Search Site

Time-share fraudsters sentenced to more than 20 years in prison

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.

The frauds were committed between 2012 and 2015, and often targeted vulnerable people such as the elderly and those in poor health. In many cases, a three-part scam took place.

In the first part of the scam, victims were cold-called by members of the group and falsely told that prospective buyers had been found for their timeshare properties, most of which are in Spain. Advance 'sale fees' were sought by the fraudsters 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.

In the second part, the fraudsters adopted different names and company names to contact those who had lost money. They then made false offers of further schemes and transactions to help the victims mitigate their losses.

And in the third part, the group contacted victims and pretended 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 10 limited companies (both in the UK and abroad), with offices in the West Midlands, staff, bank accounts, and the means to process card payments.

The total value of the funds fraudulently obtained by the group is more than £875,000, comprising payments from around 470 individuals. All defendants will now face proceedings to recover the funds stolen, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
 
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."

 

For more information about fraud:

Action Fraud (actionfraud.police.uk) is the UK's national fraud reporting centre. Phone 0300 123 2040 or visit their website to report fraud.

Take Five (takefive-stopfraud.org.uk) is a national awareness campaign led by the UK financial industry and government. It offers practical advice on spotting some common, avoidable frauds.

 

Issued by Corporate Communications (LR) at 4.15pm on 23 February.

 

Published 23/02/18