Safe From Scams: Timeshares

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It seemed like the perfect plan, a couple looking to sell off some unused weeks of their timeshare.

But a valley couple found the offer turned out to be a con.

"The guy that I was talking with seemed honest," said fraud victim Jack Bowerman

Bowerman and his wife own two time shares, but due to medical issues they weren't able to use all of the time available.

So, when jack got a call offering to sell his unused time, he was thrilled initially. "In order for him to make the deal, he said I would have to pay an up front fee like $750," Bowerman said.

Initially, Jack hesitated. But the caller insisted time was of the essence. "They pressured me into it," Bowerman recalled. "Saying, 'you know, you've got to do it now, because these are a big group coming in from Europe, and they are definitely looking for the best facilities.'"

Jack and at least 5,000 other people were victims of the telemarketing scheme.

Investigators said Fabian Fleifel and co-conspirators ran a $10 million scheme luring in time share owners across the country.

High pressure tactics are key to their success.

"Do it now, I've got people waiting, US Postal Inspector Timothy Vasquez said. "If you don't want to take it now, somebody else is going to take your deal."

Some advice from postal inspectors - do a little research if you want to sell or rent your timeshare.

"Contact the resort owner to find out exactly what needs to be done to sell your time share," Vasquez said. "They will be able to guide you properly and to the right people."

"You can't trust people really over the phone and what they say you can't see them eye to eye," Bowerman said. "You don't really know who you are really talking to."

Fleifel was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, and bank fraud, along with mail fraud telemarketing charges.
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