Club Class Scammers Behind Bars
It has been found that elderly victims of the Club Class scam were further conned by a Stockport couple claiming to be a solicitors firm before the two were imprisoned in late July.
Sean Thompson and his accomplice, Caroline Preston, targeted the most vulnerable victims in the 2012 scam and subsequently walked away with more than £580,000 in funds.
However, this is not Thompson’s first time committing fraud. He previously cold-called Club Class victims using the same tactics while posing as a Cornwall-based business named Timeshare Reclaim Legal Services. This 2013 start-up was eventually wound up in 2015.
Scams conducted by cold-calling are back at their pre-Covid high, with so many of us being hounded by nuisance calls. A report conducted by the National Trading Standards found that those aged over seventy-five were ‘more than three times more likely’ to be targeted. Read our article to find out more.
Both Thompson and Preston pleaded guilty at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Thompson with six counts of fraud being jailed for six and a half years and Preston with five identical counts for three years.
Between 2018 and 2020, the scam took place. The two used a law firm based in London, similar to Thompson’s previous efforts, to gain credibility. Behind this guise, they were able to obtain professional fees from the victims using fake invoices and the firm’s letterhead. This is also known as a forgery. Under Section 1 of the Forgery Act 1981, it states: “A person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person’s prejudice.” As a means of persuasion, they even told their victims they would receive lump sums in compensation after paying all the fake legal fees associated.
For example, a couple aged in their 70s was cold-called by Thompson, who pretended he was a ‘freelance financial expert’. He promised they would receive £135,000 in compensation from a court in Spain, but only if they paid certain fees. To keep up the ruse, a number of forged letters were produced. Thompson even falsely claimed that his wife had died of cancer and that his daughter had attempted suicide to gain sympathy and trust in the couple.
When it finally came time to meet at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) headquarters in London, they were met by two workers who claimed the couple might be a victim of fraud. Feeling desperate and lost, the elderly couple paid even more money, including their life savings and funds from friends. As a result, Thompson and Preston stole around £387,812.
Greater Manchester Police said they are now seeking to retrieve any proceeds of these crimes. Detective Constable Shaun Nicholls added: “What Thompson and Preston did to vulnerable and elderly people is shocking. I hope this outcome provides the victims with a sense of closure.” He then warned other members of the public to stay vigilant in the future regarding the discussion of money with third parties, such as sending funds or providing any account details whatsoever.
Timeshare owners are largely at risk of being harassed by cold-callers. They are responsible for at least 90% of scams towards timeshare owners, and losses are now estimated to have surpassed £150 million in total. We strongly recommend not to engage in these scenarios and report any suspicious activity you may encounter.
So, why use Athena Law?
Athena Law is a full-service legal firm with a long-established timeshare dispute resolution department headed by one of the firm’s founding partners, Mr Stephen Boyd. Mr Boyd has been a solicitor for over 20 years and over the last decade has cemented his reputation as one of the leading solicitors in this field, ably supported by his team.
We aim to provide high-quality, client-focused legal advice and support across Manchester, the North West, Fylde Coast and London. As part of our service, we will undertake an initial review of your documents and claim at no cost. We will only take on a claim if we believe it has good prospects of success, unlike unregulated timeshare paralegal companies. It is crucial for us to be honest with clients. Clients are engaging solicitors not only to pursue claims but to give them independent advice. If a claim has no prospects, clients should be told. If claims do have prospects, clients should expect the same to be pursued and appropriate legal submission on their behalf.
Due to the complexities of these cases, we can give no guarantees. All we guarantee is that we will use our expertise to provide our clients with the best prospect of success, and we will pursue their claims vigorously.
If you have had the misfortune to entrust your claim with an unregulated “timeshare professional,” please contact us. At the very least, we can provide you with an independent review and pursue any viable claim properly. In addition, you may have a claim against unregulated/unqualified legal representatives. For a free consultation, ring us on 0161 839 8847 or send us an enquiry form on our website.