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Confessions from a timeshare scammer?

I thought this might be an interesting read; I came across this on the Internet claiming to be written by a timeshare scammer. Regardless if this is from a true Fraudster or not it should still act as a warning. All holiday cold calls should be treated as scams. 

Read the guide Timeshare Scams: Don’t become a victim. Fight back!

Hi. I am a genuine timeshare scammer.

Photo supplied by FreeDigitalPhotos.netI've been doing various telemarketing scams for years. This includes up front fee scams for timeshare owners. These forums have been eye opening for me in ways that I doubt any of you would be able to relate to. 

I'd like to address some of the recurring themes and why they caught me off guard. Firstly, when people are giving warnings about these scams, they'll almost always include a phrase along the lines of "...and once you've paid, the buyer will suddenly disappear." The first 5 or 6 times I read that, I kept thinking to myself "what buyer?" Then I realized how much different the call must seem to the person on the other end of the line.

The fact that the people actually believe in the existence of a buyer took a while to sink in with me. I don't know why. I've been telling people this same ridiculous story for years. For some reason though, I just didn't understand that the victims genuinely believed there was a buyer.

Another thing that people said from time to time is something along the lines of "I guess these people think that if we'll fall for buying a timeshare,we'll fall for anything." This is more or less correct. 

I engage in multiple telephone scams. When I know that one of my leads is a timeshare owner, I pretty much take for granted the fact that I'll be able to get money out of them. I'm usually right.

The beauty of a timeshare owner is that, to a scammer, they're a perfect combination of two things: somebody who has money and somebody who is a pushover. Now, you may or may not have cash in the bank, but I know that you have credit cards and that they have high limits. 

I have a sheet in front of me with the future victim's information when I call. I don't always have the full social security number, but I at least have the last four digits. Apart from that one possibly incomplete piece of information, I have all of the relevant information that I need. Your full name, date of birth, address, credit card numbers (with expiration dates and CVC), and oftentimes your mother's maiden name. I have the address of your timeshare. Sometimes I have multiple credit card numbers. Also, over the course of the conversation, I will get the first five digits of your social. I can't remember the last time that I wasn't able to.

Having this information makes it far less difficult to talk you into something.

"Let's go ahead and apply this charge to your Chase Freedom Visa card ending int 0027." Of course, I hardly ever put charges on credit cards anymore. That's how people get caught. Although, if I'm in a pinch, I have ways to charge the cards.

I live in Florida. I doubt that this information will surprise any of you. My business is licensed in another state. All of the articles you read in the papers about scam timeshare companies getting raided are locations that the state has on file. I've never understood why those people used in-state registration. It's just as easy to file in, say, Arizona, or Iowa, or anywhere else, really.

My "operation" is small. There are four of us. We have an office, but we don't leave anything in there overnight. We take our leads with us when we leave at night and bring them back in the morning. The office manager has no idea what we do and neither does anybody else in the building. We don't use landlines. We have prepaid cell phones. 

I am 31 years old. We have been working together ever since we got out of college. We are not seedy-looking blue collar people. All four of us are as WASPY as they come. We all have degrees. 

This is a total anomoly in the call center world. Unless one of you were ripped off by somebody in my group, you were more than likely talking to somebody with a criminal record and a drug habit that might or might not have completed high school. Every call center I have ever seen is staffed with a sales team that fits this description. I've seen a lot of call centers. I have a good reputation among them and drop by on other places from time to time to talk shop with the owners and share the latest scams.

I don't share all of my scams with them. I won't share most of them with you. The ones that I make the most money on are totally absent on this board. That's a good thing, but flying under the radar online isn't critical. Most people who get ripped off don't even bother to check Google. Sometimes people do and we still end up with their money. "Yeah, I saw that online too. It's such a shame that a few bad apples can potentially ruin the reputation of legitimate businessmen like myself. I mean honestly, it makes me sick to my stomach knowing that there are people out there who prey on hard working people like you and ..."

I'll give my side of the scams that I have already seen discussed on this board. The main one that people complain about is the "I have a buyer ready and waiting to purchase your timeshare" one. It's surprising how often this works. What's even more surprising is that it often works on people who have already fallen for it. Sometimes it works on the same exact people I've scammed before. It always amazes me when that happens.

Depending on my read of the victim, I'll follow that up with one of several things. I won't tell you what the follow up scams are because nobody's blowing the whistle on them yet. The important thing for this post though is to know that I do it quickly. Sometimes a day after I get the wire transfer. Sometimes I do it on the same day. No matter what though, I always do it within a week of the initial wire.

If the person sounds completely trusting, I'll usually hit them with two immediate follow scams. I've done three before, but that doesn't happen very often and rarely works out when I try.

Okay, so now I've gotten their money up front and nailed them with at least one more follow up scam. What I do now is mail them a cashier's check. It's counterfeit, of course. 

For the sake of discussion, let's say they were expecting $25,000. Also, for the sake of discussion, let's say that they ended up paying $1,600 for the follow up scam. For the purposes of this post, we'll say that they paid the money on the follow up scam for the closing fees. I've never actually used closing fees, but this is only an example.

What I'll do is mail the person a check for $26,600. I will call them two days later and ask them if they got the check. If they didn't, I will tell them to call me when they receive it so I can verify something before they deposit it. If they do have it, I'll ask them if it's for $25,000. They will inevitably say "no, it's for $26,600!" At that point I will act somewhat confused and ask them if they're sure. They're always sure. I will say something that conveys deep concern and tell them to hold on for a moment while I verify something. I'll them put them on hold and play a level of Angry Birds or something. When I pick the line back up, I'll say something like "Mr. Smith? Okay, I was able to find out what happened. The check was written for $26,600 because I accidentally forwarded the wrong information to our billing department. I added up the sale price and the cost of your closing fees and submitted that. This isn't good. Oh man. I can't believe I've done this. I'm going to lose my job. I can't believe I've done this again!" I'll act like this is something I've done a few times before and that I will lose my job if I don't get the situation straightened out. "I need your help! I need you to deposit the check into your account and immediately wire the difference back to the same account you sent the other two wire transfers to. I'm sorry to make you run to the bank again, but I really don't want to lose my job! I just put my son in preschool and I don't have a lot of disposable income right now!" 

If the person doesn't want to play ball, I'll tell them that I will have to issue a stop payment on the check. I'll tell them that we'll have to physically locate the buyer because the check needs his signature. He just caught a flight to Ontario and we don't know when we'll be back. The people are usually willing to send another wire though. They don't hate me yet. They love me. I just sold their timeshare.

After I've gotten three or four wires from them, I hand the file over to one of the other people I work with. He'll call them in about two weeks and explain that he is a private investigator and that he knows they got ripped off on a phony timeshare deal. He can help them get their money back but they will have to pay a nominal fee to get started.

Of course, these things are going on all the time. My buddies are always handing their people over to me and vice versa. I can end one phone call as a timeshare salesman and be a private investigator on the next call. So can they.

After we've wrapped up the investigator scam, we just put their information away for a year or two. It's shocking how many people you can get to go through the entire sequence I just mentioned multiple times. 

The three scams I've mentioned here are the ones that all of your are already very familiar with. We've got a lot more. Most of them don't involve timeshare resale anymore because the state seems to be taking the issueseriously for the time being. That happens from time to time. Things will cool off in a few months. They always do.

The only time I'll do a timeshare deal nowadays is if I'm broke. This is because I can call somebody out of the blue and have a wire by lunch. 

What the police need to be doing is investigating where the timeshare rooms get their leads from. That is the real story here. 

I've been doing this since I was 23. I was going to start work at a "real job" in a few months but needed to do something to make some money before then. When I first started, I had no idea that the phone calls we were making to timeshare owners weren't legitimate. I was actually shocked and horrified when I found out that the job was a scam. I was making a lot of money though. More money than the salary offer I received from the job that was waiting for me. I continued to be a salesperson for about a year, taking a 30% commission on every sale. I hated myself for that year.

As time went by, I stopped feeling sorry for the victims. As sickening as this is for many of you to read, I feel only contempt for them now. What kind of person receives a phone call they weren't expecting and ends up driving to the bank an hour later to give a stranger thousands of dollars? 

Comment from Graham

So how does this make you feel reading this article?

I have in my travels met rogue traders not only in timeshare, some industries are far worse. Some come across as likeable rogues, as that's part of their charm, that's why you get caught out again and again! 

Most times there is no proof of their crime as timeshare owners usually don't have solid proof, only that they were told verbal lies. 

They are quite open about why they maintain their fraudulent operations. Their main reason for scamming is, because we are easy money!! 

Read the guide Timeshare Scams: Don’t become a victim. Fight back! You need to review this. What has been mentioned in this article is the tip of the ice burg. The worst scams can be face to face. Find out about Operation PBT in my guide and lets work together and close those scam Companies down.