European Consumer Claims (ECC) ordered to refund timeshare owner in full after legal action over misrepresented claims service

On Friday 22 November a judge ordered European Consumer Claims (ECC) to refund a timeshare owner in full after he took legal action over their misrepresented claims service. 

While seeking guidance on exiting his timeshare in Portugal, Mr. G was offered advice by the ‘Timeshare Advice Centre’. Their advisor directed him to another business, at the time known as the European Claims Centre (ECC). In 2017, he attended a meeting with their representative at Churchill House in Langley, Slough, where he was encouraged by news that a large compensation claim would be possible. The ECC representative provided him with a document that outlined his potential claim of £11,802. There was one small problem with this document – it contained information about a claim in the Spanish Supreme Court, but Mr. G’s timeshare was in Portugal. 

When he queried this with the representative, he was told that this would apply across the EU – which was a gross misrepresentation of the situation. 

With this information in mind, Mr. G paid nearly £3,000 on the basis that he would be getting back nearly £12,000 in compensation. 

Case referred to M1 Legal 

Having chased ECC numerous times for an update, Mr. G was eventually informed that his case had been handed to M1 Legal, a Spanish law firm. After a period, they contacted him with news that they had terminated his timeshare contract and the case was resolved. At this time there was no mention of any forthcoming compensation. 

Upon checking with his timeshare company, they informed him that his contract had not been terminated. 

With no further contact from M1 Legal about the £12,000 compensation claim and with his timeshare contract still in force, he started investigating ECC. 

Links between ECC and ‘ITRA’ 

The offices at Churchill House in Langley, Slough, where the original meeting took place have been used by another business – ITRA. ITRA is part of the infamous ‘Club Class’ network of scam businesses that was shut down by UK authorities in 2012 after scamming thousands of timeshare owners with false promises of timeshare exitsclaims and exclusive holiday and lifestyle deals 

What’s also known is that the people who are involved in ECC are the same people that controlled ITRA. When ITRA was wound up in the UK High Court in 2019, they had already taken steps to switch to the newer ECC brand. 

Multiple ECC entities 

Mr. G was to encounter further problems when he filed a claim against the business he had paid – European Claims Centre Ltd., a UK registered business. 

This business claimed that they had only acted as a ‘payment agent’ and thus weren’t responsible, that the contract itself listed European Claims Centre LLC, registered in the state of Washington, USA, and that any claim should be directed towards them. 

Mr. G argued in court that there was no indication that they were providing the services he had paid for, but the judge informed him that he had sued the wrong company. 

He sought information on European Claims Centre LLC but results were limited because the names of the people behind that company were hidden. 

Then he started proceedings against the US company and M1 Legal, where it was discovered that they had previously been called ‘European Claims Chambers’ and used the ‘ECC’ brand. 

Mr. G finally contacted KwikChex for advice and they assisted in arranging for him to be represented by a UK lawyer.  

On Friday 22 November, more than 3 and a half years after he had originally paid for their services, a judge ordered that ECC refund him in full.  

Click here to find out more about ECC

Click here to find out more about M1 Legal

Click here to find out more about ITRA

BBC News investigators questioned Timeshare Termination Team Truro

BBC News broadcast on Saturday 21st November highlighted a report about online fake reviews. One featured business, Timeshare Termination Team, said to be based in Truro, Cornwall in the UK. 

An investigation by the BBC found highly suspicious fake Google reviews on the profile of Timeshare Termination Team. One 5 star review of the business left by a ‘Richard Harrison’ claimed that Timeshare Termination Team had helped him with an unwanted timeshare – but the BBC revealed that the picture on the reviewer’s profile was that of a Tanzanian government minister, who has never heard of the company. This then raises into question the veracity of many of the other positive reviews posted online. 

Timeshare Termination Team responded to BBC questions with claims that they are investigating. However, this shouldn’t detract from the following – 

  • They republished a number of suspicious Google reviews on their own website 
  • Their website displays reviews which date back to 2015 even though the business was only incorporated a year ago – the same time their website appeared. 
  • They state that their “mission started in 2014”. Note that no trace can be found of them prior to 2019.

Timeshare Termination Team – what we know 

Reports from timeshare owners reveal that Timeshare Termination Team frequently make declarations of ‘unilateral termination’ when it comes to terminating timeshare contracts. 

Unilateral termination is a declaration by the business without full legal principles being applied – and it can lead to serious disputes. We have witnessed this previously when Praetorian Legal used the same methods. They tried to take the consumers to court when they refused to pay, but were unsuccessful, which resulted in them paying the significant legal costs. 

Timeshare owners have said that although no upfront fees were requested by Timeshare Termination Team, shortly after entering into a contract with them, they received invoices for thousands of pounds and were told that their timeshare contract had been ‘unilaterally terminated’. When checks were made with their timeshare companiesit became apparent that all that had happened is that Timeshare Termination Team sent a standard letter to the company and then declared the timeshare terminated themselves. In fact, these letters had been rejected because of concerns the timeshare company had about the legitimacy of Timeshare Termination Team, and so the contract between consumer and timeshare company was still validWith this knowledge in hand some consumers have refused to pay Timeshare Termination Team and instead made reports to Trading Standards. 

Connections between Timeshare Termination Team, Mercantile Claims Management Solutions Ltd and Praetorian Legal 

Timeshare Termination Team invoices used the VAT number of Mercantile Claims Management Solutions Ltd, which is under the same ownership as Praetorian Legal. These companies have all used the same ‘ARTS indemnity scheme and Praetorian Legal and Mercantile Claims have previously made claims about a similar ‘insurance policy’, said to be underwritten by Munich Re. Munich Re have shown this isn’t true. 

Addresses and documents seen indicate that these businesses are all linked to Gary Smith, director and owner of Praetorian Legal and Mercantile Claims. It is known that he held the previous role of ‘Legal & Compliance Director’ for EZE Group, which was itself a scam and closed by a criminal prosecution. 

Smith was co-director of Praetorian Legal with Dominic O’Reilly – now in prison for his part in the EZE scam. 

Another related company, LCM Law Ltd., was owned by Smith and used to chase consumers for payments on behalf of EZE Group. When payments weren’t forthcoming and EZE victims took their complaints online, LCM Law threatened legal action. 

There are further links between Praetorian Legal an‘Monster Travel’, which has also been subject to a series of raids and arrests by police in the UK and Spain and has subsequently closed. 

Gary Smith has publicly denied any responsibility or involvement in these criminal activities. He points out that he has not been arrested and has cooperated with the police and Trading Standards. He emphasises that Mercantile Claims and Praetorian Legal are both assessed and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which authorises them to carry out claims activities. 

Click here to find out more about Timeshare Termination Team Truro (TTT)

Click here to find out more about Mercantile Claims Management Solutions Ltd

Click here to find out more about Praetorian Legal

Click here to find out more about EZE Group

Click here to find out more about LCM Law Ltd

Click here to find out more about Monster Travel

European Consumer Claims (ECC) fails to uphold promises made to timeshare owner scammed by ABC Lawyers

Thousands paid to ABC Lawyers by timeshare owner, then after paying thousands more, European Consumer Claims (ECC) fails to keep any promises made. 

‘ABC Lawyers’ – the fake lawyers issuing ‘exit certificates’ not worth the paper they are printed on 

Investigations into ABC Lawyers have revealed that these aren’t lawyers at allinstead they’re part of a nexus of timeshare related scammers using high pressure selling tactics to persuade consumers that their options are limited and time sensitive. This business has scammed thousands from unsuspecting timeshare owners. 

In 2016, ABC Lawyers convincing Mrs. K that it was in her best interests – in fact the only option available to free her from her timeshare, to pay £9000 for their ‘expert legal services Afterwards Mrs. K received an ‘exit certificate’ confirming that she had successfully exited her timeshare agreement. However, it became apparent that this certificate was worthless when she was subsequently chased for the outstanding annual fees, which she had been instructed by ABC Lawyers not to pay. This would place a lot of stress on Mrs. K as her annual fees continued to build up and her timeshare company’s lawyers explained that the ‘exit certificate’ was nothing more than a con by ABC Lawyers. 

In 2017, after thousands of consumer complaints, police in the UK and Spain conducted a series of raids and arrested the ringleaders behind the scam operation. 

European Consumer Claims (ECC) – the new owners of the ABC Lawyers brand 

Moving forward to January 2020 and Mrs. K had been contacted by European Consumer Claims (ECC), the new owners of the ABC Lawyers brand. They promised that they would succeed where their predecessors failed and would definitely be able to conclude the contract termination, citing their “exclusivity to Spanish firm of lawyers, M1 Legal.” 

Once again, a fee was asked and shortly after Mrs. K paid ECC another £8995. Enter Steven John of ECC “Don’t worry” he affirmed “We will sort this out in a few weeks”. 

This is where things once again take an all too familiar turn. ECC had promised to pay an agreed settlement figure to end the timeshare contract and pay off the outstanding fees. They had in fact promised this several times throughout, but they repeatedly failed to keep their promise, with Mrs K and the lawyers finding it increasingly difficult to get a meaningful or honest response from Steven John. That’s likely due to the fact that Steven John is nothing more than a fake persona invented by Patrick O’Connor, known to have used the alias Steven John for years – he did the same thing for ECC sister business ITRA, which was wound up in 2019 after failing to provide promised services and then failing to make court ordered refunds. 

After the fake ‘Steven John’ saga, having been scammed by ABC and then handing more money to ECC, Mrs. K was forced to pay nearly £5000 to finally put an end to it all. The timeshare company’s lawyer had by this time told Mrs K that she could have exited her timeshare directly – there was no need to pay ABC Lawyers or ECC. 

Finally, Mrs. K contacted KwikChex and received free advice that has enabled her to claim back all the money she paid ECC under a Section 75 claim. The monies she paid ABC lawyers are now the subject of liquidation proceedings. 

Click here to view more information about ABC Lawyers

Click here to view more information about European Consumer Claims Ltd (ECC)

Platinum Services and Administration SL – Warning

We have recently received increased reports of Platinum Services and Administration SL cold-calling timeshare owners. Consumers report that callers representing this business have stated variously that they can claim back monies paid to fraudulent businesses such as EZE Group and Club Class Concierge, that cases have been won in Spain and that consumers just have to pay an administration fee to have substantial funds released to them.

Consumers should be aware that this behaviour is deceptive and unlawful.

They appear to be a prolific cold-caller with links to a number of other timeshare related claims businesses including:

Beta Promociones y Administracion SL
Fastline Legal Services SL
Greenges 2005 SL
Incovex Consulting SL
Litigation Services SL

Further details regarding this company can be found in their directory listing.

Directory Listing:
https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/platinum-services-and-administration-sl/

Extreme caution is advised when dealing with Platinum Services and Administration SL.

Urgent warnings re scare tactics being directed at CLC members

Reports are reaching KwikChex of cold calls and unsolicited emails being sent to CLC members that are seeking to scare them into paying fees / entering into contracts with unregulated claims companies.

One such email has been sent from timeshare-compensation.com. Information regarding this business has been published on the Timeshare Business Check website – see link https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/timeshare-compensation-com/

It identifies the company behind the website as Viking Consultants and includes the following “The CEO of Viking Real Estate and Consultants is Mike Farhoud. He is an ex-Silverpoint sales executive. They are known to contact consumers by cold-calling and unsolicited emails – consumers are advised to ask how the businesses obtained personal data and what data they hold? If not satisfied, with answers received, reports can be made to the relevant data protection authorities.”

The email being sent provides a mailing address in Edinburgh, but the operation is run out of Tenerife and includes other former Silverpoint salespeople.

In addition, reports are also being received of cold calls to CLC members which are also using the same scare tactics, with the callers fraudulently identifying themselves as a ‘Government Advisory Service’ and another purporting to be ‘Prime Consultants‘ using an Isle of Wight number – 01983896790. This number has been reported hundreds of times as a harassing cold-caller.

Such deceptions are illegal practices and combined with breaches of data protection laws are a very serious matter. These are now being brought to the attention of the authorities in Spain, the UK and other EU countries. CLC members who are being approached in this way are urged to report them.

 

Demi-Guni SL – Warning

It has come to our attention that a business using the phone number +34 922 714 743 has been cold calling consumers, spreading misinformation about companies and offering timeshare reclaim services. They are using a number of different names to disguise their identity, some of which are unconnected businesses.

The phone number can be traced to timeshare claims consultancy company Demi-Guni SL https://consultdemigunisl.com/ and their property sales website InmoBelga https://inmobelga.com/

The lawyer used by Demi-Guni SL is Ruben Padron Perez https://rubenpadronabogado.es/

Directory Listing: https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/demi-guni-sl/

Hutchinson Escrow/Escrows – Warning

It has come to our attention that a business calling itself Hutchinson Escrow/Escrows and using the websites ww3.hutchinsonescrow.com and www.hutchinsonescrows.com has been cold calling consumers. Their methods are deceitful and unlawful.

They appear to imply that they are representing the registered company Hutchinson Trustees Limited – company registration number 03195365, which was incorporated in 1996. This is a fraudulent claim.

Consumers should be especially wary if they are contacted out of the blue by cold callers claiming to be calling on behalf of Hutchinson Trustees Limited or Hutchinson Escrow/Escrows.

We advise consumers contacted by persons purporting to be from Hutchinson Escrow/Escrows to report the matter to Action Fraud in the UK Telephone 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting system – http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-a-fraud-including-online-crime

Directory listings related to this warning:
https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/hutchinson-escrow-fake
https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/directory/hutchinson-escrows-fake

 

KwikChex Featured in Timeshare Exit Concerns Article

The Daily Mirror has published an article on the battle between timeshare exit firm, Carl James Associates, and a couple who paid £4,200 for assistance exiting their timeshare.

After being repeatedly contacted by cold callers promising a swift exit from their Club La Costa membership, the pair agreed to let Carl James Associates facilitate their exit.

Shortly afterwards the consumer contacted Carl James to cancel their assistance, “arguing that he had not yet signed a contract with Carl James or sent them any of his timeshare paperwork, so it could not have started work on his case”, but were refused, with Carl James citing a verbal “contract in kind” and that non-refundable work had already begun.

Fullbrook Associates are named as assisting Carl James with the timeshare relinquishment process.

Read the Daily Mirror article here

Read more about Carl James Associates and Fullbrook Associates

Fake Banco de España Scam Warning

Timeshare owners are reporting emails attempting to scam them over fake claim awards

Emails are being sent to timeshare owners claiming that they have been awarded large sums in the Spanish courts. These emails claim to come from Banco de España but are clearly an attempt at defrauding timeshare owners, using a false email address (bdebancodeespanaconsulta@gmail.com). They ask for a ‘tax payment’ in order to be able to transfer the sums said to have been awarded. The emails uses the recipients names and telephone numbers. This is one of many such scams being perpetrated at present. Consumers should on no account respond to such emails, provide details or of course make any payments.  Any such emails should be reported to the national authorities.

In addition to the details of the fake compensation, the senders also attempt to confuse owners with other false information, including making attacks on the Mindtimeshare website and Alberto Garcia, who have for many years published details on fraudsters attempting to scam timeshare owners. These attacks on Mindtimeshare and Alberto Garcia are entirely without foundation.

Timeshare owners that receive unsolicited contacts by email, text or phone should be extremely cautious as those making contact are likely to be acting unlawfully in terms of data protection and could sell personal data on to other rogues. Their typical statements that they obtained the information from a ‘central timeshare register’ is in itself a fraudulent statement.  If you are a timeshare owner in any doubt about businesses making contact with you, information and entirely free assistance is available on this website and further information regarding timeshare rights, consumer protection and exits & claims is also published on https://timeshareexitconcerns.co.uk/

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issues warning about timeshare exit business Termination Services Limited

The FCA has advised that Termination Services Ltd. is not an authorised firm and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information the FCA holds, it believes this business is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.

The directors of Terminations Services Ltd are Robert Pinker and David Rhodes. They are also directors of Timeshare Legals Ltd. This business is also not an authorised firm. Both companies state that they are based in Watford.

Both businesses also state that they are working with a Spanish law firm – JLCA & AS.

Robert Pinker was previously a director of a regulated Claims Management Company (CMC) named Olton Alexander Ltd., but information on the Timeshare Legals website reveals that serious and concerning disputes have arisen. It states:

“Timeshare Legals – Is No longer Associated with Olton Alexander Limited.

On 1st January 2019 Timeshare Legals merged with Olton Alexander, Timeshare Legals was the trading name of Olton Alexander Limited. Our agents and staff work with and became a payment agents for Olton Alexander. Due to lack of commitment from Olton Alexander, Timeshare Legals severed its partnership with the company on 30th June 2019. Timeshare Legals is no longer a trading name of Olton Alexander and is now the trading name of Timeshare Legals Limited. Timeshare Legals Limited has no association with Olton Alexander.

It has been quite apparent over the last few weeks if not months, that the increasing number of clients are complaining to Timeshare Legals about Olton Alexanders performance and commitment to pursuing their claims has been extremely lacking. Moreover, very little or no works have been done. We have been frantically trying to help with the problems, the clients are facing from Olton and with the promise from Olton that this will be rectified. It has now become increasingly apparent that this has not been done.

Olton Alexander has been telling clients that they have had no money from clients, when we have proof that they have been paid and emails from Olton confirming they have indeed received money from TSL regarding the clients claims matters.”

If you are a timeshare owner that has engaged with Termination Services Ltd or Timeshare Legals Ltd and are concerned, you can contact Citizens Advice. If you are concerned about Olton Alexander Ltd. you can contact the Financial Conduct Authority. Complaints about services provided by Olton Alexander can also be filed with the Claims Management Ombudsman.

Free assistance is also provided by KwikChex – click here to contact us using our Free Assistance form.

Original FCA warning notice – click here.

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