FBI Issues Warning About New Cartel Scam

(BrightPress.org) – The FBI is raising the alarm about a surge in scams aimed at timeshare owners, largely driven by Mexican drug cartels. The scams target property owners, often older Americans, tricking them into handing over large sums of money based on the scheme related to their timeshare properties.

Scammers seek out potential victims and conduct thorough research, creating fake documents and impersonating individuals from reputable institutions to sell their storylines and frighten victims into compliance, the bureau explained. High-pressure sales tactics combined with cyber-enabled fraud strategies make the scam appear legitimate.

Paul Roberts, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, stated these schemes can devastate victims’ financial futures, relationships, and physical and emotional health. The money from these scams increasingly funds cartel violence in Mexico. The timeshare crime is attractive to cartels since it poses fewer logistical, labor, and oversight challenges compared to drug and weapons trafficking, and is cheaper to carry out.

Several Mexican drug cartels are involved, with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel playing a dominant role, based on records of complaints and financial tracing, according to the FBI. The bureau is collaborating with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to investigate these cases.

Mexican cartels use call centers and cyber tactics in these elaborate fraud schemes. The FBI reports that the Sinaloa Cartel, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and Gulf Cartel have all been involved in online scams, particularly timeshare fraud, which has impacted older Americans to the tune of over $300 million in the last five years.

The FBI says the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is the primary group engaging in timeshare fraud, but other cartels likely use independent call centers to carry out the fraud as well. The cartels, through extensive research on their potential victims, generate fake documents and contact them through phony email accounts.

The FBI is trying to increase media coverage to educate the public about the threat and encourage additional victims to come forward.

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