Business Identity Thieves Trick Consumers
With Fraudulent Timeshare Resale Offers
[December 3, 2013 – Nashville, TN] Over the past 11 months, BBB has busted over a dozen fraudulent schemes where business identity thieves tricked consumers with fake addresses to disguise themselves as reputable businesses. BBB’s investigations into these offers led to many empty office buildings or vacant lots in both the Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee areas – both hot spots for good business, and just this past week, BBB uncovered a fraudulent timeshare resale scam where the con artists have hijacked business names, addresses, and licensing information to appear legit.
According to consumers, Realty Corp (Realty Corp Co), claiming to be located in Franklin, TN, has made numerous unsolicited phone calls offering to sell timeshare properties indicating they have an interested buyer. Consumers who show interest in the offer receive a contract from Realty Corp offering to handle the transfer for a set amount. When accepted, the consumer receives a set of documents from South Cumberland Title & Escrow, claiming to be located in Nashville, TN, with instructions to wire transfer money to a bank account in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Included with the documents is a “Financial Guarantee” that contains a Tennessee Notary seal and signature, which makes the document appear official; however, BBB has verified the seal has been fraudulently used as confirmed by the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.
Both companies claim to be in the Middle Tennessee area, but BBB visited each location and verified that neither business is at address claimed on documents and on websites. Further investigation shows the perpetrators are actually located in Mexico.
Consumers should be aware that these scammers have assumed the names and licensing information of legitimate companies that are no longer in operation as a means to disguise themselves as reputable organizations.
“Timeshare owners should be wary of brokers who call out of the blue, ask for advance fees, and say they have prospective buyers,” said Kathleen Calligan, BBB President/CEO. “Many times, consumers pay the fees and never hear back from the company.”
BBB offers the following advice to avoid becoming victim of a timeshare resale scam:
- Use a Business You Can Trust – Visit GoBBB.org and click on BBB’s Accredited Business Directory to find a reputable agent that can assist with the sale of your timeshare.
- Verify Credentials - Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm the company is physically located where they claim to be, verify advertised licensing information or other claimed credentials. Ask if the salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located, and verify this with the licensing agency.
- Be Wary of Upfront Fees - Many complainants to BBB were burned by companies charging an advanced fee for services or were told that they just had to pay closing costs and that the timeshare would be taken off their hands. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only AFTER the timeshare is sold.
- Check the Facts/Figures and Get Everything in Writing - Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
- Don't Fall for an Offer That Sounds Too Good To Be True! - Don't agree to anything over the phone, and never give out personally identifiable information (such as bank account or social security information), but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials. Always take the time to think it over and don't be pressured. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately. Unfortunately, these are often empty promises.
If you have done business with Realty Corp or South Cumberland Title & Escrow, BBB would like to speak with you – please call 615.242.4222.
# # #
When in Doubt, remember to check with BBB for information on
businesses you can TRUST by visiting
The BBB of Middle Tennessee, Inc. was founded in 1961 as a non-profit Tennessee organization serving 38 counties in Middle Tennessee and 7 counties in Southern Kentucky. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at nashville.bbb.org.
[Subscribe Here] to
receive Alerts & News updates from the BBB