Former Timeshare Swindler Brought Down as Part of International Crime Ring

John Palmer, aka, Goldfinger, was arrested last week in Tenerife, accused of heading an international criminal network. Specifically, the charges included trafficking in drugs and weapons, counterfeiting, bribing public officials, assault, and cheating tourists.

Palmer served jail time commencing in 2001 for conning thousands of people out of money in a timeshare scam that totaled roughly 30 million British pounds. The timeshare scam involved unscrupulous sales people trained to overwhelm timeshare buyers with language and paperwork so confusing and so complex that people gave up trying to understand it and simply turned over their money. Timeshare buyers were convinced they would profit by buying a timeshare, reselling it, and then buying timeshare again. Some 17,000 people—primarily tourists visiting in Europe—fell victim to the scam. But Goldfinger’s timeshare rip-off wasn’t his first brush with the law.

In 1983, a Brinks-Mat warehouse was robbed, in what at the time, was the UK’s largest robbery ever. Three tons of gold ingots, traveler’s checks, and diamonds were heisted from the warehouse. Palmer was not charged as a member of the robbery gang. He was, however, indicted, but was later cleared of charges that he maintained a smelter pot and melted the gold bullion for those who were directly involved in the crime. Among other unproven charges, he was also suspected to have been involved in helping a double murderer, and member of the Brinks-Mat heist, flee the country and evade arrest.

As if Goldfinger’s life doesn’t already sound more like a gripping novel than anyone’s reality, the court-ordered compensation for his charges in the timeshare scam (a mere 35 million-plus pounds) were later dismissed because of “procedural blunders by the court”. Apparently, US court aren’t the only ones that sometimes have their problems.

If the words Tenerife and timeshares sound familiar, it may be because just last year, two of Goldfinger’s former employees in the timeshare scam where brutally murdered in a case that remains unsolved.

It goes without saying, never sign your name to paperwork you do not fully understand, no matter what you are buying. Do not let timeshare sales people pressure you into signing on the spot in order to receive a reduced price, and be sure you know up front what the rescission period is for the state or country in which your contract is being executed. Lastly, if that nagging little voice in your head says you should be wary, then listen to it. There are plenty of timeshares, both new and resale, which you can purchase at excellent prices in fair and legal transactions.

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