Was This Timeshare a Scam? No, but the Follow-up Sure Seems Like One.

royal-scam

The Royal Scam, Steely Dan. 1976

Barb and I bought a timeshare at The Beautiful Beach Resort in Mexico two years ago. No, that's not the scam. Sleazy as the process was, we paid our money, got a contract, and have even returned to the facility for a very nice week with friends. Sure, Mr. Unctious, the salesman, and Mr. Slimy, his boss, made personal promises of special arrangements and deluxe villa availability, but did we really believe Unctious and Slimy would be around a year or two later to give us those perks? No, we did not believe them then, and yes, a quick phone call last week confirmed neither is any longer associated with the resort. But I still don't consider our purchase a scam--just a mistake on our part.

The scam has just come recently and not from BRR. A few weeks ago I sent an email to the resort booking office, looking to arrange a family gathering next February. A day later I received a phone call on a very bad, echoey, phone line. "Mr. Raff, I am Donald Jones. I represent a developer that is working with the owners of The Beautiful Beach Resort. BBR is in the process of converting from timeshare to condominiums. We would like to purchase your timeshare, and we guarantee you 125% of your purchase price. But this offer is only good for the owners of another 4% of the outstanding timeshare units, so you will need to act fast!"

Now, Barb and I both have buyer's remorse over the timeshare purchase. We would gladly unload it for what we paid for it, and a 25% bonus sounded too good to be true. And that, of course, is when the alarm bells should always start to go off.

Despite my skepticism, I had already given Mr. Jones my email address. Within minutes I received an email from him. It listed a company name, which proved unverifiable on the Web, along with a request for all the details of our timeshare contract--if he was working with the resort shouldn't he have known things like my contract number and how much I had paid? A phone call to BBR confirmed that the resort owners had no plans to convert the property Ito condominiums. I trashed the email and forgot about Mr. Jones.

This week, Mr. Jones has reappeared. He has made repeated calls to our home. I decided to call him back and chat him up. Over another creaky phone connection, I told him BBR denied they were converting to condos. He gave a lengthy answer explaining this was all hush-hush so the staff would still give good service. He also provided me with a link to the Arizona State Corporate Registration office. The company he claimed to represent was listed, but of course, that didn't make them legitimate. It did not even prove he was working with them. He repeated his pitch, and reminded me of the urgency. I said I would "explore."

So what kind of scam is being run here? Following some Google digging, I presume that if I agree to Mr. Jones's terms, I will be told I need to send a check, or more likely wire some cash, to pay for "fees" before he mails me my check.  And when will I get that check? The year the Cubs and Sox both win the pennant, or President Trump receives a Nobel Peace Prize? I think we will pass on this opportunity of a lifetime. One bad timeshare decision is enough for us!

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