The operator of a $30 million timeshare reselling scam has been sentenced to more than 15 years in prison by a federal judge.
Jennifer Kirk's m.o. was simple: She used her own telemarketers to convince desperate timeshare owners looking to sell that her company had buyers lined up. The only thing required for a seller was money to close the deal. Supposedly, the money would be refunded when the deal closed within a couple of months.
Some 22,000 people were taken by Kirk's scam, which operated under the names Creative Vacation Solutions and Universal Marketing Solutions. Unfortunately, no restitution will be available to those who were scammed.
If you're a timeshare owner, know that the market is completely destroyed. There are no buyers, there are only sellers. Anybody who claims they have a buyer waiting for you, run away from them.
On the flipside, let's talk about the bargain opportunities. Vacation housing deals are phenomenal right now. Money magazine has a list of locations offering the best deals on multi-family or condo vacation properties:
- Hilton Head Island, S.C. (an average drop of 54% from peak values)
- Naples, Fla. (average 45% decline)
- Napa Valley, Calif., and Miami, Florida (both down 44%)
- Tucson, Az. (average 42% decline)
Remember, these are averages, there could be better deals out there. People are now buying condos in the vacation market for what you would have paid for a timeshare at the peak of the bubble!