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Canarian Legal Alliance Announce End of Year Results

What a year 2018 has been for the lawyers at Canarian Legal Alliance, they have recently announced their end of year results and it is impressive to say the least.

They have ended the year with 131 Supreme Court rulings, this is unprecedented in Spanish legal history, the last 2 rulings being made against Diamond Resorts. These judgements reinforced the previous ones by Spain’s Highest Court that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and points systems along with the taking of any payment, even by a third party within the cooling off period are in breach of Spanish Timeshare laws 42/98 and 4/12.

In another landmark ruling from the Courts of First Instance in Tenerife, Silverpoint and their lawyers admitted that their “Company Participations” were indeed timeshare. This has now opened the way for many more clients who have been sold these “participations” as “investments” to now lodge claims against Silverpoint. This will result in the contracts being declared null and void plus the return of all money paid. (See previous article)

http://insidetimeshare.com/silverpoint-company-participations-is-timeshare/

Here are some key figures for the past year:

  • 3669 clients
  • 1380 live cases in various stages at court
  • 679 court hearings in 2018
  • 516 new claims presented to the Spanish Courts
  • 327 favorable sentences for clients
  • 12.3 million Euros have been awarded (2018 only) to clients by the Spanish Courts
  • 2.8 million Euros in payouts to clients
  • 728.000 Euros in bank guaranteed funds secured for clients
  • 4.5 million Euros are currently in process of being converted into bank guarantees

As the year drew to a close and the courts recessed for the Christmas break, Canarian Legal Alliance also managed to sneak in 10 more results in favour of their clients against the following:

  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             26,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             55,994€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance               9,795€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,400€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             12,800€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             18,376€
  • Anfi                                   Court of First Instance             39,590€
  • Holiday Club                 Court of First Instance                4,500€
  • Silverpoint                     Court of First Instance                5,400€
  • Club la Costa                 Court of First Instance              29,768€

This is an incredible 214,590€ secured for these clients, with all contracts being declared null and void.

These figures speak for themselves, no other law firm in Spain has achieved anything near to this, so for those who continue to post on various forums that these are all fake, check your facts before you post. These cases can all be verified through court documents, they are in the public domain.

It is quite clear that 2019 is also going to be a record breaking year, especially now that all courts are subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court. Inside Timeshare will bring you the latest news on cases as and when they happen.

If you require any further information on this subject or would like to know if you have a legitimate and viable case, then use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Other news which has just come in involves the ongoing case against Eze Groups Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly at Birmingham Crown Court.

December 21st was the final day of a Newton Hearing in the case against Stephanie O’Reilly, Mr O’Reilly was not in attendance as he had earlier pleaded guilty to 27 charges of breaches of consumer legislation and aggressive selling amongst other things.

The reason for the Newton Hearing was that Miss O’Reilly had to explain why she pleaded guilty to Fraud but not as charged. The defense argued that Eze Group had employed the services of a Legal Advisor to ensure that they were compliant with UK law and that this advice was wrong which ultimately led to the mis-selling of the product.

This argument was vigorously rejected by the prosecution, who were also able to produce documentation refuting the argument. This was accepted by the court and a date of 11 January 2019 has been set for what we believe will be sentencing. We will bring you this news as and when it happens.

If you have any comments on this or any other article, use our contact page, Inside Timeshare welcomes your comments.

Thursday Roundup: Some News from the UK Courts

In last Friday’s Letter from America we mentioned the Birmingham Crown Court hearing for the sentencing of Dominic O’Reilly & Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, this was to have taken place on Monday of this week.

From information received it looks like EZE Groups legal counsel could not make it and asked for an adjournment before Monday’s hearing. Although it would still have had to be addressed in open court with a new date to be set.

A very strange fact that did emerge is that the hearing has been switched from sentencing to a directions hearing. This could indicate that their guilty pleas may have been withdrawn and a another plea will have to be made in open court. If they do plead guilty then the case will again have to be adjourned and pre-sentencing report carried out.

As we find out more we will publish here.

In another case which was announced on 17 April, against Francis Madden at Bournemouth Crown Court. The case was scheduled to last about six weeks, but news broke yesterday that Madden had pleaded guilty to three counts of fraudulent trading between May 2012 and February 2016.

The case revolved around his “Holiday Club” companies, where people were invited to attend a “two hour presentation” which actually lasted more than “five hours”. They were sold accommodation which either did not exist or was near impossible to book for thousands of pounds. In most cases the accommodation could have been booked for far less via the internet.

Although clients had been informed that there was a cancellation period, when they did try to cancel they were told in was not possible. It also transpired that the exhausted clients were “frog marched” by staff to a cash machine to withdraw the payments.

Jailing him for a period of 40 months the judge called his conduct “reprehensible”.

It seems now that the authorities are finally catching up with these charlatans as only recently we have seen several jailed at Stafford Crown Court, EZE Group in the dock and some of Mark Rowe’s companies under police investigation.

See link to the Mail Online report:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5682173/Timeshare-fraudster-marched-victims-cash-machines-hand-thousands.html

When timeshare first started it was a very good concept, the accommodation was superb, far better than what was available through the high street travel agent, but something went very wrong. Greed took over.

Some of the first “scams” were the buying off plan schemes, where all you purchased was a hole in the ground and an architects plan. Many of these were never built with hundreds of people losing thousands of pounds.

The industry itself did little to “police itself”, countries laws where these timeshares were being built were not adequate, allowing many frauds to take place, with the perpetrators getting away with millions.

After the “off plan” scams, the industry through how the product was sold was instrumental in the next phase, the resale scam. As timeshares were being sold as “property” which would go up in value, the resale companies capitalised on this. Offering clients the promise of selling their timeshare for more than they actually paid for it, taking thousands to “list” the timeshare for sale and then disappearing.

Now because the laws have been strengthened, especially in Spain, we are seeing bogus claims companies taking thousands for relinquishments and no win no fee claims. Just recently Inside Timeshare has been getting enquiries about one of these companies, RSB Legal. Many have paid them to cancel their timeshare and claim the money back, but they are now no longer trading, they have simply vanished, leaving hundreds of clients out of pocket.

These stories show why you must do your due diligence and homework before going to any presentation, or doing business with any company. Check, check then check again, ask the questions, are they for real, how are they going to claim, can they do what they say they can do, how long have they been trading?

That last comment is probably one of the most important points, a company that has only been trading or registered for say 1 year, yet claims they have got back thousands and helped hundred of owners, is that actually possible?

If you have been contacted by any company or have found one on the internet and want to know if they are genuine, then contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you find out.

Remember doing your homework will save your hard earned cash!

Inside Timeshare would also like to share some great news with all our readers, our last article contributor Joshua Parker and his wife Nichole are the proud new parents of twins. Welcome to the family Matthew Alexander & Maverick Luke.

They Get Them in the End

On 23 February, West Mercia Police issued a press release about 9 timeshare fraudsters being sentence to more than 20 years in prison. It revolves around a timeshare resale scam that began back in 2012, when the company Simple Property Marketing Solutions first made its appearance.

All 9 appeared at Stafford Crown Court between 21 and 23 February, they are:

  • James Barrass, 37 from Norwich, sentenced to two years for money laundering.
  • Matthew Barker, 25 from Bromsgrove, Fraudulent Trading, 1 year & 1 month. Suspended for 1 year a & 6 months, 250 hours community service.
  • Brian Carr, 31 from Redditch, sentenced to 6 years for conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice.
  • Daniel Carr, 24 from Redditch, Conspiracy to defraud, 4 years prison.
  • Steven Cross, 37, From Worcestershire, Conspiracy to defraud, 6 months.
  • Dawn Gingell, 55 From Hampshire, Conspiracy to defraud, 3 years 6 months prison.
  • Brendan Hicks, 28 From Redditch, Fraudulent Trading, sentenced to 1 year 1 month, suspended for 1 year 6 months plus 250 hours community service.
  • Alan Sharp, 66 From Norwich, Money Laundering, 8 months in prison suspended for 1 year plus 200 hours community service.
  • Craig Walker, 27 From Redditch, Conspiracy to defraud, 3 years in prison.

They are all facing proceedings to recover the money stolen, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

staffordcrowncourt

It all started with the company Simple Property Marketing Solutions Ltd, based in Norwich in 2012, they began contacting timeshare owners with the promise of buyers for their timeshares. These buyers were offering tremendous prices to acquire them.

In order for the timeshare owner to start the sales process, Simple Property Marketing Solutions, headed by Brian Carr, needed payment of between £600 and £1,500 for notary fees and security bonds.

According to the evidence it amounts to around £875,000 paid by about 470 people.

But the scam did not stop there, under different names and companies the next stage was to contact those who had lost money in the original scam. They would offer new schemes in order to help the victims to at least recoup some of their earlier losses.

The third part in this scam was one we have seen all too often, the victims are again contacted, but this time the callers say they are from the Spanish Courts. The money they have lost has now been recovered and can be returned to the victims bank accounts, obviously there would need to be a fee paid first.

Brian Carr was also the director of the following companies:

It is believed there were around 10 companies formed in the UK and Spain which were used to either launder the money or perpetrate the scam.

This fraud ran from the start of the companies in 2012 to 2015, they targeted mainly the elderly and vulnerable timeshare owners, many who were in poor health. This is a recurring theme in this type of fraud, as we have to remember the vast majority of timeshare owners today are now retired and many are not in the best of health.

Recently we have been seeing many other “scams” being closed down, from resale to holiday clubs and leisure credits. The authorities are taking more notice of these frauds in the timeshare world, we are still waiting to hear what sentence Birmingham Crown Court will be bestowing on the EZE Group owners Dominic O’Reilly and his daughter Stephanie. We are also waiting for the outcome of the investigation in several of Mark Rowe’s companies by the South West Police.

As the title of this article says, They Do Get Them in the End!

If you have been contacted by any company or are wondering about one you have found on the internet, contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you find out what you need.

due diligence

The Changing Face of Timeshare Scams

Today we look at how timeshare scams have changed over the years, from the original sales to resale, holiday clubs and now for claims. You will be surprised at how they have developed, we will also give you some useful information on what to look for when either searching the web or being contacted.

When timeshare was first being marketed on a large scale during the 1980’s and the boom years of the 1990’s the most common scam was known as the “hole in the ground”. This is where the unsuspecting tourist while on holiday was picked up off the street by the touts with the scratch cards, taken to a resort with a sales deck and subjected to a rather lengthy presentation.

Nothing new there, the difference with this presentation was that the resort the potential client was at, was not what was being sold. That resort had not yet been built, it was in the planning stage, the client was being offered to buy “off-plan”.

off plan

These apartments and weeks would be sold at a discounted price, for example a studio may go for around £2,500, much cheaper than the ones on the resort they were visiting. Many signed up for these timeshares, only to find out later that the resort was never actually built, the marketing company had disappeared along with their money.

It was then towards the end of the 1990’s that the resale market began, many timeshares were sold on the basis that they were real estate, you were buying a portion of the bricks and mortar, so it would go up in value.

One of the early resale scams was started and run by the infamous Toni Muldoon from the Costa del Sol. He had a string of companies, one was known as Platinum Properties.

The scam played on greed, owners would be cold called and asked if they had thought about selling their timeshare. The pitch was very simple, there is a shortage of new timeshares and the prices of second hand ones was increasing due to demand.

The unsuspecting owners would be asked what they owned and what they had paid, the callers would then explain that those were in high demand and fetching very good prices. For example, an owner would say they paid around £5,000 for theirs, yes you guessed it, they would be told that those were now going for about £7,000 on the resale market and going up in value.

Now for only £1,500 Platinum Properties would list this for you, if they were not able to sell this within the 12 months of the contract, the deposit would be returned. That deposit would also be returned once the sale had gone through, as the buyer would pay all the costs. Many took up this offer and that was the last they ever heard from the company again.

Eventually Toni Muldoon was caught and received a 2 year sentence which was then suspended, he was eventually jailed in the UK for other non-timeshare related scams and has been release on parole. He has now set up 2 websites, one relating to timeshare (claims) the other called Scam-Busters. The question is can a leopard change its spots?

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His business became the model for all the other resale companies that sprang up during the early 2000’s.

The next incarnation of the resale scam was the classic “bait and switch”, this is where the client was told they had a buyer for the timeshare, usually a “corporate buyer”. All the seller needed to do was visit the resale office on the Costa del Sol or wherever and attend a meeting with the buyer.

But, there was no buyer, the meeting was a presentation for one of the new Discount Holiday Clubs. These were the  new way to holiday, free from the yearly and rising costs of maintenance fees. The pitch was they would take over your timeshare leaving you maintenance free, but to do this you had to buy a membership to their club. Again these varied in price depending on the length of the membership.

Those prices were obviously inflated, as they would then give a massive discount to take into account the price of your timeshare. For instance, the owner would be told that a 10 year membership would cost £15,900 but they would give you £6,500 for the timeshare, leaving the cost of membership at £9,400.

Another twist to this was the cashback scheme, this was a voucher made out for a large sum to cover the cost of the timeshare plus some of the membership fee, that had to be registered and in 36 months or so you would go through the reclaim procedure and receive at least 75% of the certificate value.

cashback

Incentive Leisure Group and their Designer Way Vacation Club along with Club Class Concierge were the major players in this particular scheme. Both eventually were wound up by the UK authorities.

The next system to emerge was based on the above, this time they were leisure credits, which “could” be used to get discounts on all sorts of goods and services, not just holidays. The same tactic was used, get the client to a meeting and the only way to get out of the timeshare was to purchase the leisure credits and join our scheme!

The most well known are EZE Group, whose owners are awaiting sentence at Birmingham Crown Court and Monster Credits. The latter is now under investigation by the Police after raids by Trading Standards.

We now move to the latest in this long list of innovative frauds, the claims business.

Since the first Supreme Court ruling in March 2015, these have mushroomed, they take on many various forms, from fake law firms to claims management companies.

The pitch varies from firm to firm but one thing is clear, everyone has a case and can claim!

The most sophisticated fraud is one Inside Timeshare has been following for over 2 years, the group of “Fake” law firms we have called the Litigious Abogados family operating out of Tenerife.

Theirs involves clients being told the case has been filed and they can be part of it, all they need to do is pay a certain amount and they will be included in the case being heard within the next month. All the documents look very convincing, even down to very good fake court documents. For more on this search for Litigious Abogados.

There are also many firms operating out of the UK, these are offering “no win no fee” claims, but in order to do this you need to have your timeshare contract cancelled, known as relinquishment. This involves a fee, this can be anything from £4,000 to £8,000 depending on the company. (Beware of this, many have found that after 3 years or so they end up getting demands for maintenance arrears).

sec 75

Once you have paid for the contract to be cancelled, then they will file a claim on the “no win no fee” basis. This does not involve a court case, (once your contract has been cancelled, you cannot take the case to court), it is a Section 75 under the Credit Consumer Act 1974. As you can imagine this is not going to work, the credit card company will deny the payment stating that you have had use of the product and therefore are not eligible.

Section 75 covers, not received the goods or services paid for, company has gone bankrupt, fraudulent transactions. This would not cover the misselling of timeshare, the contract can only be declared illegal in a court and at present the laws only apply to timeshares purchased in Spain.

Now, it can be very difficult to decide which company is genuine and which is not, this is where you need to do your homework.

Some very basic tips are, how long has the company been registered, this can be found out by doing a company search, this will also tell you if they have changed name. If the company has only been registered for say 1 year, then how do they account for their claims of helping hundreds of people, especially if they have testimonials dated several years before they were registered. Also just because a company has a registration, that does not prove they are genuine, anyone can register a company for very little outlay.

Another factor is the officers of the company, the director and secretary, these may be just front people, not the actual owners of the company.

What about the website? Who is it registered to and when was it registered?

whois

Some websites are registered under privacy registrations, these are using a privacy company to register the site for the person. This should set the alarm bells ringing, what have they got to hide?

Payment methods is also a very useful giveaway, any genuine company should have credit card facilities, at least that way you are covered if anything does go wrong. Do not use your card via any method such as PayPal, this is a third party and invalidates your rights under Section 75.

Companies using only bank transfers should be viewed with caution, especially if the transfer is to be made in the name of a private individual. Steer well clear of any company that asks for payment by any other means such as Western Union.

These are just the very basic rules, if in doubt do not do anything, if you require any help in checking the validity of any company that contacts you or one you have found while searching the internet, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember do your homework and keep your hard earned cash safe!

homework

End of January Review

So that is the end of the first month of this year and what a month it has been, if this one is anything to go by then we are going to be in for a busy year. So let’s have a quick look at some of the main events.

We start with two stories published this week, the first is a quick update on the website of Worldwide Timeshares Unlimited.

Yesterday RCI thanked Inside Timeshare for reporting the use of their logo, they confirmed that it is being used illegally and their legal department had been informed. Today when checking the website the RDO and Expectations Holidays logo’s had been removed, unfortunately the Canarian Legal Alliance logo and copied news section are still showing. CLA have been informed.

It has also come to our attention that Antoni “Toni” Muldoon also has another website:

http://www.scam-busters.co.uk/

Supposedly to help people being scammed by the likes of him, one does have ask the question, is he the reformed character he makes out to be or is this just another way of getting your money?

spots

Regarding the Anfi letter to UK members and the use of the BBC program Rip Off Britain, we had the opportunity to see the program for ourselves, the “lawyer” named on the program was one Emilio Leyes Catillianos at the address Calle Duque de la Torre 29, 114, Santa Cruz, Tenerife, is the very same one that Inside Timeshare first reported back in July and September 2016.

That address is actually for the Oficina del Servicio de Atención Ciudadana, similar to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

CAB Arona

This particular “lawyer” was part of the Litigious Abogados setup, which is one of those Inside Timeshare provided evidence to CLA for their denuncia to the Guardia Civil in February 2017, (see link to CLA website to view a copy of the denuncia):

https://www.canarianlegalalliance.com/fraud-alert/

The sad thing is the program is too late to highlight this as the website has already gone and been replaced with many new names, the latest was published here on 8 January, Abogados Canarias, with the main “lawyer” named as one Manuel Cilavoz Varintos. I would say that their research team has a lot to learn or is the program just there for entertainment purposes?

Since the start of this year the US articles many written by Irene parker, has resulted in 38 complaints received by Inside Timeshare and dealt with by our US team (all volunteers). Since we began actually counting the number of complaints received at the end of 2016, the US team led by Irene has dealt with 291 complaints. Again what does the rest of the year hold in store?

Also at the beginning of the month we reported that Trading Standards had raided several offices of the Mark Rowe owned companies which include Sellmytimeshare.tv ABC Lawyers and his Monster Credits enterprise. We have now been informed that South West Police are contacting clients of his various companies, so it certainly looks like a major criminal investigation is taking place.

We are also still waiting to hear about the sentencing of Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, this was supposed to take place this month at Birmingham Crown Court.

Another article published this month was Spanish Timeshare Laws Simply Explained. This was in response to many enquiries from timeshare owners who had been contacted by various firms stating they had a claim, or their timeshare company was being taken to court and they could join in the case. The main point of the article was unless your timeshare was purchased in Spain you will not have any claim, it also pointed out that even if you did purchase in Spain your particular contract may be legal and therefore there is no claim.

Inside Timeshare also welcomed Lisa Ann Schreier with her first article. Lisa is a well known figure in the US, she is also the author of the book Timeshare for Dummies, we look forward to more contributions in the future.

lisa ann

These are just some of the stories published this month, we end with news just in from Canarian Legal Alliance.

It looks like they have had a tremendous start to the year as they announced that they have received favourable judgements in 14 cases against these resorts:

Anfi, Silverpoint, Puerto Calma, Palm Oasis and Diamond International.

These cases have been heard in various courts around Spain, ranging from First Instance, High Courts and Supreme Court. The latest being a Supreme Court ruling against Palm Oasis making the total figure for rulings from Spain’s highest court to 86!

The total amount awarded by the courts in these cases is staggering 267,224.25€ so there are some very happy ex-timeshare owners.

Inside Timeshare would like to thank all those who have contributed to all the articles this month and all the readers who have supplied some of the information which has helped in the research.

Again if you have any questions about any of the articles published or need any help in determining if the company you may be thinking of doing business with is legit, contact Inside Timeshare and we will point you in the right direction.