Timeshare fraudsters duped thousands of British victims out of more than £4million a year in a well-honed criminal operation smashed by Spanish police.
Police chiefs today announced that they have arrested 56 people – all Brits, including the three alleged leaders – and uncovered 500 mostly pensioner victims.
And they said they feared thousands more would now be identified following a series of Costa del Sol raids against the gang which had been operating for more than five years.
Detectives detailed the lengths the fraudsters went to dupe victims into handing over cash at a press conference in Malaga this morning.
The three-tier scam involved calls from fake lawyers and court officials who persuaded their victims to hand over up to £35,000 after being conned into selling their timeshares.
The chief alleged ringleader, a Brit living in the resort of Mijas, had three homes and a boat and drove two luxury cars he is thought to have bought with his ill-gotten gains.
Nearly 80 bank accounts linked to the gang have been frozen and six vehicles seized along with the boat and properties valued at nearly £600,000.
Lead investigator, Inspector Mercedes Perez Quesada, said: ‘The fraud was three-fold.
‘Telesales operators contacted potential victims and offered them attractive prices to sell their timeshare properties and took advantage of their ignorance of Spanish law once they’d been tempted to instruct them to pay things like administrative or public notary fees.
‘Any excuse to get money out of them was valid.