The Spanish press reported this week that 60 people had been arrested on the Costa del Sol in Spain by the Spanish Policia Nacional for running a major timeshare scam which has effected over 500 victims. The victims are in the main retired and elderly British citizens who had been promised substantial sums of money for selling their time share properties. Those arrested had posed as lawyers, tax advisors and accountants.
The scam had been in operation since 2009 and the Policia Nacional estimate that in the region of €5 million to €6 million was defrauded from unsuspecting victims every year.
Amongst those arrested in the police raid named "operación Tormenta" ("operation Storm") were the three alleged ring leaders two of whom have been remanded in custody and refused bail. None of them have yet been named. In addition there were many others who were employed as telephone operators and marketing and sales personnel who contacted the victims directly, as well as those who opened numerous bank accounts in their own names in order to be able to launder the money stolen so that it could not be traced. The police reported that the scam operated at three different levels: firstly victims were contacted and offered a very favourable price for the sale of their timeshare for which they had to pay an administrative charge or a fake notarial fee; secondly when the sale did not materialise, they were contacted by the fraudsters purporting to be lawyers offering them an opportunity to sue the time share company and recover their money, naturally there were legal fees to pay; and thirdly they were contacted by the fraudsters pretending to represent the Spanish courts claiming that they had recovered their money but that they had to pay court fees or taxes before the funds could be transferred to them.
So far around 500 victims have been identified but the Spanish police believe that the number of victims could be in the thousands.
The police operation was set up after numerous complains had been made by victims of the scam to the British police and Europol. The properties effected were spread throughout the Costa del Sol in places such as Mijas, Fuengirola and Marbella.
Those arrested are also British citizens but they were resident in Spain. The ring leader lived in Mijas where their offices were also situated. They operated through 11 different companies and the crimes they have been charged with include falsification of documents, money laundering and being members of a criminal organisation. Those arrested had previous criminal records for similar crimes. The police say that the raid was a success and that they have frozen 78 bank accounts, repossessed 6 cars, 49 computers, a television, 6 mobile phones, a money counting machine and a telephone exchange. The total assets reposed are estimated to be valued in the region of €1 million.
Over 50 police officers took part in the raid.
In September 2015, Charles Bottaro resigned as liquidator and Colin Vaughan of PwC was appointed in his place.
As from this date the Joint Liquidators are Edgar Lavarello and Colin Vaughan.
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