Our first mistake was to buy into a time share called Torrenza in Mazatlan, Mexico. They were supposedly building a new condominium resort on the beach to add to their existing older facility in Mazatlan and a sister resort on the east coast of Mexico. The new resort in Mazatlan was never built, and a few years after our time share purchase, we learned that Torrenza was bankrupt. We still had privileges to use our time share weeks at the exisiting older resort in Mazatlan, so we held onto it. We were told that several Mexican companies were trying to buy the resort on a short sale and to fund building of the new resort.
We were contacted by telephone by several companies, claiming to want to purchase our timeshare for these Mexican investors, who were supposedly willing to purchase our timeshare for the amount we paid, plus a few months worth of maintenance fees. Each of the companies wanted the seller (us) to put up several thousand dollars of "trust money" to guarantee the sale. We turned down all offfers until contacted by Fractional Property Specialists. They had a very convincing sales person, who said they did not require upfront funds. So, we signed on with them to sell our timeshare. That was our second mistake. They said they had sold our time share, but we were required to fund the title search. They said, per Mexican law, anyone holding Mexican property who was not a citizen of Mexico, would be responsible for the title search. My husband checked out Mexican property law, and determined that was at least partially correct. They said we would be reimbursed from an escrow fund, set up with Precise Title Transfers, after the sale was final. They wrote us a letter of guarantee to state that all escrow funds would be returned to us as part of the check paid to us for the sale of our property. Supposedly Precise Title Transfers was located in San Francisco, California, and Fractional Property Specialists was located in Wilmington, NC. I looked them up on the internet and through their local BBBs, and saw only very minor complaints, which they explained as customers who did not like quality of the service they received. So, we dumped another $900 into our mistake by wire transfer. Then, at the very end of the sale transactions, they suddenly told us they needed $2,000 to pay taxes on the sale, with another letter of guarantee saying we would be reimbursed. We balked, but ended up wiring $2,000 more. Then, we were contacted, and told we had done the wire transfer wrong. We were supposed to send $1000 to Precise Title Transfer and $1000 to Fractional Property Specialists. We said "O.K., but send us back the original $2000 first". That was when the you-know-what hit the fan. They refused to send back the $2000, and further told us we were in breach of contract if we did not wire the two additional separate amounts. We knew we had been ripped off then. I contacted an attorney and learned that both companies were "briefcase companies" -- formed just long enough to get your money-- and that the escrow account had already been cleaned out. The Mexican bank that received our wire transfers refused to help, and our bank was not able to call back the funds. We were dead in the water.
Then, to add insult to injury, we were contacted by the Mexico Advocate Group (MAG), with a very convincing telemarketer, who said they were working with the Mexican government to try to help all the Americans and Canadians who had been ripped off in these time share scams, and who had supposedly seized several million dollars in illegal gains. They were willing to disperse funds to those who could prove they were ripped off via a class action suit. When we received the paperwork from MAG, we saw that they would pursue our participation in the class action suit and funds dispersal IF we would send them a $1,297 deposit for attorney fees. YEAH, RIGHT!!! This time, we got smart and checked out MAG. We found that they are a scam company too.
What's that saying.....?..."Once burned, shame on you; twice burned, shame on me." Or P.T. Barnum's "There's a sucker born every minute." DO NOT make the same mistakes we made.