Fraud Unit: Timeshare scamPosted: Updated:
The Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is warning timeshare owners not to do business with U.S. Financial Trust of America- a company claiming a fictitious Tucson address- which is scamming timeshare owners across the country.
BBB has received three complaints alleging that US Financial Trust contacted them via telephone, claiming that they had found buyers for the consumers' timeshares. Consumers say that US Financial Trust told them that they would charge an opening and closing fee for the sales of the properties, then wire payment for the properties into the consumers' bank accounts. In each case consumers tell BBB that the company disappeared after they had paid the opening and closing fees.
Kenneth Anderson, a consumer from Illinois, told BBB that U.S. Trust Financial called him on a daily basis for weeks with new details about a supposed deal to sell his timeshare, but once he paid the fees with a credit card he never heard from the company again.
A Tennessee consumer paid US Trust Financial over $5,000 in fees for the supposed sale of five condominium timeshares he owns in Mexico. The consumer told BBB that he faxed a check to US Trust Financial, but now when he calls US Trust Financial they tell him the person responsible for his account doesn't work with the company anymore.
Before US Financial Trust started reporting a Tucson address, the company went by the name Financial Associates of America (FAA), and claimed to be based out of Illinois. On June 8, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued cease and desist order to the company for operating without a license. The agency also said that they had reasonable cause to believe that FAA was engaged in "unsafe, unsound, or unlawful" business practices.
BBB placed a call to the local number listed for US Trust Financial- (520) 334-1020- and asked a company representative why they were giving out a fake address, but the representative maintained that they were located at 3915 Broadway Blvd. Ste 301. BBB has confirmed that a law firm not related to the company actually occupies the suite US Trust Financial claims to be located in.
BBB offers the following tips consumers who wish to sell their timeshare:
Check out the business - You can check out a business at www.tucson.bbb.org. BBB Business Reviews include basic information, complaint overview, and BBB ratings from A+ to F, along with the reasons for the rating.
Confirm location and licensing -Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located and verify this with the state licensing board.
Get the facts on the figures - Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
Be wary of upfront fees -Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.
Don't fall for the hard sell or an offer that sounds too good to be true - Don't agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don't be pressured.
For more consumer tips or to check out a business or file a complaint with BBB, visit www.tucson.bbb.org.