By Alex Glenn • 21 July 2021 • 7:48
Con artist couple are jailed for stealing £650,000 from pensioners who had timeshare investments in Spain and Portugal. The pair defrauded pensioners out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by cold calling them pretending to be lawyers. They then promised pay-outs to the pensioners regarding their former timeshare investments.
Sean Thompson, aged 49 and Caroline Preston, aged 38, were able to con their victims and get them to pay out for non-existent legal work. They told the pensioners that courts in both Spain and Portugal had placed a ‘judgement’ against the infamous Club Class timeshare businesses.
The Club Class businesses folded in 2012 and were made up of group of businesses who together were named the ‘Club Class companies’. The companies had been winding up and sadly let many timeshare investors know that they would not receive any compensation or damages even after they had spent thousands of pounds investing in timeshares.
The duo even managed to con one woman out of £150,000, and she later died of cancer. One couple also lost their life savings to the scam and lost a staggering near £390,000.
The pair developed an elaborate scam and according police they befriended their victims and told them fake stories before they were able to talk them into transferring money. A grand total of £653,674 was stolen by the pair.
Thompson and Preston from Stockport have now admitted fraud and money laundering at Minshull Street Crown Court. Thompson is set to spend 6 and a half years in jail and Preston was jailed for three years. They will also both face Proceeds of Crime hearings.
Prosecutor Jonathan Savage said: ‘These defendants targeted elderly and vulnerable victims as a result of timeshare holiday agreements. They persuaded the victims that they were dealing with foreign courts on cases relating to compensation with legal fees and others fees to be paid upfront.
‘Thompson was the main participant. He was responsible for contacting the victims and persuading them that compensation was due. He told them he was a professional with timeshare agreements.
‘They used a law firm in London to gain credibility and used mock invoices and even the firm’s letter head. They obtained professional fees from the victims. Both defendants had personal relationships with their victims to gain their confidence.’
The basic idea of the scam was that compensation had been awarded to the former timeshare owners by courts in either Spain or Portugal, but in order for the pensioners to get their hands on this money they would need to pay a staggering amount in fees to Thompson.
‘What Thompson and Preston did to vulnerable and elderly people is shocking and I hope this outcome provides the victims with a sense of closure, said Detective Constable Shaun Nicholls, of Greater Manchester Police Economic and Cyber Crime Section.
‘Members of the public should be vigilant when it comes to discussing money with third parties, especially when sending funds or providing account details.’
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Originally from the UK, Alex is based in Almeria and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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