Anchorage, Alaska — Feb. 22, 2018 According to multiple reports to BBB Scam Tracker, consumers across the nation have lost over $90,000 from companies posing as legitimate timeshare resale and escrow companies. Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific is issuing a consumer alert on these fake resale and escrow companies claiming to be located across the Northwest.
Thanks to a joint effort between the Montana Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and BBB Northwest & Pacific, two fraudulent vehicle distribution websites have been taken down. According to multiple reports to BBB Scam Tracker, consumers across the nation lost over $12,000 from Montana Truck Experts and Montana Truck Center. These companies posed as legitimate escrow businesses in Montana.
These businesses are either advertising luxury items such as timeshares, boats and cars for under market value online or are contacting consumers to purchase their timeshare or other items well above marketplace value. The business directs the consumer to wire money to a fake third-party escrow company. After the business receives the money, the consumer is unable to reach a company representative and never receives the product they purchased or the money from the sale.
How to Avoid Escrow Fraud:
- Confirm if the company is licensed and bonded. A buyer should check that the escrow service and agent are licensed and bonded with the appropriate state agency (usually the state in which the escrow service is located) and avoid using an offshore escrow company. Those trying to sell their timeshare should also check with the timeshare’s resort to make sure the sale is legitimate.
- Be vigilant when transferring money. Legitimate escrow companies ask that buyers wire money from their bank account to the company’s bank. They will not ask for a person-to-person money transfer using Western Union or another third-party wire service. Consumers should work with their personal bank and the other financial institution to verify if they are transferring to a commercial account instead of a personal account.
- Be cautious of too good to be true deals whether you’re a buyer or seller. Know the market value of your property. Unscrupulous Companies may try to entice consumers with offers above market value or advertise luxury items under retail value. Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
If you are the victim of a timeshare resale/escrow scam, BBB recommends reporting your experience to BBB and filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Alaska Office of the Attorney General and the FBI.
Michelle Tabler, Alaska Marketplace Manager| 907-644- 5208 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Veronica Craker, Content & Communications Director| 253-722-8732| email@example.com