The vulnerable and elderly are sadly often targeted by fraudsters, but such risks can be minimised by taking expert advice before entering into important transactions. In one case that proved the point, a cynical and ruthless gang of conmen made over £1 million by fleecing elderly people who wished to sell their timeshare properties.
The gang’s modus operandi was to cold-call timeshare owners, offering to help them market their properties. Modest fees were initially requested, but more and more money was subsequently demanded to cover such purported costs as legal fees and taxes. Victims, all of whom were elderly and some of whom were recently bereaved, did not check the credentials of those they were dealing with. Many of them lost their life savings.
The facts of the case emerged as one member of the gang, who admitted conspiracy to defraud, challenged his seven-year prison sentence before the Court of Appeal. In dismissing his appeal, the Court noted the careful planning involved in the highly profitable frauds and that victims were chosen due to their vulnerability. It was not arguable that the sentence imposed was manifestly excessive.