EXCLUSIVE By Alan Carson in Coin
A TIMESHARE king has been branded a “fraudster” and a “cheat” at Coin court.
Tycoon Bob Trotta was accused of “defrauding and mis-selling” to up to 1000 people over an eight year period to November last year.
Trotta, who has houses in Chelsea, Tenerife and Tuscany, was suing a local expatriate couple the Hutchinsons for libel.
Trotta, who is behind huge timeshare company Resort Properties, claimed that the Hutchinsons, who live near Coin, had consistently written lies about him on hard-hitting timeshare website Crimeshare.
But, the case came back to haunt him when the actual editor of the website Sandy Grey stepped forward to defend the couple.
Grey, who runs the Timeshare Consumers Association in the UK, insisted he was the actual mastermind behind the online forum.
He said Jim Hutchinson and his wife Lillian had not run the website and that he was entirely behind publishing all the information uploaded to Crimeshare.
Grey told Coin court: “I originally ran Crimeshare and continued to publish it under various domain names until February 2008.
“The website was dedicated to exposing deceit and fraud in the timeshare industry in Europe.
“The content mainly exposed fraudsters and cheats including Mr Trotta.
“A very large number of complaints from consumers, around 1,000, alleged fraud and mis-selling.”
The forum was online until last November and provided a fascinating insight into the activities of the timeshare industry.
Largely unmoderated it became a colourful, if sometimes unreliable, guide to the pitfalls of timeshare and holiday clubs.
Grey was unmasked as the shadowy mastermind of the Crimeshare website last November.
His identity was revealed during a preliminary hearing of a libel case at the High Court in London brought by Trotta.
Trotta – who it is claimed sits on a 250million fortune, previously called Crimeshare “the main source of false and scaremongering allegations” against the industry.
Grey however, told the Spanish court how Trotta dropped his action less than a month before it was due to be heard.
He admitted hiding behind fake identities while operating the website amid fears he could be targetted by industry people.
He went on: “The timeshare industry can be very unpleasant for people who criticise it so I hid behind other operators.
“I used two fictitious names. A third does exist.”
Trotta was not in court to hear the evidence.
Outside court Grey said: “I am delighted I had the opportunity to come here and say things which I never had the chance to talk about in the UK.”
The case was adjourned and is set to resume again early next year.