Research by KwikChex, the award-winning investigation, verification and resolutions business shows that in a world absolutely saturated with fraud, timeshare owners are the most specifically targeted group.
Most scammers work on a broad ‘numbers game’ – using unsolicited contact and online marketing that reaches as many people as possible, in the hope that some consumers will fall for the scam.
Whilst there are huge numbers of consumers that fall prey to scams involving elements such as currency trading and other financial scams, or other common frauds such as dating / ‘romance’ scams, and there was prolific activity in Covid-related scamming, these are generally types that put out substantial amounts of ‘bait’ to hook people with various life-aspirations or fear factors, and are rarely specific to a group of consumers.
Timeshare owners are in a different category. The scams start with stolen data, and the fraudsters already have critical information they can use to persuade the owners to pay thousands for unnecessary services. Owners are being bombarded with cold calls, texts, emails and internet based marketing offering timeshare exit and claims services – the vast majority of which are scams in one form or another.
Huge scale, with many vulnerable consumers being scammed multiple times
Some of the businesses involved have taken tens of millions from owners, most of which will never be recovered. The amounts involved within Europe alone are estimated to be over 200 million Euros lost to these rogue businesses.
Many of these consumers are very vulnerable – and are often scammed more than once by connected businesses that, after an initial successful fraud, will then go back multiple times. The fraudsters start with misleading information, such as scaring elderly owners that both they and their heirs will have to pay ever-increasing amounts ‘in perpetuity’, or saying that they have a guaranteed compensation claim. In many recent cases, they have even persuaded consumers that they are still responsible for timeshares that were actually relinquished years ago. Later, when the owners realise that the services they paid for were bogus, they receive offers to recover their lost monies – and of course are scammed again – all too often, this occurs several times, often until their life savings have all been lost.
Failures to enforce fraud laws mean that prevention is vital – free assistance is available
Whilst there have been some prosecutions, the vast majority of fraudsters get away with their crimes – and so are encouraged to carry on offending. This unavoidable fact puts the onus on to doing all possible to protect consumers. Timeshare is one of the sectors where KwikChex actively engages – receiving funding from timeshare companies that provides free assistance to all affected consumers. This has resulted in many owners avoiding scams and being directed to information and professional help to establish their actual rights, both legally and contractually. In addition, many consumers have been able to recover the monies they lost to scammers – and the information gathered by KwikChex has hugely contributed to the arrests and prosecutions that have taken place. These services were recognised in 2019 with a Business Hero Award for fraud prevention, with one law enforcement officer saying “Its role in trying to stop scams or seek justice against the offenders is uncompromising and KwikChex has greatly helped to reduce consumer detriment, particularly within the Timeshare sector.”
Ultimate due diligence assistance
KwikChex provides free resources, including the means for timeshare owners to carry out exceptional due diligence. This includes
Stop & Check – self-protection for timeshare owners
Timeshare Business Check – an online resource that enables consumers to check verified information