The California Dept. of Real Estate issued an important warning concerning the latest fraud scheme being perpetrated against timeshare owners.

The DRE Enforcement Unit has discovered what appears to be a new and growing scheme that targets and preys upon the owners of vacation timeshares in Mexico.

Some of the properties identified are the Mayan Palace, Moon Palace, Groupo Palace, and the Grand Miramar.  Other Mexican vacation resort properties have been mentioned as well.

The scammers usually contact and solicit the owners of the timeshares by telephone or email (from the reports received, the parties never meet in person), and tell the owners that they (the callers or writers) either have buyers or renters for the properties, or that they (the scammers) will market the properties for sale.

The fraudsters use the names of companies (some of which have professional-looking but usually phony websites, fancy sounding titles and addresses, and purport to be escrow, timeshare resale, finance, and/or title service businesses) and individuals in California, and many purport to work with Mexican government officials. However, most of the companies and individuals identified are believed to be a part of the fraud. From the investigations completed so far, it seems that while most of the entities and people are the creations and/or partners of, or the vehicles for the schemers, some of them may appear to be “legitimate,” and some of the companies have used California addresses belonging to a U.S. government agency.

With regard to the issue of “legitimacy,” it appears that a number of the scammers are or have engaged in identify theft, and are identifying and representing themselves as actual California real estate licensees. In those cases, the criminals will use an actual real estate broker’s name and license number in an attempt to legitimize the transaction. If and when the timeshare owner victim calls the broker’s number, which has been provided via email, phone call, postal mail, or on the website that has been created to complete the fraud, the voice of the supposed broker is actually the voice of the scammer.