The Canaries are a popular holiday area and the destination for millions of tourists. Sometimes, however, things can go badly wrong
In 2013, police raided timeshare showrooms in Gran Canaria, arresting nearly 60 people including Paula Beatson for her part in allegedly helping organise a £4.3million timeshare fraud that targeted thousands of tourists. Around 2,000 holidaymakers paid up to £25,000 each for timeshare properties that they could not use. 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, Gran Canaria. 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
The group were accused of carrying out the fraud from 2007, using various business names to carry out the con. They allegedly included Voyager Travel and Lifestyle Holidays as well as companies that promised to extract tourists from any pre-existing timeshare agreements.
Paula Beatson, from Lancashire, was one of those arrested along with German Eugen Friedrich Kaiser and Norwegian Kieron Day. It is understood that both Beatson and Kaiser were previously accused of fraud in 2006 but were not convicted of any crime.
The Mindtimeshare Association, a Spanish watchdog, became aware of the group after receiving more than 60 complaints. It contacted police, who launched 'Operation Voyager', leading to the arrests.
The alleged ring leaders of the so-called gang accused of swindling tourists through shared vacation or timeshare offerings; Eugen Friedrich Kaiser, plus Timothy Roberts Matthew, Luckau Jorn Peter, Yvonne James, Mark Misin, Paula Louise Beatson and Rodolf Antonius Mattheus had reportedly avoided making any official statements, having been denied access to counsel, according to lawyer Miguel Rodriguez. Alberto Garcia, the director of Mindtimeshare, said: 'Paula was the financial brain of the operation. After several years of thorough analysis and collection of the victim's testimonials, the Mindtimeshare Association decided to present a formal demand to the Spanish police
'This demand has been backed up by strong evidence of how this organised gang was lying and cheating in order to make the tourists fall into their trap and make them buy their allegedly fraudulent product.' Those arrested have been released on bail after giving statements. The Special Organised Crime Unit is continuing its investigations
Process Service of English legal documents in Spain is expensive and cost-prohibitive. It is cheaper, if the documents are from a UK court, for one of our process servers to travel to effect service personally