CON MEN WITH BOGUS VACATION PROPERTY OFFERS NOT AT HOME IN OKC
Better Business Bureau Serving Central Oklahoma
Over the past 12 months, the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Oklahoma has traced the development of several scams naming popular downtown OKC addresses as a headquarters. In growing numbers, suspect business offers are using Oklahoma City addresses to lure customers into doing business with them. In this case, each of the companies contact the owners of Mexican timeshare properties and promise to sell the vacation homes for big money, but some have cost would-be sellers as much as $76,000.
Naming World Luxury Destinations, Continental Resources, Premium Properties Management, First American Services, and other company names, consumers have contacted the BBB for more information about the companies making the offers by e-mail, fax and regular mail. Often, the mailings contain accurate information concerning properties owned by the seller, lending an air of legitimacy to the deal. The businesses list a prominent Oklahoma City address in the letterhead, but typically ask that respondents fax or e-mail signed agreements. The agreements demand no upfront payment, but state that a commission payment must be paid after the sale of the property in a short timeframe (generally 7 to 10 days). If the timeshare owners agree, they soon receive a check in excess of the asking price and are happy to pay a 10% commission for the sale. Many players have discovered that the checks sent to them are bogus; it doesn’t clear the bank, and given the strict timelines of the agreement, the property owner would have already sent their commission payment to the con man. The property is not sold, but the con man has made his money when the seller pays the commission. (In some cases, the con man has demanded that the seller use a wire service, such as Moneygram or Western Union, for a quick transfer of the commissions owed. Wire service payments are notoriously difficult to track, and the con man is long gone – with the seller’s money – before the seller knows that the check for property was worthless.)
In some cases, bogus companies share the same or very similar names to legitimate brokers operating from different addresses or different cities, adding to the confusion of property sellers. Some complainants have felt secure when the broker has offered to make arrangements for payments through a Mexican bank or some other escrow account, but have been surprised to learn that the bank does not exist in the real world and that the broker himself might be manipulating a website to look like a banking site, complete with account numbers and access codes, all in an attempt to boost the security and comfort of an unwary victim. In another case, the bank named in documents as holding the escrow accounts is a legitimate bank, but the victim learned that no escrow account was arranged in his name.
Don’t trust flashy websites or claims of a quick sale on your timeshare property. Deal only with reputable sellers, and be extremely careful when a transaction involves a check from an unfamiliar entity expecting a payment in return. Con men are expert at increasing your level of confidence, so you need to confirm and question every aspect of a business deal before you become deeply involved. Check out a business – and confirm the address – before signing any documents or entering into an agreement.