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Murky business:  Money laundering for timeshare scams
Murky business: Money laundering for timeshare scams

Press release -

British money launderers jailed over organised crime timeshare scam

A former British solicitor and his partner, a bar owner on the Costa Del Sol, have been sentenced to a total of four and a half years for laundering organised crime money related to a fraudulent timeshare scheme

Reading Crown Court

On March 24th 2022, Her Honour Judge Cambell sentenced St Helens based Anthony Lea to 3 years in prison, and Ian Hollis to 18 months, both for the crime of money laundering.  Lea, 66, is a former solicitor struck off in 2001 for misusing client funds.  Hollis, 59 is a bar owner in Calahonda on the Costa Del Sol.

Lea was immediately taken down to begin his sentence, but Hollis remains at large in Spain after presenting a fake COVID certificate in an attempt to avoid flying to the UK for the hearing.  Sentencing Hollis in his absence, Judge Campbell said that he would be "taken straight to prison" if he ever returned to the country.

Resale scam

Lea and Hollis were convicted of laundering money on behalf of an organised crime 'timeshare resale scam'.  In this type of crime, fraudsters contact desperate timeshare owners, offering to buy their timeshare memberships at attractive prices, but demand advance fees of up to £2000.  The victims, keen to escape restrictive and expensive timeshare contracts pay up, then never hear from the 'buyers' again.  In a shameless follow up move, a connected scam company would then contact the same victims and offer to get the stolen money back... for another fee.

Investigations by Trading Standards showed the firms to be fraudulent.  The criminal organisation maintained anonymity by using the bank accounts of both Lea and Hollis.

Lea passed more than £465,000 though his account, and Hollis accounted for £75,000.  Lea co-opted the accounts of a solicitor and an estate agent to try and conceal the path of the money

At the height of the operation, Anthony Lea physically passed a bag stuffed with £180,000 in cash to an unnamed contact at a UK motorway service station.

Charges

A tip off from a UK pensioner back in 2016 triggered an in depth, joint investigation by a National Trading Standards Tri Region Investigation Team and local authority Trading Standards.  The timeshare related crimes took place in  2011, but the complex investigation took several years and Lea was not charged until 2019, originally alongside the solicitor and estate agent he had utilised in his scheme.  Accusations against the latter two were dropped when it became clear that Lea had been using their accounts without their involvement

Lea's trial was due to start in 2020 but was delayed by 18 months by COVID.  Hollis is still 'on the run' in Spain but a warrant for his arrest is waiting for him should he ever return to the UK.

Murky business 

"Timeshare has always been a magnet for criminal activity," says Daniel Keating, information Officer for the Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA).  "In the 1980s and 1990s, well known British criminals laundered money through high pressure timeshare sales operations in Spain and the Canary Islands.  After protective consumer laws were passed in Spain, the timeshare companies almost universally ignored them, making millions more at the expense of vulnerable tourists.

"Then came the criminal claims firms.  Only a tiny amount of companies offering to help you escape your timeshare or claim compensation for being illegally sold are genuine.  Avoiding the fraudsters is the main challenge for people looking to escape timeshare memberships.

"Both relinquishment and compensation claims (for people who fit the claim criteria) are possible.

"For advice on this, or any other timeshare related issues, get in touch with us at the Timeshare Consumer Association.  We keep a White List, a Grey List and a Black List of all the companies in this space."

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Timeshare Consumer Association.  Contact us on: T: 01908881058 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.org (Address to Daniel).  

WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055

TCA provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for the media and other organisations – We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators.  We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.

An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.

We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff.  We know our way around the timeshare business

Timeshare Consumer Association Newsdesk here

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Timeshare Consumer Association website here

    We are a proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition  

    Contacts

    Daniel Keating

    Press contact Help desk head

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    Free, expert, impartial timeshare advice since 1997

    Timeshare Consumer Association. Contact us on: T: 01908881058 (ask for Daniel), E: enquiries@timeshareadvice.org (Address to Daniel).
    WhatsApp (message only) +447586871055

    The Timeshare Consumer Association (TCA) was started in 1997 by Sandy Grey, a timeshare owner himself, who became sick of what he saw as repugnant sales practises in the timeshare industry.
    Sandy ran the website diligently from his home in Blythe, gaining a reputation for integrity and fearlessness at a time when some timeshare companies skirted with criminal behaviour and employed unsavoury characters.
    Sandy was gradually joined by other volunteers, disaffected owners and even former timeshare sales staff, sick of the “dishonesty” in the industry as a whole.
    Over the years, Sandy and his band of volunteers built up a huge volume of consumer testimony and knowledge. TCA became the number one source of impartial, expert advice regarding the latest scams as well as organisations that actually can be trusted.
    Sandy sadly passed away in 2013, but he had started a movement that could not be stopped. Consumers continuously contact us to both ask for and give advice, sharing their experiences to help others stay ahead of the industry scams and pitfalls.
    The information is moderated, assessed and categorised under the watchful eye of director Keith Dewhurst. With Keith at the helm, TCA has become the number one timeshare consumer organisation in the world.
    Whilst there are paid employees, the TCA operates on a shoestring budget, relying on volunteers and donations, though these are never accepted from sources that could compromise the organisation´s integrity.
    With your help, we will continue to hold the timeshare industry to account.
    While there is timeshare we need the Timeshare Consumer Association watching.

    Timeshare Consumer Association provides a central resource of consumer information on timeshare matters for both the media and the public. – We work towards encouraging responsible, honest, timeshare operators. We also publicly expose negative consumer practices and organisations which operate in a manner detrimental to timeshare buyers and owners.

    An important part of our mission is to lobby UK and European Governments and regulatory bodies for improved consumer protection in the timeshare environment and collect information on frauds and mis-selling, for action by enforcement authorities.

    We are staffed by former and current timeshare owners, as well as former timeshare industry staff. We know our way around the timeshare business.

    A proud member of the UK Small Charities Coalition

    Timeshare Consumer Association
    Artemis House, 4a Bramley Road, Mount Farm
    MK1 1PT Milton Keynes
    Milton Keynes