W.Va. AG issues scam warning to timeshare owners

Jessica M. Karmasek May 27, 2011, 12:53pm


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is warning timeshare owners in the state of bogus sale scams.

McGraw said consumers who own timeshares have filed numerous complaints with his office, saying these companies have called them promising to sell their timeshare property and charging $1,200 to $2,500 in advance fees for the service.

Typically, he explained, the scammers send a legitimate-looking contract to be signed and faxed or e-mailed back. The contract and transaction are often executed through an online website, he said.

The companies fraudulently claim the fees are for advertising, closing, inspection and transaction costs, and require an immediate payment through a credit card or debit card transaction, the attorney general explained.

"Do not agree to pay an advance fee in order to sell your timeshare," McGraw said in a statement Friday. "Legitimate timeshare sellers do not require an up-front fee."

McGraw's office said timeshare sellers are required to register with the West Virginia Securities Commission of the State Auditor's Office.

Before agreeing to buy or sell a timeshare, consumers should contact the auditor's office at 1-888-368-9507, McGraw said.

The scammers, he said, using stall tactics and deceptive terminology in their contracts, have been successful in preventing consumers from obtaining refunds through their credit card companies and banking institutions.

"Federal law provides consumers a remedy for obtaining refunds for fraudulent credit card transactions," McGraw said. "However, consumers must be diligent in disputing the charge with their credit card company within 60 days, and they must do so in writing."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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