A NOTORIOUS costa conman may finally be put behind bars.
Jose Luis Garcia Maseda has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after a decade-long battle with a victim, who refused to give up.
The Fuengirola fraudster – who may have conned up to 200 expats in shady deals – has been found guilty at a Malaga court.
Maseda, 75, has been ordered to return €95,000 to British businessman Gareth Malone or head straight to jail.
Last night the company director, 36, based in London, told the Olive Press: “I couldn’t let him get away with it.
“He simply had to pay for what he has done, and I know there are lots more victims out there like me.”
The Olive Press first reported on Maseda in 2009, revealing how he had convinced hundreds of clients to invest their money from his Eurobrokers office, in Arroyo de la Miel.
Most cases were strikingly similar, with smooth-talking Maseda having been recommended to them via a series of third parties, or even local banks.
In most cases he managed to get his victims to sign over power of attorney, often ‘to lighten the paperwork’, which enabled him to take out big mortgages in their names.
Victims only became aware when instalments began to be charged monthly or in some cases when they were contacted by the banks for defaulting on repayments.
One lawyer, Juan Carlos Carrasco Garcia, who represented a number of victims, praised the Olive Press for its reporting at the time.
He said: “It is an important case in the fight against the corruption that exists on the Costa del Sol.”
Malone (left), has been chasing Maseda since he solicited his services as a lawyer in 2006.
Maseda had promised to help him organise the rental of a property he had inherited from his family in Mollina, near Antequera.
Maseda, who claimed to be a lawyer, financial consultant and tax advisor, agreed to help manage the paperwork for the €350,000 four-bedroom villa.
“Maseda made me sign documents giving him power of attorney and promised to organise it all.”
However, a year later he began receiving letters demanding that a strange mortgage be paid off on the property.
It emerged that instead of making Malone a landlord, Maseda had actually taken out a €95,000 mortgage in his name and pocketed the money.
“He set up a bank account with Bankinter under my name and transferred the money to himself.
“My age, passport number and address were all wrong, how can a bank do that? It’s unbelievable.”
Maseda initially began sending Malone money, claiming it was from tenants, but then it dried up.
When the Londoner began questioning Maseda in 2007, he was nowhere to be found.
“He literally disappeared off the face of the earth, he’s a real piece of work.”
Malone began his legal battle the following year and has been chasing Maseda ever since.
While he declared himself bankrupt and unable to pay some years back the court has ordered him to pay €95,000 mortgage as well legal costs or face jail time.
Malone is hoping other victims will follow his lead.
“He should spend the rest of his years in prison, he deserves it,” he added.
At least 45 victims have pursued him in the courts, but there could be up to 200 victims, estimate lawyers.
While the amounts stolen are around at least €1.4 million, the actual figure could be far higher.