Cartel Timeshare Scam Costs Veteran $900K

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A veteran attempting to sell an unused timeshare fell victim to a massive scam orchestrated by a powerful Mexican cartel, highlighting a growing trend targeting Americans.

The veteran, known as “James,” explained to AARP that what started as a phone call offering to buy his Lake Tahoe timeshare resulted in losing nearly $900,000 and enduring months of harassment.

The call originated from a call center in Mexico linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which established over two dozen scam-call centers in Puerto Vallarta and CancĂșn, as per reports.

Primarily preying on elderly Americans like James, the cartel operates the fraud businesses to fund their illegal operations.

Protecting his identity from the cartel, James refrained from using his full name during interactions with AARP.

Back in 1996, he and his wife purchased a timeshare in Lake Tahoe for $8,900 but barely utilized the property over the years, leading to accumulating fees that proved challenging to address.

Upon receiving a call in October 2022 indicating interest in purchasing their timeshare, they seized the opportunity, motivated by the promised sum of $22,470.

Subsequently, James was instructed by a man named Michael to pay nearly $2,500 for transfer and wire costs, assuring a refund, which indeed appeared in an online escrow account. However, additional unexpected fees arose in the following months.

Despite efforts to cut ties with the deal, the scammers insisted on traveling to Mexico on James’ behalf, demanding reimbursement for alleged expenses.

As money requests escalated, James ultimately paid close to a million dollars before consulting a lawyer for assistance.

Upon seeking legal guidance, James discovered he had fallen prey to an elaborate phone call scam run by a Mexican cartel targeting American timeshare owners.

The Jalisco cartel, known for its violent and drug-related activities, ventured into call center scams to bolster their revenue streams by duping Americans with timeshares.

Through meticulously planned tactics, the cartel manages to convince unsuspecting Americans, especially the elderly, to send funds to Mexican bank accounts under false pretenses, leveraging English-speaking call center operatives.

With many Americans grappling with timeshare regrets due to accumulating fees and contractual difficulties, the cartel found an avenue ripe for exploitation.

Unlike drug trafficking, the return on investment from fraudulent timeshare activities promises lucrative gains with lower risks.

Reports suggest that Mexico-based companies perpetrate hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud annually, with the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioning numerous entities associated with the Jalisco cartel’s illicit schemes.

Despite receiving numerous complaints, the lack of arrests in connection to timeshare fraud from Mexico paints a grim reality for affected individuals, with the majority unable to reclaim their lost funds.

Safia Samee Ali
Safia Samee Ali
Digital Reporter. Safia Samee Ali covers a range of topics including legal affairs, social policy, and justice. Safia was previously a national journalist at The Messenger and NBC News. She is also a former attorney.

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