The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan says some fast-talking, high-pressure sales people are targeting consumers, especially the elderly.
Unsuspecting victims tell the BBB and Ruth to the Rescue they've lost thousands of dollars, and the people taking their money claim to be operating out of downtown Detroit.
"We have complaint after complaint come streaming in from all avenues." said Melanie Duquesnel, CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan.
Those questions are swirling around salespeople who claim to work for either Harris title in Houston, Texas or Net Management Group in Detroit.
Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer spoke with a victim from Ohio. He said the people at Net Management made him an offer.
"We know you own a timeshare. We're going to give you $12,050 for it, and we can close in 90 days," the victim told Ruth. He preferred to keep his name a secret, but he admitted his friend lost $1,200.
Ruth asked, "When you were initially talking with them on the phone they sounded quote, unquote professional?" He answered, "Yep, they're very good at their scam."
Better Business Investigation
The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan says its investigation shows this is a scam. It says Net Management finds people who own a time share and makes an offer to make a purchase. However, it then asks for some money up front, and he sale doesn't happen as promised.
Documents with the Net Management logo and address claim the company is doing business at 535 Griswold Street, Suite 1110. That's the Buhl Building in downtown Detroit. Ruth to the Rescue tried to visit that suite, but security at the building would not allow our crew to get upstairs. A security guard does say some confused and angry customers have shown up looking for Net Management.
Ruth to the Rescue reached out to Net Management and only got a voice mail. The Better Business Bureau has questioned the people who answer the phone about the alleged Detroit address, with some interesting results.
"The one that said," We're right next to Lake St.Clair. The last time I checked Detroit is right next to the Detroit River, not Lake St. Clair," said Melanie Duquesnel, CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan.
Both the Better Business Bureau and Ruth to the Rescue confirmed that another, legitimate company, is doing business at 535 Griswold Street, Suite 1110. That company refused to speak with Ruth about the situation, but it has nothing to do with Net Management, and has been doing business at that location for years.
This type of warning from the Better Business Bureau doesn't happen very often, but Duquesnel said, "When that business or that scam artist is really doing something poor, or reprehensible, we want to make sure we're notifying everyone as quickly as possible."
If you've done business with either of these companies you should also contact the Better Business Bureau at (248)223-9400 or follow this link to the local BBB website: http://detroit.bbb.org/
Avoiding A Scam
The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan also released these guidelines for spotting a potential scam before you lose any money.
• Use a Business You can Trust - Make sure the timeshare reseller you use is a BBB Accredited Business or has a good rating with BBB. You can check out a business’s BBB Business Review at www.easternmichiganbbb.org <http://www.easternmichiganbbb.org>.
• Confirm Licensing Requirements - Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or PO boxes in order to mislead timeshare owners. Confirm where the company is located and in what states it does business. Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.
• Get the Facts on the Figures - Find out if the business charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
• Be Wary of Upfront Fees - Many complainants to the BBB were burned by companies charging an advance “appraisal” fee for services or were told that they just had to pay closing costs and the timeshare would be taken off their hands. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.
• Don’t Fall for the Hard Sell or an Offer that Sounds Too Good to Be True - Don’t agree to anything over the phone but instead ask the salesperson to send you written materials; take the time to think it over and don’t be pressured. Unscrupulous timeshare resellers may claim that your property is in demand and they can sell it immediately; unfortunately, these promises are often empty.
• Know your State’s Laws - In some states “timesharing” developments must be registered with the Attorney General's office before the sale or offer to sell. And some states require that all material facts are presented to buyers prior to the sale. In addition, some states require that all buyers' deposits must be held in escrow until the closing and buyers usually have five days after signing the purchase contract or five days after receiving the public offering statement (whichever is later) to cancel their purchase.