US real estate pioneer Darren Kittleson releases warning video about cartel timeshare resale scams

European Consumer Claims
5 min readApr 15, 2024

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Wisconsin native Darren Kittleson has been a leading figure in the US real estate world for 33 years. He is the Operating Principal at Keller Williams Realty Madison: a brokerage with over 160 real estate agents. He has sold real estate and trained others all over the world, including the USA, Canada, Dubai, Serbia and South Africa.

53 year old Darren has won multiple industry awards and is by anybody’s standards, a switched on individual. Certainly he is intensely aware of the importance of doing due diligence when engaging in property-related business.

Darren was originally approached about buying his upmarket timeshare while eating in his family at a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico in 2011 by a representative from the sales operation. The Kittlesons were offered discounts on events and activities in return for attending a presentation the next day.

“It was promised we would be done by 11:00am, but they weren’t letting us go. In the end I finally acquiesced and said ‘ok I’ll buy one’.”

Darren barely used the timeshare. “In the time we’ve owned it from 2011 until now we’ve used it one time.”

Kittleson was therefore delighted to get an email late last year offering to buy his timeshare from him at a healthy profit. The correspondent was claiming to be a real estate broker from Phoenix Arizona. “They knew everything about the week I had, the amount of points it was, what we paid for it, all of that.” This inside knowledge helped to convince Darren that the ‘broker’ was working with his resort.

The details of how Darren was defrauded for $24,000 has been thoroughly documented in US national media. The fake Phoenix broker had every angle covered, with the provided phone numbers being manned by co-conspirators. The fraudsters even had an address in the same building as the real brokerage whose identity they were usurping.

A succession of demands for increasing amounts of money ensued, for taxes, money conversion and other invented reasons, presented as necessary for the sale to go through. Each time, Darren verified every way he knew how, by googling the broker and the brokerage, by calling the number on the bank statements and even placing a Google alert on the Phoenix firm. Despite his misgivings, everything checked out.

“This pattern of asking for more money to be wired kept going on and on… It was almost $25,000 where I finally said: ‘this is it’.

“Then they disappeared, and so did all my money.”

So with the benefit of hindsight, how does Darren advise other timeshare owners from being similarly scammed?

“If you get any documentation from anybody, don’t respond to that documentation (including emails or phone calls) instead go and find that company’s information (on the internet) and approach them (via their website).”

By following this advice, you will quickly discover if you are dealing with the real company or, as in Darren’s case, imposters posing as that firm.

Darren mentions a couple of times in his warning video that there are companies that will help you with advice if you are given an offer that sounds to good to be true.

“I want to say a big thank you to Timeshare Advice Centre for putting the word out about this. If (I had known about them) when I bought into that scam I know that I would have saved my money.”

Darren points out that in all of these scams, the players and properties are different but it is always the same idea. They play off the prospect’s desperation to be rid of a burdensome timeshare. They have enough information about their victims (generally from buying stolen data) to make them believe that the caller is legitimate. Then they start asking for increasing amounts of money until the victim finally stops paying.

Darren finishes the video with another nod to the TAC team for their help in getting his message out there in the hope of protecting others.

“Again a big thank you to Timeshare Advice Centre on this because I just don’t want anyone else to lose money at all to these scammers. Once the money is wired, it’s gone.”

Second hand timeshares do not generally have any resale value at all due to the commitment of paying annual fees, and the difficulty in getting preferred accommodation.

If someone is offering you a profit on the price you paid for your timeshare, or in fact if they are offering you any money at all, there is a high chance that you are being targeted by fraudsters.

If in doubt, get in touch with our team for free, confidential advice.

Timeshare Advice Centre is the marketing arm of European Consumer Claims

TAC provides timeshare claims services, relinquishments expert advice and help

E: (for media enquiries): mark.jobling@ecc-eu.com

T: (for media enquiries): +44 2039962044

E: (for client enquiries) EUROPE: info@timeshareadvicecentre.co.uk USA: info@timeshareadvicecentre.us

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Relevant websites for this article

www.timeshareadvicecentre.co.uk

www.timeshareadvicecentre.us

www.timeshare.lawyer

www.ecc-eu.com

www.americanconsumerclaims.com

First published on MyNewsDesk April 2024

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European Consumer Claims

The team at European Consumer Claims have a wealth of experience in all types of timeshare, points and "fractional" schemes