A TIMESHARE conman subjected his victims to high-pressure sales techniques to get them to part with cash for “virtually worthless” accommodation which they often found themselves unable to book.

Francis ‘Frank’ Madden – who first appeared before the courts charged with similar offending in 2001 - had his staff cold-call hundreds of members of the public every day and invite them to presentations for holiday club companies Central Marketing Ltd, Glenleigh Ltd and Reco Corp Ltd.

Victims were told presentations would last around two hours. However, the presentations often took between four and five hours. In some cases, loud music would be played throughout. “Exhausted” participants were then escorted to cash points.

Although victims were told they could later cancel their contracts during a ‘cooling off’ period, when they attempted to do so, they were told it was not possible.

Those who attempted to book breaks found there was limited availability. When a holiday was booked, the accommodation was often sub-standard, it was heard.

The breaks offered through Madden’s companies were also sometimes available more cheaply on the open market.

Those who attempted to complain found the companies had changed addresses. Calls and emails went unanswered.

One victim told police the “virtually worthless accommodation was subject to very restrictive guidelines which prevented use of it”.

Madden, 61, was sentenced to 40 months in prison at Bournemouth Crown Court yesterday after admitting three counts of fraudulent trading. He also admitted a further count of breaching a suspended sentence order made in 2012.

Prosecutors said he set up a series of businesses, “phoenix-like, one after the other”, although his victims had no idea the companies were run by the same man.

Staff working for the Madden, including his co-defendant Claire Garland, who ran Central Marketing, were instructed to cold-call 200 people each a day.

A judge heard Madden, of Wellington Road in Bournemouth, has a record of similar offending.

In 2012, he was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 24 months after admitting eight counts of unfair trading.

The offences related to company Hotweeks. Those he scammed were subjected to a four-hour presentation in Southampton and told to pay a sum of up to £2,000 to get discounts on accommodation, flights and cruises.

Garland, 29 and of Wood View in Wimborne, admitted two counts of failing to provide cancellation rights.

Neil Fitzgibbon, representing Garland, said she was "gullible" and a "puppet" to Madden.

"As soon as Trading Standards appeared, [Madden's] opening remark was, '[Garland] runs the business, I'm just an employee'," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"He was quite happy to pass the buck."

Sentencing Madden, Judge Stephen Climie said: "His behaviour was commercially inept, and on occasion morally irresponsible, if not reprehensible.

"He was prepared to put people at risk."

The judge sentenced Garland to a 12-month conditional discharge after hearing Madden's offending has left her mired in debt.

Keith Furneval, 47, of Grosvenor Gardens in Boscombe, who was charged with fraudulent trading, and Madden's wife Jean Furneval, 60, of Wellington Road, Bournemouth, who was charged with money laundering, were formally found not guilty after prosecutors offered no evidence.