A FRAUDULENT villa rental website that tricked British holidaymakers out of thousands has finally shut down following an extensive Olive Press campaign this year.
Dreamvillasspain.com was behind countless tales of heartbreak as it seduced holidaymakers into purchasing villa rentals that never existed.
The first case was reported by this paper in April when professional chocolate taster Angus Kennedy turned up at a villa he had paid for in Mallorca.
He was met with bewildered German owner, Klaus, who had no knowledge of ever putting his house up for rental.
It soon dawned on Angus he’d lost his €5,500 and urgently needed a place to stay with his wife and five young children.
“I think many more have been duped and the scam could be worth millions,” Angus told this paper at the time.
Soon after, the Olive Press was fielding calls concerning bogus rentals from Tenerife, to Marbella and Moraira.
One of the most heartbreaking was from Petra Deleslie, 42, and the collapse of her €6,000 month-long villa rental on the Costa Blanca, booked for this October.
The mum-of-two from Kent was all set to travel with 18 extended family members for a ‘much-needed break’ following the death of her mother to lung cancer.
“My nephews and nieces were really looking forward to it as they have never been abroad,” Deleslie told the Olive Press.
“I spent two years saving up for this trip, and I just can’t afford to pay for a new villa. The kids are devastated.”
Deleslie added the cumulative loss of flights would cost her family €12,000 in total.
Then there was Sarah Adams, who booked a surprise getaway to Malaga for four friends and their joint-five daughters as a post-A Levels present.
Both Deleslie and Adams felt their stomachs lurch as they read of the scam tactics of dreamvillasspain.com in the Olive Press.
The way the scam operated was prospective renters would receive an email from ‘general manager’ Rosella Alba Gutierrez offering discounts for up-front payments on respective villas.
But once paid, Gutierrez would shut off all contact, as it turned out the company’s phone was a fake.
With mounting cases, this paper made a collective denuncia at the Guardia Civil in Moraira on behalf of UK-based victims.
For months nothing was heard – until a major UK news network got in touch saying the website had been shut down.
The Olive Press can also reveal a second site – named and shamed in a separate article – is also no longer live.
Travelvacationtour.com operated with exactly the same layout and houses as dreamvillasspain.com, and scammed Brit Donna Archer out of €5,500 for a Tenerife villa booked as a post GCSE gift to her son and his best mate in May.
It is not yet clear if legal action has been taken against the companies, as both are listed as ‘active’ on Spanish companies house.
Guardia Civil declined to comment.