Two men from the US have been sentenced to federal prison for their part in a timeshare scam that targeted and stole money from victims across the country. Ronald Carapellucci, 51, of Clearwater, was sentenced to six years in federal prison. Manuel Parrado, 47, of St. Petersburg, was sentenced to two years and six months in federal prison for their participation in a property-sale fraud scheme. Carapellucci and Parrado pleaded guilty in July.
The two men were charged with conspiring to take money from victims who were trying to sell their timeshares. Between 2015 and 2018, the two men, along with unnamed others, victimised timeshare owners from across the U.S. They told owners that they had buyers lined up to purchase their unwanted units. In reality, this was all a scam, and they would ask victims to pay fees in order to facilitate the sales.
The men further conned victims by claiming they needed payments for courier services, title searches, closing costs and transfer fees. Once a victim paid up the men would simply withdraw the money and disappear. In some cases, the men targeted these victims a second time, by claiming to represent another company who would be able to recoup the money they lost in the first scam.
What is a Timeshare Resale Scam?
A timeshare re-sale scam will usually start with a person being cold called by a company or ‘real estate agent’ claiming to be able to sell a timeshare for a fee. Fraudsters or criminal gangs pose as genuine real estate brokers and cold-call timeshare owners claiming to have buyers ready to purchase timeshares for inflated prices. Victims often report that they are offered sometimes up to 70% more than what they originally purchased it for.
The fraudster will ask the timeshare owner for an upfront payment of property taxes, and escrow fees before any funds can be released. The scammers continue to extract money from owners for fees, lawyer costs and taxes until finally the victim realises, they have been conned. Fake companies will pose as legitimate businesses using slick looking websites and fake reviews, to help fool victims.
How to spot a timeshare scam:
A cold call informing you they have a buyer ready to purchase your timeshare, they may even offer you more than you paid for it. The chances of someone offering to buy your timeshare for more than you paid for it, is extremely unlikely.
Do not be fooled by a professional looking website, the cost of creating these sites is very affordable and easily set up.
Stay Safe Online Check the web address is legitimate and has not been altered, you can check this by looking to see if there are any slight changes to a domain name.
Check paperwork you should check all your paperwork including receipts and invoices as well as terms and conditions.