>> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS
RIVIERA MAYA: First the GOOD news, and it’s something of a whopper. Grupo Vidanta has partnered up with Cirque du Soleil to establish a resident show at Vidanta’s Riviera Maya resort. By “resident” show I mean a permanent location with a permanent Cirque du Soleil crew, the first such in Mexico and the only one outside of Las Vegas and Orlando.
They’re building a special 600-seat theater to house the show, an intimate affair that includes a culinary component where “world-class dining and champagne service will be integrated with the spectacle”.
It turns out that the two companies have been working on this for four years (way to keep a secret!) and they’re pretty excited about it — as well they should be. The Premiere is scheduled for November 2014. (For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com/rivieramaya.)
In terms of entertainment in Mexico’s timeshare resort world I think Grupo Vidanta just stole a march on the competition. This act is going to be hard to follow!
ANYWHERE: I’ve decided to stop calling the scum who operate the expanding variety of Mexico escrow/bank wire frauds “scammers”. That’s what they do, of course, but I think the word “criminals” is more apt because that’s what they ARE. And those criminals, some of whom are American or Canadian expats, are getting more sophisticated with their methods by the hour.
I’ve been swamped this last week with communications from decent timeshare owners who were taken or nearly taken by these grifters. It’s really got me steaming.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m advising every victim (or almost victim) of these scams to contact their State Attorney General office (or its equivalent in Canada), the FBI and any other government agency you can think of that might be appropriate. File a complaint. Send them copies of all the documents (including emails). Notify the Better Business Bureau; report the details to every complaints board on the Internet. AND contact your local newspaper(s) and TV stations with your story; just using the words timeshare and scam in conjunction with Mexico would probably be enough to get their attention and you would most likely be allowed to remain anonymous.
Make sure all the sources you contact understand that this is a huge, multi-state, international scam that is raking in millions of dollars for the criminals involved.
But don’t stop there. The USA, Canada and Mexico share information about international criminals regularly and this should be no exception. So contact Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency, PROFECO (http://profeco.gob.mx), tell them your story and be prepared to send them copies of the documents. Profeco alone is not powerful enough to do the necessary investigations or get your money back (I’m sorry, but you’ll likely never get that money back), but they DO know who can.
You can contact the criminals and tell them you’re doing all that, too, if you want.
The thing is, the criminals are now using forged documents and mimicking email addresses, etc., pretending to be agents of the Mexican government — everything from Mexico’s tax agencies to SECTUR (the tourism agency) to PROFECO itself (check out this bogus email address used by one set of criminals: @profeco-gob.mx. Here is the REAL address: @profeco.gob.mx; did you catch the subtle difference?). This is a type of phishing, and what these crooks are doing amounts to bank, mail and wire fraud (and possibly money laundering and RICO), all of which crimes have stiff penalties attached to them.
Anyhow, Mexico’s government doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing any more than the US or Canadian governments do. Help put them on the alert. In time (probably a long time) some of the grifters might actually see the inside of a prison if we’re lucky.
At the very least we can all help each other avoid becoming victims of these crimes and perhaps slow down its spread somewhat. There are many THOUSANDS of timeshare owners out there who are potential victims and this is a very lucrative scam.
MEANWHILE here are some new questionable companies to watch out for. I’ll present more info about these next week after I complete more thorough research on them:
- 1st Professional Realty & Freedom Title Insurance Agency, Inc. Supposedly located in Georgia. David G. Marin, Daniel Mendoza, Kimberly Medina
- My Space Vacations and Financial Planning 2 Go. Supposedly located in Chicago and Minneapolis, respectively; Sean Williams, Agent, Gregory K. Collins, President and Purchasing Director plus Charlie Sanchez, Alfred Buchanon, and Karla Frazier
- PROFECO (not the real PROFECO!), located in Mexico; Gerardo Martinez
- Classic Connections Travel & Georgia Escrow Services, supposedly located in Seattle and Atlanta, plus INTERNATIONAL CPA SERVICES, S.A. de C.V. in Mexico; Marco Baptist, Vincent Cooke, Sergio Reyes and Sonny Gooden
- Corporate Services International and Trust Services, Inc., supposedly located in Minneapolis, MN and Livonia, MI, respectively; Paul Rooney, Steve Hamilton, Michael Jordan
NOTE that regardless of the details (names, locations, etc.) the basics of this scam are always the same with the end result being YOU bank wiring funds to a Mexican bank in the belief that you are paying some sort of tax or fee in order to complete the sale of your timeshare (or, more recently, to release funds from a phony baloney government resale remuneration fund). DON’T FALL FOR IT! NEVER BANK WIRE FUNDS TO MEXICO!
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).
“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth
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