Chris Emmins presents at EUROC seminar

Chris Emmins, director and co-founder of KwikChex  led a session on consumer protection and law enforcement at the first EUROC seminar held in Sutton Coldfield in September.

The session – conducted as a part of the KwikChex-managed Timeshare Task Force initiatives included information on the rights of timeshare owners, including fair contracts and the battle against rogue claims businesses.

It featured a number of case studies which demonstrated how timeshare owners had been targeted by fraudsters and convinced to pay thousands for bogus claims and relinquishment services – and detailed some of the actions taken to bring the rogues to justice and help recover monies for consumers. Advice is being made available by KwikChex to EUROC members on how to better protect owners against such scams – and to ensure that if they do have concerns over their ownership, they can go through a process of checking and due diligence which will properly evaluate their situation.

Attendees were also reassured of the integrity of the services provided free of charge by KwikChex – including Trading Standards Approved accreditation and the recent Hero Award given to KwikChex by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

KwikChex Hero Award Demonstrates the Value of Private Sector ‘Fraudbusters’

Yahoo Finance, 21st August 2019

The recent presentation of a ‘Hero Award’ by the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards (CTSI) to online investigations and verification business KwikChex highlighted the value of the private sector in fighting what has been an inexorable rise in fraud

Since 2010, KwikChex has been fighting battles to help prevent harm caused by fraudulent online content.  Whilst much attention has been paid to the exposure by KwikChex of millions of fake online reviews  and the removal of thousands specifically designed to harm businesses and consumers, in more recent times, it has been the KwikChex successes relating to protecting consumers and supporting law enforcement against scammers that have become most prominent.

Chris Emmins of KwikChex receives 2019 CTSI Hero Award
Chris Emmins of KwikChex receives 2019 CTSI Hero Award

 

The effectiveness of the KwikChex fraudbusting work was acknowledged on 25 June 2019, with the presentation of a ‘Hero Award’ to Chris Emmins, KwikChex co-founder and director at a special ceremony in London organised by the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards – representing the vital UK Trading Standards enforcement community. Conor Burns MP, recently made minster for state, Department for International Trade presented the award at One Great George Street, Westminster.

KwikChex was cited as having provided ‘expert’ witness testimony in for the prosecution in a number of cases, one of which with potentially millions of pounds worth of fraud.

Chief Executive at CTSI, Leon Livermore, said: “The Business Award is designed to recognise businesses that demonstrate a dedication to protecting consumers. KwikChex not only strives to help consumers who have suffered at the hands of ruthless fraudsters but has been a strong supporter of our profession. I’m pleased to name them our 2019 Business Hero.”

The successful prosecutions and civil actions that have taken place as a result of KwikChex investigations and support have resulted in custodial sentences for fraudsters and also refunds to consumers totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds – and many consumers have been saved from losses by the free advice provided by KwikChex. Particularly prominent has been the work within the timeshare sector, where the KwikChex-managed ‘Timeshare Task Force’ has assisted thousands of timeshare owners that have been targeted by dishonest timeshare claims and relinquishment rogues.

KwikChex is working ever-closer with law enforcement and government organisations to help stem the tide of fraud – and new resources, which will help consumers avoid the scams and prioritise legal actions against the fraudsters are set to be made available later in 2019.

As the Trading Standards award has confirmed, the KwikChex model of funding from the private sector to tackle internet-enabled fraud is becoming more and more vital at a time of increasing threat and much-reduced funding for law enforcement.  Bringing businesses committed to high standards and strong consumer protection together with intelligence gained from investigations and consumer information is crucial to tackling one of the biggest crime problems the world has faced. It will play an increasingly important and effective role in future.

View the article on Yahoo Finance:
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/kwikchex-hero-award-demonstrates-value-080000901.html?guccounter=1

See the story of the KwikChex Hero Award – on the Trading Standards Journal website
http://www.journaloftradingstandards.co.uk/hero-awards/fraud-prevention-service-wins-award/

‘Timeshare fraudster ordered to pay £1000’s to victims’

Further actions have taken place in a criminal case that KwikChex supported with evidence gained from investigations and consumer reports.

Frank Madden was previously sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for operating a bogus holiday discount club scam and has now been ordered to pay back £20,000 and had further banning orders imposed.

Read the article here:
Timeshare fraudster ordered to pay £1000’s to victims
https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/News/News-Articles/Timeshare-fraudster-ordered-to-pay-1000s-back-to-victim.aspx
(BCP Council, 8th July 2019)

KwikChex receiving CTSI hero award

KwikChex – ‘Business saving consumers potentially millions from fraud earns CTSI Hero Award’

Credits: CTSI (www.tradingstandards.uk) 26/06/2019

‘Investigation and verification service provider, KwikChex, has earned a prestigious Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Hero Award for its continuous work and passionate commitment on behalf of consumers, particularly around timeshare scams.’

‘KwikChex has established a free and effective online help service for consumers the Timeshare Task Force, a helpline aimed specifically at assisting victims of timeshare fraud, and consumers ‘stuck’ within timeshare agreements have been targeted by unscrupulous timeshare resale fraudsters.’

Above excerpts and read the full article: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/news-room/2019/business-saving-consumers-potentially-millions-from-fraud-earns-ctsi-hero-award

Further clarification regarding ITRA / ECC / M1 Legal

More consumers are advising that following the winding up of ITRA, they are being approached by European Consumer Claims (ECC) and are corresponding with M1 Legal.  These communications concern offers of continuing work said to have been started by ITRA.
As consumers paid ITRA and entered into a contract with that business and it is now the subject of liquidation and insolvency investigations, we advise that such approaches should be reported to the ITRA liquidator, Richard Long & Co., as they are likely to be unlawful – a breach of the Insolvency Act.
The contact details for ITRA liquidators Richard Long & Co are:
Richard Long & Co
Castlegate House
36 Castle Street
Hertford
SG14 1HH
Tel: 01992 503372
We are also being informed that there are denials by these businesses of  the circumstances surrounding ITRA and the relationships between ITRA, ECC and M1 Legal. For the sake of clarification –
ITRA was wound up after failing to provide promised timeshare relinquishment and claims services to consumers and subsequently for failing to refund consumers as ordered by the courts. ITRA had previously been named as a part of a major scam which resulted in the UK authorities shutting down seven connected businesses. The person identified as controlling ITRA was Andrew Cooper.
ECC was set up by Andrew Cooper, who is a director of the ‘UK ECC’ business. He was previously a director of two of the companies shut down by the UK authorities. Current contracts issued by ECC list a USA registered company as the provider of the services, which it has been confirmed has no employees and does not disclose ownership details. In addition, the US registration has a false Gibraltar address and the proxy director is a company previously registered in the Bahamas, which has since been struck off.
Whilst it has been pursuing some claims, Spanish registered M1 Legal was also set up by Andrew Cooper. One of the directors is also a director of the ‘Spanish arms’ of ITRA and the businesses shut down by the UK authorities.
The attempts at denials prompted us to provide information clarifying the facts, with links to some of the media coverage and documents that provide clear substantiation – that information is available on the following link ‘Why ECC is so upset with KwikChex’.

Silverpoint News

June 2019

We are aware that some consumers are receiving notices of provisional liquidation regarding Excel Overseas Holdings and ELPP Investment – and that in many cases there are connections to Silverpoint and associated properties in Tenerife.

We have also been receiving complaints from consumers regarding being unable to contact representatives of Silverpoint and ‘Insignia’.

What already appeared as complex matters has become more so and at present there are no obvious answers. However, the situation warrants further investigation and we will be pleased to assist in this respect and are looking to consult with specialist lawyers and investigators. If you have been affected by these issues and would like your case to be potentially examined, please let us know – we will need your permission to pass on your details and data pertinent to your complaints and potential claims.

Monster News

June 2019
Several consumers have informed us they have received documents relating to the purported liquidation of Monster. There has been no substantiation that we have seen that this is a genuine legal process and would therefore advise extreme caution.
We have also been informed that the police team conducting the investigation of Monster are also aware of this but have stated that they cannot offer specific advice regarding this at this time. We presume that this is because of the current status of the investigation.
More information regarding Monster and connected companies: https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/monster-travel-sellmytimeshare-tv-warning/

Why European Consumer Claims (ECC) is so upset with KwikChex

We are aware that European Consumer Claims / ECC is deceitfully using / ‘hijacking’  the KwikChex name within a domain name / website they have set up. They are also paying for Google Adverts to promote it.

They seek to discourage consumers from using the free services KwikChex provides to consumers – and to promote their own business and that of their associates.

Actions are now being taken, but in the interim, for the sake of clarity and to safeguard consumers, we are providing an explanation as to why the owners of ITRA and ECC are behaving in this dishonest manner.

Aside from the many inaccuracies and further deceits on the rogue resources,  ITRA and ECC sees this as a way to distract consumers from the multiple legal actions that have been taken against the various connected businesses and the news coverage that exposes their dishonest practices. We recently published a summary of these (hence their attacks on KwikChex), which can be found here – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/advice-regarding-ecc/

But for the avoidance of any doubt as to the character of ITRA and ECC, we are providing below the links to some of the most notable media coverage and information concerning their activities and the actions that have been taken against them so that consumers can verify the information from trusted and significant resources.

 

Mail on Sunday November 2012

Article exposing the rogue dealings of several connected businesses, including ITRA and detailing how seven connected companies (led by Club Lass Concierge and supported by ITRA) were closed down by the UK authorities.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/experts/article-2234417/Couples-stress-belief-timeshare.html

Mail Online / Money Mail July 2016

Article describing how KwikChex provided free assistance to a couple deceived by ITRA and how they were awarded over £7000 by a court.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-3709511/Couple-win-7-000-victory-faulty-timeshare-contract-following-18-month-legal-battle.html

Daily Mail September 2016

More cases of consumers deceived by ITRA are exposed. Identifies the influential ITRA ‘consultant’  and shows connections to ECC.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3810740/Can-trust-firm-says-rid-timeshare-price-families-did-lived-regret-it.html

The Straits Times July 2017

Article reports on the Singapore authorities warning about ITRA

“Case noted that since last October, Icon Solutions and ITRA have been on the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Investor Alert List”

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/firm-flagged-over-claims-that-it-can-recover-timeshare-monies

Daily Mirror October 2018

Article reveals multiple complaints regarding ITRA, connections to the businesses wound up by UK authorities and names individuals and mentions two connected law firms.

“The Insolvency Service stated that the companies “were set up with the aim of duping consumers”(referring to the connected companies wound up).

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/trapped-timeshare-owners-unwanted-weeks-13431301

Daily Mirror February 2019

Article about how ITRA was closed down in the High Court after failing to pay refunds to consumers misled by them as ordered by the courts.

Identifies those behind ITRA and ECC and confirms the connections to businesses previously wound up by the UK authorities to protect consumers.

Clarifies the free assistance given by KwikChex to victims.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/shut-down-company-took-upfront-13994817

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling against ECC re misleading advertising July 2016

Complaint brought successfully against ECC by KwikChex. Contains admissions by ECC that they were generating leads for ITRA.

https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/european-claims-centre-llc-a16-334571.html

 

Official filings confirming ownership links between businesses closed down by UK authorities and ECC.

Club Class Concierge – closed by UK authorities

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05932332/officers

Bridge View Consultants – closed by UK authorities

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/06971280/officers

European Consumer Claims  – current business and the one responsible for the attacks

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/10243428/officers

 

We believe the above information from trusted resources clearly demonstrates the reasons why ECC and those behind it are so desperate to deter consumers from contacting KwikChex.

KwikChex has been vetted & approved by UK Trading Standards and works closely with Trading Standards and other law enforcement, government and official consumer protection authorities.

Our accreditation and verified consumer feedback demonstrating the quality of the free assistance we provide to consumers can be viewed on this link – https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex-ltd-t-as-timeshare-task-force/24358/

Advice regarding consumers affected by ITRA and ECC matters.

  • If consumers have paid monies to ITRA and have not received the promised services. They can contact the insolvency investigators – see information here – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/itra-insolvency-update This page also has advice on reporting cases to Action Fraud.
  • We have been contacted by a number of consumers complaining about ECC, who are now filing court claims against them. If you feel you have a reason to complain about ECC, you can use our free assistance services to contact us – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/free-assistance

Advice regarding ECC (European Consumer Claims)

Incorporating information concerning ITRA (International Timeshare Refund Action), M1 Legal and Pinder Reaux. 

ECC association with closed down business ITRA 

The business describing itself as ‘ECC’ and offering relinquishment and claims services to timeshare owners is an offshoot of the business known most commonly as ‘ITRA’. 

It has been firmly established that 

  • ECC is under the same core ownership and control as was ITRA. 
  • Several of those working for ECC previously worked for ITRA. 
  • ECC previously shared offices with ITRA. 

With regard to ITRA, this business has been shut down following a winding up order made in the High Court in England after failing to refund consumers as ordered by the County Court. ITRA was the subject of several court actions by consumers who successfully took action over misrepresentations and breaches of contracts and the failure to provide the promised contract terminations and claims services. 

Prior to being closed down, ITRA was previously named by the UK authorities as playing a key part in a complex, multi-company, international network that deceived many consumers, resulting in losses of thousands of pounds in each case. ITRA’s role was to lure in consumers with promises of timeshare contract assistance – and then ‘switch-sell’ them into fraudulent holiday / lifestyle memberships. The UK authorities acted on these deceptions and closed down seven connected businesses in an attempt to protect consumers. 

ECC has already been the subject of consumer complaints and ongoing actions by consumers claiming misrepresentations have taken place. 

Misleading advertising  

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), ruled that ECC was guilty of misleading advertising and the report clearly demonstrated the close association ECC has had with ITRA – details of the ruling can be found on this link on the ASA website – https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/european-claims-centre-llc-a16-334571.html  

Different entities and name changes 

‘ECC’ is used as a generic trading name. A UK company based primarily in Slough, UK is the primary trading entity and is named as European Consumer Claims Ltd. This company was previously named European Claims Centre Ltd. 

Another ECC entity – one that is used on contracts issued to consumers is registered in Washington State USA. This is currently named European Consumer Claims LLC and was previously also known as European Claims Centre (LLC).  

Further ECC entities are registered in Spain as European Claims Centre – SP Branch  SL and also European Consumers Claims SL 

Concerns over ECC contracts 

Contracts issued by ECC that consumers are asked to sign have stated that the agreement is with a US registered entity – originally named as European Claims Centre LLC and now as European Consumer Claims LLC. Enquiries with the US authorities have shown that  

  • Ownership of the company in terms of individuals / shareholders is intentionally not disclosed. 
  • It is stated that the business trades from Gibraltar – but an investigation by the Gibraltar authorities could find no tracer of the business there. (ITRA previously also falsely claimed to have a ‘head office in Gibraltar). 
  • The company named as ‘proxy director’ in US filings appears to have been previously registered in the Bahamas but has since been struck off. 

Despite enquiries being made of ECC, no evidence has been produced that this US registered ECC has actually itself been trading or actively providing the services promised to consumers. 

It is of concern that consumers are being asked to sign a contract with such a company. 

Ongoing legal disputes between consumers and ECC have been complicated by the use of the US registered ECC company. Despite the UK entity being the business that takes money from consumers and controls the day to day functions of ECC, including the offices, personnel and website, when disputes have arisen over misrepresentations, ECC has claimed that it is ECC in the US that is the provider of services and ECC UK is denying liability. 

Legal firms acting in partnership with ITRA and ECC 

Both ITRA and ECC have been acting in partnership with two law firms. 

M1 Legal – registered in Spain as Maxima 1 Legal SL. 

This business also previously used the ECC brand, being originally named European Claims Chambers. 

A director of the business is also named as being a director of several companies that were the Spanish offshoots of ITRA and those closed down by the UK authorities. 

Pinder Reaux solicitors – a regulated and registered UK solicitor firm. 

Pinder Reaux initially engaged with ITRA as their legal representative – attempting to defend them with regard to claims brought be consumers. The defences that we are aware of all failed, with judgements being awarded in favour of the consumers. 

Pinder Reaux are now said to be acting in a commercial partnership with ECC, pursuing timeshare claims.  

It should be noted that where M1 Legal and Pinder Reaux are engaged in legal services on behalf of consumers that contracts have actually been signed and monies paid by consumers to ITRA (now closed) and ECC. 

 

Consumers with concerns over ITRA and ECC 

Understandably, consumers have been concerned over the fact that ECC can be regarded as an offshoot of ITRA.  

A number of those entering into contracts with ECC have been attempting to cancel and seek refunds after discovering the history and connections. The cancellations have been contested by ECC and in some cases are now the subject of court claims by the consumers – which are also being contested by ECC and are ongoing. 

Some consumers that previously paid monies to ITRA have been approached by ECC and told that ECC is taking over ITRA cases. We would advise that any consumer being approached in this manner makes urgent contact with the liquidators of ITRA, Richard Long & Co., who will be pleased to receive proof of debt against ITRA – and also any information regarding the activities of ITRA and potentially associated matter such as the ECC approachesDocuments relating to this can be found here.

For consumers that have contracted with ECC directly and have concerns, it is essential that a proper evaluation of the circumstances of each case takes place.  This could for example, examine the following. 

  • What services have been promised by ECC? 
  • Given the information provided by the US authorities regarding the US registered ECC entity and the information provided by the Gibraltar authorities, can the validity of the contracts be challenged? 
  • What cancellation rights might apply in terms of the ECC contracts? 
  • What work has been undertaken by ECC since contracts were signed / payments made? 
  • What is the precise basis in law that will be used by ECC in any contract termination or claims made on behalf of their clients? 

 

For the sake of clarity and transparency 

The information above is provided by KwikChex Ltd., as a part of free services to consumers under the Timeshare Task Force initiative.  

  • This service has been vetted and approved by UK Trading Standards – the accreditation and verified consumer feedback can be viewed on the following link  – https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/profile/kwikchex-ltd-t-as-timeshare-task-force/24358/  
  • KwikChex has helped resolve hundreds of cases and assist in recovering hundreds of thousands of pounds for consumers and the termination of contracts. This has all been achieved free of charge. 
  • KwikChex and KwikChex personnel have provided evidence used in civil and criminal cases and have acted as key witnesses in several cases. 
  • The Timeshare Task Force is funded by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the trade association for vacation ownership across Europe. 

We are always very pleased to answer any questions put to us – simply use the following link for all enquiries and free help with any concerns – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/free-assistance/

ITRA Insolvency Update

It has been confirmed that Richard Long & Co are to act as liquidators in the matter of the insolvency of International Timeshare Refund Action Ltd (ITRA) and will also investigate matters regarding the business.

Please click here for documents in this regard.

If you have not done so already you can use the included proof of debt form.

We are also aware that in a number of cases that the ITRA sister company, ECC or European Consumer Claims has been approaching consumers that have paid sums to ITRA, stating they will take over cases. Should your receive such an approach, please let us know via our online form so we can provide further advice.

If you have not done so already – affected consumers are also advised to file a report with Action Fraud online https://www.actionfraud. police.uk/report_fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If you require further assistance regarding ITRA, then you may contact us using our online form – https://timesharebusinesscheck.org/free-assistance. Assistance is entirely free and the service is Trading Standards vetted and approved.

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