CHICAGO (CBS) – An offer that sounds too good to be true – the victim’s first clue should be that something isn’t right.
The offer came from a company claiming to be from Chicago and offered the prospect of big profits for his share of the time.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov dug deep into it and discovered an elaborate scam, a local road to nowhere, and a man who had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Time sharing can quickly go from heaven to headache. So when someone from a Chicago-based purpose company called Intercontinental Realty called the owner of a timeshare in Cancún, Mexico – saying they could sell if for a price. $1,081,218 – he got excited.
But he was also skeptical.
“At the time, it was like a scam. It sounded like something fishy,” the owner said. “You need to know in advance – I doubt.”
But that employee began providing the owner – who did not wish to be identified – with documents and assurances that eventually convinced him to continue the transaction.
“The next thing, you know, we got a phone call, ‘To process this, you need to pay a fee,'” the owner said.
The owner said the business sent him complicated emails and documents, but the requests for the money continued – until the owner discovered he was over $300,000.
“It’s stupid – I mean, I have to tell you, Dana – greed fueled this. I held back – the little voice in my head kept saying, ‘Something’s wrong here, ‘” said the owner. “But those millions of dollars continue to beckon me.”
Since the company’s website says it’s located at 7 W. Madison St. in the Loop, the owner rented Chicago personal investigation Joe McGreal to do some digging.
“Immediately within the first hour, I knew it was a scam,” McGreal said.
McGreal began talking to alleged Intercontinental Realty employees.
“I asked to meet them,” McGreal said. “We set up three different meetings.” “They never show up.”
So McGreal went to 7 W. Madison St. – the address listed on the Intercontinental Realty website.
“There are no real estate agents there,” says McGreal. “There’s no office there.”
CBS 2’s Kozlov also checked that address. She found 7 W. Madison St. is the dormitory for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kozlov confirmed to a SAIC spokesperson that no tenants or so-called Intercontinental Reality businesses are located there.
So she tried calling the number on the company’s website. There was a voicemail claiming to be for Intercontinental Reality, but no one answered our calls.
But it doesn’t end there. The documents in the owner’s case repeatedly refer to funds being transferred to or being processed in Mexico.
“Everything goes back to Mexico,” McGreal said.
So McGreal brought the documents to the owner to the Mexican Consulate. He said a consular official confirmed they had been tampered with.
“It looked legit, and it was difficult for victims to identify it as a fake,” McGreal said.
“It’s a very, very elaborate scam,” added the owner.
And he is not the only victim. Seven other complaints were filed with the Illinois Attorney General about Intercontinental Realty, and some of those victims also lost thousands and thousands of dollars.
“We want people to know about the scam,” McGreal said.
Both McGreal and the owner who was scammed believe there are many other victims out there. McGreal hopes they will come to help catch the scammers.
He said Mexican Consulate officials are also investigating, but no one from the consulate has responded to Kozlov’s emails or calls.