By Eloise Horsfield
A FORMER Lord Mayor is among up to 24 ‘victims’ of a suspected timeshare scam.
Bristol councillor Royston Griffey handed over almost €5,000 for a ‘magnificent’ villa in El Rosario, which he had hoped to part-own with 23 others.
But Griffey, 68, who became the Lord Mayor of Bristol in 2007, claims to have been ‘hoodwinked’ by timeshare salesman Sheldon Mednick, 54, into taking two weeks’ ownership of the luxury villa per year.
Griffey signed up to spend €11,500 on two weeks a year ownership of the villa after being taken round by Mednick, the boss of Esprit Services Corporation.
“The scheme seemed different from the usual run-of-the-mill timeshare outfits,” insisted Griffey, a former lawyer.
“The carrot was that the fractional purchase would take two existing timeshare weeks we owned into account, in part exchange.”
Griffey immediately transferred €4,720 into Mednick’s account without a second thought.
But, two weeks later, Griffey’s wife received a mystery phone call from a man who warned her not to pay the rest of the money because it was a ‘scam’.
“We still don’t know who tipped us off,” she said. “But it was very lucky.”
The Griffeys demanded their deposit back from Esprit, only to receive a worrying response by email on July 3, seen by the Olive Press, saying Esprit had officially been ‘put into liquidation’.
The house, a four-bedroom villa with pool, has apparently now been sold by Mednick for over €500,000, insisted a close friend.
Furthermore, Griffey – who has failed to get any response for nearly three months despite constant calls – is not the only apparent victim.
The Olive Press understands there are at least half a dozen other potential losers in the scheme.
Fellow investor Zara Hicks, 32, from Surrey, paid over €21,000 for two weeks at the same villa.
The payroll manager said: “But I have had no contact since June. We appear to have lost a lot of money.”
Both she and the Griffeys had met Mednick while staying on holiday at the Grangefield Oasis Club, in Mijas, earlier this year.
Part of the cut-price deal they received while booking online was that they had to meet Mednick in order to visit the villa scheme.
“It was a three hour meeting and he was very convincing,” said Griffey.
The hotel insisted it was ‘not aware’ of Esprit’s dealings and has now stopped working with the company ‘after complaints’.
Meanwhile, a close associate of Mednick who has known him ‘for years’ revealed: “He has gone back to England.
“He went back owing a lot of people money. I hope he gets his comeuppance as soon as possible.”
The Olive Press can reveal that Mednick, a father-of-five, has returned to the UK with his wife Andrea to live in an ‘upmarket’ development in Chigwell, Essex.
Despite several attempts to contact Mednick by both phone and email, he did not get back to the Olive Press before we went to print.
Have you been affected by this or a similar scheme? Email [email protected]