Police say they are intent on rooting out fraud after a group of scammers conned hundreds of sick and elderly victims out of £875,000. The ‘cynical’ timeshare scam saw around 470 vulnerable people – often elderly and those in poor health – targeted in a three-part scam.
First, the victims were cold called by the scammers who falsely informed them prospective buyers had been found for their timeshare properties – most of which are in Spain. However, the group demanded advance ‘sale fees’ from the victims 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. Adding further insult to injury, the fraudsters then hit the same victims again, adopting different names and company names to contact them about the lost money. They then made false offers of further schemes and transactions to help the victims mitigate their losses. The third part of the scam saw members of the group contact victims pretending 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 ten limited companies (both in the UK and abroad), with offices in the West Midlands, staff, bank accounts, and the means to process card payments. Between 2012 and 2015, the fraudsters stole more than £875,000 in payments from their victims.
Detective Inspector Emma Wright of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit said: “This has been a long and complex investigation and I am pleased that the offenders have been brought before the courts this week to receive custodial sentences. These scammers targeted some of the most vulnerable people in our society in a deliberate and cynical campaign of fraud. Their scheme had devastating consequences on the victims – not just financially but emotionally too. Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police remain committed to bringing to justice those who commit fraud and financial crime.”
Nine people have now been sentenced for their roles in the ‘deliberate and cynical’ timeshare fraud. Six men, three of which are from Redditch, have been jailed or a total of 20 years in prison following the sentencing at Stafford Crown Court between February 21 and 23:
- Brian Carr, 31, from Redditch was charged with conspiracy to defraud and perverting the course of justice. He was handed six years and eight months in prison and disqualified from holding the position of company director for ten years.
- Daniel Carr, 24, also from Redditch was charged with conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to four years.
- Dawn Gingell, 55, from Hampshire: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
- James Barrass, 37, from Norwich, was charged with money laundering and handed a two-year prison sentence.
- Craig Walker, 27, from Redditch: Charged with conspiracy to defraud. Sentenced to three years in prison.
- Steven Cross, 37, from Worcester: Charged with conspiracy to defraud and jailed for six months.
- Matthew Barker, 25, from Bromsgrove was charged with fraudulent trading and sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
- Brendan Hicks, 28, from Redditch was charged with fraudulent trading. He was sentenced to one year and one month in prison, suspended for one year and six months, and ordered to 250 hours of unpaid work.
- Alan Sharp, 66, from Norwich was charged with money laundering and sentenced to a suspended sentence of eight months in prison and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
All defendants will now face proceedings to recover the funds stolen, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.