Brit expat arrested in Spain for holiday rental fraud

Published:  21 May at 6 PM
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A British expat accused of scamming a number of UK holidaymakers via a fake holiday rental site has been arrested in Northern Spain.

Paula Louise Neale disappeared from her Costa del Sol home last year amidst accusations she’d cheated British holidaymakers by placing a large number of fake holiday rental advertisements on Facebook using an alias and taking advance payments through PayPal. One alleged victim of the scam told the media she’d lost $750 in a rental which didn’t exist. The fraudster’s modus operandum involved renting properties using fake IDs and names, then sub-letting them through online advertisements.

One owner of a property which was used in the scam told expat newspaper Olive Press she’d had to deal with two separate couples who arrived at a condo she owned, both of whom said they’d rented it for their holiday via a woman calling herself Sharon Tate. By the time the Civil Guard in Malaga had identified Neale as the perpetrator, she’d left for Catalunya and eventually arrived in the south of France, claiming online to be a hairdresser and offering her services to expats. Finally, she was identified by Spanish police through her initials, PLN.

Neale has been charged with four holiday rental frauds, vehicle theft, falsifying public documents and stealing car number plates, but is not being held in custody because she has young children. A judge ordered she should be released on bail and a further criminal probe into her activities is now ongoing. According to local media, a number of complaints had already been filed against her before she fled to France.
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