Seniors Lose Millions to Mexican Cartel Scams

( – Mexican drug cartels are targeting older Americans through online scams involving timeshares.

According to the FBI, the Gulf Cartel, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and the Sinaloa Cartel have all participated in online scams, especially timeshare fraud. While all the cartels appear to be involved in online scams, the FBI notes that the primary group conducting timeshare fraud is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

In a timeshare, multiple people share ownership of a vacation home by purchasing blocks of time at the property each year. According to the FBI, the cartels use call centers to conduct the fraud and, before the scam, conduct “extensive research on their potential victims.” The fraudsters then contact their victims through fake email accounts and have fake documents pre-prepared.

The head of FBI New York’s Complex Financial Crimes Branch and Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Paul Roberts, stated that by using “a combination of high-pressure sales tactics and cyber-enabled fraud strategies,” the fraudsters are able to convince victims of timeshare fraud that each “phase of the scam is legitimate.”

Roberts said that those who commit timeshare frauds “aim to suck their victims dry.”

In the last five years, timeshare fraud has cost Americans $300 million.

Roberts stated that ways people can avoid falling victim to a timeshare scam is to never hand over a power-of-attorney form and never pay fees upfront. He added that someone who claims to be a government official should never contact you about a timeshare settlement, should not threaten to subpoena you to appear in a court outside the U.S., or should not threaten to have you arrested for not paying.

If you were the victim of a scam, the Federal Trade Commission recommends attempting to recover your funds by contacting your bank or credit card company. People should report timeshare scams on the FTC website, the attorney general in the state where the alleged crime occurred, and the Better Business Bureau.

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