Francis (Frank) Madden was yesterday (Tuesday 01 May) sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for scamming consumers in a supposed holiday discount scheme.
The sentence was handed down after he changed his plea to guilty on reduced charges.
Madden was previously convicted on two occasions and was actually under a suspended sentence when KwikChex detected him involved in the same activities again. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-3094117/Investigators-suspect-fraudster-targeting-elderly-scams-incredibly-say-t-afford-prosecute-savage-cuts.
After luring people in to meetings with thousands of cold calls, he pressured his victims, many of whom were elderly, into parting with large sums of money, telling them they would enjoy fantastic holidays in return – but there was no substance at all – holidays were hardly ever available and people had to pay big supplements if they did want to go on trips.
In 2012 he was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 24 months after admitting eight counts of unfair trading. The offences related to the company Hotweeks. Victims then were conned out of up to £2,000 to get discounts on accommodation, flights and cruises.
We are very pleased that justice hast been done, having reported Madden’s latest activities to Trading Standards and provided evidence, and a witness statement. The persistence of Trading standards Officers, should be recognised in achieving this result.
His co-defendant Claire Garland, admitted two counts of failing to provide cancellation rights, and was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge after it was accepted that Madden had used her as a ‘puppet’ and she had been left in considerable debt by his criminal activities.
Madden’s conviction comes hard on the heels of those of father and daughter Dominic and Stephanie O’Reilly of EZE Group, who pleaded guilty in November to offences relating to the selling of another bogus holiday-based product known as ‘Leisure Credits’. They are currently awaiting sentencing. Again, KwikChex as part of our Trading Standards Approved Timeshare Task Force activities, provided evidence and a witness statement to Trading Standards.
If you believe you have been affected by a scam you can report it to KwikChex: https://kwikchex.com/consumers/
It has come to our notice that a new company Andore Marketing (full name Andore Marketing & Management SL) in Tenerife has been selling EZE products as lately as March of this year, we would advise any consumers approached by this business to decline any offers of presentations, products, services etc.
Credits: The Daily Echo (bournemouthecho.co.uk)
THE crown court trial of four people charged in connection with an alleged timeshare fraud is likely to start in Bournemouth tomorrow.
Prosecutors claim the alleged fraud spanned around five years and involved “hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
Above excerpts and full article: http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/16164465.Four_face_trial_on_timeshare_fraud_charges/?ref=mr&lp=3
Another consumer supported by the free services of the Timeshare Task Force has been awarded a full refund, plus costs and interests totalling nearly £10,000
On 27th March at Workington County Court, ITRA were ordered to pay a consumer a total of £9765.90. This included a full refund of £7640.00, plus costs and interest.
The judge ruled that ITRA were guilty of misrepresentation in the sales process, deceiving the consumers by making false statements and promises and breach of contract for not carrying out promised work. She stated that “There was a complete failure by ITRA to comply with the Consumer Rights Act”
This is the third court case in succession that KwikChex, acting in its role of leading the Timeshare Task Force has provided free support to consumers making such claims against ITRA. Other cases where KwikChex has provided assistance have been settled by ITRA prior to the hearings.
Once again, the judge was highly critical of ITRA, stating that there was misrepresentation (or at the very least negligence) at the original sales meeting held at ITRA’s Spanish offices. The judge accepted the statement by the consumer that he had been told that the process would take 6 – 8 weeks (a common complaint by consumers regarding ITRA) and that they would quickly win back compensation that would pay for the ITRA fees. In fact, nothing of substance had been done for the 10 months prior to the consumer bringing the case to court.
The judge questioned why ITRA had not sent a single letter to assist the consumer with relinquishment and a supposed claim within an 8 month period and did not enter into any effective dialogue with the timeshare company during this time. As in other cases, after contacting KwikChex via the Timeshare Business Check website (timesharebusinesscheck.org), the consumer, in addition to receiving help with the claim against ITRA, was also able to relinquish their timeshare directly.
‘Stephen John’ – in reality Patrick O’Connor using an alias again involved and criticised
As in previous cases, a Patrick O’Connor gave evidence as a defence witness for ITRA – and as has happened previously, the judge found that he lacked credibility. O’Connor, with ITRA’s full knowledge uses the name ‘Stephen John’ when working on behalf of ITRA. He has previously stated that he does this because Stephen John is easier for people to remember – but when questioned in court this time, he told the court that he works for 14 different companies and uses different aliases for many. When questioned by the judge how many aliases he has, O’Connor replied he had seven different names.
The judge also found that there was no evidence of what ‘ITRA legal’ had done at all. ITRA Legal is supposed to be the legal expert arm of the ITRA operation – but requests to identify the ‘experts’ and disclose their qualifications have never been replied to with any clarification. O’Connor, when asked to identify who he worked with within ITRA Legal, was only able to give some first names, saying he did not know their last names.
Defeats in court, and previous involvement in banned businesses lead to formation of a new company by ITRA – ECC or European Claims Centre
In recent times, those behind and working for ITRA (which hides ownership details by registering the company in the Seychelles and false claims to have a ‘head office ‘in Gibraltar have started using a new entity – European Claims Centre (usually shortened to ECC). This should not be confused with the European Consumer Centre, which also uses the initials ECC and is an official consumer protection organisation, which in the UK is affiliated with Trading Standards.
ITRA’s ECC has already been found to be practicing their own deceptions. An Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling upheld complaints brought by KwikChex that information on their website was untrue and misleading. And whilst they have tried to distance themselves from ITRA when questioned by consumers, they admitted the close relationship in trying unsuccessfully to defend themselves, stating “that ITRA and ECC had the same shareholders and were therefore legally associated companies.” The full details of the ASA ruling can be found on the following link to the ASA website – https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/european-claims-centre-llc-a16-334571.html
Further cases pending
Other consumers assisted by KwikChex are also taking action against ITRA. Any consumer that has paid fees to ITRA and has concerns about the business or suspects that they have not been provided with the promised services can avail themselves of the free services provided via the Timeshare Task Force. Information is available on the following websites:
Credits: www.westmercia.police.uk ‘Time-share fraudsters sentenced to more than 20 years in prison’ 23/02/18
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.
Appearing at Stafford Crown Court between 21 and 23 February were:
• James Barrass, 37, from Norwich: Charged with money laundering. Sentenced to two years in prison.
• Matthew Barker, 25, from Bromsgrove: Charged with fraudulent trading. Sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months, and 250 hours of unpaid work.
• Brian Carr, 31, from Redditch: Charged with conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. Sentenced to six years and eight months in prison and disqualified from holding the position of company director for ten years.
• Daniel Carr, 24, from Redditch: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to four years in prison.
• Steven Cross, 37, from Worcester: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to six months in prison.
• Dawn Gingell, 55, from Hampshire: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
• Brendan Hicks, 28, from Redditch: Charged with fraudulent trading. Sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months, and 250 hours of unpaid work.
• Alan Sharp, 66, from Norwich: Charged with money laundering. Sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for a year, and 200 hours of unpaid work.
• Craig Walker, 27, from Redditch: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years in prison.
Read the full article from West Mercia Police here: https://www.westmercia.police.uk/article/44436/Time-share-fraudsters-sentenced-to-more-than-20-years-in-prison
Further article by the Coventry Telegraph (including photos of those charged): https://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/local-news/evil-fraudsters-stole-875k-vulnerable-14341211?mc_cid=0d844242f7&mc_eid=313919f626
We have recently received a report that the company Timeshare Legal Services (www.timesharelegalservices.co.uk) has been contacting consumers and stating they were given their information from the ‘Timeshare Ombudsman’ (www.timeshareombudsman.org.uk).
We are not aware of an official service under this name and both websites do not provide transparent business details i.e. legal entities/company numbers or in the case of the ‘Timeshare Ombudsman’ even an address. We would class this as a transparency warning.
The ‘Timeshare Ombudsman’s domain also shows the registrant name and address as hidden, which again is a transparency warning flag.
Timeshare Legal Services make the following claims on their website ‘SERVING THE INDUSTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS’ and ‘With extensive experience in the industry, we have helped over 2,000 people break free from Timeshare Contracts, and recovered over one million in reclaims.’ As the website domain was registered only in June 2017 and a company by the same name with the same address was only incorporated in November 2017, we would be interested in determining the truth of these claims.
We are also concerned as to the sharing of data between these companies.
Generally, we advise extreme caution regarding any business making unsolicited calls/emails/SMS, not least because there may be Data Protection law breaches involved -i.e., that they may have obtained and /or are using your data illegally.
We are passing our concerns to the relevant authorities and will provide an update when available. In the meantime we would be interested to hear from anyone contacted by these companies or currently using their services: https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/report-your-concerns/
Consumer awarded over £4800 as judge declares that breaches of contract by International Refund Action Ltd. (ITRA) were “completely unacceptable”
KwikChex can report that on Friday 19 January 2018, at Weston-Super-Mare County Court, another consumer it has supported has won a judgement against International Timeshare Refund Action – ITRA.
The judge ordered ITRA to repay the consumer £4802.60, having decided that ITRA had not provided the services promised. The judge also commented that the “Breaches were as fundamental as they could possibly get” and that there had been “so little done for so much money”
The consumer asked for the assistance of KwikChex via the Timeshare Task Force resources that KwikChex manages, which are funded by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) after ITRA’s multiple failures to clearly respond for over a year to requests to detail what ITRA had carried out on her behalf. KwikChex provided free advice and support for 18 months during the dispute, which culminated in the court hearing, with ITRA vainly trying to defend the lack of work carried out and poor communication. Attempts to carry out some work at the eleventh hour, well after legal proceedings were started were rejected as ‘too little, too late’.
KwikChex Director Chris Emmins provided a witness statement and attended court in support of the consumer, which detailed ITRA’s involvement in the notorious Club Class Concierge scams which resulted in the winding-up of seven connected companies by the UK authorities. Also included in the statement were details of complaints made by consumers to Action Fraud about ITRA and the misrepresentations that ITRA had a ‘Head Office’ in Gibraltar – something the Gibraltar authorities had confirmed was untrue.
ITRA attempted to defend the claim by using their favoured law firm, Pinder Reaux and a barrister, whilst the consumer represented herself. Two witnesses appeared for ITRA – the first was a Patrick O’Connor, who from the outset admitted that he used an alias when working for ITRA, calling himself ‘Steven John’ a name that has been quoted by many consumers making complaints against ITRA. He stated that the alias was easier for consumers to remember. The second witness was identified as Andrew Cooper, who in his witness statement said that he was a ‘consultant ’for ITRA. However, a solicitor from Pinder Reaux described him as ITRA’s CEO – and when questioned whether he was a director of ITRA he replied that he was. Andrew Cooper was also a director of two of the companies closed down by the UK authorities in 2012 – Bridge View Consultants Ltd. and Club Class Concierge Ltd. He is also a current director of European Claims Centre Ltd., a business that claims to have helped thousands of people to exit timeshares, though it was only formed in June 2016 and uses the serviced / virtual offices to conduct its business as ITRA.
The latest case echoed the well-publicisied win by Mr & Mrs Walker against ITRA in court in 2016, who were refunded over £7000 – see the report by the Daily Mail – http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-3709511/Couple-win-7-000-victory-faulty-timeshare-contract-following-18-month-legal-battle.html
KwikChex and a number of consumer protection and advice agencies continue to receive complaints concerning ITRA.
KwikChex and the Timeshare Task Force services have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards and are the only business operating within the timeshare sector to have received official accreditation under the Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme – see the accreditation and verified consumer feedback on the following link – www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex/24358