Did George take the secret of the holiday homes raffle’s missing million to his grave?

MAN OF MYSTERY: George Scott in 2006, at the Mallorcan hotel he 'raffled' on the Internet. Exclusive photo by Mike Gunnill

MAN OF MYSTERY: George Scott in 2006, at the Mallorcan hotel he ‘raffled’ on the Internet – Photo by Mike Gunnill (c) mikegunnill@mac.com

As a silver-tongued charmer, George Scott always appeared to adore the sound of his own voice. Plausible and intellectually adroit, he seemed every inch the flamboyant character he fashioned himself into – a colourful entrepreneur, shameless self-publicist and writer of mystery fiction, whose epitaph is steeped in mystery.

Tall, grey-bearded and sporting a trendily-battered, straw Fedora, the ex-pro wrestler cut a Hemingwayesque dash, accentuated by a trans-Atlantic drawl, honed during his youth in Canada and the US. And he never lost an opportunity to milk his persona to the max.

I last talked to George in mid-2012, the conversation centring on the self, same topic of our many previous chats: where had over a million euros of other people’s money gone?

Unerringly, his responses were the same. He’d generally obfuscate, cavil, admit (some) blame yet somehow pass the buck. So pinning him down was akin to nailing jelly to a wall. Whatever else, he’d insist, he didn’t con anyone; he was ‘sorting the investors out’, even though they were pestering him (‘counter-productive’, he’d claim); he was in his late 70s and a sick man (true); and the banks were ‘impossible…they’re out to ruin me.’ Maybe, but, when pressed, he offered no reason why.

Normally, I’d have given up on George ages earlier, but, in my capacity as Fleet Street’s Man in Mallorca, I’d played some small part in his first flush of good fortune.

Because, in July, 2006 I was commissioned by a UK national newspaper to write a piece on a man who’d launched a unique Internet raffle – winaholidayhomeinspain.com – in which participants could scoop prizes of ‘exclusive villas’ or ‘luxury studio apartments’ in a ‘paradise’, tucked away off the beaten track in the majestic, Mallorcan hinterland.

Nestling astride a pine-clad, hillside, with the shimmering Mediterranean on the horizon and only birdsong to ruffle the tranquillity, one could be yours for the price of a ticket – just £100, €150 or the US$ equivalent, trumpeted the website’s blurb.

OVER & OUT: Scott's voguish Binisallem B&B was siezed on  a court's order and Scott was locked out

OVER & OUT: Scott’s voguish Townhouse B&B, in central Mallora at Binisallem, was siezed on a court’s order and Scott  locked out

That was the tantalising entry fee to George’s master plan to offload the 10 ‘properties’ he valued (or, in this writer’s humble opinion, rather over-inflated) from €250,000 to €500,000, comprising a rustic hotel, Scott’s of Galilea. If all went to script, he’d gross himself over three million euros. Trousering such a windfall would have given him the moolah to pay off the bank’s lease on the business and live out his days in bliss, while still operating his other B&B, the voguish Scott’s Townhouse in Binisallem.

And, back in 2006, before the house-price bubble popped, George underlined his generosity of spirit, saying, ‘This seems a fair way to put luxury properties into the hands of people who couldn’t otherwise afford them. All people have to lose is the price of a meal out for four or a couple of tanks of petrol for an average car. And, heck, life’s a gamble anyway.’

All he needed was 33,000 punters for his raffle to work and, as he told me a month later, he’d sold 5,000 on the back of my story alone.

But, even given George’s panache, I felt a sense of misgiving about the idea. People had tried similar stunts before – like raffling their homes – and, for one reason or another, most had ended in tears.

Plus, there was Mallorca’s reputation for get-rich-quick schemes, which initially flourish on this Alice In Wonderland island, only to evaporate in the heady sunshine.

And, while he may have set out with sincere motives, for all his acumen, George seemed a man intoxicated with the bigger picture, rather than the devil in the detail.

Which is probably why his own pipedream got stuck in a morass of red tape and a self-manufactured mess.

Among oversights he admitted to, not only had he neglected to obtain planning permission to carve up his hotel into individual parcels, each one requiring its own property deed (an escritura in Spanish), he failed to obtain a local licence for a raffle, though he insisted he had American, Spanish and UK ones.

And, after an early rush, ticket sales – they were later re-branded ‘hotel vouchers’ to overcome legalities – flatlined.

About two years on, having exhausted excuses to hold regular draws as George promised, under pressure from participants a first – and only – lucky dip took place, with a couple from Rutland, in the UK, ‘winning’ a €250,000 studio

Only they didn’t… George told them ‘for legal reasons’ they couldn’t have it.

And in common with a host of others, they also made loans to his businesses, some up to €25,000. These were usually redeemable as fixed-period, interest-bearing bonds. But, to my knowledge, despite the terms expiring, none of the creditors has been repaid.

 OFF-LINE: The website announcement, declaring the raffle dropped

OFF-LINE: The website announcement, declaring the raffle axed

Meanwhile, at least 10,000 wannabe holiday home owners worldwide – many of them Brits – had snapped up tickets/vouchers, until the man himself scuppered the scheme two years ago.

George claimed he was too ill with cancer to continue, adding, ‘Due to cost factors, legal registration issues and a plague of fraudulent web scams, this offer is no longer available.’

Worse still, almost a year ago, a court siezed his twee Townhouse B&B, closed it down and its website, scottshotel.com, listed it as ‘for sale.’

Meanwhile, a group of anxious investors were demanding to know where their money was and Spanish police were called in to investigate the case, which a Palma lawyer conservatively estimates involved at least €1.3-million.

One frustrated investor, a retired police officer from Cardiff, said at the time, ‘We cannot get sense any out of Mr. Scott and, along with 32 other bond-holders, we’re considering legal action in Spain. As bond-holders who lent him cash to invest in his businesses in good faith, we are entitled to know what he’s done with our money and when we will get out returns.

‘It is also a gross injustice to build up people’s hopes of winning a holiday home, then not holding regular drawers for the properties as Mr. Scott promised. Even the one that he did hold was a farce and the winners never received their prize.’

In response to all allegations, the colourful hotelier adamantly denied any business impropriety, claiming he could account for every penny received. Yet, he never did to the creditors’ satisfaction.

Instead, just as he batted away my questions, he appeared to be playing a legal stalling game, until his death intervened at the beginning of this month.

Only George Scott knew the truth about the missing million from his holiday-home raffle and his business loans.

What investors want to know today is: will the mystery ever be cleared up now the mystery fiction writer-cum-B&B entrepreneur is in his grave?

Though I dearly hope it will, sadly, I have my doubts.

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6 thoughts on “Did George take the secret of the holiday homes raffle’s missing million to his grave?

  1. Your post on George Scott is too kind! In your first paragraph, you describe him as ‘a silver-tongued’ charmer. He wasn’t. He was a silver-tongued CON ARTIST! He was not intellectually adroit, he was intellectually CUNNING! He was a fox who cheated many people out of large sums of money!

    He knew exactly what he was doing by milking a raffle and investment ‘club’ that kept the money pouring in. Who, in their right mind, continues to accept funds or borrow money when they KNOW they can never pay it back? The banks would not lend to George. He discovered the easy kill on the internet and used his conning/charming tactics to soak raffle buyers and so-called ‘investors.’ It was a giant SCAM. He lied OPENLY with false information! If he hadn’t died, he deserved to have ended up in prison for FRAUD.

    Also, he was a writer of CRIME fiction, which should tell you something as well. He was good at plotting and figuring out crimes. He cooked up his fraudulent and criminal Ponzi scheme as a creation of his own mind—it was his OWN invention. And, it served him well! Imagine, well over one million euros (maybe two) flowed into his hands and he never paid any of it back! Wow!

    Also, just to get it straight, the couple who ‘won’ one of the houses was not able to take possession of the house because it stipulated in the rules that no one could take possession until ALL houses were raffled off and the drawings were complete. So, if that one house took 2 or 3 years to be raffled, then it could have been 10 or fifteen years before all the rest were raffled. Impossible!

    You say, investors are ‘considering’ a lawsuit. Well, there is an actual lawsuit in progress and has been ongoing since 2010! George Scott was rightly being sued for fraud. And, since 2010, he prolonged the case by not showing up to court dates, refusing to answer questions and bad mouthing the judge. Maybe he hastened his own death in order to avoid the guilty verdict forthcoming for his crimes. However, the lawsuit does not stop with George, as others may have been collaborating. We shall see.

    George Scott proved himself to be a mean spirited liar who blamed his victims. In your article, you mention how he said his creditors are pestering him and that he obfuscated. Obfuscate? Another word for telling lies. George Scott was a thief.

    When you say the name of George Scott, you might as well say Conman, because he knew how to be ultra smooth and charming in order to rake you.

    So, the man is dead. He promised to drag out the lawsuit and die before the lawsuit ended. And, he did. In my opinion, he knew he was guilty. He knew it would end in conviction and probably prison. Can a man make himself sick and die to avoid prison? What we know of the power of the mind these days, I would say, ‘Yes!’

    George Scott was not a man of his word in returning money that was loaned to him in good faith. However, his word was good in promising to die before he could be convicted of his crimes. Goodbye, George. May justice be meted out to you now, wherever you are.

    So, now that George Scott is gone, does it mean this fiasco over? I don’t think so. The money went somewhere. Our money is hidden in investments somewhere. I am sure they are well hidden. But let’s hope, for the sake of all the investors, we will find out…

    Thank you, Hugh, for bringing the George Scott unresolved missing money to the public’s attention. Those of us still on the earthly plane, must continue to deal with earthly matters like George Scott’s deceit and fraud. May his secrets be uncovered soon.

    Diane Huntoon
    Scott Hotel’s Investor

  2. From the beginning. says:

    You may be right Diane but to be fair a lot can’t be said in Hugh Ash’s blog as I am sure you are aware. Relations are still alive and could bring claims against Mr Ash. I am sure he knows more than he wrote here, in fact I would be very surprised if he did not but printing it is a different matter.

  3. Carmen says:

    Is there any real proof that George Scott actually died??? I have serious doubts; As a crime writer, George is most likely lounging on a beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic (where it is said he bought property), with a piña colada in one hand and an 18 yr old in the other.

    • Hugh Ash says:

      HUGH ASH writes: Carmen, George Scott’s death was confirmed by the Guardia Civil investigators to me and the lawyer in Palma de Mallorca, Agustin Aguila, representing disgruntled and dissatisfied ‘investors’ his hotel lottery scheme.

  4. Barry Hawkins says:

    would love to know who are his executors so as to explore the possibility of claiming against his estate. He owes me lots !

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