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State accuses St. Paul company of timeshare scheme

  • Article by: JENNIFER BJORHUS
  • Star Tribune
  • November 14, 2012 - 8:33 PM

Regulators have accused a St. Paul company of running a "bait and switch" timeshare scheme and ordered it to halt activity in Minnesota.

The state Department of Commerce said Wednesday that Renaissance Marketing of Property has been aggressively soliciting timeshare owners around the country, saying it has a buyer for their property who will pay a high price. It tries to collect a 7 percent commission, as well as a 10 percent fee based on the inflated property value that it asks people to wire to a bank account in Mexico.

The company uses a forged Minnesota license to present itself as a licensed real estate broker, state officials said.

Timeshares are shared vacation properties; values took a big hit during the housing crash and recession and reselling them can be difficult. Timeshare resale scams have run rampant in recent years.

In its news release, Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman blasted the company as "nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing," and urged consumers to do their homework to ensure a company or salesperson is legitimate or licensed.

The agency said it doesn't know how many people may have been affected, but that it received complaints from "numerous" people around the country who were solicited. None of the people who complained paid the company any money.

On its website, Renaissance Marketing bills itself as a comprehensive rental property management company located at 213 4th St. E., St. Paul. A representative who answered the phone shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday said it was after business hours and no one was available to comment.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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