A recent enquiry alerted us to the existence of yet another firm of fake Spanish lawyers (Abogados). Torcaz Abogados purport to be a law firm set up in 1994, they quote a Spanish company registration of A43663289, however unfortunately no such registration number can be found for either the name of the company or the actual number supplied. It is a legal requirement when operating a business in Spain to be registered on the Spanish Mercantile Registry. Their website proudly displays a picture of their founder Fernando Olowa Garcia, but there is no such lawyer registered with any of the Colegio de Abogados in Spain; which is a further legal requirement in Spain.

As it turns out, the gentleman on the Torcaz website is in fact a well-respected Federal Judge from San Diego in California, USA. His real name is Dana Sabraw. Given that he seems to be so well regarded in his field, we have no doubt that he will not be particularly pleased to know that his photo is being used by a bogus law firm in Spain! Please see the following article from The Times of Santiago relating to his work in promoting of human welfare:

Also of concern is that the Legal Secretary Urena Afeldan Dordasa, as shown in the photo on the contact page, seems to be moonlighting, selling computers on Amazon!

For a supposed law firm it is rather unusual to have an email address that does not correspond with their company’s website domain name. The email company they use is mail.com who proudly state that they offer over 200 domains that you can use when setting up an account; one of which is @consultant.com, the same as used by Torcaz Abogados. Speaking of domain names, it is rather strange that a company that was allegedly established in 1994, should wait until 11thMarch 2020 to register their domain name and set up their website.

Another name linked to this scam is Armando Orebandel who are a supposed notary, again a search of this outfit reveals no Spanish company registration number. It is equally rather odd that the website was only registered on 10thJan 2020. Also most surprising is that the contact page on their website bodes no telephone number; instead just a fax. This is also mirrored on their company headed paper. Another perplexing point is that all the individuals named on the site don’t appear to exist. A Google search shows only their reference to Armando Orebandel; which in this day and age is very peculiar with all the social media hype. The email, once again, does not reflect the company domain (@europe.com) and is yet another “hide behind” address supplied by mail.com. 

The Scam

Our enquirers were contacted by Torcaz Abogados by form of an unsolicited telephone communication; which is not a normal business practice of any legitimate law firm. Having not initiated contact themselves, would it be impertinent to question how they obtained our enquirers data? They offered them a no-win no-fee Spanish Court claim to seek compensation for the mis-selling of their Diamond Burham Hall timeshare. This alone is most strange because the clients cancelled their ownership in 1994 and received confirmation from resort. Our understanding is if ownership is cancelled then it is not possible to make a compensation claim through the Spanish courts. However to ensure that our facts are correct, we contacted M1 Legal; a leading Spanish law firm who specialise in timeshare legal claims, this is what they said:

“I can say that if the timeshare has been cancelled and a settlement agreement has been signed between the Resort and the client, and the resort has confirmed the cancellation, this means that even if they have submitted a claim in the Spanish court they will lose and the court will most probably impose legal cost to be paid by the party who loses the case.

This is because when the consumers are not active owners of the timeshare they do not have the so called active legitimacy, meaning that they are not eligible to submit a claim, because this contract has already been cancelled”.

Furthermore, having cancelled their ownership so long ago, they have since disposed of their timeshare documents. When they challenged the representative from Torcaz Abogados about their lack of paperwork, they were told none would be required. Equally, despite being sent numerous emails, our enquirers have no recollection of ever signing any agreements with Torcaz Abogados or even a letter of authority, thus enabling them to represent their interests. One should ask, how can these lawyers compile a legal case and present it to a court of law without any documented evidence of the clients (former) ownership or even their written consent to act on their behalf. The answer is that they cannot.

Our enquirers have been asked to pay €395 to cover cost of the so called procurator to Paulo Roso Vearns, this payment is to made payable to Paulo Roso Vearns, strange, and surely a reputable law firm would have their corporate accounts in the company name not one of their employees. Also, as would be expected the payment is to be made by bank transfer thus affording the consumer no protection against fraud.

The enquirers have been told that there will be a hearing in the Tenerife Courts on 20thMay 2020. Proof of this was sent to our enquirers in the form of what appears to be bona fide court documents and to the untrained eye they do look fairly impressive, however they are all completely fake, again we showed the documentation to M1 Legal who confirmed they were far from real. They told us that someone with a basic knowledge of Photoshop or similar could have created these documents but unfortunately they bare no reflection of real Spanish court documents to which M1 are very much privy.  

Another peculiar factor is that though the case seems to have been presented against Diamond Resorts and Grand Vacation Club (GVC), who were the company that managed Thurnham Hall at the time of our clients purchasing their (former) ownership; most oddly an individual named “James Barrass” is also listed on the court papers. 

Having researched this person’s relevance to the Diamond/GVC there really does not seem to be any connection whatsoever. He has absolutely no association with either timeshare company and our enquirers have no recollection of ever having any other dealings with him. It is clear that this gentleman is definitely no angel, he has previously been involved in several timeshare resale scams and is currently serving 3.5 years of time at her majesty’s displeasure for property investment fraud, but why he appears on this charge sheet, we have absolutely no idea!

So far it appears that all the clients need to pay is €395, so where is the sting? Well, the alleged “compensation” figure applicable to our enquirers is a sum of €18,221! This is where the real sting begins. On the afternoon of the 20thMay our enquirers will no doubt receive a phone call or an email from one of the two companies giving them the great news that they have won their case. They will then be asked to make a further transfer to cover the 20% “win fee” which was stated in a previous email they received. No doubt this figure will also be increased by the addition of Spanish IVA (VAT) at a rate of 21%. This will amount to a total of €4,373. After this charge is paid the balance of €13,838 will be transferred to the claimants’ chosen bank account; however as experience and history tells us, this will never happen.

In the real world, in most cases, the court allocated compensation is payable directly to the claimants, this being the case we are sure that the claimant would not object to paying the fee, after all they will still be some €13,000 better off.

If in the rare circumstance the law firm were paid the compensation, then they could simply deduct their fee and pay the balance to the claimant. Both of these methods would satisfy the claimant but believe us, neither option will happen in this circumstance, because there is no money being awarded. 

Saved by the bell!

Luckily our enquirers came to us for advice before they allowed themselves to get involved with  these nasty individuals. It is all too easy to be hoodwinked by scammers. Over the years we have seen how sophisticated they have become. When being presented with “help” from what appears to be a legitimate law firm and notary; both of which seem to know an awful lot about you and can provide you with what seems to be the appropriate legal documentation, it is very easy to become the victim of these fraudsters. 

Legal fees for Spanish court cases where lawyers/notaries are involved may run into thousands and these costs would need to be paid, at least in part, upfront. No Spanish law firm will prepare and present a case for only €395; such an eventuality is comical. 

Please view the following link which is a recent article that we published on our website that explains all that you need to know about making a Spanish compensation claim.

Above all, treat all communications that you have not personally instigated with a great deal of caution. It takes all but a few minutes to search for details of the company that allegedly wants to “help” you and if you are in any doubt at all, please call or write to us as nothing gives us greater pleasure than saving our enquirers from the lion’s den and exposing these criminals for what they are truly worth. 

Finally, the name Torcaz when translated from Spanish means Stormy, we would suggest that if you are unfortunate enough to fall for this scam, then you should be certain that “stormy” waters lay ahead!

Posted on: May 13, 2020

For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk

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