In Illinois, a timeshare scam has elicited “dozens of complaints” since January, thanks to the implementation of a tried-and-true scam method: the illicit money wire[1]. Individuals pretending to be timeshare resellers contact the owners of the timeshares. Not surprisingly, many of these owners are currently struggling to make the payments on these vacation “deals” and may be a little too eager to make a sale. The “reseller” informs the timeshare owner that they have found a buyer or a renter for the timeshare, then another con artist contacts the owner posing as the buyer and urges the sellers to go through with the sale so that they can take ownership of the “property.”

Of course, this transaction requires a service fee or a security deposit that can, not surprisingly, be sent via a money wire or charged to a credit card. About the time that this transaction clears, the con artists clean out and close the bank account that received the money and then take off, leaving the original timeshare owners still the owners and out a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Some victims have wired as much as $5,000 to these con artists.

Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan is not only cautioning timeshare owners against this specific scam, but also encouraging them to remember that they should “never assume they will recoup the purchase price of their timeshare, especially if they have owned it for less than five years and the location is not well-known.”

[1] http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9IHLARG0.htm