Today’s short article looks at the BBC Radio 4 program You and Yours which was broadcast yesterday. In this program, they explored the problem of maintenance fees being charged by timeshare resorts even though members are unable to use them due to the pandemic. We have already seen the underhand methods of Anfi as far as this subject is concerned, several months ago Inside Timeshare reported on the letter being sent to Anfi members who have not been able to use their timeshares this year. In effect, they are holding them to ransom, Anfi will only give them an accommodation voucher to save this year’s weeks only and only if they sign the new contract. This contract will replace the illegal ones which Anfi are currently up to their eyes with in court cases, the point is to legalise the contracts to ensure that members do not then have a right to take a case to court.
The TCA explained that it is fundamentally wrong for these timeshare companies to still charge full maintenance fees from members who due to no fault of their own are unable to travel as flights were cancelled and all the resorts had to close down as each country went into lockdown.
The RDO in it’s response to the question is this fair, basically did not answer, well we didn’t actually expect them to come out in favour of the consumer, but they stated that it was “too early” to give any answers.
So why are the timeshare companies still charging the full annual maintenance fees for this year even when they are closed?
That is a question that we leave you the reader to answer, but we know what our answer is, “GREED”!
To hear the full recording of the program please follow the link below.
Here we go again, we knew it wouldn’t be long before the “family” of “FAKE” law firms which we have named as the Litigious Abogados Family came up with another new name, Las Alas Abogados. Once again they have excelled themselves with their choice of photographs of their founder and one of their lawyers, you will be very surprised when we reveal who they really are. It also appears that their “Modus Operandi” is going to be the same as for all the other incarnations, but as usual, Inside Timeshare along with the TCA (Timeshare Consumer Association) have already got a bead on them.
Was registered only on the 1 September 2020 and is as usual only registered for 1 year, so it will expire on 1 September 2021, not very inspiring, a law firm formed in 1994 yet has only just got themselves a website and only registered for 1 year!
The actual registrant is also again hidden, so there is no way of knowing who is actually behind it. Surely the companies that register these websites also hold some responsibility in allowing them to be registered. The question is and we think we know the answer, is why do they allow these scam operators to register their websites through them? The answer is pure and simple greed.
The website itself is the same as all the other previous websites which we have highlighted over the past few years. The only difference is the photographs of their lawyers and secretaries, along with their names and dates the firm was formed.
We now move on to the lawyers, as we have already stated the founder is named as Alberto Canbamo Farola, the photograph of him shows a rather distinguished gentleman, but he is not genuine. His real name is Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he is, in fact, the current President of Mexico, he assumed office on 1 December 2018, so is well into his term as President.
On the home page Las Alas Abogados also shows a group photograph, this was taken during a meeting of the BBVA Group in Mexico, when it was announced that the BBVA was investing substantial sums in Mexico.
So far we have only managed to identify two of the pictures, the others have eluded us, but that does not mean we will stop trying to identify them and to inform the genuine people that their images are being used for criminal purposes.
As for the scam, well, we know how they operate, it is a long drawn out scam, with rather small amounts being requested at first to get the case registered. Once the “victim” has been snared with this fee, the scam proper begins. There will be demands for “court or hacienda taxes” to be paid, then taxes to release the money and also for the “procurator” to work on your behalf.
Then comes the main part of the scam, you will be shown a copy of the cheque, supposedly issued by the court, next, you will receive an envelope in the post with a letter from the court and the cheque. Unfortunately, the cheque is missing, step in the new company who is investigating the missing cheque. Apparently, it was stolen and cashed by a gang of East Europeans. To add credibility to this story, the “victim” will be informed that around 16 post office workers have been arrested for aiding and abetting the stealing of the cheques.
To get this back, the new company needs a payment of around 10 to 20% of the cheque amount, although you will be promised that this will be refunded.
But the start of the scam is always “your timeshare company is being taken to court and you can be part of the case”. Then the following email arrives to tell you that the case is concluded and the court has awarded you thousands of euros in compensation.
Dear Mr & Mrs XXXXXXXXXXX
We are glad to inform you that we have this morning received, from the Courts, a certified copy of your cheque in the amount of 32,000 Euros. A copy of which has been attached.
The compensation was meant to be remitted by International bank transfer, but due to the numerous cases they had at the Santa Cruz Court, they issued the payment in cheque form. This only means losing a few pounds when you deposit the Euro cheque in a Sterling account, but after all, we are very pleased that this has all come to a successful conclusion.
The Court Judgment for your compensation and the relevant tax documents have also been received on the 21st October and posted to you on Thursday the 22nd of October and we trust those should be with you soon.
Once the tax element has been met, our Lawyers shall finalise the tax logistics in order for the courts to release your compensation cheque and it will be posted to your address and should arrive to you in 5-8 working days, from the day it has been posted.
Assuring you of our best attention at all times, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your involvement thus far and send you our best regards.
Kindly confirm the safe receipt of this Email.
Maria Corrioh Emiboca
This email is confidential and intended for the named recipient only. If you have received this email in error, please notify us immediately and delete the email. You must not copy, distribute, disclose or take any action in reliance on it. This email message and any attached files have been scanned for the presence of any computer viruses.
Apparently, due to the number of cases, the money could not be transferred using international transfers, so a cheque has been issued, hang on they have always issued cheques from day one of their scams. It is required to get more money, after all a bank transfer is not likely to be stolen by a gang of East Europeans, with postal workers being arrested, where would the credibility be then?
So there we have it, the latest in the incarnations of Litigious Abogados Family, Las Alas Abogados, same Modus Operandi, same websites and the very same illegal use of other people’s images.
If you still believe that what they are telling you is the truth, then, to be honest, you deserve to lose your money, it is not rocket science to tell this is a scam, it is also important to do your homework before engaging with “scam” companies like this. They are professional in what they do, they know how to part you from your hard-earned cash.
Previous articles on the Litigious Abogados Family.
One of the main enquiries from many readers regarding their purchase of timeshare has been the loan agreements to conclude the purchase. These are invariably brokered by the sales staff themselves and are a very important tool in their arsenal to ensure a timeshare sale. After all, most timeshare sales reps only get paid commission on successful sales, so the loan agreements will boost sales from those who could not actually afford the purchase price. Plus they will also receive a commission for brokering the agreement, so for the timeshare sales reps, this is a very lucrative tool.
You have all been there, attended a sales presentation either for the first time or for an “upgrade” meeting with the in-house reps. The product is laid out before you, the sales patter begins and you are now in the grip of a rep who has only one goal, to sell you a timeshare or an upgrade.
You can claim until you are blue in the face that you cannot afford the timeshare or upgrade, but that will not cut any ice with your rep.
The product will be shown in its best light, they will pressure you into wanting the timeshare or the upgrade, that it is something that will only give you great holidays and enormous amounts of pleasure. You really can’t do without it.
Enter the final part of the sales pitch, “what if I can make this affordable”?
I am sure you have all heard that one.
Enter the loan agreement, this will be with either the sales companies own in-house finance or more than likely with one of the major lenders such as Barclay Partner Finance or Hitachi.
The sales rep or his manager will explain very briefly the loan agreement, that it is “guaranteed” to be accepted, once you sign the agreement, by the time you arrive back home from your holiday you will receive a letter welcoming you to whichever company and for taking out a loan with them.
Not bad, a quick loan and you now own the timeshare or have upgraded. There is only really one big problem, can you actually afford the repayments, did you complete an “expenditure v’s income” report to show that the prepayments are affordable and do not leave you short?
In all the loan agreements which Inside Timeshare has come across, these reports which are a basic part of taking out any loan have never been done. The question we have to ask is what sort of credit checks have been made after all these loans are very substantial, the average is around the £20,000 mark?
It should also be noted that it is not just the cost of the timeshare that needs to be taken into consideration, but it is also the very high-interest payments. In most cases that we have seen the amount to repay back is almost or more than double the original purchase price, so why have there not been stringent credit checks and affordability checks?
The answer is pure and simple, greed.
One question that Inside Timeshare has asked on many occasions, especially the older purchasers, had you gone to your bank for a loan of this size to purchase timeshare, do you think your bank would have given it to you without all the stringent affordability checks, or even due to their age. Every answer was the same, no they would not have approved the loan.
It is also a fact that Shawbrook Bank back in July 2016 announced they had found “irregularities” in their “due diligence” on approving loans for timeshare. They had not done the usually required credit checks or affordability of repayments. They set aside £9 million to offset any defaults on these loan agreements. The CEO of Shawbrook at the time had to also resign.
This is not a subject that is new to Inside Timeshare, below are links to other articles on this subject, one of the biggest finance companies which have found themselves the subject of many court cases is Barclay Partner Finance. They infamously provided all the finance agreements for one of the biggest frauds in timeshare history, the loan agreements for the Silverpoint“investment packs”. On average the purchase of these packs have reached over £60,000 and that is without the interest!
There are ways that these loan agreements can be challenged, but that does need the case to be taken to a UK court by a competent and experienced lawyer in this field. The one-piece of legislation which is being used is Sections 140a & 140b of the Credit Consumer Act 1974.
Basically, this covers the “unfair relationship” between the broker (sales staff) and the loan provider. The fact the sales staff require the loan agreement to make the sale creates a very unfair relationship against the consumer. After all, he needs to earn his commission.
Inside Timeshare has also come across readers who have made an arrangement with BPF to reduce the amount being repaid, this does sound like a good idea if you are struggling, the unfortunate thing is that BPF will place you on a defaulters register and that will affect your credit rating. One reader is going through this at the moment, it is stopping them from getting a mortgage, so the wonderful image of a timeshare purchase for this reader has turned into an even bigger nightmare.
Inside Timeshare just wonders how many thousands of people have been caught up with purchases made by loans brokered by the sales staff, we also wonder how many of these have now lost all credit ratings due to being unable to afford the loans. This is a problem which has been going on for years and yet we see nothing from any of the regulatory authorities such as the Financial Conduct Authority siding with the consumer, they just seem to be siding with the finance industry. (See yesterday’s article)
The sooner the finance companies do what Shawbrook Bank has done and admit they have made very serious errors in their “due diligence”, the better it will be for all those caught up in these high-interest loan agreements.