You may have seen in the National Press recently that 60 people were arrested on the Costa del Sol after a massive scam in tricking people into handing over their money for purported fees for selling their Timeshare Holiday Homes.
The scam was in three parts. The first involved a group of people approaching unsuspecting Brits, including a lot of pensioners, and telling them they had been offered significant sums for the sale of their Timeshare. Because of the prices the owners were persuaded into selling their Timeshare. In order for the sale of the Timeshare to proceed, they had to hand over money to the alleged agents in order to effect the sale.
The second phase of the con was an approach by alleged lawyers. They informed those who had passed over their money that they had passed over their money to con merchants but that they would recover those monies. At this phase of the con, the unsuspecting sellers were invited to instruct the lawyers who would recover the monies on their behalf.
The third stage involved alleged members of the Spanish Judiciary and Court system contacting the ‘sellers’ and telling them that monies had been recovered on their behalf. However, in order for the money to be accessed they had to pay a fee to release the sums.
We had enquiries from unsuspecting Timeshare owners. Effectively all three stages were a scam that focused on conning money for alleged fees out of a lot of British Timeshare owners. Police in the South of Spain detained the suspected leaders of the racket and seized 78 bank accounts, a boat and other vehicles along with computers and a money counting machine.
What you need to know if you are approached by anybody offering services
- Nobody can do anything on your behalf in Spain without you giving full authority and instruction by way of a formal Power of Attorney. This is a written document which needs to be translated and have the apostille attached. Therefore, it would have been impossible for somebody to have commenced proceedings on your behalf, if you had never instructed them properly.
- Spanish Courts and Court officials do not ring up people requesting money for release of monies. If you had been involved in a litigation process you would have had a lawyer to whom you would have given Power of Attorney, proceedings would have been communicated by way of a Procurador, and if monies had been recovered on your behalf you would not have been obliged to pay to have them released.
- If you are thinking of selling your Timeshare, go to a reputable lawyer. If fees are requested on account, check the business out - make sure they are long standing and the fees will be held by them pending an account being rendered.
Checking out Lawyers
It is easy to check out lawyers. In England a Spanish lawyer must be registered with the Law Society as a Registered European Lawyer. If you are instructing English solicitors to deal with the matter, you can check with the Law Society and make sure that they are registered. In Spain if you are instructing a Spanish lawyer, again, contact the local Law Society in the region and make sure they are registered.
If you have been approached by anybody purporting to offer such services and you have any suspicion, report them to the police. They may be aware of activity in the area.
- No proceedings in Spain can be instituted on your behalf without you giving full instructions and authority by way of Power of Attorney. So if you get a call out of the blue it cannot be genuine.
- Spanish Courts do not contact people ad hoc to inform them of outcomes. Nor do they charge for release of sums if they have been recovered.
- Any reputable lawyer or agent acting on your behalf will be registered - before passing over any money involved in any transaction, make sure you check them out.
As far as the original story is concerned, who knows what people may get back in terms of the assets that have been seized? It is also ironic to note that apparently the head honcho was a Britain living near Mijas, Malaga. The con was particularly on Brits who did not have sufficient working knowledge of the Spanish jurisdiction system to realise what was happening.
For further information please contact our International Team on 01279 755777.