Commerce Department Exposes Fraudulent Timeshare Schemes
Fake addresses, telephone numbers, and licenses used to deceive
May 29, 2013
For Immediate Release:
SAINT PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce has uncovered
eleven unlicensed sham companies targeting timeshare owners falsely
claiming to be able to sell or rent their properties and scamming them
into paying thousands of dollars in transaction costs that never result
in a sale or rental of their properties. In every case, the company
used a fake street address on their website and in the materials they
provided to timeshare owners. The addresses either did not exist or
were for buildings in which the sham company was not a tenant. In one
instance, a company used fake Minnesota business registration and
license documents to convince a timeshare owner of its legitimacy. The
Commerce Department ordered the eleven sham companies to immediately
halt their alleged illegal activity in Minnesota.
The investigation comes on the heels of a Minnesota Department of
Commerce enforcement action in late 2012 against
Renaissance Marketing for running an alleged “bait and switch”
timeshare scheme that targeted consumers across the country. The initial
investigation triggered further complaints about companies offering to
sell or rent Minnesotans’ timeshares often using fake Minnesota
“The Department took swift and decisive action against these alleged
schemes duping timeshares owners,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike
Rothman. “These sham companies are preying on people desperate to sell
their timeshares with the intent to scam and defraud them out of
thousands of dollars.”
The sham companies went by the names of: Global Properties Specialists,
Integrated Escrow Services, Platinum Resort Services, ABS Consulting
Company, World Transfer Title, Premium Properties Management, Net
Management Group, Concord International Title, Continental Property
Solutions, Twin Cities Property Advisors, and World Event Management.
Concord International Title, Platinum Resort Services, ABS Consulting
Services, and World Transfer Title all used fake Minnesota addresses,
while Net Management Group claimed to be based in Michigan and World
Event Management claimed to be based in Colorado. Global Properties
Specialists claimed an Arizona address but maintained it was affiliated
with and used Integrated Escrow Services, which it represented had a
Minnesota address. The Department’s repeated efforts to contact and
obtain information from these companies by email, U.S. mail, and
telephone calls went unanswered.
The Department’s investigation found that the scams all followed a
similar pattern like the one used by Global Properties Specialists.
Based on statements made by the scammed timeshare owner, Global
Properties Specialists cold called the Michigan timeshare owner about
selling their Costa Rica timeshare property and ultimately led the
timeshare owner to believe that it had a buyer for the property. The
timeshare owner reported that Global Properties Specialists further
stated it would guarantee the sale of the owner’s interest in the
property. Based on those representations, the timeshare owner agreed to
wire cash in the amount of $6,550, which Global Properties Specialists
claimed was a necessary transaction fee for service. After wiring the
initial payment, Global Properties Services advised the timeshare owner
that an additional payment of $11,790 was necessary to pay a 15% sales
tax plus a 3% foreign investment tax. After they had wired the second
payment, the timeshare owner was again contacted by Global Properties
Specialists for yet another $4,585 for a payment of a 7% commission.
After making the third payment, the timeshare owner received an email
from Global Properties Specialists stating that an additional payment of
$4,422 was necessary for a bank surcharge. The timeshare owner declined
to make the final payment, after which Global Properties Specialists
stopped answering the timeshare owner’s telephone calls and emails.
The Department’s investigation also found that the title company,
Integrated Escrow Services, with which Global Properties Specialists
represented it work with to complete the sale, used a fake Minnesota
address and had supplied an Oregon resident with a fake Minnesota real
estate and driver’s license, and a fake Minnesota business tax
registration to bolster its credibility.
The Department worked with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and
North Dakota in the investigation of these companies.
“Minnesotans need to exercise due diligence when selling their
timeshares,” said Commissioner Rothman. “These scams are becoming
increasingly prevalent and sophisticated, and Minnesotans should check
with the Department of Commerce to confirm the licenses of purported
timeshare resellers. Further, those who are considering the initial
purchase of timeshares need to educate themselves on the potential
benefits and disadvantages of timeshare ownership.”
The Commerce Department offers the
following advice on selling and purchasing timeshares.
Timeshare Resale Scams
Timeshare reseller scams have multiplied over recent years and companies
or individuals posing as resellers have scammed individuals out of
thousands of dollars through false promises and upfront fees.
- Always check with the
Minnesota Department of Commerce to confirm the licensing claims
of any reseller. Anyone selling timeshares in Minnesota must have a
Minnesota real estate license.
- Resellers identify timeshare owners through public databases and
real estate records. An agent will cold call or mail materials to
consumers offering resale terms that are often too good to be true.
Be very cautious of high pressure sales tactics and offers requiring
you to pay upfront fees. These tactics are a red flag the offer
could be a scam.
- A search of the caller’s telephone number, address or reseller
contact information on an internet search engine will quickly expose
a fraudulent company. Do this before signing a contract or sending
- Resale values are generally a fraction of the original purchase
price. Anyone offering a purchase price that sounds too good to be
true is too good to be true.
Purchasing a Timeshare:
- Compare the cost of purchasing and owning a timeshare with the
cost of staying at a hotel room in the resort area you are
considering. Be aware that timeshares carry additional fees, such as
monthly maintenance, taxes, brokerage fees and finance charges.
- Timeshares located outside the country do not carry the same
consumer protections that otherwise might be available domestically.
- Know your cancellation rights before you sign any contracts. If
a right of rescission is not among the contract terms, ask that it
be included in the final contract.
- Use an escrow account controlled by a licensed third party if
purchasing undeveloped property. If it is developed, visit and
inspect it carefully prior to signing a contract.
- Always consult with a real estate attorney prior to signing a
- Timeshares offered or sold to people in Minnesota must be
registered with the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Call
651-296-6332 or 651-296-4973 to find out if the project is
The Federal Trade Commission provides a wealth of
information for individuals to consult prior to making a timeshare
The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has additional
resources for timeshare investors. Check their
website for more information.
For complaints regarding timeshare sales, contact the Securities
Registration and Enforcement Section send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
Securities Registration and Enforcement Section of the website.
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