Nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear that timeshare owners have fallen victim to fraudsters for a second time offering to dispose of their contracts in exchange for a fee, in addition to the promise of relinquishing your contract they also claim that they too can obtain compensation, of course for a further fee.
Timeshare is a fractional ownership where people buy a share in the property for a set number of weeks each year, typically paying a one-off fee for their ownership. However, this is only for the week they have purchased, not the maintenance and up keep, this will be billed separately and annually, usually rising significantly each year. In return the owner has the right to use the week/s purchased in the apartment, either for a fixed number of years or, more commonly, in perpetuity. Perpetuity contracts are difficult to break. Countless retired owners are locked into paying high annual fees for a timeshare they no longer want. In many cases, these are passed on to family members when the original buyer passes away.
The resort that sold the timeshare originally could agree to buy it back, or the owner may be lucky enough to find a new buyer, however, the price the owners will receive is significantly less than the original purchase price. For the victims who fail foul of the fraudsters, offering to find a buyer, all the owner must do is pay the company their fees upfront, then surprise, surprise the company disappears along with the cash.
It was recently reported, Mr & Mrs Williams of Kinross in Scotland, who own a timeshare at Moness resort in Aberfeldy, Perthshire were conned out of £500 by a company calling themselves, Yacht Trading. The company never kept their promise by way of finding them a buyer, and they failed to return their £500 fee. Following a government investigation Yacht Trading were wound up in the high court in early 2008.
After realising they had been conned the next call, they received wasn’t welcomed like Yacht Trading, Mr Williams had his guard up. Upon answering the call, Mr Williams was greeted by a company called Asset Accountancy Services (AAS) who claimed they were able to recover the money the couple had lost in the Yacht Trading scam.
“The salesman told us there was a £4.5m pot of money available to compensate people who had been conned and promised us £2,717.10, which was a lot more than we had lost,” Williams said.
“I instantly thought it must be a scam, even though the guy on the phone was professional and gave us his company registration number to reassure us. He also gave my wife the number of the ‘Legal Timeshare Advisory Bureau’ in Gateshead, which he said was a government body for timeshare organisations. But when we rang it later, the woman on the line did not sound very authentic.”
The Williams decided to check out the Bureau for themselves on the internet and it was no shock to discover that ‘Legal Timeshare Advisory Bureau’ did not exist, when AAS called back, Mr Williams confronted the salesman. “The man said it wouldn’t have a website because it was a government body.” He then asked if they would like to purchase £500 in vouchers via an online payment service ‘Ukash’ this would cover administration fees, all he had to do was call the company back with the voucher codes. Williams suspected they would never see the £500 again if he proceeded.
“At that point I said it all sounded like another scam. He asked who I was, so I pretended I was a trading standards officer, at which point he began getting aggressive, especially when I wouldn’t give him my name. He must have figured it out because at the end of the call he said: ‘You’re nothing but a twat. We’ve got your wife’s number now, so we’ll make sure she gets lots of calls.’ It was very threatening.”
CEO of Ukash, David Hunter, said: “We’re aware and clearly concerned about fraudulent activity of this type but, for us it’s impossible to differentiate between genuine and malicious transactions.”
Upon further investigation, the AAS scammers start by asking for £500 upfront, claiming this will cover all administration fees, once the monies are received and sadly for most, a second call will be made claiming AAS could get you £20,000 of compensation, however, in order to receive this the client has to pay upfront ‘tax’ fees ranging from £3,000 to £4,000. In addition, Asset Accountancy Services states the company reside at an address in Colchester, however, according to Companies House, AAS has moved premises five times since November 2011.
Thankfully Mr Williams didn’t fail foul of the double scamming and said he was more than happy to share his story in the hope that it saves future victims succumbing to these heartless con artists. “If I can help stop one granny from being scammed out of her money, it will be worth telling my story,” he said. “I wonder how many people got caught out on the day we were cold-called.”
If you have a timeshare that you no longer use, or feel like you were mis old and mis lead with your timeshare, then contact Timeshare Compensation today and see how much you could be entitled to.