The Better Business Bureau is warning the public against entering into contracts with Net Management Group or Harris Title due to numerous consumer complaints alleging fraud.
Consumers have reported that Net Management Group employs high pressure sales tactics in an attempt to get consumers, typically the elderly, to sell their timeshares, reports the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
Potential customers are asked to sign a contract and to wire money to an account in Mexico before the sale of their property can be completed.
Once the money is wired, the prospective sellers are no longer able to reach the company and they are not able to recover their money, which is typically thousands of dollars.
In some cases, consumers have been directed to contact a title company, doing business as Harris Title and claiming to be located in Houston, Texas, to execute a contract and provide advance payment via the wire transfer.
The Better Business Bureau serving the Greater Houston area conducted a site visit to the address listed on Harris Title's website and discovered that this location does not exist.
The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan has conducted a site visit to the address given on Net Management Group's letterhead, 535 Griswold St., Suite 1110, Detroit, MI 48226.
The business does not exist at this location; rather a different business has been in operation at that address for several years.
The security guard for the building indicated that no business by that name is in the building, but that many people have come there looking for Net Management Group.
The Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan also contacted the company by telephone to verify their physical address and was told during one call that "they could not give out the company's address," however in a follow up call, a person purporting to be an agent, verified the address and indicated that it was "next to Lake St. Clair," which in fact is not in Detroit.
Several consumers from across the country have forwarded documents and contracts sent to them by both companies and other consumers have reported to have wired the requested funds, only to discover later that they had been swindled.
Most of the callers to the Better Business Bureau have indicated that the scammers are very confident and seem to have an answer for any of their concerns and questions, and are very good at reassuring the consumer that they are a legitimate business.
Both businesses have websites that add to their ability to dupe consumers.
Not all timeshare companies are deceitful, but it is important to check out a company prior to signing the dotted line.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to owners looking for help in selling their timeshare:
- 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.
- Confirm Licensing Requirements: Some timeshare resellers will use fake addresses or Post Office 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.
The BBB provides its services free to the public and its service territory stretches across Eastern Michigan from Ann Arbor through Metropolitan Detroit, Lansing, Flint, upward to Alpena, and covers the entire Upper Peninsula. The website is: www.easternmichiganbbb.org.