Type of a scam Rental
On January 9, 2018, we recieved a phone call from a vacation a rental firm by the name of Empire Vacation Properties, LLC. They stated a client of theirs was looking to rent 10 weeks of our timeshare in Mexico over the next two years. They sent us a proposal for the rental amount of $1980.00 USD per week. We were thrilled, but cautious. We signed the Proposal. Then a second company by the name of Mission Title Agency, LLC an Escrow Firm contacted us and sent us a 4 page rental agreement between a Lessee(whom they indicated was Corona Beer Executive from Grupo Modelo) with no information other than a name, Empire, Mission and us. The Company name of the Lesse (Grupo) was not written anywhere in the agreement. So 4 parties involved. we reviewed the contract with the Empire Rep. We asked alot of questions, which they answered sufficiently. We did our due diligence on these firms and found both Empire and Mission were listed in the New York Corporation List within the New York Government. We relaxed a bit, thinking both firms are Legit. When we contacted them by phone they answered using the company name. The phone numbers area codes stated they were both in New York. The addresses they provided were genuine addresses. so being satisfied we we were not asked for any Money to be sent down, we signed the contract. We sent a scanned copy of our timeshare membership contract and the signed rental contract.
A few days later around the 16th of January, we received an email stating the background check came back and we were approved. We thought ‘Great!’ the closing date on the agreement was set for February 16, 2018.
We were told the funds will be sent via, wire or cashiers cheque and we didn’t have to send back the coupons until the bank cleared the funds. We thought "Awesome. Seems to be the real deal". We were to recieve a fed ex package containing coupons to sign to turn over the weeks. We chose the cashiers cheque was the safest way to receive these funds. That way no banking info was given up on our part.
So we were waiting for the cheque when we recieved another email, this one from the escrow firm (Mission) who had stated they had received the funds from the Lessee and it was placed in the Escrow account. Again, we felt comfortable with the deal.
Next correspondence was by telephone from the initiating company (Empire) stating there is an addendum to the contract, stating we were in agreement with the addendum which covered a recent Income Tax change for foreign investors who earn income from the rental of our timeshare. They explained that because we weren’t residents of Mexico, we were required to register with the SRE (Mexican Income Tax Office). They also explained because we were foreign Investors and we were about to earn income we were being taxed on the total amount of rental agreement and needed to send a wire to Mexico in the amount of $2711.00 USD.
We got red flags, big time. so we went back to researching these companies. After hours and hours of searches thru New York phone directories, reverse phone lookup, business searches, we discovered, …. wait for it … we could not find any info on these two companies; Other than the corporations search. The reverse Phone lookup put the Mission firm number in Manhattan. The contract and letter head stated they were located in Albany, New York. A completely different City. I performed searches for business at the address stated on thier letterhead, and I even contacted, by phone, a Title Agency at the address and inquired if there was this company (Mission) at the address. This firm stated they were the only /title /agency in the building and had never heard of Mission. The address for the initiating company (Empire) came back as "no such address".
Not only did this deter us, the wire transfer we were to send with the tax funds was not even going to the Bank of Mexico, which is the bank the Mexican Tax department uses. we would have sent the money unknowingly to someone in Acapulco de Juarez.
We contacted our resort and asked if there was a background check done on our membership. No contact of any kind was made on the status of our membership. Plus, foreign owners who want to rent out their units, do not pay taxes on the income for rental of weeks.
All I can say to those who read this…the sophistication of this scam is unbelieveable. These scammers actually pirated websites, put their phone numbers in and setup their own emails, and webites. To Fool You. But, we are sharper than they are.. Do your research People…it will save you money, headache, and heartache There are companies who are genuine who are not scamers who will find renters, with no upfront costs of any kind. Beware!