The Latest Scam to Be Aware Of
Vacation ownership is an excellent way to enjoy your favorite vacation spots year after year with all the benefits of having a home away from home. UVCI’s Club Members have made a conscious decision to invest in vacation ownership because they wanted to travel to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world, with luxurious accommodations and all the comforts of home. By owning a vacation property, members have access to exclusive amenities and services that make every trip truly unforgettable. Ultimately, investing in vacation ownership is a way to escape the stresses of everyday life and indulge in the joys of travel, relaxation, and adventure.
There are many benefits that come with vacation ownership, such as the flexibility to choose when and where to vacation, and the opportunity to explore new destinations without the hassle of finding accommodation. It also allows for the opportunity to experience new cultures, meet new people, and make memories that will last a lifetime.
As the popularity of vacation ownership increases, con artists are increasingly targeting members of these clubs. Recently, we have received reports that a company has been reaching out to our Club members and offering to help them exit their vacation ownership contracts in exchange for an upfront payment. This type of offer is a classic red flag, and we urge all Club members to beware of this and other similar fraudulent schemes. This article discusses how to identify and avoid vacation ownership scams.
Beware of the Scammers and The Scams
Scammers use various tactics to obtain information about vacation ownership members, such as using social media or calling members to gather data. They may also offer gifts, make false promises, or use high-pressure sales tactics. It is important to remember that scammers may even be able to obtain information directly from members by calling and asking questions. Members may not realize they have been taken advantage of until it is too late.
Remember, being a Club Member has many benefits, but it is essential to stay vigilant against tricksters who may try to take advantage of you. With a little bit of knowledge and caution, you can protect yourself and continue to enjoy all of the great benefits that vacation ownership has to offer.
How Does the Scam Work?
A prevalent scam that targets vacation owners involves scammers claiming to help Club Members exit their contracts in exchange for upfront payments. These con artists often contact their targets through cold calls, emails, or letters in the post. They may pose as contract review specialists, loan officers, or attorneys working on your behalf.
They will claim that they have the ability to help you cancel your membership or get you out of it completely. Or they may offer to buy your ownership for an exorbitant amount, sometimes 10 or 20 times more than what you originally paid for it. However, before providing their service, they ask for an upfront tax or fee that can add up to several thousand dollars. These fraudsters create fake websites that appear legitimate, often using stolen information. They may ask to charge your credit card for these services, and when they provide you with wire transfer information, it will be for a bank outside of the United States.
It’s important to be aware of these tactics and never pay upfront fees or give away personal information to cold-callers. By taking the time to research and familiarize yourself with the potential risks of vacation ownership scams, you can help protect yourself and your family from becoming victims. Remember that any offer to purchase your vacation ownership for more than you paid for it, help you exit your contract, or make other promises related to ownership issues, or anything else, is likely a scam. We are here to help you avoid falling victim to these scams, so please see below for some helpful tips:
- Familiarize yourself with potential vacation ownership scams.
- Be wary of offers to purchase your vacation ownership for more than you paid for it or promises to help exit your contract.
- Do not give out personal information to unknown entities.
- Do not pay upfront fees or taxes for services you have not received.
- Check the reputation of the exit company and customer reviews before signing anything.
- Never send a wire transfer after receiving an unsolicited telephone call or email as it can be difficult to trace if the company turns out to be fake.
- Check for online reviews and consult trusted legal or financial experts before making any decisions.
- Google the business name contacting you, the email addresses and look up their website.
- Google their business address and see if they office there; call around.
By staying vigilant and following these tips, you can safeguard your vacation ownership investment and help prevent these scammers from victimizing others.
The Latest Resale Scam by Villagrouprentals.com
It has come to our attention that there is a new scam targeting vacation owners. The scammer is using the website Villagrouprentals.com and posing as the legitimate company, the Villa Group. This is a classic tactic used by scammers to deceive individuals into thinking they are dealing with a reputable company.
Companies like Villagrouprentals.com cold-call owners with an offer to purchase their membership or rent their vacation points for a large amount. They may even reach out to club members of legitimate corporations like UVCI, offering to help them get out of their contracts. To protect yourself from these types of scams, it is essential to always make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company and check their website for any red flags, such as poor reviews or inconsistent information. Staying informed and alert is the best way to protect yourself and your membership.
Here is the example of villagrouprentals.com, the scammers buy domains by illegally using the business name. Once the domain is terminated for fraud, they open another with a similar spelling.
Bought a new website and called it villagroup-rentals
The scam involves gathering information about members and offering the following:
- State that they can get you out of your membership without any cost.
- Claim they are working with a team of specialist attorneys to help you. When in actual fact, they have copied information from legitimate legal institutions to create authentic-looking websites.
- Suggest your ownership is worth more than you paid for it.
- Advise that you pay a tax or a fee of several hundred or thousands of dollars upfront.
- Claim they have a special event and need to rent your time from you.
- Claim there is a business takeover, and they can buy your membership back.
It is important to note that UVCI, the Villa Group, and all other affiliated clubs, would never approach you with rental or sales offers for your vacation ownership. Your membership is yours to keep.
Things to Look Out For
As we’ve mentioned earlier, vacation ownership scams are prevalent and can take many forms. Fraudsters may contact you via cold calls, emails, or letters in the post, claiming they can cancel or purchase your membership. Unfortunately, while they look like legitimate offers, they are often too good to be true. Here are some things to watch out for:
- High-pressure tactics. An offer that forces you to decide immediately is likely a scam. Legitimate businesses will give you time to think about an offer.
- Upfront fees. A company that promises to purchase or cancel your membership will not ask for upfront payment.
- Fake websites. Fraudsters will often create fake websites that look like the website of legitimate vacation ownership companies. Be sure to do your research to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company.
- If you are considering selling your vacation membership, be diligent and aware of the signs of a con. Do not let yourself be taken advantage of.
- If you wish to renegotiate or cancel your vacation ownership, it is always in your best interest to contact the company with whom you have your original agreement.
How to Avoid a Fraudulent Scheme
If you are considering selling your vacation membership, look out for the signs of an imposter. The following advice will help you avoid falling victim to a resale or exit scam:
- Research the reseller. Check if the state’s attorney general and local consumer protection agencies have received complaints about the reseller. Also, look online for the name of the reselling company; search for words like complaint or scam.
- Ask about upfront fees. If the reseller requires payment in advance, walk away.
- Check if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate in the location where your ownership is located. Only work with licensed real estate brokers and agents, which you can verify with the state’s licensing agency.
- Request references from satisfied clients to gauge the reseller’s track record.
Despite the Scammers, Vacation Ownership is an Attractive Investment
We take great pride in serving as the management company for our vacation clubs. Our top priority is to provide members with an unparalleled vacation experience characterized by exceptional service and luxury amenities. We will continue to provide you with relevant updates that will help you protect and get the most out of your membership.
Useful Links And Contacts
If you think a fraudulent exit or resale company has contacted you, contact the following agencies and report it to:
- The FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
- The state attorney general in the state the timeshare is located.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB).
- Member Services. Call us at 1-800-852-47552 or email us at email@example.com.
To learn more about resale scams, please read our previous post – How to Avoid Resale Scams.
One thing that would help people avoid scams is if UVCI provided a way for owners/members to exit their contract, so they don’t need to turn to a scam offer. If someone has been a member in good standing for several years, but has gotten disabled, too old, or otherwise unable to travel anymore, or in financial distress and unable to pay maintenance fees, why hold them hostage to the contract? The ownership has been paid for, the points or week can be returned and resold by UVCI, and all you are out is future maintenance fees. Seems like that would be a good service to provide members/owners. Worldmark/Wyndham has a program called Ovation that does this for example.
Thank you for reading our blog and sharing your feedback with us. We have passed your feedback along to management for review.
As a Club member, we enjoy having our membership. However, I don’t see anywhere what The Villa Group is doing to protect our confidential information against scammers. I personally have fallen to victim of scammers prior to ANY information being sent out to the members. I continue to receive at least 1-2 calls a month from scammers wanting to purchase my contract or have me sell weeks.