Today’s article really does show how vulnerable we are in today’s world in respect of “identity theft”. It also shows that the authorities are somewhat reluctant to deal with “frauds” where this has happened, a point that is not lost on many of our readers who have been scammed over the years. Although this story is not timeshare related, the similarities timeshare owners have had when reporting their own scams will be familiar.
This story is one that has completely baffled me, it involves what we believe to be a highly regulated and controlled industry, buying and selling a house.
We have all gone through the mill, all the solicitors, the conveyancing, the mortgage and a host of other things, but central to all this is the Land Registry, or to give it its proper title H.M. Land Registry. Yes, it is a GOVERNMENT/CROWN department.
So we would think that it would be impossible for a fraud to take place, well think again.
On this morning’s early news that myth has been well and truly shattered. It has also brought into question the attitude of the Police.
The Revd Mike Hall was working away from his home in Luton Bedfordshire and was a good couple of hundred miles away in North Wales. He then received a call from his concerned neighbours that somebody was in the house and all the lights were on.
Driving back to Luton, he attempted to get in with his key, but the lock had been changed, a man opened the door, he was employed by the “Owner” to carry out renovations. The builder left and returned with the “new owners” father.
The full story can be read at the links below, we have placed several publications but all are very much the same.
Mr Hall was able to check with the Land Registry, according to their records the house had been sold and entered in the register with the “new owner”. There was nothing the Land Registry could do; it was all legal as far as they were concerned.
The thing is, the land registry works on trust, they have to trust all those involved in the transaction of property. In their own words:
“We work with professional conveyancers, such as solicitors, and rely on them and the checks that they make to spot fraudulent attempts to impersonate property owners.”
“Despite our efforts, every year we do register a very small number of fraudulent transactions.”
All they could do was to report it to the police.
The response from the police to Mr Hall was, to be honest, disgusting.
Mr Hall was told:
“Well, there’s nothing further we can do here. This is a civil matter; you need to leave the house and contact your solicitors.”
Using the online service for reporting crime, it was probably Action Fraud, the response was the same, he commented:
“I was shocked – having seen the house in the state it was, I was in a bit of a state of shock anyway – but then to be told by the police they didn’t believe a criminal offence had been committed here was just unbelievable,”
They believed that “no criminal offence has been committed”, had they investigated?
We very much doubt it considering it was the BBC Radio 4 program You and Yours who came to the rescue.
According to their own investigations they uncovered plenty of evidence:
“You and Yours obtained the driving licence used to impersonate Mr Hall, details of a bank account set up in his name to receive the proceeds of the sale, and phone recordings of the house being stolen.”
Bedfordshire Police have now launched an investigation.
This is a shocking story of how something so simple as a “Driving Licence” can be used to open a bank account and receive the proceeds of a sale of a “stolen” house.
At the start, I mentioned similarities, these are to do with how you are treated when reporting any “scam or fraud”. Over the years Inside Timeshare has received so many emails from people who have paid a fraudulent company, Inside Timeshare has always recommended they report the “scam”. The first reason is to obtain the crime number, this will be required when making a claim against your credit card or a refund from your bank if it was transferred.
Other than that, you’ll more than likely hear no more, no one has been hurt, you might get your money back, no investigation is ever likely to be launched. It comes under what was once explained as a “victimless crime!”
Now considering that H.M. Land Registry paid out £3.5 million in compensation for fraud in 2020, a figure which compared to the world of timeshare is we believe low, the question is who paid out the compensation?
That person or persons are the victims and in this case, it is probably the TAXPAYER!
Welcome to the end of another week with Inside Timeshare, and what a week it has been, the announcement of the two Anfi sales companies being placed into administration and more Anfi appeals being dismissed by the High Court. We have also received the usual emails from concerned readers about calls and unsolicited emails they have received. But we begin with the latest news from the Spanish Courts.
Considering the moves by Anfi to delay paying out clients as ordered by the courts, the news received yesterday shows that not all timeshare companies are playing this game. Although in fairness, yesterday’s news that Anfi had paid the court as ordered, did come as a bit of a surprise.
In the Court of First Instance No 8 of Marbella, a contract with MVCI Management and MVCI Holidays was declared null and void with the court ordering the repayment of 24,264€. The order is for the payment of 9,964€ for the sum paid on the contract, the court also followed previous rulings from the High Court and more importantly the Supreme Court, by ruling that a further 14,300€ be paid in respect of deposits taken in breach of the statutory cooling-off period.
Following Marriott’s previous compliance with the Courts orders, the full amount has already been paid to the court. This means the German clients will be receiving their money very shortly and it also means that the lawyers will not have to go through the process of “enforcement of sentence”. For the client, this will be a great relief and they are also now timeshare free.
The case was prepared and presented by the Canarian Legal Alliance Lawyers, Eva Gutierrez and Christine Ihmann, with Claims Consultant Evi Richter assisting the client throughout the legal process.
With the recent news that Diamond also complied very quickly with a court order, it does appear that some timeshare companies have seen sense and are no longer flouting the court’s decisions. The one factor which Inside Timeshare believes is the reason behind this move is that Marriott is a publicly listed company, with the takeover of Diamond by Hilton which is also a publicly traded company, they are ultimately responsible to their shareholders.
Moving on to one inquiry received, it would appear that our friends running the Eze Group Scam from Greece are still operating.
As you will see from the letters our reader has received they are still using the same Modus Operandi as before, stating that the Greek Government and Courts have uncovered the movement of funds from Eze Group. This has been seized by the authorities and they have used the Eze Group client list to bring a “Class Action Lawsuit” without the “clients” even knowing they are involved. The clients have not even instigated the action or retained any legal representation to bring such a case.
It should also be noted that in the letter, they state that, “You will be aware that you will have administrative obligations that are outstanding here in the Hellenic Republic.” Then in the “court document,” it states “The Court of Cassation will instruct immediate settlement of the compensation to the accuser upon the completion of the Hellenic Republic administrative obligations of the accuser.”
This can only mean one thing, there will be some kind of payment to be made before the money is released. Going by other scams of this nature, it will more than likely be court fees or tax that is required.
The one difference we have noticed is they have stated in their letter to the client, we would rather use the term “victim”, that “This case was originally heard in another European member state where the initial crime took place, unfortunately these unscrupulous entities had moved all assets out of the original member state, therefore no compensation was available to recompense the victims.”
Well, we do know that at present there is no money to payout as the case which was heard by Birmingham Crown Court, is being investigated under “The Proceeds of Crime Act”. As far as we are aware this is still ongoing. If any funds were moved to Greece then they would have to be returned to the UK Courts due to the Proceeds of Crime Act. As for the Tenerife arm, there is no news from the courts or if the investigation has been completed.
This particular case really does show how careful consumers must be when receiving the calls or emails, The promise of money being held by the courts for cases you did not know you are a party to, is usually a dead giveaway that it is a scam.
If you are unsure of any call or email, contact Inside Timeshare and we will help you to check it out.
For further information on your own timeshare and if your contract is illegal, please use our contact page and Inside Timeshare will get back to you with information on your legal rights.
Have a great weekend and join us again next week.
Links to previous articles on the Hellenic Republic Scam.
Welcome to this week’s Letter from America, as you can see from the title, Adam Siler, Bernadette and Tiffany Renee give their views and stories answering the question of why they believe sales presentations should be recorded. As those of you who have been following Inside Timeshare over the years will remember, we have published numerous “Nightmare on Timeshare Street” stories on how people have been duped by sales agents. Some of these articles can be found on the links at the end. Inside Timeshare would also like to remind all our readers to sign the petition from Bernadette for Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey to remove his video which many who have been through the Diamond mill find offensive. Please take the time to sign it, no matter where in the world you are, many voices, one message.
I learned that a timeshare buyer can’t rely on the ethics or words of a sales agent or manager. If the signing is recorded, don’t accept any reason as to why you should not bring up something promised during the sales presentation. Record the sales session in states where legal without obtaining consent. It’s no surprise that recording without the other person aware is not legal in timeshare mecca Florida.
Even if you are savvy enough to record your sales session and easily resolve your dispute, the company will release you “without liability.” That’s the same thing as saying it doesn’t matter what the sales agent says. Despite evidence in my sales agent’s handwriting, illustrating a 7% financing that he promised to help me obtain, I was informed that it doesn’t matter what he promised because I signed a contract.
A recent sixth complaint was directed against my Florida timeshare sales agent. The complaint was reported by a member who attends presentations to report deception. This makes the sixth complaint since 2017. The first was reported by an active-duty Navy couple.
My efforts are focused on veterans and active duty service members. An active duty service member can lose their security clearances over a timeshare foreclosure. Service members should think carefully before buying a product with little to no resale value as they can be deployed at a moment’s notice. Given the ease of entrapment, high-interest rate timeshare lending should be deemed off-limits like Payday loans. Below are four pages of articles about veterans and active duty service members hurt by their purchase of a timeshare.
My mom called me a number of times during their 11 hour sales session. She told me they could not leave because the agent had taken their IDs. They were falsely told that my brother and I would be liable for increasing fees should something happen to them. They forfeited their two deeded weeks and lost over $30,000. Now they are receiving collection letters threatening to add legal fees and collection agency fees.
In their 70s my parents had no choice but to default. Their maintenance fees increased from $2,000 to $6,000 after converting to points. My parents were no match for a “QA” agent who served a four-year jail term for burglarizing seven homes, some while occupied. He had other criminal charges over the years. The timeshare company blamed my parents, saying they sounded fine on the recorded closing. That’s why you need to record your sales session.
It’s important to file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and other appropriate regulatory agencies. The Florida Attorney General only forwarded our information to the timeshare company, and in turn, forwarded the company’s denial, but if no one filed complaints it would seem there are no problems.
At a Florida HB 435 workshop held in Tallahassee March 12, 2019, Victoria Butler, from the Florida Attorney General’s Department of Consumer Protection, reported a figure of 1,500 to 1,600 timeshare complaints in 2017, about the same number in 2018, and 700 complaints filed in 2019 through March 12, 2019. Ms Butler said about 50% of the complaints involved senior citizens with the majority in regard to the initial sales presentation. Ms Butler stated that the Florida timeshare division engaged only 42 complaints, the majority concerning resale.
(Irene Parker attended and reported)
Bernadette in Oklahoma
We did not record our sales presentation. On three occasions in Las Vegas, Hawaii and Missouri, we were not informed of the company’s voluntary surrender program. We attended a meeting only to learn how to be released due to my husband’s chronic and debilitating health problems. Each time we were told we would need to purchase additional points to gain release.
Calvin Wardrick, a disabled Army Veteran, explains how timeshare companies and timeshare exit companies feed off each other. Calvin ran a POW camp of 27,000 Iraq soldiers and is 100% disabled due to PTSD. As Calvin explains, “My family had good intentions when they purchased a timeshare for my relaxation, but I entered into another war on US soil that we did not see coming. Stress over this timeshare has added to my sickness and has put us at a poverty level.”
Thank you Adam, Bernadette and Tiffany for your contributions, once again you have given all our readers a sound argument as to why the industry must change and change for the benefit of consumers and the industry, not just one side.
Inside Timeshare would also like to thank all the past contributors for their experiences, for many it was a very difficult step to take and share what they perceived to be problems of their own making, not realising that others have also been taken in by the sales patter.
While some families seem so obviously mislead and suffer financial harm, others are able to work out their differences. Let’s hope consumers do their part by following Ronald Reagan’s advice, “Believe but verify!”
All Inside Timeshare and our readers who have followed us and contributed over the years can say, is you are no longer alone.