TWO men have admitted their part in a fraud which took around £850,000 from hundreds of unsuspecting timeshare owners.

Matthew Barker, 24, and Brendon Hicks, 28, ran bogus businesses in Redditch and Bromsgrove which were involved in fraudulent trading during the two-year scam.

They were both due to face trial at Stafford Crown Court this week having denied being involved in a conspiracy to defraud.

However, both men pleaded guilty to a charge of fraudulent trading between January, 2012 and December, 2014, and the pleas were accepted by the court.

Barker, of Canberra Close, Bromsgrove, admitted carrying on a business - Designer Signs (Midlands) Ltd - for a fraudulent purpose and traded to defraud customers.

Hicks, of Salters Lane in Redditch, admitted a similar charge relating to a business named Midlands Designed Solutions Ltd.

At previous hearings Brian Carr, 29, of Ombersley Close, Redditch, Daniel Carr, 24, of Exhall Close, Redditch, Craig Walker, 27, of Sandhurst Close, Redditch, Steven Cross, 37, of Bath Close, Worcester, and Dawn Gingell, 55, from Hampshire, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

Two other men Alan Sharp, 65, and James Barrass, 37, both from Norwich, admitted being concerned in an arrangement, which they knew was fraudulent, to facilitate the acquisition or control of, criminal monies for, and on behalf of, Brian Carr.

It involved them providing card payment machine facilities through their Norwich-based businesses to take payments for the 'fees' paid by the unsuspecting victims.

Sharp was due to face trial, along with Barker and Hicks this week, but at court on Monday he changed his plea and admitted the offence.

The court has heard the scam - making bogus claims that there were buyers for people's timeshare facilities in Spain and other areas of the Mediterranean - was led by Brian Carr.

It started in 2012 when Carr, using the name 'Stephen Blake', operated Simple Property Marketing Solutions based in Norwich.

He later moved to offices at the Basepoint Centre in Bromsgrove and used rented offices in Redditch and recruited several 'managers' - including his younger brother Daniel - to carry out the cold calls to timeshare owners.

At court Mr Andrew Wheeler QC, prosecuting, said that timeshare owners were approached between 2012 and 2015 and offered a chance to sell and that buyers could be found and the owners were required to pay 'notary fees' up front to complete the sale.

"People paid between £600 and £1,500 hoping that their timeshare would be sold, but it was all dishonest and just a series of lies," he said.

Mr Wheeler said West Mercia police fraud investigators had identified around 470 people who were deceived - who were mainly elderly and vulnerable - and that at least £850,000 was taken by the fraudsters.

Sentencing of all nine defendants, along with any trials of issue over the defendant's basis of plea, will take place over three days at Stafford Crown Court later in the year.

All the defendants are on conditional bail.