A Brief Guide To Timeshare Resale Fraud
If you purchased a timeshare before 2011, then this guide to timeshare resale fraud is for you.
Before the implementation of Member States of European Directive 2008/122/EC on 23rd February 2011, many people were falling prey to companies who fraudulently claimed to be able to sell their timeshare for a high price. These scams came in various guises, but all have one thing in common: fraud.
The Meeting and the Mis-Selling
When consumers were told that the company could sell their timeshare, it was often stated (or, at least, implied) that there was already a buyer ready and waiting. With this tempting news, the consumer was then invited to a meeting to receive an ‘offer’ on their timeshare from the potential buyer. These meetings took place either in the UK itself or abroad, often as part of a ‘free trip’.
Of course, when the timeshare holder arrived at the meeting, there was no buyer. What there was instead was a high-pressure sales presentation, urging the timeshare holder to buy a new product. This product was usually membership to an ‘exclusive’ travel club or similar, which was often sold without a cooling off period (i.e. a period in which no money could be taken after signing) prior to the implementation of the above EU Directive. What’s more, these timeshare products also tended to come with very little or no consumer protection.
Other than the ‘membership offer’, consumers were sometimes sold a ‘cashback’ or ‘reclaim certificate’ scheme, on the basis that they would cash in a generous return within a few years. There are endless streams of people who fell for these schemes, ending up out of pocket when the scheme simply didn’t pay out, went into liquidation, or paid out just a small dribble of the returns they were promised.
Some consumers were told the company could take their timeshare off their hands for a price. These people were left in a situation where no such transfer actually took place, they just lost even more money, and still had the financial responsibility of the timeshare.
All of these are clearly not the reason that the person agreed to come to the meeting in the first place. So, aside from the fraudulent products themselves, the misrepresentation about the meeting is a form of timeshare resale fraud.
Not only was the consumer still responsible for the timeshare they wished to sell, along with all its incumbent maintenance fees and so on, they now had a new product that they did not really want and no way to get rid of it.
What Should I Do If I Become A Victim of Timeshare Resale Fraud?
If any of the above applies to you, there are several actions you can take:
- If you were enticed into a meeting under false pretences, and ended up paying a deposit, you may wish to consider ceasing all further payments. You will be chased and intimidated with threats of legal action, so this is the point at which you should engage a timeshare lawyer to represent your case.
- It is not straightforward to get your money back from the company who committed timeshare resale fraud against you. However, if they simply have your debit or credit card details, you can contact your bank and ask them to cancel and reissue you a new card.
- Check your contract and any other documentation from the company. What the documents state may be different to what you were told on the call, at the meeting, or at any subsequent presentation.
- Make sure all correspondence you make with the company is by post, and sent by recorded or registered delivery. Avoid speaking to them on the telephone, as you need proof to bring to court with you. You should not record any phone calls, as there are laws against what can and cannot be recorded and used in evidence.
- If you feel that you were misled into the meeting or to purchasing the product, then write to the company and express your concerns. Be clear that you are unhappy with being mis-sold a product, and misled into attending a meeting under false pretences. You are entitled to ask for your money to be refunded on the basis of having misled you. Be polite, precise, and clear.
- Keep copies of all letters you write to the company, as well as all you receive. All documentation, including invoices and receipts (particularly for the recorded/registered delivery letters you send), should be collected and stored together in one file.
- If you paid on credit card, you are in a good position. You should contact your credit card company and explain that you were sold a product that was misrepresented to you, told a buyer was waiting, and that you were therefore lured into the meeting on false pretences. You can also show them the contract paperwork that differs from what was said on the initial phone call. You have six years in which to claim against this fraudulent behaviour, though this is now probably too late if you were a victim before 2011.
- Get legal representation. If your attempts so far have failed, then gather all the documentary evidence above, and speak to a timeshare legal expert to assess your case and take the company to court for timeshare resale fraud.
Misrepresentation is fraud, and it is something we come across all the time at Timeshare.Lawyer. The information above mainly applies to those who signed up prior to 2011, but if your timeshare resale fraud issue has arisen since that date, there may be other avenues we can pursue to help you recoup your losses and gain justice. Get in touch with our team of legal experts today, and find out exactly what you should do next.