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$18 Million in Timeshare Resale Fees Stolen From Vacation Owners

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If you’re a frustrated timeshare owner, then you’re probably looking for a way to get out of the contract. At the same time, it can be hard to know where to turn for relief. While competent timeshare cancellation companies exist, the public narrative of the exit industry can be deterring. Because of this, desperate vacation owners eagerly pay timeshare resale fees instead. It’s an easy decision when they don’t know the resale market doesn’t exist and they’re led to believe they can actually recoup some of their losses.

Corrine Adams, an 83 years old widow, learned this the hard way. After purchasing a Hawaiian interval with her husband nearly 30 years prior, she decided it was time to move on from the expensive purchase. Her primary reason was the increased cost of maintenance fees. Once she hadn’t been able to travel to the resort for a few years, she grew tired of the unnecessary expense and didn’t want her kids to acquire the burden.

What Convinced Her Resale Was a Viable Option?

Shortly after this realization, she was contacted by a saleswoman from a company called Pro Timeshare Resale. During the phone conversation, the reseller told Corrine that they had a bundle of buyers willing to buy her the property in Hawaii. All she had to do was make a payment that was just over $1500 to get started. From here, Pro Timeshare would engage with one of the potential buyers and process the paperwork for the sale.

Since Mrs. Adams was led to believe the transaction was that simple, she proceeded with the payment. But it wasn’t that simple at all. Over the course of two years, the senior citizen spent $10K on timeshare resale fees without even the slightest scent of a sale. At that point, she became extremely suspicious and began looking into restitution through the FTC. She eventually became a key witness in the consumer protection agency’s lawsuit against Pro Timeshare Resale in 2016.

Brian McDowell, an attorney and partner at Holland and Knight, was a major participant in the FTC’s action against the fraudulent reseller. During the trial, he acknowledged, “It is virtually impossible to sell most timeshares for the price you paid.” But Corrine had no idea they were defrauding her. “They were so persuasive; they always had someone about to sign. Every few months they’d come back saying they needed a little more time, and more money,” she said.

Phony Timeshare Resale Fees Result in Legal Settlement.

Luckily for Corrine, she wasn’t the only vacation owner paying timeshare resale fees to the phony reseller. The FTC found that thousands of disgruntled buyers had processed over $18 million dollars worth of transactions. None of which actually sold their timeshare, leading Pro Timeshare to eventually settle. The FTC began issuing limited refunds in late 2019.

Unethical Timeshare Resellers Are Prevalent Today.

Collecting vague timeshare resale fees has been a common practice for a long time. Crafty con artists know how to drag out the deception and maximize earnings. What may seem like a measly investment can turn into tens of thousands of dollars lost as the scam unfolds. We recently did a story on an Arizona realtor who lost everything chasing the sale. The BBB in St. Louis found a ton of resale deceit in Springfield, Missouri alone. “These companies know there is a vulnerable population of people to prey upon,” says the BBB’s CEO, Michelle Corey.

What seems to be the culprit is unexpected timeshare costs coupled with usability issues. Some timeshare maintenance fees in Las Vegas have even reportedly exceeded $2K in recent months. “As these properties age, the costs of maintaining them go up,” said another attorney involved in the case. The demand for relief is real. But the consumer’s ability to find it is as difficult as ever. The idea of paying a few thousand dollars in timeshare resale fees in order to walk away from annual fees is worth it to most. At least initially. 

In the end, we hope Corrine’s story helps unhappy owners avoid similar mistakes.

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