ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – We are midway through the summer vacation season and people are complaining about several businesses behind a timeshare scheme.
The Better Business Bureau highlights losses in the millions nationwide. That's because vacation seeking consumers are targets for scammers who make promises to help time share owners get the most out of their shared package. Timeshares generate about $7.6 billion for the hospitality industry. But it's also an industry that's been hit by fraud.
Juli and Skip Hampton said they were victims of this scheme and lost over $8,000.
“When we look back on it, it was a lot of smoke and mirrors,” Skip said. “And telling you this and moving onto that, and just a lot of shuffling papers...and it was just really quick stuff.”
Juli said it started with a phone call from someone who she thought was affiliated with their original time share exchange, RCI.
“They said that there were going to be some changes in the way RCI…let you schedule vacations. And so, I said, ‘Okay, we’d go to this meeting,’” she said.
By the end of that dinner meeting at a St. Peters restaurant, the Hamptons thought they would improve their package. So they paid $8,143 to Nevada-based R&R Venture Group.
“Where we should have questioned is when we knew they were supposed to be an RCI affiliate and yet they wanted us to hook up to another company,” Juli said. “And it didn’t—now looking back—it doesn’t make sense.”
The Nevada Secretary of State shows the business is dissolved and it has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau.
“They’re being told we can help you sell off those extra points that you haven’t used this year,” said Chris Thetford, BBB spokesman. “Or we can help you navigate the process of using your points at other places.”
The BBB reports its investigators have identified half-a-dozen businesses that have taken money and not provided the promised service. The meal presentation should be a red flag.
“Sometimes it’s hard when people are in that situation, after they’ve been given a lunch to say no to someone,” Thetford said.
If you're looking for help with your time share and getting the most out of the experience, get help from the company you originally purchased from. If you're a first-time buyer, check with the Better Business Bureau before you commit.