FBI Alerts Americans To Timeshare Fraud By Mexican Cartels

The FBI is warning Americans about a rise in timeshare fraud schemes, primarily perpetrated by Mexican drug cartels. These scams target part-time property owners, particularly older Americans, convincing them to hand over large sums of money under false pretenses related to their timeshare properties. Criminals often do extensive research on their victims, using fake documents and impersonating officials from “trustworthy institutions” to sell their narratives and scare victims into compliance.

Assistant Special Agent in Charge Paul Roberts highlighted the severe impact these schemes have on victims, stating they cause “devastating consequences for victims’ financial futures, relationships, and physical and emotional health.” The scammers use high-pressure sales tactics combined with cyber-enabled fraud strategies to make their scams appear legitimate.

These fraudulent activities are becoming increasingly attractive to cartels because they are cheaper and pose fewer logistical, labor, and oversight challenges compared to other revenue streams like drug and weapons trafficking. The proceeds from these scams often fund the cartels’ violent activities in Mexico.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel has played a significant role in these timeshare fraud schemes, according to the FBI. To combat this issue, the bureau is partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) acknowledges the rise in fraudulent activities and emphasizes the importance of consumer education to prevent such scams. “The recent activity in Mexico is just one example of some of the fraudulent activity we see from third-party timeshare exit companies,” said ARDA President and CEO Jason Gamel. ARDA has partnered with members to create the Coalition for Responsible Exit, a resource aimed at helping timeshare owners responsibly and safely exit their timeshares.

Gamel encourages anyone considering selling their timeshare to visit ResponsibleExit.com and to avoid engaging with unsolicited resale offers. This proactive approach aims to protect consumers from falling victim to these sophisticated scams.

The FBI’s warning serves as a crucial reminder for timeshare owners to remain vigilant and seek legitimate avenues for exiting their timeshare agreements, ensuring they do not fall prey to these dangerous fraud schemes.

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