Front companies are being used in America to trick investors in an elaborate and growing scheme that preys upon the owners of vacation timeshares in Mexico, the California Department of Real Estate is reporting.
Some of the finest resort properties in Mexico have been targeted, among them: Mayan Palace, of Playa del Carmen; Moon Palace, of Cancun and the Grand Miramar Club, of Puerto Vallarta.
Other Mexican-based vacation resort properties have been mentioned, as well, according to the state department.
Here's how the con works:
Scammers typically solicit owners of the timeshares by phone, email or letter with news they have found a buyer or renter for their property. They also purport to put the timeshare on the market.
If the bait is taken, the telemarketers ask for an upfront fee. Once money is sent, no sale, rental or purchase is completed and the money is gone.
The timeshare vacation scam is proliferating because Internet sites are being set up anywhere in the United States or in other countries. It's notorious because in some cases actual real estate brokers' names and license numbers are being stolen to legitimize a fake transaction.
What is a timeshare owner to do? A "red flag" should pop up whenever upfront fees, cash or wire payments are sought.
Chances are if they're soliciting you, this rental or sale isn't going to feel anything like the warm Mexican coast breezes these resort properties usually bring: Amounts wired over to these predators have ranged from $3,250 to $85,000.
BUILDER PANEL UPDATE
The Labor Department's latest jobs report was welcome news -- unemployment fell slightly from 7.9 to 7.7 percent and jobs are returning in many sectors, including construction.
Jed Kolko, chief economist with Trulia, said the economy's added 125,000 residential construction jobs and 184,000 jobs in industry-related sectors.
What's happening locally?
So, you'd like to hear first-hand about the Inland and Southern California building scene, a dinner-event on March 21 may be for you: The Riverside County and Baldy View chapters of the Building Industry Association is holding a Builder Update Panel from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Eagle Glen Golf Club, 1800 Eagle Glen Parkway, Corona.
Top names will give an overview: Steve Johnson, regional director of Metrostudy; Steve Ruffner, division president, KB Home; Greg McGuff, division president for Lennar; Leonard Miller, division president for Richmond American Homes; and Randall Lewis, CEO of Lewis Group of Companies.
For more information, call the BIA Riverside County chapter at 951-781-7310.
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