JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - If you're thinking about selling a timeshare, be on the lookout for scammers trying to convince you to sell yours through them.
"It's awful, just awful and I do believe what goes around comes around and they are going to get it and it's going to come back to haunt them," said Katina Pendleton, who lost money to scam artists.
Pendleton has a right to be angry. She lost money in a timeshare resale scam.
A company promising big results called Pendleton and asked if they could sell her timeshare in St. Thomas. She agreed.
Pendleton explains she then got another call, "She said 'I have a buyer for your timeshare. She's sitting right here, blah, blah, would you like to talk to her?'"
Initially, Pendleton was thrilled. She was eager to sell her timeshare. The person posing as a sales agent then asked for money.
"In order to get this transaction to go through we would like you to wire me $,1000," explained Pendleton.
So she went to the bank and wired the money for what she was told were closing costs.
"They sent me the fake contract. Never heard from them again," she said.
Postal Inspectors say this scam is on the rise in a challenging economy.
"The timeshare resale scam is a fraud perpetrated on a lot of elderly people looking to sell and get rid of their timeshares," explained Kathryn Scarles, U.S. postal inspector.
Thousands of people have lost everything.
"It's really hard when you see someone lose their life savings. These scams are so convincing and they are so realistic sounding and sound legitimate that a lot of smart people get duped," said Scarles.
Including Pendleton, who says she can't believe people would scam others for a living.
"We've been brought up to be really honest and good people," said Pendleton. "There is something missing in them they have no conscience, they don't care they are after the money. The money is the main thing."
Pendleton eventually sold her timeshare. The best advise, before you send money to anyone, do your homework.
Earlier this month, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced her office is suing nine Florida-based timeshare resale companies fraudulent activity and has filed motions requesting temporary restraining orders against six of those companies.
In a news release, Bondi said, "We will continue to pursue scam artists who essentially attempt to steal from timeshare owners, and the Timeshare Resale Accountability Act that I worked with the Legislature on in 2012 is already having a great effect on ending this type of fraud. With strong partnerships among federal, state and local leaders, we will continue to protect Floridians."
"Timeshare resale scammers have cheated tens of thousands of timeshare owners out of tens of millions of dollars by convincing them to pay for a false promise. But law enforcement at virtually every level of government is working together to put an end to the problem," said Charles Harwood, Acting Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The nine companies that the Attorney General's Office has sued are:
- International Timeshare Exchange, LLC/International Timeshare Network
- Travel Buy Owner, Inc./My Vacation Station, Inc./Resorts Research, Inc.
- Premium Marketing Solutions, Inc., d/b/a Premium Timeshare Exchange
- Universal Timeshare Sales Associates
- Resort Property Depot
- Resort Solution Trust (filed in conjunction with the FTC)
- BML Marketing Company, Inc./Timeshare Solutions Realty/Timeshare Solution
- A1 Marketing Unlimited
- Access Travel Network
For more information on how to protect yourself when it comes to timeshare sales and resales, go to myfloridalegal.com.
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