Dennis Beaver
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Have you purchased a Mexican timeshare and are itching to get it off your hands? While you may have kicked yourself for buying it in the first place, as you will see, today you are at great risk of being conned out of thousands of dollars by people who know that you just want to get rid of it.

But first, have you ever heard of a Wisconsin attorney by the name of “Sheila G. Kolbe”? Or, how about New York lawyer, “Matthew J. Simon”? Over the past year, many owners of Mexican timeshares have indeed heard of these two lawyers, exchanged emails or even chatted on the phone with them. Or so they thought.

But as we discovered, these attorneys have been the victim of identity theft by a group of expat Canadians and Americans living in Mexico and scamming timeshare owners out of thousands of dollars in phony sale offers.

State Attorney General Offices have issued warnings over many years about con artists who steal the identity of lawyers, real estate agents and brokers, and use their names in a sophisticated scheme to rip off owners of Mexican timeshares.

“It is an incredibly well organized, highly professionally, diabolical scheme that reveals great planning and skill with one aim: con money out of people who desperately want to get rid of their Mexican timeshare,” states Scott Morse, president of Rockford, Illinois-based Resort Release. The A+ Better Business Bureau rated company helps timeshare owners legitimately get out of their contracts.

More than we paid for it

Over the past few months, this column has been contacted by victims from all over North America, each stating, “We were offered much more than we paid for it. It was too good a deal to pass up.”

And, I’ll bet you are thinking, “So, Dennis, why are they reaching out to you?”

It’s because — after swallowing the bait and wiring thousands of dollars to crooks in Mexico to complete the non-existent sale — they realized something was wrong. So, to Google they went, typed “Mexican Timeshare Resale” and came up with my Aug. 28, 2017 article, which, among many online posts, explains the scam.

If they had done this research before greed got the better of them, they might not have fallen for the con job.

So right now, tighten your seatbelt and hang on for one heck of a ride that you never want to take, and in the process meet one of their victims.

Don’s story

“Don” lives in Arkansas and is a 55-year-old business owner facing terminal liver, kidney and prostate cancer.

Fifteen years ago he and his wife purchased a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for $2,500, “which we were not even able to make a reservation to use!” he explained. “And then, starting two years ago, we began getting calls from real estate agents in Mexico offering to buy it from us, but we ignored them.”

But then, in mid-2018, as medical bills were mounting, the couple were contacted by “Mark Lopez” from a company called “Key to Vacations” and offered $40,000 to purchase their timeshare contract. Within days, they received an offer and related sales documents, “Which were absolutely the most professional appearing I had ever seen,” he points out.

Upon receipt, he phoned Lopez and said, “I want a U.S. attorney to be involved in the transaction.” Lopez replied, “We have an attorney, Sheila G. Kolbe, based in Appleton, Wisconsin.”

Skepticism out the window

Now, for a moment, stop and ask yourself this question: “Wouldn’t I be highly skeptical, if, out of the blue, someone offers me an insane amount for my timeshare? I don’t know them, don’t know this attorney, so shouldn’t I have a local lawyer represent me in this transaction, or at least review what’s going on?”

Don did none of that, but did verify with the State Bar of Wisconsin that Sheila G. Kolbe is indeed licensed to practice law. He even found “her” impressive website, “Leading in Law,” which made it appear that Kolbe has mastered all kinds of legal specialties.

It was a huge red flag which Don, like most victims, did not pick up on. The website was created by the crooks.

Over the next few weeks, he wired:

• $4,000 for a Mexican notary’s fees;

• $8,800 for the Mexican Capital Gains Tax;

• $3,200 for an 8 percent commission.

After learning that Don has years of business and real estate experience, I was dumbfounded by his answer to my question, “Why did you continue sending all this money?”

We will have the answer, next time.

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