When timeshare first began to be developed in Europe it attracted many entrepreneurs and businessmen, some would fall by the wayside others would go on to make a name for themselves. Over the years the industry attracted some of the less salubrious of these “entrepreneurs”, and the repercussions of their actions are still being felt today.
Three of the most well-known names spring to mind, two are in the less salubrious category the other went on to be well respected, with a thriving timeshare business model. The first two are John “Goldfinger” Palmer and Robert “Bob” Trotta, the other is Sir Jack Petchey.
Sir Jack, just like the others, came from what used to be described as a humble background, born in 1925, leaving school at 13 and serving in the Royal Navy during World War 2. He went on to start a car hire and car sales business, the profits invested in property, namely timeshare, which by 2007 had a reputed value of over half a billion pounds.
Most timeshare owners know that it was in Albufeira, Portugal which was the cornerstone of his timeshare hub, along with very successful marketing in the UK and abroad. He even became a director of West Ham United FC and later purchased Watford FC from Elton John, he later resold it back.
He has also been recognised as a “philanthropist”, receiving many honours and recognitions, the last was his knighthood in 2016. He has been in the spotlight but not for the wrong reasons, unlike his counterparts.
Palmer as we know was involved with many “fraudulent” timeshare operations, all centred around his developments in Tenerife. He hit the news not just for his timeshare antics but also for his serious criminal ties.
Many were taken in by his operation and they all lost thousands in the process, for some, it destroyed their lives. He was also reputed to be ruthless to his enemies employing others to carry out the “dirty work”.
His reign and empire didn’t last long and he was eventually “assassinated” by “unknown” people at his home in Essex. He was awaiting further charges in the UK and Spain for his activities.
The other of our infamous pair is Robert “Bob” Trotta, his timeshare “empire” was also centred in Tenerife, but it spanned across the world, or rather attempted to. His company Limora Investments Ltd, would be the parent company for a myriad of enterprises registered in numerous jurisdictions.
Through his financial guru Kwang Boon Sim, he amassed what can only be described as a very sizable fortune, the tip of which is only just beginning to emerge.
The hundreds of consumers sucked into his product provided him and his family with a fantastic lifestyle, all on the money provided by his timeshare victims. This money was whisked away via the various “sister” companies and offshore accounts, not only to hide it from the taxman but also to ensure the victims could get nothing back.
All three made a fortune, but it is how that fortune was made and the legacy they have left that is the difference. Petchey built a company that was eventually sold to MGM Muthu, Palmer and Trotta built companies that defrauded millions from unsuspecting consumers and left many legal battles in the process.
As for their legacy, Petchy has his foundation and the honours he has received, Palmer and Trotta, probably will go in the book of “infamous crooks” and their names spoken with scorn by their victims.
Nothing has really changed for timeshare owners, for every genuine and decent company, whether in the industry or on the periphery, there are dozens more who are not and are just after your money.
Every industry has its crooks, and timeshare seems to attract more than most, it is probably the cross-border nature of the business and the varying consumer protection laws in place that make it so easy to fool people. Then let us not forget the overriding factor, there is a lot of “easy” money to be made!
Today with the lack of sales in Europe, the largest area for fraud is the “exit & claims” model, just this year alone so many new “companies” have emerged it is impossible to keep count. This area is very lucrative due to the fact many of the owners are elderly, being very susceptible to the “scammers’ suggestions”, such as the use of different national laws and scare tactics.
AIT doesn’t see many Petchey types in this lot, more the opposite, so once again we leave you with the best consumer advice going…..
Tomorrow AIT brings you another Westgate story from our US contributors, “The Military Lending Act and Westgate’s New Demand for Arbitration”. This is the latest in a series which has highlighted the sales tactics used and the contempt for members once purchased from Westgate, so join us tomorrow for another offering from Larry Lobbyist.