SACRAMENTO, CALIF., – Beginning in March 2018, Better Business Bureau (BBB) began receiving inquiries about a Sacramento real estate company going by the name of Magnum Realty Group. According to consumers, the company offers to purchase timeshares for high market value prices. In a report made to BBB’s Scam Tracker, one consumer states, “Magnum Realty Group called me with an offer to buy my travel club for more than it is worth. They directed me to their website, magnumrealtygroup.com and told me they are located in Sacramento. I could not find them listed with BBB and felt it was too good to be true.”BBB conducted research based on this consumer’s claims and the claims of others. Based on our findings, we were able to locate a legitimate real estate company by the name of Magnum Realty Group, Inc. in Murrieta, California. The scammers used the company’s information to register the website. However, BBB has confirmed that neither this company nor its owner have any affiliation with the callers contacting timeshare owners with purchase offers. This is not the first time BBB has come across a similar scheme targeting timeshare owners. In past investigations, BBB has encountered scammers impersonating licensed lawyers in California as well.“Some may question why a scammer would go to the trouble of locating a real business to copy and creating a website. The reality is scammers know that consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their tactics and they know it is easy to look up all kinds of information about a company or an offer online. By impersonating a real business and a real business owner, scammers appear to be hoping to fool even technologically savvy consumers,” said Lynn Conner, President & CEO of BBB of Northeast California. So how can the offer to purchase a timeshare be used to scam innocent victims? Unfortunately, scammers know that many timeshare owners are in the market to sell. They also know that timeshares can be rather difficult to get rid of. They count on this situation making their targets desperate and eager enough not to ask too many questions.In the end the scam is rather simple. Despite the facade, the business and the offer is fake. The scammers may spend a bit of time calling and emailing back and forth with their victims, but eventually the scammers will always ask for a some type of advance fee associated with the purchase agreement. This fee, which may amount to thousands of dollars, then has to be paid before the company will finalize the purchase and pay the victim for their timeshare. Once this fee is paid (often by wire transfer to a foreign country) the scammer will disappear - or, if they think they can get more money out of their victim, they will ask for a second, third, or fourth fee - whatever they think they can get away with. As of today’s date, BBB has not yet received any complaints or other consumer reports indicating that a victim has lost money to the Magnum Realty Group scam, but we have received reports that the scammers have asked for advance fees.So, how can other timeshare owners protect themselves from this type of scam? The first tip is very simple: never, ever, pay an up-front fee. If the purchase price they are offering sounds too good to be true, it more than likely is. Also, in general, legitimate timeshare buyers will not contact you first, especially if your timeshare is not already listed for sale. And, as we have seen, even if the company has a professional website and has all the online appearances of a legitimate business, don’t trust it. Try to find out who the real business owner is and get in touch with them. Ask them if they are interested in buying your timeshare. Chances are, they have never heard of such a thing or they have been contacted by other victims already. When looking for a legitimate business owner, don’t trust addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses connected with the website or emails the scammers send you - these are created and controlled by them. Check with California licensing agencies, such as the Bureau of Real Estate or the California State Bar, instead; they often list current contact information for their licensees. The California Secretary of State also maintains information on all California registered corporations and limited liability companies. Scammers often advertise fake addresses as well, so check out the address they give you. Is it an office building or a residential home? Does the address even exist? Be wary of fake addresses and residential homes. If it is an office building, try to find the leasing company and contact them to confirm whether or not the business is actually renting there. Scammers will also sometimes use mailboxes in postal stores; unfortunately, these can be rented and used by anybody. As this scheme demonstrates, scammers are constantly refining their tactics. Stay a step ahead by verifying all information they give you. Look for other consumer reports and complaints by checking with the Better Business Bureau, and if you’ve been targeted, let other potential victims know by filing a complaint or reporting it at bbb.org/scamtracker. ###For more information, please contact Danielle Hale, firstname.lastname@example.org.ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Northeast California, which was founded in 1937 and serves 24 counties throughout the region. For reports on businesses and for information about BBB services, please visit our website at bbb.org or call us (916) 443-6843.