The Napa County District Attorney’s Office is warning residents about a timeshare sales scam that cost a Yountville couple $5,000. The couple received an unsolicited phone call in July asking if they wanted to sell their timeshare in the Marina El Cid Spa and Beach Resort in Riviera Mayo, Mexico, said Rich Garcia, a consumer fraud investigator with the district attorney’s office.
The couple was not selling the timeshare they had purchased, but agreed to when the caller offered to buy it for $52,900, Garcia said. The couple said they researched the company, Diamond Resorts Marketing Services, on the Internet and believed it was legitimate, Garcia said. The caller said the company was based in Alexandria, Va.
Another company, Diamond Resorts International of Las Vegas, legitimately sells timeshares, Garcia said. All of Diamond Resorts Marketing Services’ communications with the couple were by fax, email or phone, and contracts were sent and phone calls were made through the process, according to Garcia. The caller told the couple that Mexican law requires the sellers to pay federal taxes and escrow fees and the couple then wired the $5,000 in two separate transfers in August, Garcia said.
The scam company sent several emails explaining why the $52,900 had not been sent, and the couple realized they had been duped, Garcia said. Garcia said the scam by Diamond Resorts Marketing Services is the only one he knows about in Napa County, but said other people around the country have been bilked. Consumers should be cautious if they are required to pay upfront fees for real estate services and should thoroughly vet the company in question, Garcia said.
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