OFAC Issues Guidance, Sanctions Companies Involved in 'Timeshare Fraud'
The Office of Foreign Assets Control this week sanctioned eight Mexican companies linked to a scam involving “timeshare fraud” on behalf of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, a “violent” Mexican drug trafficking organization. The agency also issued new guidance to alert industry about the scam and other schemes, including one involving people falsely claiming to represent OFAC and requesting payments through phone calls and emails.
The designations target companies that OFAC said “claim” to be financial services or real estate companies but are involved in timeshare fraud. As part of the scheme, OFAC said third-party “scammers” claim to have ready buyers and make “unsolicited purchase offers” to timeshare owners. The scammers then ask the owners for payments of “advance fees and taxes, supposedly to facilitate or expedite the sale with assurances of reimbursement upon closing.” After the scammers receive the payments the timeshare owners “eventually realize that the offers were fictitious” and “their money is gone,” OFAC said.
Some of the timeshare fraud “perpetrators” use government names, including OFAC, to “appear legitimate,” the agency said. They call “victims,” claim to represent OFAC and demand payment “in exchange for the release of funds that the perpetrator claims OFAC has ‘blocked.’” In the alert, OFAC said companies and people shouldn’t “share any personal or confidential information, such as account information, with, nor make any payments to, any person purporting to represent OFAC in this way.”