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Commerce action stops a “bait and switch” timeshare scheme

Falsified Commerce license used to deceive consumers

November 14, 2012

Immediate Release

SAINT PAUL, MN – The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently took action against Renaissance Marketing of Property for running an alleged “bait and switch” timeshare scheme that targeted consumers across the country. The Commerce Department ordered Renaissance Marketing of Property to immediately halt further activity in the State of Minnesota.

“Renaissance Marketing of Property appears to be nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “The allegations from consumers indicated this company misled, deceived, and intimidated consumers to believe there were buyers for their timeshares at inflated values with the intent to collect outrageous fees and commissions to line their pockets. We stopped any further activity of this company in Minnesota.”

The Commerce Department received complaints from numerous individuals from across the United States who had been approached by Renaissance Marketing of Property in connection with the sale of their timeshare properties.  In October 2012, the Commerce Department commenced an investigation regarding the marketing and sale of timeshare properties by Renaissance Marketing of Property. 

The investigation revealed that Renaissance Marketing of Property allegedly utilized a “bait and switch” tactic in which timeshare owners were solicited to sell their timeshares to an unknown third-party at an inflated price compared to the timeshare’s actual value. The company then requested a 10 percent fee based on the inflated price, which was required to be wired to a bank account in Mexico.  In addition, consumers were asked to pay a seven percent commission fee. 

The Department’s order alleges that Renaissance Marketing of Property used aggressive and abusive tactics to collect the seven percent commission once the contract for purchase of the timeshare had been signed by the owner of the timeshare. It was reported to the Department of Commerce that the company used the threat of a collection action if the payment was not made by the selling consumer.

To bolster market credibility for consumers, Renaissance Marketing of Property allegedly used a forged Department of Commerce license to represent itself as a licensed real estate broker in the State of Minnesota. Their website advertised the company as “one of the largest Saint Paul property management companies managing individual units throughout Saint Paul.” 

“I will do everything in my power to stop any company from falsifying a Commerce license used to intentionally deceive consumers,” said Commissioner Mike Rothman. “Consumers need to check with the Department of Commerce to ensure a company or salesperson is licensed or legitimate before jumping into a financial agreement. Scam artists go to great lengths to fabricate the appearance of legitimacy and consumers need to do their homework.”  

If you have questions or want to report suspicious activity, the Commerce Department’s Consumer Help Line can be reached by phone at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602. Questions or consumer complaints can also be sent by email to consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by mail to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, Saint Paul, MN 55101.