A British woman has been arrested for allegedly helping organise a £4.3million timeshare fraud that targeted thousands of tourists.
Paula Beatson is one of 58 people – mostly Britons – held when police raided timeshare showrooms in Gran Canaria.
The 44-year-old is believed to be the financial brain behind a scam in which about 2,000 holidaymakers paid up to £25,000 each for timeshare properties that they could not use.
It is claimed that swarms of sales agents posing as representatives of the Canary Island tourist office targeted British tourists on the streets of towns in the island’s south.
The ‘tiqueteros’ (ticket touts) would snare potential clients with prize-winning ‘scratch cards’ and supposed free gifts, encouraging them to attend a promotion.
Some customers were even given a free taxi ride to attend intensive sales pitches at the timeshare base in an apartment complex called Club Puerto Atlantico in Arguineguin.
Once inside they could be subjected to eight hours of ‘hard sell’ of a scheme that would give them access to luxury holidays at a heavily discounted rate.
Customers are believed to have paid out between £4,300 and £25,000 for the guarantee of 70 per cent discounts at some of the world’s top resorts for between five and 30 years. But the timeshare sellers were allegedly using the glossy brochures of other top holiday firms to sell the concept.
Even the discounts they offered could be found in a high street travel agent.
A Spanish police source said: ‘They were selling a complete and utter lie.’