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Sorted: pounds 12m pain as time goes by.

Byline: Andrew Penman & Michael Greenwood

THE latest Spanish timeshare fraud is stinging Britons for more than pounds 1million every month.

In this resale scam, the conmen claim to have buyers waiting to snap up unwanted timeshares.

The owners have to pay an upfront fee, after which the conmen disappear - as Alan Todd of Harwich, Essex, knows to his cost.

He paid pounds 460 to Platinum Properties, who promised to return the money if his timeshare was still unsold after 12 months. A year went by, no one had bought Alan's timeshare and he wanted his refund.

When Platinum didn't reply to his letters or phone calls, we visited the address listed on its letterhead.

This turned out to be a mail drop in a back street in Madrid run by Manuel Fernandez, who told us that Platinum were never one of his clients.

"Letters just started arriving here addressed to this company in April," he said. "They were coming from Belgium, Germany, France and the UK. I know nothing about this company."

Platinum claimed to be part of the Screenit 2002 SL Group, a company founded in Malaga in 1998. The directors are Miguel Angel Gonzalez Fernandez, Kim Teresa Muldoon and Riordon Welby. Where they are now is anyone's guess. Sorry, Alan.

The good news is that the European Parliament is to take action.

Last week, Euro MPs heard that Britons have been cheated out of pounds 12million in resale scams this year. More than a quarter of all consumer complaints to the European Commission relate to timeshare.

Vowing to tighten the rules, Labour Euro MP Phillip Whitehead said: "Most MEPs now have bulging files of unfortunate victims who saw their money, like their dreams, vanish into thin air."

In the meantime, here are two rules of our own.

ONE: Never pay money upfront to someone promising to sell your timeshare. TWO: See rule one.

CAPTION(S):

PROMISES: Platinum didn't reply
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 30, 2001
Words:321
Previous Article:Sorted: Terminal greed; HI-TECH SCHOOL 'SHAFTS' OVER 4,000 STUDENTS.
Next Article:Sorted: FROSTYWINTER.


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