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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Complex web of timeshare conman
Playas de las Americas, Tenerife
Palmer had interests in 11 resorts in Tenerife
John Palmer's eight-year sentence for two counts of timeshare fraud was the culmination of Operation Beryk, a Metropolitan Police operation lasting seven years and spanning four continents.

Palmer sold timeshare apartments in Tenerife to 16,000 couples, from the UK and across Europe, over an eight-year period.

Using a complex web of companies, he and his associates targeted existing timeshare owners and persuaded them to buy again.

John Palmer
Palmer started developing businesses in Tenerife in 1985
Customers were told that Palmer's company would sell their old timeshare and make them a vast profit. In fact the company did nothing.

Victims ended up with a new timeshare they could not afford, and an old one they could not sell at prices promised by Palmer.

DC Herbie Fryer, from the Met's Serious and Organised Crime Group said: "Palmer and his gang deliberately conned thousands of British holidaymakers into parting with their hard-earned cash.

"They offered dream holiday homes at dream prices - and thousands of people fell for it.

'Salesmen's trickery'

"All of the victims were induced to buy on the spot in Tenerife. Their vulnerability was undoubtedly increased by being on holiday far from home, and was exploited by misleading sales talk, alcohol and other tricks.

"Many of them were elderly or retired couples who lost their life savings thanks to the salesmen's trickery."

The police operation was one of the largest fraud investigations ever in the UK involving exhaustive inquiries to trace thousands of victims with detectives speaking to witnesses in more than 10 countries.

Their vulnerability was undoubtedly increased by being on holiday far from home, and was exploited by misleading sales talk, alcohol and other tricks

Dc Herbie Fryer
Metropolitan Police
John Palmer and ex-girlfriend Christina Ketley - who ran the Brentwood offices of the business - were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud in April 1997.

Six other defendants involved in the fraud have already been sentenced to between 18 months and four years imprisonment after an Old Bailey trial last year.

Martin Addington Smith, Malcolm Wallace, Michael Harbison, Simon Stephens, Brendan Hannon and Alexander Thompson all worked for the various timeshare companies owned by Palmer.

Registration fees

John Palmer started developing business interests in Tenerife in 1985. Operating under the banner of 'The Palmer Group' he built a number of resorts on the island, selling the apartments as timeshares.

Palmer had interests in 11 resorts
Island Village - Playa de Las Americas, Adeje
Tagoro Park - Playa de las Americas
Club Flamingo - Marina San Eugenio, Adeje
Tenerife Royal Gardens - Avenida Martima S/N, Playa de las Americas
Parque del Sol - Playa Fanabe, Adeje
Lagos de Fanabe - Playa de Fanabe, Adeje
Colonial Village - Playa de las Americas, Arona
Yucca Park - Urb Fanabe, Adeje
Club La Paz - Urb Jardines de la Paz, Puerto de la Cruz
Colonial Beach Club - Playa de las Americas, Arona
Montana Vista - Puerto de la Cruz
There are 11 resorts on Tenerife in which Palmer has had an interest, either as owner, developer or marketer.

A number of companies were set up through Palmer's sales director, Brendan Hannon, supposedly to re-sell or rent customer's timeshares. They accepted registration fees but did nothing.

Existing timeshare owners were persuaded to buy shares at a second holiday home on the basis that their old timeshare would be sold for a huge profit.

Victims were lured into the deal with promises of a better apartment and substantial profit at no financial risk.

New customers were told that the timeshare they were buying would be rented out and that the rent would virtually pay for the timeshare itself.

Holidaymakers were approached in the street by touts with scratchcards who told them they had won a prize and subjected them to a lengthy sales pitch.

No refunds

All of the victims were induced to buy on the spot in Tenerife.

Having persuaded them to commit to a deal, Palmer's gang simply banked their money and did not make efforts to either sell the first property, or rent it out on their behalf.

When victims realised they had been duped, Palmer's complex web of companies made it impossible for them to get a refund.

They also found that the paperwork they had signed committed them to paying instalments to a finance company.

Those who cancelled lost whatever money they had already paid. Those who did not found that they could never re-sell their timeshares at the prices promised by Palmer's salesmen.

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