Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Dozens arrested as '500 Britons' stung by Spain timeshare scam



Spanish police have arrested 36 people over a multi-million-pound Costa del Sol timeshare scam which has affected an estimated 500 Britons.
 
Police said they believe those affected were defrauded out of nearly £15m, with an £11m profit being made.


Most of those arrested are also believed to be British.


The victims come from all parts of the UK. It is understood they paid between £550 and £2,700.


Police said the suspects used forged documents to pose as legitimate businessmen and also employed accomplices who would try to dupe victims who had already been left out of pocket by claiming they could help them get their money back.


More than £100,000 in cash, 10 designer watches, gems and seven vehicles including a Ferrari were seized during raids on a lawyer's office and the headquarters of the firm. A yacht was also confiscated.


The company is based in the coastal city of Velez-Malaga, east of Malaga.


"National Police officers have smashed a criminal organisation based in the province of Malaga specialising in timeshare fraud," a police spokesman said.


"Thirty-six people have been arrested, and another placed under formal investigation but not arrested, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, forgery and membership of a criminal organisation."


The spokesman added: "Among those detained are the alleged ringleader, a British man, and two lawyers believed to have been responsible for the money laundering.


"The suspects offered their customers, all British and timeshare owners, a timeshare holiday product."
 
 
The police operation was codenamed Manta - Spanish for blanket.


The raids came after police were asked to act on a complaint filed by a lawyer acting for 33 Britons.


Spanish police said they had discovered "a criminal network composed mainly of six people, namely the main suspect and intellectual author, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law, all people he trusted who were on the next level down to him".


They also said two lawyers were suspected of being in charge of the money laundering and that there were 30 accomplices.


Police explained how the alleged scam worked: "The suspects contacted potential victims, all timeshare owners and all British, and offered them the possibility of acquiring a holiday package as well as selling their timeshare to other possible buyers.


"To start the ball rolling, and buy or sell the holiday package, they would ask their victims for a sum of money they termed a deposit.


"After reaching agreement with the victims, they would dupe them into making bank transfers.


"They realised after the sale or purchase didn't go through that they had been duped."


All those arrested have been remanded in custody after appearing before a judge.


Police did not name any of the suspects at Wednesday's press conference.




SKY    News.