Reports show that fraudsters are taking advantage of previous fraudulent or mis-sold timeshare schemes and are advising victims that they are owed compensation. Victims are told that they need to pay a fee to obtain this money.
Victims who have invested in timeshares abroad are being contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from reputable authorities. Victims are being offered the opportunity, either by phone call or letter, to reclaim money back from their timeshare or to exit early for a fee. Fraudsters are then advising victims that the amount ‘owed’ can be released. The fraudsters are aware of the victim’s personal details from their previous investment, giving them false credibility. The requested fees range from £2,500 to £9,000 and additional fees have also been requested to cover maintenance or legal cover.
The victims, who are from across the UK, are aged between 50 and 81 years old. This has been an ongoing issue, with 1,155 Action Fraud timeshare recovery reports recorded from January to July 2018, with an average loss of £14,000 per victim.
Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith, said:
“A shocking amount of timeshare recovery fraud losses have been reported to Action Fraud since January, which is why we are urging people to be extremely cautious. Fraudsters are luring people in with attractive offers of compensation or an early exit on a holiday property, only to then stop all contact once the victim has paid an advance fee.
“As with all victims of fraud, our reports show that timeshare fraud victims are vulnerable to recovery fraud. Callous fraudsters will often attempt to defraud people who have already fallen victim to fraud by offering to return what they have lost.
“If in doubt, always check directly with the relevant organisation to ensure the correspondence has come from a legitimate source.”
“If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please report it us.”
Chief Executive of ABTA, Mark Tanzer, said:
“Travel related fraud is always distressing for the victim but this particular fraud is one of the worst due to the repeat nature of the crime and the very high amounts of money that are lost, running into tens of thousands of pounds. We would advise people to be extremely wary of any company cold calling you out of the blue to talk about your timeshare and asking for payment. Travel related fraud often involves someone pretending to be a legitimate company when they actually turn out to be fake – so it’s important you check you are dealing with a reputable business before making any commitment.”