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Exeter timeshare man denies compensation scam

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 18, 2013

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A timeshare specialist has told a jury that he was running an honest business which helped victims of mis-selling get out of crippling maintenance contracts.

Niel Mendoza says he did not receive a single complaint from any of his customers and was shocked when trading standards officers raided his business in Exeter.

He denied getting customers to meetings under false pretences or using scare tactics to bully them into paying his firm large fees to get out of the timeshare deals.

He insisted he had been providing a valuable and useful service at the Marsh-Barton company called Devon Based Associates.

Michael Girvin, aged 53, of Salterton Road, Exmouth, and Mendoza, aged 59, of Cordery Road, Exeter, deny three charges of breaching consumer protection legislation.

They were both cleared of the more serious charge of fraudulent trading on the direction of Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court.

He ruled there was no direct link between the alleged dishonesty in getting clients to meetings and the subsequent transactions in which they handed over money to get out of timeshare contracts.

The prosecution allege the two former timeshare salesmen devised a scam to prey on disgruntled timeshare owners who had been lumbered with deals they did not want.

The Crown says the two men lured potential customers to their offices by offering to enlist them into a class action against the timeshare industry which may generate up to £20,000 compensation apiece.

It is alleged customers were then subjected to a sales pitch for the service offered by Devon Based Associates in which they charged up to £7,800 to enable owners to relinquish timeshare properties or points.

The prosecution allege they made misleading claims about the likely future liabilities and overcharged for the service they offered, which actually cost around £800.

The jury have been told the two defendants worked together previously at St Francis Marketing, a timeshare selling operation which was investigated after complaints from customer.

Girvin and two fellow directors admitted breaches of consumer law but no action was taken against Mendoza.

Mendoza told the jury he was a director of Devon Based Associates and was working with a reputable firm called the International Timeshare Recovery Agency to collect 25,000 names for a class action.

He denied giving customers the impression that his company had any legal expertise and said all 109 who attended its meetings during the six months it operated were aware they would be offered advice on how to relinquish their timeshares.

He said:”We never suggested we were lawyers or legally qualified. We did not mislead anyone into coming to meetings.

“Most timeshare owners are very sceptical about phone calls and they would have checked us out on our website before they arrived. They would have been in no doubt what we were about.

“The figures we gave them for the likely amount they may get from legal claims came from ITRA. I do not accept that anything we were telling people was misleading.

“We never had any complaints from customers so you can imagine my shock when the trading standards department walked in. They had not been in contact before.

“They turned up and proceeded to empty the office of every document and all the computers. The took the whole lot off and put it into a van and did the same at my house as well.

“We never had anyone ring us to complain. The ones who decided they did not want to go through with relinquishment were refunded.

“As far as I know everyone we dealt with was happy.”

Girvin will give evidence later. He also denies misleading any customers either about the meetings or the service offered at them.

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  • Brittany334  |  December 19 2013, 5:37PM

    Timeshare fraud has been around since the timeshare idea was created, but they increase during poor economy. When times are difficult, timeshare owners are stuck with properties they can´t travel to or even afford. Desperate to recoup some money to pay for bills, they can easily become victims to scams artists pretending to be their timeshare salvation who will take upfront fees -as much as five number figures in some cases- but fail to fulfill their promise: http://tinyurl.com/qzvnhdk

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  • mindtimeshare  |  December 19 2013, 2:53PM

    Fraudsters take advantage of the lack of coordination between public and private institutions and different countries. Last July 2012 Mindtimeshare wrote and article on this: null

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