Saturday, March 1, 2014

Timeshare Developers Have been "Hacked"

I am copying this vital article from Inside The Gate.  It is vital reading for any timeshare owner and needs to be shared with all timeshare owners you know.

Be aware of what is going on.  As I mentioned several weeks back, all timeshare owns need to ask some hard questions about your home resort's Privacy Policy.  If no one else is protecting you, then I'm happy to join with Inside The Gate and urge all of you to protect each other.

February 28, 2014 — A crisis has hit and it is time for all Timeshare Developers, ARDA, AMDETUR, CRDA as well as all HOA’s, all Exchange Companies and everyone else to take immediate action to end the biggest rip-off taking place in our industry – in real time – and stop the criminals who are causing irrefutable harm to TS developers, our industry and tens upon tens of thousands of timeshare owners each year.

So Here’s The Scoop: We at ITG (Inside the Gate) are being inundated with phone calls, tweets, text messages and e-mails – hundreds every month now – about criminal operations in Mexico (and other places) who’ve purchased or stolen timeshare owner lists – many illegally (hacking) directly from the developers systems, their 3rd party affiliates or obtaining the lists via a developer’s past or present ‘employee’ – and these TS owners are then being contacted and fleeced out of millions of dollars each month and tens of millions more each year!

WE (ITG) have even been contacted as recently as last week with offers of the ‘Big Bucks’ if we’d sell any owners lists we have or can gain access to!
According to a February 20th article on, which is one of the premier hospitality news sources for the general lodging industry, a new hacking frontier is “lodging properties are equally vulnerable, maybe even more so than the retail industry.”

Hospitality, lodging, accommodations, etc. equals Timeshare Developers – as we all know many operate both as a ‘hotel’ and a ‘timeshare’ and these data breaches are growing like uncontrolled wildfires.

You can and should read (after you finish here) the full article here: “Unwelcomed Guests – Hackers are out there and they are targeting hotels.”
In The Land of Time it is a frickin’ epidemic in size and scope and it’s getting bigger by the day. And with millions of TS owners out there and all those names, etc. being ‘stored’ somewhere, unless it is stopped now the harm to our industry and the loss of revenue to TS developers will grow exponentially.

In our very popular Gatehouse Blog section we’ve been naming names, etc. about these criminals who, for now, are mostly operating illegally throughout Mexico (and other nations); from coast to coast and border to border they are making a ‘killing’.

And it also appears that some former timeshare sales reps down there are leaving those ‘little round tables’ in droves, buying or stealing a developer’s list locally (or from a ‘connection’ in the USA, Canada, etc.) – putting up a website – and then hitting the phones hard and heavy and as ‘smooth’ as they know how to be. They, too, are stealing from / ripping off TS Owners and developers left and right.

And they are not just going after owners who are actively seeking to get out of their TS interest.  They’re stealing from ‘happy owners’ too and when those owners hear that ‘…And Sally and Bob, that is why the Mexican Government has set aside $10 Million (U.S. Dollars) in a special escrow fund to…”; the ‘happy owners’ are taking the bait just like the owners wanting out of their timeshare(s).
We represent a corporate buyer who for tax purpose is acquiring large blocks of points (weeks, intervals) and because of those advantages our client wants to purchase your timeshare right now and will pay you $12,000 more than what you originally paid…”
Now Sally and Bob, here’s how it works.  The buyer has already deposited the full purchase price in an insured escrow account and under Mexico Law and as the registered owner all you need to do is deposit the Added Value Tax (IVA) of $1,800….”

Naturally, once the TS owners do so and the funds have been wired a second call will follow shortly thereafter seeking additional funds (for a host of ‘reasons’) including, but not limited to a U.S. IRS shticka special cost provisiona bogus transfer fee or government tax… and so forth.
Now that the developers’ owners have committed the first batch of moola, if they decline on the ‘second’ the owners are told that is fine – ‘…but under the law…’ they’ll lose the first bundle of money.  Long story short, they wire the next bundle of cash.
This continues – with yet a 3rd call (once the last batch was wired) and then a 4th, etc. and some TS owners have wired so much money to these crooks that if I published the highest amount (dollars) that we are aware of from just one owner you’d likely not believe anyone could be so gullible.
That said, on average and once the owner(s) is no longer willing to wire any more cash, the range of the swindle per ‘happy’ (or otherwise) owner is anywhere from $5,000 – $15,000!
This criminal activity has gone ‘viral’ in its scope and could be called syndicated or organized crime — whatever — and it is now including crooked politicians in Mexico who have their hands in the ‘kitty’ and are giving these thieves protection, advice and a free ride to do what it takes to get the money wired into Mexico (and beyond).
These thieves are making those ‘post-card’ companies look like featherweights!

The time to act is now – and every timeshare developer needs to upgrade their data security, etc. and protect their ‘owners’ lists (names, accounts, etc) and do it TODAY!

Developers also need to eblast a ‘Red Alert to their owners and advise them of these fraudsters’ activities.
Developers also need to post a ‘Red Alert’ on their websites; at least in the ‘owners only’ section.
Developers should also include this caveat in each new ‘owners’ packet when their new clients purchase.
And by all means Tweet it, Instagram it, Facebook it or send out via carrier pigeons and get the word out now.  I don’t care how you do it, just DO IT – DO IT – DO IT NOW – Pronto – Today!

The industry Associations, Exchange companies, HOA’s and all legitimate resale/rental companies, timeshare blogs, etc. also need to follow suit – get the word out TODAY – and stop these crooks dead in their tracks HERE AND NOW!

Mark my words folks. There is so much money being made! If you pile all this negativity on top of the standard TS rental scams, the TS resale scams, the TS post card scams, etc. then once the mainstream media runs with it – in the near future the only sales guests who will be ‘sold’ at the developer level will be non-owning prospects with an IQ below 60; and there are just not that many of these otherwise fine humans in that demographic to go around! Game Over!

Good luck out there!

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