timeshare scams and how to avoid becoming the victim of a scam. Here’s a quick reminder:
- Start with a visit to the bbb.org website to check out the BBB Business Review for any company you are considering doing business with
- Beware of upfront fees – any related costs to the purchase of a timeshare will be handled at the closing and you should never pay an “upfront fee” to sell your timeshare
- Read the fine print of any contract – whether buying or selling
- Never wire cash to anyone – for any reason
- Get all the information regarding the buying or selling of a timeshare in writing
- Check the license of the business you are in contact with for the purchasing of, or selling of a timeshare interval
And one more thing to remember, if you have been contacted by phone or email asking if you are interested in selling your timeshare and you did not initiate the contact, beware and be aware that you might be the target of a timeshare scam.
Advantage Vacation specializes in timeshare resales of the name brands of Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Westin Starwood. Our licensed timeshare resale professionals can assist you in the selling of your timeshare (with no upfront fees – ever) or the purchase of a timeshare interval, vacation club or a points based vacation club plan.
Advantage Vacation is a member of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and offers the best buys on the timeshare re sales market today. We never charge an upfront fee for clients who want to sell a timeshare and only receive a commission, paid from escrow, when the transaction is closed.
We are leaders in the timeshare resale secondary market, have been in the timeshare industry for over 30 years and are Accredited Members of the BBB with an A+ Rating.
We hope you will follow us and our blog, Timeshare Blogging by Advantage Vacation for the latest news and reviews. If our site does not answer your question or questions, please email us your question and we will answer it and add it to our library. Make your voice heard – what questions do you have?
At Advantage Vacation you can be assured you are working with professionals who believe that honesty and integrity are the most important aspects of the business they are in – timeshare resales. Our business has been built on relationships and we pride ourselves on providing excellent service to our clients.
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