An elderly couple who were targeted by serial timeshare conman Frank Madden, say they are not expecting to see a penny of their money back.
Basil and Judith Jones fell were conned out of almost £2,500 by Frank Madden and his fake holiday scam and have told ITV news how angry they are after being duped and how five years on they are no closer to getting their money back.
Mrs Jones said: “I was very angry to start with and hurt that someone could do that. But when we found out about his previous activities, we thought how could we have been conned like that.”
The couple were lured in with an offer of a free Marks and Spencer voucher if they attended a meeting in Swindon. What they were actually attending was a five-hour high pressured sales meeting. They were told they would be able to cancel within 14 days if they were not happy, and they reluctantly agreed to sign up.
They told ITV News: “When you’re tired and just wanted to get the hell out of there, and they tell you, that you can always cancel when you get home. Looking back now, how stupid were we. It’s crazy, but at the time your told you have 14 days.”
The elderly couple did not know that Madden was already under investigation for a timeshare resale con and their request for a refund went unanswered. Madden was ordered to pay his victims back, but five years on his victims are still waiting to, and Mr and Mrs Jones say they are not holding their breath.
Staff working for Madden were instructed to cold-call hundreds of people a day inviting them to attend a two-hour presentation. Instead, sales reps subjected customers to unlimited hours of hard selling techniques, with the promise of valuable holiday products. Customers reported, after enduring hours of hard selling, during which loud music was played continuously, they were escorted to cash machines and forced to pay-up. They were then told that all contracts had a mandatory 14-day cooling-off period, which, when customers attempted to cancel, were told it was not possible to do so. Madden pled guilty and was subsequently convicted of fraudulent trading, breaching a suspended sentence and 8 counts of unfair trading. A subsequent Proceeds of Crime Act investigation into his financial affairs identified he had made £135,000 from the businesses. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison and barred from being a company director for ten years.
People who enter into Timeshare agreements often find it difficult to keep up with the mounting maintenance fees and simply cannot afford it any longer. They may also find that the Timeshare no longer suits their needs and simply want to end the contract. There are too many individuals who are willing to take advantage of Timeshare owners and offer fake products, along with Timeshare exit schemes. Before agreeing to any Timeshare termination or exit procedure with an individual or company, seek independent advice and fully research any company you are thinking of working with.
It is also important to remember that purchasing a Timeshare should NEVER be viewed as a financial investment. Timeshare is an investment in lifestyle, in future holidays and family time together. There is almost no resale value to a Timeshare.
The mis-selling of holiday products is, unfortunately, common practice within the holiday industry and these types of crimes often go unreported by the most vulnerable in our society and criminal convictions are few and far between.
If you have purchased a Lifestyle / Concierge Service, a Timeshare or a ‘Holiday Points’ based product from a resort or company and feel unhappy with the service, or feel you have been mis-sold this product, please get in touch with us to discuss how we may be able to help you with a possible Timeshare Termination.