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Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member

Evans, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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Before joining TUG to try and rent a timeshare week, you should read what happened to me and proceed with caution.

I joined TUG (Timeshare Users Group) on February 19th, 2015 in order to list a timeshare week I was attempting to rent. I posted a week to rent at Wyndham Vacation Resorts Great Smokies Lodge the week following Easter. Everything was going great until I received an e-mail from the a TUG administrator stating “We are going to need you to supply us with scanned copies of your reservation information showing you as the registered owner for the intervals you have listed in the TUG marketplace. We have placed all of your ads on hold pending the receipt of this info.” I therefore sent them the confirmation letter but asked them if this was normal. The response was “This does not cover anywhere near the number of ads you have posted.” I replied that I was very concerned that maybe someone had hacked into my account and that the Great Smokies Lodge was the only listing I had posted. I asked for additional details, but heard nothing.

I therefore starting doing some digging into I could find anything that my TUG account had been hacked. So I decided to Google my e-mail address, jncmarz@gmail.com and found this post on the TUG BBS as the first listing. “RENTERS BEWARE: John Marzano AKA Beautiful Home, jncmarz@gmail, tsrentals1970@gmail”. Here is a link to the posting: www.tugbbs.com/forums/showthread.php… It turns out the other John Marzano was trying to scam people who had posted to the Wish Ads, which allows renters to request someone rent them a specific week. After reading this, I immediately sent the TUG admins an e-mail trying to get them to remove my e-mail address from the posting. I also asked them to refund my $15 membership fee since obviously I want going to be able to rent my week. I tried to convince them that even though both of us shared the same name, I was not the scam artist. However, I guess they couldn’t comprehend that two e-mail addresses associated with the same name don’t have to be the same person.

Here is the response I received: “We have actually reported your transaction(s) thru our merchant account as well as the local Atlanta authorities for your attempts to scam our customers. Will let you know how that plays out =)”. I told them that was great and gave them all of my contact information to pass onto the authorities in an attempt to clear my name. Unfortunately I have not heard anything back from the authorities or from TUG.

I have contacted several lawyers to see if I could take legal action, but the upfront expense is just not worth it. I have rented several weeks before through other means and never had any issues. I have used the first part of that e-mail address (jncmarz) for over 20 years. I’m not real happy of having it directly associated with a scam. But apparently that is of little concern to TUG.

Another thing that bugs me is that the individual who created the libel post, Denise M., also runs her own timeshare rental business. There is a link at the bottom of the post that points to her website www.denisetravels.com. Some people might view having someone who runs a timeshare rental business and is responsible for pulling rental ads from TUG as a conflict of interest. But I guess TUG doesn’t.

So why have I posted this rather long story you might ask? We’ll it seems one of the few ways I could get the truth out there. Denise has linked my name and e-mail address with a scam and I don’t have any way of getting it cleared. I’m not saying that Denise was wrong in getting the word out about tsrentals1970@gmail, I just wish she would have done a little bit of research before trashing my reputation. If it happened to me, it can happen to you as well.

Orange Park, Florida
2 posts
1. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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So your claim is that despite you legitimately paying for a membership to TUG, and legitimately creating your login and password, that within the few minutes between when you created your membership some random "hacker" was able to steal your TUG login and password just to post 11 SEPARATE ads for high end resorts all at rock bottom prices, all using your email address and phone number in an attempt to scam people out of money...using your own personal contact info?

yea, that story seems legitimate.

Anyone who applied our basic tips for determining if a vacation rental was legitimate was able to sniff you out within seconds.

tug2.net/timeshare_advice/timeshare_rental_v…

Edited: 4 years ago
Evans, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
2. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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Wow, thanks for the quick response. This is the most information you have provided me with. And since this is the only venue that you seem to respond too, let me ask some follow on questions that the I believe the FBI might ask as they investigate this.

+ Can you confirm the fake ads were posted by someone logged into the jncmarz@gmail.com TUG account at the time of the postings? Or is just the email address and the contact information the same?

+ How do you determine which TUG account posts an ad?

+ Why is Beautiful Home and tsrentals1970@gmail associated with the scam?

+ Why did you associate jncmarz@gmail.com with Beautiful Home, tsrentals1970@gmail and the scam?

+ In the original warning, you stated the scam artist was contacting people who have posted on the wish list. Do you believe this is the same scam that is associated with the fake ads?

+ Did tsrentals1970@gmail.com have a TUG account?

+ If tsrentals1970@gmail.com had an account which gave them the ability to post, how did they pay the membership fee? Is their any type of name associated with the payment method?

+ How did jncmarz@gmail.com pay for his membership fee?

+ If tsrentals1970@gmail.com had a TUG account and used it to log into TUG, did you check which IP address they were logging in from?

+ If the jncmarz@gmail.com TUG account was used to post the ads, what IP addresses where they logging into the account form at the time of the postings? You stated that jncmarz@gmail.com posted an ad and then others followed. Do the IP addresses match. If not, where where the secondary IP addresses located?

+ If tsrentals1970 had a TUG account, did they have the same contact information as jncmarz@gmail.com.

+ If tsrentals1970 had a TUG account, when was it established?

+ Have you contacted Google to see who established the tsrentals1970@gmail.com account or the jncmarz@gmail.com account?

+ What was the contact information provided with the fake listings? Was the same as the one legitimate listing you received confirmation on?

+ You stated the scam artist was e-mailing people on the wish list. What contact information was used with those e-mails?

+ Have you examined logs associated with jncmarz@gmail.com to see if there was a password reset request? Is there any strange activity associated with the account.

+ Have you been contacted by anyone using the tsrental1970@gmail.com e-mail address?

+ Have you been contacted by anyone associated with Beautiful Home?

+ Are you aware of anyone contacting the scam artist?

+ How did the scam artist request payment?

+ Has TUG experienced a scam where a legitimate listing is used to run a scam?

+ You stated the 11 SEPARATE ads all used jncmarz@gmail.com and the phone number associated with it. When someone clicked the contact owner button on the ad, which e-mail address did the inquiry go to?

Like I have stated earlier, please get the Atlanta authorities in contact with me so they can help get to the bottom of this.

Evans, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
3. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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OK, I just discovered my g-mail account was compromised from Feb 6 - Mar 6. It explains a lot of what has been going on. I'll be contacting the TUG admins directly.

Orange Park, Florida
2 posts
4. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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This is literally the most ridiculous thread we have ever seen....we are pleased that if there is one common trend with shady individuals, its that they arent very smart and ones on this level are easy to identify.

Edited: 4 years ago
Mumbai (Bombay...
1 post
1 review
5 helpful votes
5. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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thanks for your post, will be careful. did you find a reliable website to rent/sell your timeshare, if so please share.

Evans, Georgia
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
11 helpful votes
6. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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Actually, despite my experience with the admins, I would recommend TUG if you already have a membership. After all, if they wouldn't have pulled my ads, I would have never known my G-mail account was hacked until probably much later. I just wish they would have helped me track down what was going on instead of just insulting me. The most information I got from them was in the initial reply to this posting.

If you want a site that has friendlier admins, I would try VacationTimeshareRental.com. I have rented through them in the past and their is a no cost option. They also closed out my account due to numerous ads, but they were actually helpful when I contacted them.

The thing you have to be careful with is who contacts you to rent your timeshare. Be very careful if they share a link to a document. I had sent the individual who contacted me contract, which they said they had modified and uploaded to their Google Drive account. When I clicked on the link for the document, my account was compromised Thankfully I didn't have anything important on my Google Drive because they would have had access to those documents as well. They also wanted to pay via PayPal, but I said I preferred a check. So I assume if I had gone through with a transaction, they would have taken over that account as well and no telling how much money I would have lost. If anything looks out of the ordinary, proceed with caution.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
3 posts
4 reviews
19 helpful votes
7. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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TUG is a great group and the best online resource that I've found for owners or prospective owners of timeshares. I don't blame them for taking the swift action that they did to protect their members. People have their account hacked all the time and I've heard that it costs travelers over $ 1 billion per year. The marks of a scam, whether timeshares, short -term or long term rentals, or anything are A rental that is just too cheap to be true (there is no free lunch) and then asking for Western Union, Moneygram, or a bank wire transfer for payment. I've had scammers give me an address that if you google it, you find a landmark. One time, it was the Javits convention center in New York City. They steal legitimate ad text and photos and post their own ads on free sites like craigslist If you google the text in the ad, or possibly the name, you will find the real owner. For owners, they ask an owner if they can send a check and then request a refund by wire before the check bounces. Poor English and 2 first names as the first and last name of the scammer are other telltale signs. We've operated a vacation rental business in Chicago for 8 years. We've seen it all. When I get a request for a honeymoon rental for January when it's zero here, I laugh. Be careful.

Texas
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1 post
20 reviews
10 helpful votes
8. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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John,

As a Timeshare Owner interested in the possibility of selling and a professional Information Researcher, I found your outline of events well written and plausible. On the other hand, the TUG administrators response's were condescending, defensive, aggressive and without supporting evidence. Not surprising when you provided them with a laundry list of perfectly viable investigative avenues. No doubt they were caught up in a "gotcha" moment. Verifying quality information is my job and any professionally run company would never respond to ANY client this way. While I can appreciate TUG's eagerness to catch the true scam artist, their inability to apply some simple, common sense research methods astounds me. Eureka, maybe I've found a new client?? -- Good luck, John! (If that is even your real name...LOL)

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
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21,966 posts
122 reviews
239 helpful votes
9. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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I've had my apt for rent hacked multiple times on Craigslist. Its a pretty big problem. A scammer takes a legit ad copies it and posts it a much lower rent and advertises 'their' e mail. Since I have a sign outside with my phone # many people call me asking me why its so 'cheap'. I didn't know this was such a common thing but do now. Its totally plausible that this is similar.

new Orleans
Level Contributor
3 posts
64 reviews
26 helpful votes
10. Re: Timeshare Users Group (TUG) - dangers of becoming a member
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I have purchased two timeshares through TUGS, one in the Virgin Islands and one in Miami. Very pleased with both experiences, quickly and efficiently handled. Due to health issues it became necessary to sell the Miami unit and I listed it here on TUGS. We asked only that the buyer pay all closing costs. The unit was sold within 4 hours of me posting the ad! Other sites we looked at requires over $1000 to list the ad promising huge cash returns as my unit was so "unique". Checking the ads on these sites I found no less than thirty condos at my resort, identical to mine selling for $3,000 up to $59,000. TUGS enables you the opportunity to write your own ad and won't make false claims of high profits. They get results. I am extremely pleased with TUGS and highly recommend them.

Edited: 3 years ago