Fraud victim warns of timeshare sales scam - CBS46 News

Fraud victim warns of timeshare sales scam

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ATLANTA (CONSUMER ALERT) -

If you're thinking about selling a timeshare, be on the lookout for scam artists trying to convince you to sell through them. You could end up on the losing end of the deal.

"The best thing to do is if you hear timeshare, run the other way," said fraud victim, Esther Bilicki.

She lost more than $15,000 in a timeshare scam.

"They wanted to help us sell the timeshare so we didn't have to worry about anything. They would take care of everything," she said.

The company, "Travelers Boutique," lured its victims by claiming they already had a seller on the line. All that was needed was an up front fee of $500 to $2,500.

"Convince them they had a buyer for their timeshare and this was an imminent sale type deal and they could help them get rid of the timeshare so they wouldn't be responsible for the fees and maintenance costs," said US Postal Inspector Derrick Thieme.

Bilicki admitted the tactic worked on her, but no sale was ever made. "I learned everyone is not as honest as what you think they should be."

She was one of many taken in by the scheme -- more than 1,400 victims in one case alone, and $2 million in losses.

"They were desperate, maybe more trusting people and more susceptible to these high pressure sales tactics, and it was real disturbing to see these vulnerable people being taken advantage of by these groups," Thieme said.

Bilicki's advice: "Don't do it, don't send any money. Just wait for them to sell it and then they can take the money out of that."

Timeshare resale fraud is on the rise. Companies can create realistic looking websites and set up phone centers that seem legitimate. Do your homework by checking out each company thoroughly.

And if a company asks you to pay by cash, wire transfer, money order or certified check, that's a big red flag. Paying that way leaves you no protection in case you've been scammed.

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