OWNERS of timeshare properties have been warned not to fall victim to a scam which could leave them badly out of pocket.

In March, police in Malaga arrested 60 people – including 56 Britons – who were alleged to have been involved in timeshare scams going back to 2009.

Tony John, partner with Bournemouth solicitors Horsey Lightly Fynn, said timeshare owners were being called out of the blue and told there was a buyer interested in their properties. Buyers are asked to pay a fee to secure the sale – after which the con artist disappears.

Mr John said the versions of the scam had been operated or years. “I’ve been dealing with property work in Spain for 20 years and I’ve probably, throughout that period, have had people come to me saying they’ve had this,” he said.

“In the old days it was off a fax but now it’s the email or phone call saying they’ve sold their time share. My first question is: Did you have the time share on the market?”

At the time of the arrests in March, police in Malaga seized 830,000 euros in cash and property, as well as a luxury boat, six luxury cars, computers and telephones. Seventy-eight bank accounts were blocked.

Mr John told of one client who had been approached by a cold-caller claiming to have a buyer for his timeshare in Torremolinos. The caller said the money would be put into his account in return for a fee of £1,500.

“I contacted a lawyer friend in Malaga to see if she had heard of the company that was behind the cold call and she had heard nothing,” said Mr John.

“The address given in the subsequent email was near to her offices and she was kind enough to step round the corner to find that this was an empty shop.”

Mr John said people were still falling for the scam. “In the old days, there didn’t seem to be any interest from the Spanish authorities but there has been so much corruption in Spain and the mayor of Marbella ended up in prison for taking bribes. I think there’s now a desire in Spain to crack down on these things.”