One timeshare owner says he thought he found an easy, efficient way to sell his Miami property.
“We got some stuff in the mail telling you that they are willing to buy or sell timeshares and I told the wife, I said, well, let’s get rid of one,” said fraud victim Joseph Hammet Jr.
Hammet called Timeshare Title Services and was told to mail a check for the fees involved to start the process. First, he sent a thousand dollar check.
When he was asked for more money, he realized he could actually drive the check to the location.
“We went to the address that we were given and here it is, it was a bunch of warehouse buildings and the address that we were presented with, there was a big lease sign on it. It was vacant,” said Hammet.
When he tried to call Timeshare Title Services, he knew something was wrong.
“I told my wife that I knew we had been scammed,” said Hammet.
He wasn’t alone. At least 100 victims lost over half a million dollars.
“You feel as if you have been violated in a sense. It’s like somebody coming into your house, breaking into your house, and stealing your own personal stuff,” said Hammet.
Postal inspectors say a red flag in timeshare scams is often the high-pressure sales tactics of telemarketers.
“Don’t be pressured into the high-sales sales pitch. Whenever they try to hook you into making a decision on the spot and immediately, you need to take a step back,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Scott Horne.
Hammet says every part of this transaction was by telephone and mail and that he has learned his lesson.
“You’re going to have to meet me person-to-person and then you’re going to have to have credentials to prove who you say you are,” said Hammet.
Two people were arrested on federal fraud charges in this case and were sentenced to nine years in prison.