Dominic O´Reilly, 55, the director of the now closed Eze Group Ltd, and his step-daughter Stephanie O´Reilly, have finally received their sentences for offences committed under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. On Thursday 21st March 2019, at Birmingham Crown Court, the Judge, Laurence Creed said that they had used “oppressive, aggressive and highly manipulative sales practices”. He further said that they had gone to “considerable efforts to circumvent regulations designed to protect consumers”.
The charges brought were that between 2014 and 2017 the pair had managed ´Eze Group´, the brand name for their many business, namely Eze Europe Ltd, Regency Shores S.L. (registered in Spain), Everywhere Travel Ltd, Dreamland Breaks, Timeshare Information Centre (TIC) and Timeshare Advice Bureau (TAB) and that during that time they failed to act with due diligence and they also used aggressive commercial practices. The multitude of business were set up so that they would appear independent of each other, however, in reality the were all linked in order to convince the customers to attend a presentation.
Dominic and Stephanie pleaded guilty to the two offences and Dominic received 28 months imprisonment and his step daughter was sentenced to a total of 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, for their roles in the ´holidays and leisure scam´.
Many clients mostly existing timeshare owners tied into onerous timeshare perpetuity contracts with high maintenance fees felt pressured into purchasing these packs in order to release them and their heirs from ongoing fees. These clients, a lot of which might be classed as elderly or vulnerable, were bullied into making what turned out to be useless purchases into their Lifestyle Concierge Package, totaling in excess of £422,000.
The customers were given a free mini break during which they attended a presentation, and were subjected to aggressive and highly manipulative sales tactics, sometimes lasting up to 8 hours long.
Trading Standards had on numerous occasions warned the O´Reilly´s that clients were entitled to cancellation rights with their purchases, however they still tried to avoid letting clients out of the agreements or to give refunds. In April 2016 following more complaints an enforcement action was carried out by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigations Team, supported by officers from Warwickshire Trading Standards and paperwork and files were seized which showed there were in excess of 100 further complainants with similar contracts worth approximately £1.3 million. Subsequently the group moved their operation to Tenerife, Canary Islands, but complaints continued to be received until 2018.
In addition to the sentences, both defendants were also banned from becoming company directors; Dominic O´Reilly for nine years and Stephanie for six years.
Posted on: March 26, 2019
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 01253 804 318 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk