A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from someone claiming to be Chistyan Duran, and he was interested in renting our Mexican timeshare that we bought 20 years ago.
The company was a familiar name, Remax Realty, and they were based in Eden Prairie Minnesota. While we were talking on the phone, he sounded legit, so I told him to go ahead and send me the information by email, then promptly forgot about it.
Yesterday, the guy called back wanting to review what he had sent, and while I was on the phone with him, I noticed that his incoming phone number was different than what was shown on Google, so I told him I would call him back at the main number, and hung up.
When I phoned, the woman that answered the phone had never heard of him, and assured me that they did not engage in the buying or renting of timeshares.
Digging a little further, I found that the doman from which they sent the email was only two weeks old, and they were using the real Remax office address. It smelled fishy, so I made a short video to send them as my reply:
For those that are interested, here is the body of the email I received…
Dear Mr. Hendison
First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with our company and for the information you provided. We would like to extend an opportunity to you to rent your Timeshare. Before we get started, I would like to answer many of our Customers’ Frequently Asked Questions:
HOW DO WE KNOW YOUR COMPANY IS LEGITIMATE? Unfortunately, there are scams in all types of business; however, the timeshare industry seems to be plagued with more than its share. The FBI’s website recommends checking out new companies prior to doing business in order to avoid being scammed. You can easily confirm with the Minnesota Government that our company began in 1999 and that our address matches by Googling: Minnesota Secretary of State Business Search and following the instructions to search for Remax Realty Properties, in Eden Prairie MN.
We have NO complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Minnesota’s Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division. We are very proud of our complaint-free reputation and intend to keep our reputation spotless.
WHO ARE THE BUYERS? Our current buyer is an executive of a large International Real Estate Corporation which is one of our oldest and biggest customers.
WHO/WHAT IS ESCROW? We have done business for many years with international escrow companies that have offices/officers throughout the world. These are third party neutral companies who have held our group-events money in escrow to assure our company does not get burdened with huge cancellation fees should the corporate customer back out. We have secured the services of International Closing Services Inc. which has long-standing employees and affiliations in Mexico and has been in business since 1996. They have prepared the Contracts and are holding all buyers’ funds/escrow deposits until closing to assure the guaranteed contracts will close. We, of course, only work with reputable escrow companies that are familiar with the various types of international timeshare transfers of ownership in the relevant locations, as protocol varies significantly depending on locations and individual contracts.
IS YOUR RENTAL/ LEASE GUARANTEED? As soon as the Title/Escrow Company/Agent confirms the deposit of the rental funds, we begin contacting Owners/Potential rentals at the requested resort. Once we receive a signed contract from a renter, the corresponding funds are transferred from the General Escrow/Trust Account to an individual account naming each particular Seller or Sellers as the final beneficiary/ies of the funds. Each individual Escrow/Trust Account Number is the same as the Contract Number. Next, all Parties will receive notice of the scheduled Closing Date. The Escrow Officer will send the appropriate closing documents to our company and I will forward all documents to you. Depending on how quickly individuals respond/cooperate, the CLOSING should take place approximately 30-45 days from receiving the signed Contract from the Seller. Because the Renters have signed guaranteed contracts and have deposited the full Rental funds into a non-refundable account, your payment is assured. The guaranteed contracts assure that if any Party reneges, all other Parties have the same outcome as if the resale had closed – at the expense of the injuring Party only. If a Buyer backs out, that Buyer forfeits all funds including the full purchase price and all other deposits for related expenses and costs, which are then disbursed as if the transaction had closed. This provides fulfillment of the agreement’s guarantee – that you will be paid.
HOW WILL WE RECEIVE PAYMENT? Escrow will need to know how you want payment: Cashier’s Check (sent via FEDEX Next Day Delivery and requires one Seller’s signature at delivery) or Bank Wire directly into your bank account. Note- Escrow has suggested that you open a new account strictly to receive your funds. Once the funds are received, you can transfer or withdraw the funds, close the new account, and have no worries that anyone has your regular banking information.
DOES YOUR COMPANY CHARGE UPFRONT FEES? All funds, documents, property, etc. are held by Escrow until closing. Escrow will deduct our 5% Fee from your sale proceeds at closing and pay it to our company on your behalf. We will not ask you to prepay our fee! Our company does not charge any upfront fees, advertising fees, listing fees, or appraisal fees! No sale = no payment to our company!
WHAT ARE THE QUALIFICATIONS? If any of the following applies to your Timeshare or status, feel free and safe to sell your Timeshare with us:
1- The Purchase offer matches the inventory you currently own (resort, size, number of weeks, season, etc.)
2- Your Timeshare has international exchanges available through 3rd party exchange company/ies. Buyer will be required to purchase these 3rd party memberships with each exchange company in order to use these benefits.
3- You are currently up to date with your resort. If you currently owe maintenance fees, past due balance, taxes, interest, insurance, unpaid room service fees, renovation fees, unpaid restaurant or activities amounts, etc., Escrow will provide you with professional assistance to assure your timeshare can be transferred to the Renter free & clear after closing. Escrow will facilitate and coordinate everything required, including providing you with all necessary documents and instructions for this process.
4- You have tried to sell/rent your Timeshare in the past WITHOUT success. We can provide you with FREE advice before moving forward. Our company is aware of many fraudulent companies, so our Contracts include a 100% Customer Satisfaction Guarantee.
We thank you for your business.
Remax Realty Properties
Before posting this, I also phoned the real Cody Anderson and he verified that no, they’re not involved in this scam.
I hope this helps others to be a bit more cautious… Lots of scammers out there!