Jalisco Cartel, timeshare scams, body-bags and fraud
Former staff members of shady Mexico City timeshare resale scam call center with links to Jalisco Cartel found brutally murdered
In a shocking news story that reverberated across North and South America, the bodies of eight young call-center workers have been found dismembered and dumped in plastic bags on waste ground in Guadalajara, in the Western Mexican state of Jalisco.
Six men and four women, all but two of whom were under the age of thirty, were reported missing by concerned relatives some weeks earlier when they didn't return home from work.
Forensic investigators have now confirmed that the grisly discovery was in fact the remains of the missing call center workers.
Call center timeshare scam
The youths had been working for an illegal operation targeting timeshare owners from the US and Canada in what is known as a 'resale scam.' Timeshare owners often buy after slick sales presentations and end up with memberships that are too expensive, too restrictive, or otherwise don't suit their needs.
Many of these owners find themselves locked into iron-clad contracts with annual fees that increase out of all proportion to general inflation. Their desperation to escape makes them prey for unscrupulous business operators.
Call center staff are paid to work from stolen data lists of timeshare owners, calling them to ask "if you would be interested in selling your timeshare?" The owner is then told that there are, "buyers lined up for your specific resort right now." This is generally music to a timeshare member's ears. Not only can they be free from their unwanted membership, there might even be some money coming their way.
The snag is that the seller needs to pay taxes or other fees in advance before the sale can complete. But then (you guessed it) once the money is paid to the scammers, the sale never happens. The owner is out of pocket, and with the call center hidden away behind VPNs and VOIP phone numbers in Mexico, there is very little recourse available.
This particular call center was apparently owned by the brutal Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).
According to US and Mexican officials, the CJNG has branched out beyond its historic activities of drug trafficking, extortion and kidnap-for-ransom.
Mexico's most violent gang is now entrenched in the lucrative business of scamming desperate timeshare owners. Adding another (extremely significant) level of challenge for victims seeking redress. After all, many people who would complain to authorities about a scam business might baulk at the idea of challenging murderous cartel thugs.
The CJNG is infamous for its eye-watering levels of violence towards what it considers turncoats, snitches or informants. The gangsters' creed is that the only way out is by death or incarceration, whether the victim knew they were working for the cartel or not.
An anonymous US official (who was not authorized to comment publicly) opined: "Best guess is these kids decided they wanted out of the business. The cartel was sending a message to others."
Murky business worldwide
While this is an extreme example, authorities have long been aware of the links between criminals and timeshare. With the rise of timeshare's popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, many nefarious individuals and organizations were attracted by the possibilities of quick profits, money laundering and tax evasion.
New scams evolved in the form of holiday clubs or other products which narrowly skirted the strict new timeshare laws. When these too became outlawed, criminals stayed ahead of authorities by seeking out mis-sold timeshare owners and preying on their desperation via resale scams and other schemes designed to exploit the misery of people already victims of ruthless timeshare operations.
The current arena being targeted is that of timeshare exits, with timeshare victims being targeted and charged for the service of relinquishment, which never manifests. Either due to dishonesty or incompetence on the part of the firms offering the service.
There are honest operators in this arena, American Consumer Claims being the foremost example. Unfortunately the great majority of firms offering claims or exit services are scammers.
How do I know who to trust?
The trustworthy firms are distinguishable by their reviews on Better Business Bureau, Google or TrustPilot.
Naturally 5 star reviews are preferable, but every company gets it wrong sometimes. So check the bad reviews too, to see how the company dealt with those mistakes.
There are also sites which give practical advice on how to research this type of company before doing business with them.
We are confident that your research will lead you to us at American Consumer Claims.
When it does, get in touch with our team for a free, no obligation consultation.