Nine people have been sentenced for their parts in a ‘deliberate and cynical’ campaign of timeshare fraud, following an investigation by Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit.
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.
In the first part of the scam, 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. Advance ‘sale fees’ were sought by the fraudsters to support the fake transactions. Further attempts to gain yet more money were then made under the pretence that ‘sales had fallen through’ and needed more funding.
In the second part, the fraudsters adopted different names and 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.
And in the third part, 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 is more than £875,000, comprising payments from around 470 individuals. All defendants will now face proceedings to recover the funds stolen, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Alan Sharp, 66, from Norwich, and Dawn Gingell, 55, from Hampshire, are two of seven people involved in the scam that targeted and stole £850,000 from mostly elderly and vulnerable people.
The scam began at the Cavell House office blocks in Norwich, by a man called Brian Carr.
Gingell was one of the cold callers responsible for contacting the victims for the sales.
Prosecuting, Andrew Wheeler, said: “This is a very serious and unpleasant fraud on vulnerable elderly victims. “The level of planning to purposefully deceive is clear to see.”
The court heard that Gingell profited £30,000 over 18 months, whilst Sharp made £10,000.
Gingell was sentenced to 43 months imprisonment, whilst Sharp was given an eight-month suspended sentence and 200 hours of community service.