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June 2020

Torcaz Abogados: The Case of the Missing Cheque

Over the past few years Inside Timeshare has been reporting on a huge fraud being perpetrated from Tenerife, it involves a series of “FAKE” law firms which we have named as the Litigious Abogados Family. The latest incarnation was highlighted on 1 June, the name is Torcaz Abogados and they are following the same pattern as all the previous incarnations. Today we publish the story from one of our readers who at first believed that they were genuine, but as things went on he refused to pay any further fees and played along with their little game.

It was late February early March when our reader was contacted by a cold call from a representative from Torcaz Abogados, with the news that they were initiating a “class action” against Club la Costa. In order to go ahead with the case, Torcaz required payment of £650 which he duly paid.

In a subsequent letter sent and signed by Juan Erestaldo Goberas, Spanish authorities have been investigating “various irregular holiday operations” throughout Spain and the Canary Islands. The letter goes on to say that in “most cases” they have frozen bank accounts and seized assets. Which according to Juan means that lawyers can now “assist owners and legal process in relation to such matters has become easier”

Further in the letter, Juan states that:

“CLC World Hotels and Resorts SL on Thursday 15th March 2018, one of the directors Mr James Barras pleaded guilty to the indictment of the Spanish civil code. The High Courts of Santa Cruz declared 28 of our clients’ contracts null & void and seized Mr Barras’ assets and personal accounts in Spain and the Canary Islands”.

So in March 2018 a director of Club la Costa, James Barras, which is a name that has been used before in conjunction with a similar case involving Diamond Resorts, has had his personal assets seized!

The letter goes on to explain some legal points then comes the following:

“As you are now aware, we are currently involved in a Class Action for Punitive Damages against Club la Costa SL, Paradise Marketing and Mr James Barras”.

“Our lawyers have on Tuesday the 24th of March successfully submitted the claim on your behalf and now await its official Lodgement on Thursday 9th of April for a Court date on that day to be scheduled for the final hearing in Tenerife at the Santa Cruz Court First Instance No. 5”.

Our reader is then told that a Mr James Stephenson from the Claims Department who is working with the lawyers will be contacting our reader shortly. So another new name to add to our ever-growing list.

Eventually the case “was heard” and our very lucky reader had been awarded £40,000 and that a cheque would be issued as soon as “legal and tax” were organised by Torcaz Abogados. Unfortunately, there was a “TAX” to pay amounting to £2000. Our reader refused to pay and told them he would pay it once he received his money.

Less than 2 hours later he received another call from Jean or June who told him that the office was in an uproar at his suggestion that they were anything but above board. So to prove they were legitimate they agreed to pay the “TAX”.

About a week later he received another call to tell him that the cheque had been issued and he would be receiving it soon. Lo and behold to his surprise a few days later the post arrived and there was an envelope from Spain. Wow, had the cheque arrived!

But as we know from the past incarnations, the “jiffy bag” was open and although there was a letter inside, the cheque was missing, there was a staple and a piece of paper in one corner where the “supposed” cheque should have been. Needless to say, our reader instantly contacted Torcaz.

He then received a letter outlining what had happened, they had just been notified by the Local Police that our reader’s parcel and 2 others had been “intercepted into an import export company account registered to four Bulgarian citizens”. The cheques being deposited into a Banco Popular SA account. Hang on a minute, Banco Popular no longer exists, it has been taken over by Santander and the brand of Banco Popular being replaced with the Santander logos. Plus if the cheque was made out to his name how did they manage to deposit and clear the cheques?

Open Jiffy bag with no cheque

Apparently according to the letter signed by Carlos Ivan Mar, Abogado, Departmento Legal, that the police suspect it was an inside job and all 16 post office employees are being interviewed. Torcaz has also been informed that the National Police are now involved, well, for those who know Spain this would have been dealt with by the National Police or the Guardia Civil, not by the Policia Local. The letter also explains that “their (Torcaz) lawyers have filed an official complaint against the post office”.

In an email, our reader was then told that a new cheque would be issued, but he would have to pay fees of £1000. He refused and eventually they came back to him and offered to pay 750€ leaving him to pay 360€. A very generous offer, which our reader declined.

As we have seen this is the same Modus Operandi that we have seen for the past 4 years, we now just wonder how many people have actually paid the full amounts as and when the demands come in. It is bound to be a very huge amount of money these crooks have defrauded over the years. We now just wait to find out what the next incarnation will be, going on the past there should be a new one emerging very soon.

Once again this proves that before you believe anything that you are told, do your homework, don’t be blinded by the huge amounts of “compensation” they claim you have been awarded. If you need help in determining if a call or email from any company is genuine please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you.

Previous articles on Torcaz.

Link to past names used.

Start the Week: More from Morales & Maxwell and the JSD Group

Welcome to the start of another week with Inside Timeshare, over the weekend we have received many more emails from readers who have been contacted by Morales and Maxwell and JSD Group. On Friday we highlighted a new twist into the JSD scam, a telephone call from Helen Jones claiming to be working for the British Government. This involved the “interception” of a cheque from Morales & Maxwell which Helen Jones needed to verify was genuine and not “money laundering”, this has now moved one stage further.

We have now received another email from a concerned reader after being contacted by Helen Jones, she claims that a bank transfer has been intercepted and is being held on suspicion of “money laundering”. Obviously she needs to verify that the transfer to the clients is genuine, I suppose that once she informs the clients it is genuine they are more than likely to pay what has been demanded, an initial payment of £2,400. She also gave them a contact number 0203 769 1182.

Helen also informs our reader that they must contact Julia Lopez who speaks English and is connected to the Malaga court, the telephone number is 0034 603 249 793, which is a Spanish mobile. Surely if Julia Lopez was connected to the court it would be a landline and verifiable as a court number.

Our reader is this instance refused to pay by bank transfer, only by credit card which they are unable to do. They were sent the bank details and when doing their own “due diligence” discovered that this is a “bogus” company. Our readers are certainly right there!

Another reader has also been contacted by Morales & Maxwell, once again the pitch is that Eze Group funds and assets have been seized by the court in Malaga and are now available to be paid out to former Eze clients.

But in order to have this money released, there is an upfront fee of again £2,400!

This reader explained that they were very insistent that it should be paid quickly as if it is not paid within 5 days, the court will return the money to the government and it will be gone.

Our next reader contacted Inside Timeshare on behalf of her elderly parents, once again being contacted by phone they too have been awarded a substantial amount by the Malaga court. Problem is it is a timeshare they gave up many years ago.

Once again the telephone for Julia Lopez at “Malaga court” was given and they also were given a “case” number which on checking is fake. Luckily, this reader also did some checks and believed it is a scam contacting Inside Timeshare for further information.

Malaga Court

We now move to more emails being received from readers regarding JSD Group, yet another “fake” firm with some very dubious past connections.

In this call from Anna Clark, she explained how they could get back over £15,000 our reader “lost” in past timeshare dealings in the 1990s and 2000s. She seemed to know a great deal about our readers’ past purchases especially those of Club Class and Marina Leisure. It does not take a genius to guess where they got that information.

This time the fee to claim back the money is £600, but this was very quickly reduced to £350 when our reader said they would not pay anything upfront. Again a sure sign this is a scam!

A very similar story came from another email, this time several more names have been provided, Michel Harper, Kathryn Clarke and Suzanna Tate. Again our reader felt suspicious especially when the “fee” was again reduced, they searched the internet for any information and came across our initial post on JSD Group. Thankfully this convinced them not to deal with JSD.

In another email one reader was contacted regarding a timeshare they gave up in 2000, that’s 20 years ago!

There was a substantial “compensation” claim including “interest”, and the cost to recover this money is only £600, again this was reduced to £350 as they refused to pay by bank transfer. Again they decided something was not quite right and did a search coming up with our articles. Thankfully they have been prevented from paying anything.

These examples are a clear sign that you must be very cautious when dealing with any “company” that cold calls you especially if they have very accurate information on past dealings. You should also take precautions before filling out any forms on websites you may come across, many of these are what are known as “lead generating sites”. This information is collected and then sold to various companies most of which will end up on these pages.

The problem is once you fill out the form and provide all the information then hit submit you have given your permission for them to “pass/sell” that on to the many bogus scam operators out there.


It’s Friday!

Welcome to the end of another week and the end of our first week with the State of Emergency being lifted, although there is still a long way to go before we see life returning to full flow. One thing that has not been slowed down with the current situation is the number of “scam” companies that have been contacting members of companies such as Club Class and moreover Eze Group. On Wednesday we highlighted yet another Morales and Maxwell, the following day we received yet another email from a reader that has been contacted by them.

Our new reader who is a former client of Eze Group was contacted by one Helen Jones, who claimed that she was working for the government and that they had intercepted a cheque from Morales & Maxwell. I just wonder how they intercepted the cheque?

According to Helen (a civil servant), she was making enquiries to ensure that this was not a “money laundering” operation and that everything was above board. Helen even went as far as giving them the Spanish telephone number for Morales & Maxwell!

Our reader had then to sign a document and provide copies of their passports or driving licences to have the funds released. The following day they received a call from a “lawyer” in the Malaga courts, he explained that he was helping them to obtain and release the funds they claim have been seized by the courts in Malaga.

The following day the “lawyer” called again and this time sounding very convincing, he explained that in order to release the funds lawyers fees of £2,200 had to be paid. If this was not done then they would lose the money and it would go to the government.

Luckily they decided to do a little checking for themselves and came across the article published on Wednesday, they even told the “lawyer” what they had found and read, but this did not seem to put him off in fact just the opposite. Needless to say, they didn’t pay.

Again this is a classic example of why you need to do your due diligence before engaging with any company or paying the huge sums of money they require.

Link to Wednesday’s article.

Some interesting news has emerged from the Court of First Instance in Fuengirola, against Continental Resort Services SL, a selling agent for Club la Costa Fractionals. In this case Club la Costa and Continental Resorts petitioned the court to reject the case on the grounds of Jurisdiction. CLC & Continental claim that the contracts under the terms and conditions were subject to UK law and the Jurisdiction of UK courts.

Fuengirola Court

This was duly rejected by the court in accordance with recent rulings by the High Court (Audiencia Provicial) of Malaga. The case was found in favour of the client with their contract being declared null and void with the return of over 30,000€ plus legal fees and legal interest.

In another twist to this case, the court also ruled that the loan agreement to purchase the fractional which was signed on the day of purchase, (which as we know is the usual practice), is considered under the law to be an “advanced payment” prohibited under the timeshare laws.

Below is a translation of the text from the court:

“that the subscription of a loan by the consumer within the terms of art. 11 constitutes a prohibited advance is ratified by the current Law 4/2012, of July 6, of contracts for the use in turn of goods for tourist use, the acquisition of long-term vacation products, resale and exchange and tax regulations, in whose article 13 is considered within the prohibition of advances the express recognition of debt or the assumption of any consideration by the consumer, before the end of the withdrawal period, that is, there is no need for any financial outlay by the consumer within the withdrawal period”.

This is in accordance with a ruling made by the Audiencia Provincial of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in February 2013.

So it now appears that signing a loan agreement within the statutory 14 days cooling-off period is considered as an advanced payment which is prohibited, regardless of when the timeshare company receives the payment. So this may just mean that as with “deposits” taken on the day the courts could order the timeshare company to repay the client double the amount.

This case was brought on behalf of UK clients by the lawyers of Canarian Legal Alliance.

PDF of the court ruling translated by Inside Timeshare.

That’s it for this week and remember to do your due diligence when contacted by any company.

Have a great weekend.