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.
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.
Daily Mail September 2016
More cases of consumers deceived by ITRA are exposed. Identifies the influential ITRA ‘consultant’ and shows connections to ECC.
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”
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).
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.
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.
Official filings confirming ownership links between businesses closed down by UK authorities and ECC.
Club Class Concierge – closed by UK authorities
Bridge View Consultants – closed by UK authorities
European Consumer Claims – current business and the one responsible for the attacks
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
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.
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 approaches. Documents 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/
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.
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.
Important advice re increasing risks related to timeshare claims businesses
On 22 February 2019, purported ‘timeshare claims specialist’ businesses Meredith Pritchard Consultants Ltd. and First Law Solutions Ltd. were wound up in the UK High Court following action by UK authorities.
The Insolvency Service presented petitions to the court on the grounds that both companies traded with a lack of commercial probity by failing to provide contracted services in a timely manner or at all. This included accepting payments in respect of non-viable claims, charging excessive fees, and using misleading and aggressive sales techniques. Losses to consumers deceived by the businesses are believed to be in excess of half a million pounds.
The news follows the winding up of another timeshare claims operation just weeks before, when International Timeshare Refund Action (ITRA), were also wound up in the High Court after failing to refund monies to consumers as per court orders established, they too had not provided the promised services.
In the past 18 months, several businesses offering timeshare and relinquishment services have shut down without making good on their promises. Other notable examples include RSB Legal and Standon Mortimer.
In addition, there have been multiple arrests made by the police and convictions through prosecutions, including the prolific EZE Group that are connected with the targeting of timeshare owners, In August last year, the problem was highlighted by Action Fraud, who reported that victims seeking their assistance had reported losing £7,893,028 in just the first half of the year. KwikChex has estimated that well in excess of £150 million has been lost by consumers to such activities over the last 5 years.
Over 100 businesses have been identified as operating in deceptive and fraudulent ways or simply failing to deliver the promised services. Regrettably, this has even included regulated businesses including at least one firm of solicitors. Fake lawyers have also been springing up and making unlawful, unsolicited contact with timeshare owners.
The problem has turned into a large-scale epidemic and KwikChex is currently in discussions with several authorities on how to tackle it.
Free help with checking and due diligence
KwikChex, via the Timeshare Task Force provides a free service to consumers wanting to check on businesses operating within the timeshare sector. It is the only resource of its kind officially vetted and approved by UK Trading Standards.
Given the vast scale and nature of the problem, KwikChex is urging consumers to:
- Use the Timeshare Task Force resources to check all businesses offering timeshare relinquishment and claims
- If they simply want to relinquish their timeshare, to make enquiries of the timeshare developer/ resort at which they own in the first instance to see what exit options may be available
- If they believe they have a claim, to check what options are available with the Timeshare Task Force resources
- Report all unsolicited contacts – as almost all have been shown to be rogue in nature
- Use free resources provided by KwikChex to ensure that all due diligence is carried out and that all information regarding proposed services is put in writing
- Avoid any business that states it cannot accept credit card payments
Important information for clarity
The free services provided to consumers by KwikChex are funded through the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), which represent timeshare businesses in Europe. In order to ensure that the services provided by KwikChex maintain the highest levels of integrity, they have been vetted and approved by UK Trading Standards and continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis.
KwikChex has an outstanding track record of resolving problems and gaining refunds for consumers free of charge. This has included several well-publicised cases where assistance has been provided that enabled consumers to make successful regulatory-based and court claims. Where KwikChex is unable to help directly and the consumer wishes to take formal legal action, KwikChex will advise that an expert legal professional is used and advise on the selection process.
The official KwikChex accreditation, approval and verified consumer feedback can be viewed on the following link.
Credits: The Mirror, By Andrew Penman, 14/02/19
Shut down: the company that took upfront fees from people desperate escape timeshare traps
‘International Timeshare Refund Action liquidated after ignoring court judgment’
‘When ITRA ignored the judgment they took the case to the High Court to have it shut down, assisted by Kwikchex, an online business verification scheme that runs the timeshare industry-funded Timeshare Task Force .
“ITRA has a long record of making empty promises and charging huge fees, when in reality there were free or much lower cost options to exit timeshares,” said founder Chris Emmins.
“That’s why we have provided free help, assisting consumers to take successful legal action. We are continuing to assist consumers that have been affected by ITRA and other similar businesses.”
Above excerpts and read the full article: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/shut-down-company-took-upfront-13994817
Credits: The Mirror, By Andrew Penman, 17/10/18
Trapped timeshare owners who paid thousands to get out of their contracts are being ‘palmed off’
‘Couple were desperate to sell their timeshare when the annual fees reached £1,500 so paid International Timeshare Refund Action Limited, or ITRA, to help them’
So far ITRA have done very little, getting me to do most of their work,” Laura says.
“After four years I am now informed that I still own the week in Scotland and am therefore liable for maintenance arrears of £742,” said Anthony.
“We paid ITRA over £5,000, this was over two years ago,” says Julie.
Above excerpts and read the full article: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/trapped-timeshare-owners-unwanted-weeks-13431301
If you believe you have been affected by a scam you can report it to KwikChex: https://kwikchex.com/consumers/
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: