The mastermind behind a huge timeshare scam which targeted more than 400 victims, has been ordered to pay back £85k under the proceeds of crime act.

In February 2018, Brian Carr was one of a group of nine individuals jailed for his involvement in a timeshare fraud scheme. The frauds were committed between 2012 and 2015, and often targeted vulnerable people such as the elderly and those in poor health. In many cases, a three-part scam took place.

Victims were cold-called by members of the group and falsely told that prospective buyers had been found for their timeshare properties, most of which are in Spain. Victims were told that in order to sell their timeshare they had to pay Advance sale fees. The fraudsters continued to extort money from victims by claiming the sales had fallen through and more money was needed to help the sale go through. Incredibly, the fraudsters did not stop there, in a second attempt to defraud the same victims the fraudsters adopted different company names to contact those who had lost money. They then made false offers of further schemes and transactions to help the victims mitigate their losses. The group contacted victims and pretended to be from the Spanish authorities. They stated that the funds would be returned to the victims’ bank accounts for an up-front fee.

To facilitate the frauds, the group set up more than 10 limited companies (both in the UK and abroad), with offices in the West Midlands, staff, bank accounts, and the means to process card payments. The total value of the funds fraudulently obtained by the group was more than £875,000, comprising payments from around 470 individuals.

Following sentencing, Detective Inspector Emma Wright of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit said: “This has been a long and complex investigation and I am pleased that the offenders have been brought before the courts this week to receive custodial sentences. These scammers targeted some of the most vulnerable people in our society in a deliberate and cynical campaign of fraud. Their scheme had devastating consequences on the victims – not just financially but emotionally too.  Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police remain committed to bringing to justice those who commit fraud and financial crime.”

The court heard how Carr was the ringleader and he was later convicted of conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. He was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation proceedings began and on 1 July the court ordered Carr to pay back £85,000. Under the Act all outstanding money from the criminal conduct is a lifetime debt owed until such time as the amount is fully repaid.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright, of West Mercia Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are committed to protecting vulnerable people from harm and this includes removing assets from those who have benefited from the proceeds of crime. The order granted in respect of this individual represents the results of a time-consuming criminal investigation and linked financial investigation. The result demonstrates that crime does not pay. The Proceeds of Crime legislation is a powerful tool in the fight for justice and removing assets from an offender to rightly reimburse the victims of their crime, is key even where they are subject to a custodial sentence.”

People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advise and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.

It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.

The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these type of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.

If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Money Back Claim.