I Got Scammed

As a registered Contrarian, I tend to be suspicious of everything until I verify it myself. I don’t click on links in emails. I have yet to supply my banking information to a Nigerian prince to share the sum of $3,001,287 dollars US. I don’t believe anything politicians tell me. I don’t use public Wi-Fi. In short, I’m not a very trusting person. And yet, I managed to fall for a scam. The worst part? I went in knowing they were trying to sell me something.

Let me explain. We own a timeshare in Mexico. We bought it thirteen years ago. It’s a long story as to how we ended up with a timeshare, but all-in-all we’ve enjoyed it. Every single time we go, we get the hardcore push to attend a “members update”. There is no update. It’s a play to upsell more points or status level to you. We went a few times to get the free drink tickets they bribe you with, but generally I refuse to attend.

I don’t remember how I got talked into going this time, but somehow I found myself in the hotel lobby with Mrs. Troutdog and the couple who came to Mexico with us. Things did not go well straight out of the gate. The “coordinator” insisted we had to listen to the presentation separately from the other couple. We said no. She insisted. We said no. Off the coordinator went to discuss with someone in another room. She came back and said they’d make a special exception this time. Next, they wanted a credit card from each of us to “verify ID”. We all said no. She insisted. We all said no. She insisted. We all said no. Finally, she reluctantly agreed and took us to meet our sales guys.

It’s at this point a smarter man would have walked out. I am clearly not a smart man. But at the time I was convinced I was far too smart to believe any of the nonsense they were about to dish out. Off we went to get a tour of the penthouse unit. Our sales guys were straight out of used car sales finishing school. One of them was convinced he was Don Johnson from Miami Vice – he wore a silver suit with ridiculous black Vans sneakers and had his hair slicked back. The other guy spent his time telling us he was a very successful real estate developer and builder and was just here as a favor to his friend the VP of sales. Mmmm, right.

We listened to these two goons babble about real estate prices, the shortage of hotel rooms, and room rates for quite a while. At the time I wasn’t clear on why they were telling us this. Then the heavy came in. He had copies of our original contracts along with a few other documents. I’ll spare you the details, but he basically said due to a loophole in the contract he was obligated to offer us the option to purchase a huge number of points at an unheard-of price. The company would be taking a huge hit, but legally he had to give us the option.

This is a one-time deal. Walk out of the room and it won’t be offered again.

The way he presented the contract loophole was so well done… I thought it was real. It was an opportunity to rent out multiple weeks of rooms and make passive income with virtually no effort on our part. After hearing and seeing the going room rates, this really seemed like a way to make some money. I mean, they had contracts and legal looking documents. It had to be legit.

He left us alone in the room to talk amongst ourselves. We went back and forth, unable to decide if it was real or not. It was a lot of money to buy in and none of us wanted to make a snap decision. He came back and said something that was so off-putting, we got up and walked out. His words were, “I’m leaving in twenty minutes because I have to go buy seven Rolex watches for my team. When I leave, the offer is off the table.” Really? Who says something like that?

We spent the remaining vacation days enjoying fruity drinks at the pool and eating too much excellent food. While I was happy we walked away, I was still 60-ish percent convinced it had been a legitimate offer.

Once home, Mrs. Troutdog found an owners group on Facebook. There it was in black and white. A total scam. Multiple other people had received some variation of the same pitch. I was shocked that a large and fairly reputable company would stoop to something so slimy and blatantly deceitful. Because I honestly didn’t believe a corporation would go to those lengths to scam people out of money, I mostly believed the pitch. Sure, I expected some hard sales attempts to get us to upgrade to a bigger unit or something, but not outright deception.

Shame on me. I’ve lost some Contrarian points over this one. I’m shocked I got pulled in by the story. And sadly, I’m now even more distrustful of other humans. How do people like that look at themselves in the mirror? I guess all you can do is hope the karma bus is waiting around the corner for them.

Meanwhile, it turns out a week of drinking, nachos, and extravagant dinners is not good for your diet. Who knew? I guess I better hit the gym. I may go for run on the treadmill for an hour. Or twenty.

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