Timeshare fraud more prominent in challenging economy

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Katina Pendleton is angry and she has a right to be - she recently lost thousands of dollars in a timeshare resale scam.

Pendleton fell victim to a fraudulent company promising big results if they sold her a timeshare. She agreed to the transaction over the phone and, soon after, got another call from a representative about an interested buyer.

"She said I have a buyer for your timeshare," Pendleton said. "She`s sitting right here... blah, blah, would you like to talk to her?"

Pendleton was eager to sell her timeshare and thrilled at the offer. However, the person posing as a sales agent then asked her for money.

"'In order to get this transaction to go through we would like you to wire me $1,000 dollars,'" Pendleton recalled the agent saying.

Pendleton did as the agent asked and wired the money for what she was told were the "closing costs."

"They sent me a fake contract," Pendleton said. "Never heard from them again."

However, such scams are not uncommon. Postal inspectors say this particular scam is on the rise in a challenging economy.

"The timeshare resale scam is a fraud perpetrated on a lot of elderly people looking to sell and get rid of their timeshares," said U.S. Postal Inspector Kathryn Scarles.

Pendleton is not the only victim - thousands of people have lost money.

"It`s really hard when you see someone lose their life savings," Scarles said. "These scams are so convincing and they are so realistic sounding and sound legitimate that a lot of smart people get duped."

Pendleton echoed thoughts similar to those of Scarles.

"We've been brought up to be really honest and good people," Pendleton said. "There is something missing in them they have no conscience, they don`t care. They are after the money, the money is the main thing."

Despite her losses, Pendleton believes in karma - what goes around, comes around.

"It`s awful," she said. "Just awful and I do believe what goes around comes around and they are going to get it and it`s going to come back to haunt them."

Eventually, Pendleton sold her timeshare. But the best advice when it comes to these situations? Do your homework before you send the money.