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Birmingham Crown Court

Start the Week

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, we have had more emails from concerned readers regarding Claims Assistant Bureau, a company we highlighted only last week.

As we know, this company is calling timeshare owners along with those who have had dealings with Eze Group, they claim they have been appointed by the courts to tack down owners who have had money awarded to them and is being held by various courts.

According to Harry Evans and then back up by an email from Mel Rhys, Regency Shores Holdings SL (Eze Group), have recently been in court in Tenerife. The court is now holding a substantial amount which Claims Assistant Bureau will be able to get back for you, for a fee that is.

Well we do know that there has not been any court case in Tenerife against Regency Shores, the only court case is at Birmingham Crown Court against Eze Europe Ltd, Dominic O’Reilly and Stephanie O’Reilly. That case is yet to be concluded, with sentencing due to take place in March.

Another fact is they also claim that they are backed up and guaranteed by The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, The Bank of Spain and the High Court of Madrid.

Another reader who we spoke with was very suspicious, as the person on the phone was contradicting himself so much it set off alarm bells.  Below are the company details along with a link to the article publish on 18 February.

Claims Assistant Bureau with the company registration number 06832938, with the address:

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

The past two weeks have certainly been busy for Canarian Legal Alliance, with results in favour of their clients against Anfi Del Mar, Silverpoint, Holiday Club Finland and Club la Costa, in various courts around Spain.

  • 14 Victories in the Courts of First Instance against Anfi
  • 1 High Court judgement against Anfi
  • 2 First Instance victories against Silverpoint
  • 2 High Court victories against Silverpoint
  • 1 First Instance against Holiday Club Finland
  • 1 First Instance against Club La Costa

In all these 21 sentences the contracts were declared null and void, the total claim value has yet to be released, but it is believed to be very substantial.

In further news from the Courts in Maspalomas, another 8 cases have been sent for sentencing at the pre-trial stage. It appears the judges are dispensing with the need for a full trial, which is only good news for the clients. This will result in cases being concluded in a much faster manner, with payouts being much quicker.

Obviously it will not be long before other courts in Spain start doing the same thing, it is obvious now that the laws put into place to protect consumers are solid and are being enforced by the courts.

Have you been contacted by any company mentioned in any of our articles, or one that you have found on the internet or even from an advert in a newspaper or magazine?

Do you want to find out if they are genuine and not sure how to do this?

Have you been told you have a valid claim and want to know if it is true?

Then use our contact page and send us a message, we will point you in the right direction.

Start the Week: More Scams Reported

Welcome to the start of another week in the world of timeshare, today we highlight another new “SCAM” in the making and revisit another which we highlighted back in January.

As we know Eze Europe Ltd (Eze Group) along with Dominic O’Reilly and his Daughter Stephanie O’Reilly, have been in the news recently and are due to appear before Birmingham Crown Court for sentencing on 29 March. It was only a matter of time before some unscrupulous people got on the bandwagon and started contacting those who have been involved with Eze Group.

The company is called Claims Assistant Bureau with the company registration number 06832938, with the address:

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close, Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

Tel: 02920099129

This address is actually used by a company called Help Debt Plus (Wales) Limited, who have full Financial Conduct Authority authorisation, so obviously have nothing tho do with Claims Assistant Bureau.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06832938

The company was registered with Company House on 2 March 2009 and the current director Stephen Michael Francis being appointed on 2 December 2009, he is also the Company Secretary, appointed on 2 March 2009.

According to the filing history at company house, the company has been listed as “dormant” since 2 April 2010 and is now listed as a “Micro Company”.

So it would seem that it is only registered so it can be used for initiating various “scams”, to fool people into thinking they are dealing with a “legitimate” UK company.

So what are they promising?

According to information from several readers in the past few days they have either been appointed by Birmingham Crown Court, The High Court in Madrid and the Courts in Tenerife to make contact with Eze Group victims. Apparently there is a substantial amount of money being held and Claims Assistant Bureau can help you retrieve it. For a fee that is.

According to one of the readers they received a call from a Harry Evans, who explained that due to a recent court case against Regency Shores (Eze Group) Holdings SL they have been awarded their money back. They then received an email from one Mel Rhys:

Dear Mr & Mrs XXXXXX

Further to your telephone conversation with Mr. Evans here is an email giving you further insight into the situation at hand.

All monies that you will be receiving are being settled to you by the successful outcome of recent court proceedings against Regency Shore (EZE Group) Holdings SL, were upon you were listed as one of their members GP11186.

The amount you will receive is £3,950.

About any paperwork you may or may not have, do not worry as we will be sending notarised legal paperwork that will include all company histories and court documentation regarding your outcome.

Some of your paperwork will be in Spanish if you have any problems understanding it please do not hesitate in contacting us as we offer a free translation service for you the client.

Our processing fee is £695 this includes our fees, courier service and translation services, once you have paid our fees we will be under contract with you to finalise the claim, all monies will be settled within 10 working days. If the process does not complete within the given timeframe all monies will be returned to you the client.

We are now giving you not only our company guarantee but that too of our contractual and fiscal arrangements with the Bank of Spain, the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and the High Court of Madrid. This means that all business is backed and covered by these three entities and ourselves.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate in contacting us on the details below.

Kind regards

Mel Rhys

Claims Assistance Bureau Limited

Ty Glen, 1 Brecon Court, William Brown Close,

Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran, NP44 3AB

02920099129

06832938 companies house

As you can see from the email, not only do the clients get the “company guarantee” but the company is also guaranteed by The Bank of Spain, The Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and th High Court of Madrid!

With those sort of “Guarantors” it must be safe!

Well, not very, for one there is no money being held by the courts, there has been no case in Spain against Regency Shores, those institutions would not be making any guarantee or have any dealing with a private company for any legal matter.

The case in Birmingham has not been concluded so no money has been set aside for victims.

If the courts had your name and membership numbers as victims of any company, they would have been in contact through official channels, not using a third party company. If you have been contacted with this or a similar story, do not be fooled into paying anything, it is a “fraud” pure and simple.

In January we reported on another company JB Legal / SIM Legal owned by Jeroen Martijn Brussel, pictured below.


Another of our Scandinavian readers has been contacted by this person and his companies, our reader has paid a substantial amount for the SilverpointCompany Participations” and somehow Brussel had his details.

Unfortunately, our reader was taken in by the pitch that JB Legal / SIM Legal would take their case against Silverpoint to court, claiming fraud. A lawyer was named as the person taking on the case, Ruben Padron Perez, but it seems he claims his identity has been stolen for illegal purposes.

This reader then paid over 17,000€ to a company called Walker Padron Perez Consultants Ltd, a UK registered company, Company Number 11099369, registered on 6 December 2017 with the address:

The Apex, 2 Sheriffs Orchard, Coventry, West Midlands, United Kingdom, CV1 3PP

This address is mail box and virtual office run by Small Firms Service Limited, so is not a permanent address.

The director is named as Alan Walker with according to filing history one Mrs Marisol Sanati De Walker (Dominican Rep) as a person with significant control.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/11099369

Mr Brussel also required a payment to himself of almost 2000€ to be paid in cash for the notary, that is a rather large amount for any notary.

But it doesn’t end there, without his knowledge of permission, his documents were handed to another firm, which at this point is not being named. He has also paid this other company over 28,000€ to take on the case.

So what has happened to the initial payments made to Walker Padron Perez and Jeroen Martijn Brussel?

Our reader has not been able to contact Walker Padron Perez or Brussel, all emails are being ignored and the telephone calls not being answered.

He has been told by the “new” company that they will get him back this money, we will just have to wait and see.

Once again, these two stories reinforces what we have been saying all along, before doing any business and paying out substantial amounts of money, do your homework. If you do not know where to start, then use our contact page, we will help you find the genuine from the fraudsters.

If you have also been contacted by any of the companies mentioned, Inside Timeshare would like to hear from you, use our contact page and let us know what happened.

You will also notice that we have started a new Facebook Group, log in to join.

Friday’s Letter from America

Welcome to the first Letter from America of February, this week we hear another “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” from the Wheat family and their experience with Wyndham, edited by our very own Irene Parker. First a little news from Europe.

Yesterday, Thursday 31 January, at Birmingham Crown Court , Dominic O’Reilly, Stephanie O’Reilly and Eze Europe Limited, appeared for sentencing. As we know they had faced many charges of unfair trading practices, misleading consumers and many more. On checking the courts website this morning, nothing has yet been posted, but Inside Timeshare has emailed the court for confirmation of sentences and we are waiting for a reply. As soon as this comes in we will be publishing on these pages.

News came in this morning regarding another case involving Diamond Resorts in Tenerife, Canarian Legal Alliance originally had a case in which the Court of First Instance found in favour of Diamond. They instantly appealed this decision to the High Court

The High Court reviewed the case and ruled that the First Instance Courts decision was flawed, they immediately overruled the first court’s ruling, as per the Supreme Court rulings. They deemed that all 5 contracts were illegal and declared them null and void, they also awarded the client 100% of the purchase price, plus double the deposit paid within the 14 day cooling off period, all legal fees and legal interest. This client will now be receiving over 25,000€ and can now enjoy a timeshare free life.

Now for this weeks Letter from America.

The ‘Take Away Timeshare Close’

By a Wyndham buyer

February 1

By the Wheat Family

Introduction by Irene Parker

Inside Timeshare has heard from 671 families. Like a broken record, the member reports being told “I can’t believe that last salesperson sold you this!” You should have never bought:

 

  • So few points!
  • The wrong package!

 

Understand that this is a tried and true sales technique. I spent 30 years in sales selling in a number of industries, but can’t recall using this technique unless I felt the sales agent really did sell the buyer a wrong product. For example, as a stockbroker I would run into a young person’s 401K funded with a fixed income product. In timeshare, it’s used as a ploy. If both sides of the supposedly wrong/right product sell against each other, it means no consumer should buy the product. It’s not unusual to hear, on the same day, from two different members, Sales agent A said I should not have bought Product 1 while sales agent B said I should have bought Product 1. It’s called the Take Away Close:

The Take Away Close really takes some time to master. Though it sounds simple at first, the real secret is learning when to use it. The danger is always using the take away close and having a customer agree to purchase a lesser product when they were close to committing to a larger sale. From The Balance Careers

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-take-away-closing-technique-2918597

The Wheat Family Explains

The motive behind the ‘Take Away Close’ is to make the customer/prospect feel like they are missing out on something they should have been entitled to and then make them spend the money so they feel they are getting their money’s worth.

We experienced this sales ploy. I wonder how many other people fell for it too.

We bought a Discovery package (200,000 points) for $1,944 at Wyndham’s Great Smoky Lodge at the beginning of 2017. A credit card was opened and the purchase charged. When we tried to use the Discovery package for Florida in July 2017 it did not work. There were restrictions on when we could reserve. In August 2017 we tried to reserve in Myrtle Beach. We tried a third time at the beginning of 2018 for the Smoky Lodge. We were told it was full so we paid for two days ourselves. That is when another salesperson, JR Renteria, said they had 64 vacant rooms so we should have been able to reserve one. He said the problem was because of the Discovery package we purchased. Although Wyndham would not be able to reimburse us, they could give us a free week certificate (which turned out not to be free). Mr. Renteria advised us to upgrade so we would not have this lack of availability problem again.

With an upgrade we were told we would be VIP members and that the original credit card that was opened for our first purchase would be upgraded to a Gold credit card which we could use to reserve when and where we want to go, any day.  They said we could get 50% off cruises and restaurants. Other family members could make reservations in their names. Mr. Renteria said if we upgraded they would roll the original 200,000 Discovery package points over for the next year. Renteria gave us our documents after we signed the new contract, but told us to wait for the Gold Card and the Silver VIP card before we tried to book anything. This effectively dodged the contract rescission period. He told us we should receive the new cards in about a week. It took around three to four weeks before we received the VIP card. We still have not received the upgraded Gold Card. We were told we had six months to pay in full with no interest.

We bit and got bitten for $18,000.

Another strange thing was that Renteria said he wanted us to write a note saying the first reps, Carol Finch and Cyndy Vdaw, did not cover everything properly for the Discovery package. Maybe this was part of a scam, maybe Wyndham actually kept a copy. Either way, we wrote a note saying we did not understand everything on the Discovery package deal.

After the upgrade we tried to reserve a room to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Wyndham told us we would have to reserve two months in advance in order to use our points. (Renteria had said we could book on the day with our new Silver member status.) Wyndham told us that they could reserve a room for $188 on the day we needed it. The sad thing is we could book the same room for the same dates for $108 online.  You would think being a Silver member (VIP) we should have been able to get a better price than a non-member.

Renteria told us we could call him if we ever had any problems getting reservations and he would take care of it.  We tried to contact him but NEVER got a reply to any of our calls or texts.

We called Carol Finch at the Discovery timeshare when Renteria did not return our calls. I told Carol we were not happy and that nothing we were told was true. She said we should not have had to wait two months to reserve a room and Renteria should have combined the two timeshares. She said she would let him know and would call us back that afternoon. We have not heard back. That was the final straw. In this day and age of Expedia, Airbnb and Booking.com, don’t buy a timeshare. That’s my takeaway close.

But that’s not all!

To make things worse, after looking over the credit card application we found that the application had been doctored. There is an annual income noted under both of our names for $100,000 each.  However, $100,000 is what we may make combined, not individually. I have a copy of the credit card application as proof. My writing is very distinctive. I filled out the whole form, yet the only place that was left blank was filled in by someone with a much scruffier handwriting than mine and he wrote another $100,000 to double our annual income. We sent this obviously doctored form to Wyndham, but they did not even acknowledge it. They chose to focus on the parts of our complaint that they could reasonably deny because the lies were verbal and can’t be verified. Wyndham conducted an ‘investigation’ into our allegations of concealment and omission. We were informed, somewhat predictably, that their investigation had found that our allegations were baseless and the contract was properly executed and legally binding. I suppose I’ll go and ask the drunks to guard the bar for my next trick.

Other representations we feel were unfair and deceptive:

  • They did not say we were actually buying a timeshare. They called it a vacation ownership or something like that.
  • They said they would help us rent so we could earn a profit.
  • They said maintenance fees would never increase.
  • They said we could call every six months to continue our interest free rate.
  • They told us our purchase would give us more reservation rights than it actually did.

Do yourselves a favor and stay away from Wyndham. I imagine Wyndham is not alone, so the best advice is to stay away from timeshare altogether.

Thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experience. Timeshare companies should want their buyers to feel good about their decision to buy a timeshare. Timeshare is not for everyone and we hope by sharing experiences, buyers will be better informed as to whether the timeshare product is right for their family.

Related articles:

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Kleen family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-38/

Veteran family Wyndham buyer Althage family article:

http://insidetimeshare.com/fridays-letter-from-america-37/

Self Help groups we feel are not industry influenced:

We seek to provide timeshare members a way to proactively address membership concerns; to advocate for timeshare reform; to obtain greater disclosure from the company; to advocate for a viable secondary market; and to educate prospective buyers.

https://www.facebook.com/timeshareadvocategroup/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/DiamondResortsOwnersAdvocacy/

https://tug2.com/Home.aspx

https://everythingabouttimeshares.com/consider-exchange-options/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/180578055325962/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/465692163568779/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1639958046252175/

Thank you Irene for your editing efforts and a very big thank you to the Wheat family for sharing their experiences with us. These real life stories that we publish do show how the industry is in dire need of reform, especially in the tactics employed by their sales agents. As we know when high commissions are the motivation, these agent will say and do anything to get the sale.

If the industry does not do anything themselves to curb these practices, then maybe like Spain, the law needs to take control in order to protect consumers. We do know that many other countries in Europe with a large timeshare presence have been watching Spain very closely and are also now in the process of enacting similar legislation.

If you have a “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” story that you would like to share then contact Inside Timeshare, it is through your own experiences that we hope we can make the industry listen and change.

Have you been contacted by any company with a story that sounds too good to be true?

Are you looking to do business with any company you have found on the internet or advertising in the press or magazines?

Do you want to know if they are genuine and will do what they say?

Are you able to find out for yourself or do you need help?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then use our contact page and we will point you in the right direction.

Remember doing your homework will save you not only money but also a whole lot of stress.

Have a great weekend and join us again next week.

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.

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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).

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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?

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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!

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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.