Almost a dozen companies that falsely claimed they could sell or rent out consumers' timeshare properties were ordered to stop doing business in Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Commerce announced Wednesday.
"These sham companies are preying on people desperate to sell their timeshares with the intent to scam and defraud them out of thousands of dollars," said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman
In April, Whistleblower wrote about one of the companies, Platinum Resort Services, which claimed to be headquartered in downtown Minneapolis and had a phone number with a 612 area code. One of its listed addresses doesn't exist and the other is occupied by a different business. More than one consumer paid the company to either rent out or sell their property, but received no assistance in return.
All of the 11 companies named by the department used fake street addresses. One company went so far as to forge a Minnesota business registration and real estate license.
Last year, the department took action against Renaissance Marketing, which provided customers with a forged Minnesota real estate appraiser license.
The company offered to sell timeshares for a 10 percent fee and seven percent commission. The company claimed it already had buyers for the properties and the buyers were willing to pay an inflated price. Once the owner signed a contract the company threatened to prosecute the owner if he or she didn't immediately pay the fees. The company's website claimed it was "one of the largest Saint Paul property management company [sic] managing individual units through Saint Paul."
Other companies named by the department are Integrated Escrow Services, ABS Consulting Company, World Transfer Title, Premium Properties Management, Net Management Group, Concord International Title, Continental Property Solutions, Twin Cities Property Advisors, and World Event Management.
The department said all the companies operated in a manner similar to Global Properties Specialists.
If approached by someone offering to sell your property for you or rent it out, the state offers this advice. Verify that the company has a Minnesota real estate license. Research the company online. Beware of high pressure sales tactics and upfront fees.