Consumer organisations appalled as fake law firms actively target previous fraud victims by illegally buying data from other criminals
Many timeshare owners are desperate to escape the expense of their membership, with its restrictions and ever increasing annual fees.
Unfortunately there no end of fraudsters ready to charge them money for this service, only to disappear after payment. The hapless timeshare owners are then left even worse off than before.
“People are desperate,” says Steven Warner a timeshare claims expert at European Consumer Claims (ECC). “The timeshare industry just hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the travel sector and members find themselves having paid a lot of money for a restrictive model of holidaying, coupled with annual fees that are at least the same as regular holidays. Timeshare owners will try anything to escape this situation. Not knowing where to turn, members often put their faith in strangers who promise help, and sadly lose even more money by doing so.”
The Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) recently reported on a sickening new variation of this fraud. They received a call from a Cambridge lady called Mandy, concerned about her elderly neighbour, Philip, who had paid money to a firm identifying as Martin & Perez (M&P).
M&P had told Philip that he was being contacted because he was a victim of another organisation called Key Properties Town Advisory (KPTA), and that a judge in a recent court case against KTPA had awarded Philip a settlement of €28k.
Predictably, Philip had to pay £2600 in fees to M&P who insisted that the payment was made by bank transfer (meaning that he eschewed the protection of a credit card payment). Vulnerable, 82 year old Philip lost this money because fraudsters identified him as an easy target, having fallen for a different scam years before.
It only took the TCA only took a brief investigation to find that Martin & Perez are fraudsters. M&P are not registered a company in Spain or the UK. The court case had never happened. The Martin & Perez website is a clone of known crooks Maxwell & Morales, and a call from the TCA staff member to the M&P company phone number resulted in panicked scurrying at the other end of the line. TCA called back only to be cut off again.
David Hargreaves, the alleged name of the solicitor who spoke with Philip has no online presence at all, except as a lawyer working for the State Solicitor’s office in Perth, Western Australia. The TCA confirmed that this is not the same man.
Martin & Perez are fraudsters. One criminal organisation among hundreds.
“Unfortunately there will always be vultures ready to take advantage of people’s misfortune,” comments Andrew Cooper, the CEO of ECC. “These organisations have no morals or empathy and will steal from anyone they can. It is essential that timeshare owners get advice from a dependable source before giving money to anyone offering to help. Either from a well established timeshare claims firm, or one of the independent consumer associations who help owners with timeshare related problems.
“There is also a new ‘Timeshare Trust’ website where suspect law firms can be checked before committing to any financial transactions.”