The Prosecution of the Monster Travel 18

Yesterday brought news of potentially the BIGGEST FRAUD TRIAL in timeshare history. The trial process will commence in the City of London’s Westminster Magistrates' Court whereby the accused are required to enter a plea to the charges put.

The accused are identified by the Crime Prosecution Service [CPS] as being: -

1) Mark Rowe, [51], 2) Simon Walker, [55], 3) Louise Matthews-Oakenfold, [49], 4) Jodi Beard, [39], 5) Deborah Frost, [58], 6) Samantha McCaulay (nee Jackson), [48], 7) Joanne Physick, [42], 8) Paul Harrison, [51], 9) Nihat Salih, [53], 10) Lisa Salih, [52], 11) Nicola Rowe, [50] 12) Barry Fox, [66] 13) David Taylor, [62], 14) Paul Fowler, [63],15) Lee Evans, [48,] 16) Ian Frost, [50] 17) Josephine Cuthill-Fox, [57] and 18) Joanne Taylor, [47],

Mr. Mark Rowe, his wife Nicola, Simon Walker and Jodi Beard are all the group Directors who collectively had significant control over the myriad of companies, that thousands of consumers bought products from.

The totality of the sums believed to have been defrauded is around £25,000,000.

To date, we know the CPS have authorised the South-West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU) to charge the 18 people with 79 criminal offences: all of which are related to a Large-Scale Fraud.

In this case, the claimed fraud was perpetrated against 1,000, s of Timeshare Consumers.

Industry experts are suggesting that the prosecution will be the biggest in timeshare history.

To mount a case of this magnitude, a significant number of people and companies worked independently investigating the sales processes so as to establish common features regarding the many allegations the timeshare consumers where making.

On the part of the timeshare industry, the Resort development Organisation [RDO] financed KwikChex Ltd (run by Mr. Christopher Emmins) to gather information from complaining consumers. Equally, the Timeshare Association instructed Miss. Shamilah Ali (an investigator with Tess). The investigations worked independently of each other, and initially files and information sharing did not take place.

Between February 2016 and June 2016 Miss. Ali, interviewed over 500 consumers all of whom provided witness statements and supporting documents regarding their experience and how the products were sold to them. At the same time, Miss. Ali also investigated the companies who participated in the delivery of the products complained of.

At the same time, Mr. Emmins canvassed the assistance of timeshare resorts owners, the club committees and complaining timeshare owners for the purpose of establishing clarity and understanding with regards to the escalation of complaints.

As Miss. Ali’s investigation, was known to us, we have the information regarding what areas the investigation covered as well as its progression which spanned over 4 ½ months. Our reference to Miss. Ali’s investigation does not in any way diminish the efforts and contributions of the RDO nor Mr. Emmins.

It is true to assume that the Timeshare Association are at times the combatants of the RDO however, in certain circumstances it makes good sense for the two entities to find common ground and assist each other so beneficial goal is achieved.

To that end, Mr. Emmins graciously took action to pave the way for a meeting of minds which resulted in an  agreement whereby Miss Ali and the Timeshare Association would shared its conclusions including disclosure of the supporting documents they retained.  

To progress what Miss. Ali and Mr Emmins perceived as mis selling irregularities, any forward prosecution required financial assistance and legal minds greater than those investigating. To properly conduct the envisaged prosecution, the RDO financed the production of a professional opinion from EMM Solicitors who are private prosecution specialist.

After wading through the documents, reports, analytics, and data EMM presented their finding to the City of London Police [CLP]. The EMM report was then considered by the CLP who then decided to instruct South-West Regional Organised Crime Unit [Police] to investigate what continue to be allegations.

The Police investigation was independently carried out however, evidence provided by the RDO, the Timeshare Association, Miss. Ali, Mr. Emmins and EMM must have appeared sufficiently persuasive for the Police to investigate further.

In respect to those charged

The organisation was led by Mr. Mark Rowe who previously sold timeshares in Tenerife. Being more successful than most, he was promoted on various occasions and ultimately became the sales manager in a timeshare sales deck.

In and around 2012, he left his employ, in order to pursue opportunities to become his own boss reselling timeshares as well as selling other holiday products he believed were marketable. To that end, Mr Rowe created the following Companies each comprising of directors from the pool of directors identified above.

 In this chain there were two separate companies’ Complete internet Solutions Ltd who were based in the Seychelles and claimed to own the rights over the distribution of a product called ‘Monster Credits’. The distribution rights were then assigned to Hollywood Marketing SLU [Hollywood] who operated in Spain and its territories. Hollywood was assisted by way of Marketing services provided to them by TNS Market Research Ltd based in the British Virgin Islands.  

Hollywood created many websites including

www.cheap-holidays-teneriffe

www.travelpromotions

 www.monstervouchers

 www.monstercredits

 www.monstertravel

www.selmytimeshare

Glenmore Consulting Ltd was the organisations UK sales department however this company reflected no sales or expenses so was dormant. That said to the general public it was believed to be trading. It had a website glenmoreconsulting.co.uk

‘Monster Travel SLU’

(2 Companies registered in Spain).

Being adventurous Mr. Rowe was having difficulty scaling up his business to hights he wanted so, obtained lists of members of Timeshare Clubs. With these lists, Mr. Rowe began to cold-call consumers offering them an opportunity to re-sell the timeshare they owned and then acquire the product his company was selling. When clients were paid for the resale service the re selling was carried out by Mr. McFarland of skyservices.com

Miss. Ali’s Finding

The facts Miss Ali uncovered suggested, selling timeshares in holiday resorts was easier as all the benefits being sold were visible however, re reselling timeshare in offices in the UK was more difficult as the only information available to buyers was the internet (when consulted) suggested.

timeshare was blighted,

full of scams and

the buyer could be locked-in for years.

According to Miss. Ali, this worked against Mr. Rowe. Moreover Mr. Rowes operation involved ‘reselling’ timeshares which was a regulated activity [Timeshare Regulations 2010] SEE; section 9.

On account of 25 (5) No person may accept any consideration [Money] from the consumer before (a) the sale of those rights takes place, or (b) the contract is otherwise terminated.

Miss. Ali’s research suggested when selling Timeshares 1-5 consumers bought the products however, when reselling Timeshares, the odds of a resale maturing, went down to 1-400. This clearly was a major obstacle so, it appeared to her that if the sales pitches were not spruced up and the impact of the regulations were not avoided the whole business adventure would flounder.

Miss. Ali identified that ‘bait and switch’ appeared to have been deployed in this case, whereby consumers were ‘bated’ to attend a sales meeting by a suggestion that ‘all Timeshares were valuable’.

The selling process she explained was the enquiring consumer was told the timeshare was valuable and a high valuation price was quoted over the phone which induced the Consumer to visit with SellMyTimeshare.

In every case she investigated, this was ‘good news’ to the consumers, so they agreed to attend a sales meeting.  When attending the meeting, the high valuation given over the phone was reconfirmed however, to obtain the monitory valuation the consumer was obligated to buy a large number of Monster Credits. This type of inducements is ‘Bait and switch’ and a form of fraud used in retail sales. That said, when Monster Credits were purchased Mr. Rowes companies further suggested the Monster credits would unlock three benefits

  1. Access to discounted holidays,
  2. A Guaranteed disposal of the consumers existing timeshare and
  3. A return of 3 times the valuations price (after 14 months had elapsed and if the client no longer wanted the credits).

In respect to a) ‘access to discounted holidays’ Miss. Ali suggested this is entirely possible, however b) ‘A Guaranteed disposal of the consumers existing timeshare’ was speculative.

In respect to c) ‘A return of 3 times the valuations price after 14 months had elapsed if:  the client no longer wanted the credits. This was fantastical when considering the valuation of the timeshare was high in the first place and then to multiply that sum by 200 or 300% is way beyond speculation.

Miss. Ali found that Mr. Rowe explained that this fantastical offer was on account of the fact that ‘Monster Credits’ were becoming more and more valuable by the day as many corporate buyers were scooping up the Credits - fast - and his network had opened up an independent exchange forum where Monster Credits could be bought and sold on the open market.

Alas, the entire group of consumers Miss. Ali was engaging with, could not re sell the credits they were sold. Furthermore, when the 14-month waiting period had expired Mr. Rowe was unwilling to redeem the Credits for any monitory value. Finally, the alleged discounted holidays were claimed to be more expensive than the same holidays sold by high street estate agents. That said Miss Ali was unable to substantiate this claim.

This alleged misselling, was extensive and carried out over a number of years (from 2013 – 2018) and if Miss Ali figures were correct - the consumers in the year 2015 to 2016 had collectively paid around £20 million for the Monster Credit products. Some consumers may have received some benefit from the terminations of their timeshares however, no-one on her list obtained any gain from the alleged discounted holiday or the resale of Monster Credits.