Better Media Solutions – Public Information Request
1st February, 2016
If you have received an approach from a publishing company calling themselves ‘Better Media Solutions’, we would like to hear about your experience and would appreciate copies of any correspondence you may have received from this company. Alternatively, if you have worked for this trader previously or have any other information as to the management of this operation, we would like to hear from you.
We recommend that you do not hand over any money to this company until which time you have contacted TAPA. There is growing concerns in the interest of public safety regarding the trading practices of this company. You can contact TAPA anonymously on 0800 773 4894 with any information you may have regarding this company.
TAPA Launches New Website
6th January, 2016
TAPA is delighted to announce the launch of our new website for 2016. We have designed a fresh new look and feel to our site and attempted to make functionality and browsing easier for visitors. We hope users of our website like our new layout and we would like to wish all of our visitors a safe and happy new year.
Regular Complaints Against Blackpool Based Purported Charity Fundraisers for Ex-Servicemen and the Armed Forces
20th November, 2015
TAPA is regularly receiving complaints regarding unsolicited approaches from so-called charities based in the Blackpool and surrounding Poulton-le-Fylde area in Lancashire that claim to be registered charities raising money for ex-servicemen.
Unsuspecting business owners have handed over money to what they thought were charities that are in fact limited companies with no registered charity number. TAPA is warning the public to be aware of any charitable requests of this nature and to check online with the Charity Commission that beneficiaries are charities before handing over any money.
There have been various articles in the Press over the last few years regarding companies that have mislead the public in to believing they were registered charities raising money for permanently disabled and homeless ex-armed forces personnel. Reports have uncovered that these operators are in fact limited companies that have only handed over a small percentage of monies they have received to ex-servicemen.
If you have handed over money to what you were led to believe was a charity or are being approached by alleged charities claiming to be raising money for ex-armed forces soldiers and have any concerns, please contact TAPA if you need advice and guidance on 0800 773 4894 or by way of email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TAPA Launches New Freephone Number Providing 24Hr Advice Line
5th August, 2015
TAPA has launched a freephone number to provide round the clock assistance to businesses that are registered with us and also the general public.
Please note, this number will replace our previous helpline and emergency out of hours telephone numbers. Our lines are manned 24/7/365 if you require urgent assistance at any time of the day or day of the week. Telephone support is available to the general public that may have any concerns regarding communications they have received from support publishing firms.
Our new Freephone Helpline number is; 0800 773 4894 and can also be found in the footer section of our website and contact page.
TAPA Change Of Address
29th May, 2015
TAPA has recently moved to a new address within Greater London. We are no longer practicing from our previous location and cannot receive any written communications to our old address.
Our new address is; 67-68 Hatton Garden, London, EC1N 8JY. Please send all future correspondence to our new address. Unfortunately, any mail sent to our old address will not be forwarded on to us.
You can visit TAPA by way of prior appointment at our new location if you require one-to-one counselling. Please call us on our Helpline number if you wish to arrange an appointment.
Global Media Corporation Ltd Wound Up
14th January 2014
Registered Offices: 95, Greendale Road, Wirral, Merseyside, United Kingdom, CH62 4EX
The High Court in Manchester has wound up Global Media Corporation Ltd, after a company investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Judge Araba Obodai found there was little evidence of any publications being distributed by the company that was allegedly owned by Kelly Taylor of Wirral, Merseyside. However, this did not stop the company demanding payments from unsuspecting advertisers that were pressurised in to making payments to the company, regardless.
Taylor could not explain away why £570,000 had disappeared from company accounts and the Court concluded this was because the company was in fact being managed by her husband Mark Taylor, a banned director that was previously convicted for running an identical scam.
The Court heard that the pair employed representatives to contact small businesses claiming to be Police Officers doing part time voluntary work to raise money for the force or in other instances rang businesses claiming to be officially associated with the Police and the Emergency Services.
The Court made no hesitation in winding up the long running scam that was set up to prey on people’s goodwill. Taylor remained defiant and obstructed officers during the investigation.
Global Media Corporation Ltd was wound up by the High Court in Manchester on the 9th January, 2014 in the interest of public safety.
Manchester Advertising Con Man Jailed For Breaching Director Ban After Triple Name Change
22nd November 2013
After a hearing at Manchester Crown Court, Wesley Scott Gregory has been sentenced to four concurrent sentences of 13 months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of acting as a director whilst already being disqualified.
Gregory had previously been banned from being appointed as a director and managing a limited company after an investigation by the Insolvency Service in Manchester in to a company he was previously a director of. Gregory was disqualified in October 2008 in Manchester County Court for a period of eight years.
Global Media Productions Ltd was wound up in the public interest in 2006 after the firm was found to be operating a support publishing scam. The company approached small businesses to raise money for the publishing of alleged safety and crime awareness booklets aimed at children where the proceeds from advertisers would be passed on to a charity called ‘Kidscan’.
It was uncovered by investigators that the publications were never produced and no monies were ever handed over to the charity. The company managed by Gregory, also failed to keep proper and satisfactory accounting records of the monies coming in to and out of the company that could not be accounted for.
Furthermore, the charity was never even aware of the company and did not authorise Gregory to cold call businesses using their name. Investigators found no accounting trace of what the company had done with approximately £200,000 it had received in payments from businesses.
The company was eventually put in to liquidation with debts of nearly £300,000. The fraudster then changed his name by Deed Poll in December 2008 to ‘David Gill’ and then went and incorporated two new limited companies under this new name.
Not content with this, he then changed his name again, this time to ‘Edward Owen’ in March 2010 and incorporated eight more limited companies under this new name. In spite of this, in December 2010, Gregory then changed his name for the third time to ‘Michael Standing’ and incorporated another company under this name.
In February 2011, the fraudster was arrested and interviewed under caution for ten of the eleven new companies he had incorporated under the names Gill and Owen. He accepted the allegations were true in contravention to his disqualification but stated the companies were in fact dormant and had never traded.
However, it was later discovered after the interview that Gregory had failed to inform Police officers that he had already changed his name again to ‘Michael Standing’ and had set up an eleventh company.
A warning letter was sent to Gregory in June 2011 from the Department for BIS warning him that he had committed offences but would not be prosecuted on this occasion. Notwithstanding this, Gregory still failed to notify authorities about the eleventh company and remained a director of it.
Investigators then later discovered that three months after Gregory had left the interview in the February of 2011, he persuaded two individuals to incorporate another limited company and be appointed as the directors of it in May 2011.
These individuals were not running the company which was in fact managed and controlled by Gregory. The company was trading as a PPI reclaim company called ‘I Money Consumer Solutions Ltd’.
A month later in June 2011, Gregory’s partner at the time incorporated another company called ‘IMG Legal Ltd’ to trade as a PPI reclaim company. She was appointed as a director. Gregory fronted the company as the Managing Director although this was not official with Companies House and he managed the day-to-day running’s of the company including authorising salaries.
Gregory’s partner later resigned as director and was replaced by another individual called ‘Lee Denton’ who lived at the same address as where Gregory was registered to when he used the name Edward Owen. Investigations have not been able to trace this individual and it is possible that Denton is another alias of Gregory’s.
A further PPI claim company was incorporated in April 2012 called ‘Assured Money Ltd’ with the appointed director being Gregory’s latest alias ‘Michael Standing’. The criminal investigation found that Gregory had been a director of a staggering thirteen companies from November 2010 to July 2012 despite still serving an eight year ban since October 2008.
Gregory pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court on 9th October, 2013 and was sentenced on 15th November 2013 to four concurrent sentences of 13 months for acting in contravention of a disqualification order, a criminal offence under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
Lancashire Fraudsters Jailed for Over 24 years by Preston Court After Despicable Advertising Fraud
31st October 2013
Vile Con man, Liam Dinsdale and his fraudulent team of associates have been jailed for lengthy prison terms after they were all found guilty this week of an advertising scam in excess of £740,000. Dinsdale, 28, of Colne, Lancashire was jailed for four years and seven months after he pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering. It is believed he personally received around £150,000 from the scam.
A lengthy criminal investigation was commenced by Cumbria Police in July 2011 when they were contacted by an accountant after Dinsdale bullied and exploited a male from the Baycliff area in to paying him over £400,000 for purported debts he claimed the man owed for unpaid charity advertising sponsorship invoices he had allegedly ordered over a long period of time.
The victim found himself lured in to the scam when he was initially sent a bill for a few hundred pounds after receiving a telephone call from Dinsdale that alleged he had ordered an advertisement in a business directory that raised money for underprivileged children.
This was a lie and the business directory did not exist. Dinsdale played on the fact that businesses place many adverts to market their firms each year and hoodwinked the man in to believing this was an advert he had previously ordered some months earlier and had overlooked making payment.
Before long, the man started receiving further calls from other alleged firms he owed money to for similar types of sponsorship advertising. These firms were all a smoke screen fronted by Dinsdale that had realised the man was vulnerable and an easy target due to his polite nature.
When the victim resisted the demands of various requests for payment, he would find himself bombarded with scores of threatening phone calls, letters and visits from so-called bailiffs. These approaches were made by Dinsdale’s ‘Hit Squad’ that bullied and intimidated individuals on his behalf claiming to be legitimate debt collectors.
Eventually in this particular case, the victim’s accountant conducted a review of the invoices his client was paying and discovered a VAT number was bogus on the documentation. At this stage, the Police were called in. At the same time, the con man was also targeting scores of other small business owners across the UK that he discovered were easy targets that fell for the same scam. Many businesses were left ruined as a result.
The main victim that handed over £400,000 in bank transfers and cheques had to shut his business down, put his machinery up for sale and his house on the market as a result of the amount of debt the fraudsters convinced him he was in.
Dinsdale even set up a bogus agency that appeared to offer assistance to victims of charity support publishing fraud similar to that of the services offered by TAPA. The fraudster even had the cheek to copy information from TAPA’s website and uploaded it on to the bogus agency’s website pages to make it look like a genuine practice.
This triggered an approach to TAPA by Cumbria Police officers that became suspicious as to whether TAPA may be linked to the agency known as the ‘Publishers Investment Bureau (PIB)’. Dinsdale had the nerve to contact his victims under a false alias from the bureau offering to expose bogus publishers on their behalf, help them with counselling and get any outstanding invoices they had with support publishing firms cancelled and withdrawn for a fee.
TAPA assisted Police officers and confirmed our practice had no connection to the alleged agency but had received complaints from businesses that had been contacted by the fraudster. The Police then focused their attention back on the fraudsters.
In one instance, Dinsdale contacted a carpentry firm in Hampshire from PIB and duped the boss of the firm in to handing over £20,000 in return for PIB to get an alleged large number of advertising debts written off that Dinsdale falsely claimed he had discovered were outstanding on his behalf after approaching various advertising firms.
Dinsdale had already previously duped the same firm for over £100,000 through his original bogus charity advertising debt scam. At the time of his arrest, Dinsdale was driving a Maserati sports car with £44,000 on his person and was living in a three bedroom house.
A total of eight defendants appeared in Court in Preston including the ring leader. Seven all received custodial sentences between 18 and 57 months. The eighth defendant, Alistair Eccles, received a 15 month sentence that was suspended for one year.
All of the defendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced on 30th October 2013 at Preston Crown Court. Police have began proceedings to strip the criminals of their assets through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The sentences that were handed down were;
Liam Dinsdale, 28, of Colne, Lancashire, sentenced to 55 months
Rudi Lockett, 23, of Nelson, Lancashire, sentenced to 30 months
Robert Chadwick, 41, of Radcliffe, Manchester, sentenced to 57 months
John Rixon, 34, of East Clayton, Manchester, sentenced to 42 months
Simon Rixon, 31, of Liversedge, West Yorkshire, sentenced to 40 months
Alexander Hall, 25, of Tyldesley, Manchester, sentenced to 50 months
Khalid Sawadi, 31, of Waterloo, Liverpool, sentenced to 18 months
Alistair Eccles, 31, of Colne, Lancashire, sentenced to 15 months suspended for one year
TAPA hopes this unique landmark case sends a clear signal to support publishing fraudsters that this type of crime will not be tolerated and those found guilty should expect to receive hefty custodial sentences.
TAPA will continue to fight bogus support publishing firm operators and protect its clients from unwanted, fraudulent approaches. Our practice will continue to hand over dossiers of complaints to investigators regarding those traders that refuse to desist from approaching businesses that we represent at which time they instruct our practice.
Temple Design (UK) Ltd and Leighton James Design Ltd Put in to Provisional Liquidation
22nd August 2013
Registered Offices: 27 Houldsworth Street, Manchester, M1 1EB & Flat 24, Thompson Court, Thompson Fold, Stalybridge, SK15 1TE
Following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service, two connected publishing companies were put in to provisional liquidation last week by the High Court in Manchester.
The petitions were presented to the High Court in the interest of public safety and to protect the companies assets. Investigations found the companies were trading in breach of many of their legal obligations.
The two companies were trading in Greater Manchester and targeted small businesses by telephone to sell them advertising space in various sponsorship safety awareness booklets. A hearing has been set for 7th October, 2013 where the petitions will be heard by the Court.
TAPA received a multitude of complaints from businesses across the UK from June 2011 to April 2013 in the case of Temple Design (UK) Ltd and from December 2012 to July 2013 against Leighton James Design Ltd concerning various allegations of unlawful and unfair trading practices against both of the companies.
Moth Communications Ltd Wound Up in the High Court in Manchester
19th February 2013
Registered Office: 16, St Aidens Close, Mill Hill, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB2 4EN
A company trading in Blackburn that fraudulently coerced businesses into paying for advertising services that were never ordered or provided has been wound-up in the High Court in Manchester.
After an investigation by Company Investigations, Moth Communications Ltd was found to have contacted small businesses demanding payment for alleged overdue advertising invoices for internet advertising services that had never actually been ordered. The company played on the fact that businesses place various advertisements online and aimed to mislead businesses owners in to believing they had overlooked one such invoice.
The company employed the usual bully-boy tactics used by many other unscrupulous advertising companies that have been wound up previously including threats of ruining individuals’ credit ratings with county court judgments and instilling personal fear in to individuals of visits to their doorsteps from bailiffs to recover money from them directly.
In one particular instance, the company contacted a business and demanded £4,953 for an online advertisement and informed the business that if payment was not made within one hour of that call, bailiffs would come to his premises and begin removing sufficient goods from his property to achieve the value of the alleged debt he owed at cut down auction prices.
The recipient was informed that the debt would increase to £12,000 if bailiffs had to visit his premises that day. However, the representative of Moth Communications Ltd said he was authorised to reduce the bill to £3,700 if immediate payment was made within the hour. As a result, through the fear of losing his possessions, the business paid the £3,700 to the company to get them off his back.
Those businesses that confronted representatives of the company and demanded evidence of such orders would be issued with bogus back-dated invoices from the company that were allegedly raised at a previous time when the purported orders were placed containing terms and conditions that businesses would expect to receive from legitimate companies.
The company received over £370,000 between December 2011 and October 2012 in which the majority of it was withdrawn in cash immediately after the company received it. The company did not deduct any tax from the revenue it received to be paid to HM Revenue & Customs. It was also found by investigators that no official accounting records were kept to record monies coming in to and going out of the company.
The High Court heard that the company used a number of different trading styles when approaching businesses. Some of the names they used included; Business Directory Pages; Business Directory UK; UK Business Directory; No 1 Business Directory and In the Red Debt Collection.
Moth Communications Ltd was wound up by the High Court on the 11th February, 2013 in the interest of public safety.
Police Charge Further Man in Connection with Fraud Investigation
03rd October 2012
Cumbria Police have charged a third man in connection with a bogus sponsorship advertising fraud investigation that centres around one victim from the Baycliff area in Cumbria that has been defrauded out of the best part of £400,000.
On Tuesday, 4th September 2012, officers from the CID and the Financial Investigation Department in Barrow sent a team to raid an address in Accrington, Lancashire to arrest 27 year old Liam Dinsdale. Dinsdale of Alkincoats Road, Colne, was later charged with conspiracy to de-fraud and money laundering.
Dinsdale appeared before Furness and District Magistrates Court on Thursday, 6th September where he was remanded in custody to protect the public. Previously, John Rixon, 33 from Stewart Street, East Clayton, Manchester and his brother Simon Rixon, 30 from Industrial Street, Liversedge, West Yorkshire were both arrested while found in the Furness area on the 29th August and charged with conspiracy to defraud and remanded in custody in the interest of public safety.
All three men appeared at Preston Crown Court on the 28th September 2012 for a case management hearing. All three were remanded in custody until March 18th 2013.
New Age Marketing Limited Boss Receives Eleven Year Ban
31st July 2012
Registered Office: 7 St. Petersgate, Stockport, Cheshire, SK1 1EB
After an investigation by The Insolvency Service, Lloyd Schofield, director of New Age Marketing Limited has been disqualified from being a company director until 2023 after it was found that his company that purported to sell advertising space to businesses allegedly to support school anti-bullying campaigns, was a scam.
An investigation was commenced after the best part of 150 complaints were received by various Trading Standards offices around the UK. Investigators uncovered that New Age Marketing Limited cold-called businesses falsely informing them that they were a charity and in partnership with various police and government initiatives for anti-bullying campaigns. Commission orientated telesales representatives of the company requested these businesses support the bogus campaigns by sponsoring advertisements in what they claimed were official booklets destined for primary schools.
The investigation established that no such booklets were ever distributed to any schools. In addition, those businesses that made the mistake of paying the company by way of card, later found thousands of pounds of unauthorised transactions made to their accounts. It was established that around 700 businesses were duped in to paying the company upfront for the non-existent advertising.
Businesses that resisted the companies’ approaches were still pursued for payment nevertheless even though they had not entered in to a legally binding agreement with the company. It was also found that the company did not keep proper accounting records to adequately show the movement of monies received from businesses. There was little evidence that Schofield ever intended or was even able to cope with committing to producing and distributing booklets to schools. The company did produce one publication which was of appalling quality and was only issued to one small group of advertisers.
New Age Marketing Limited was incorporated in June 2008 but did not begin trading until April 2009. The company traded in Manchester from a lavish Deansgate location and ceased trading in September 2010 after Schofield had decided it was time to bring the operation to a quick end. He attempted to be savvy and entered the company in to a Creditor’s Voluntary Liquidation with an estimated £160,000 worth of debts while Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service were investigating the companies trading and accounting practices.
After the findings were put to forty five year old LLoyd Schofield from Manchester, the con man quickly gave an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in July this year to avoid Court proceedings and agreed to not act as a director, manage or have any association with limited companies for eleven years.
Steven Richards Abingdon House Limited Scam Wound Up After Defrauding Emergency Services
05th July 2012
Registered Office: Suite 7, Queens Dock Commercial Centre, 67-83 Norfolk Street, Liverpool, L1 0BG
It is with great pleasure that TAPA is pleased to announce that the long running Liverpool fraud company ‘Abingdon House Limited’ has finally been wound up in the High Court after running the longest support publishing scam the industry has ever seen.
Since TAPA was set up in 2007 to help victims of support publishing fraud, our practice has only ever been met with a small number of instances where delusional bogus support publishing firm operators have publicly started a personal attack on our practice. However, the majority of these arrogant fraudsters have seen sense and given up in the early stages of their campaigns after realising our practice would then do everything within it’s power to bring an end to such operations.
Nevertheless, there has been two bogus traders since TAPA began practicing, coincidentally both operating in the central Liverpool area that made the commercial decision to fight TAPA all the way and do everything they could to slander our practice through lies and deceit in the public domain. A practice that supports innocent members of the public that are too vulnerable to stand up to bullies. One such company that decided to commit commercial suicide was Abingdon House Limited of Queens Dock Commercial Centre, Norfolk Street, Liverpool.
The company began trading in 2006 and sold advertising space in a magazine they created in-house covering the themes, roles and duties undertaken by the emergency services. Although in large part, the work of the Police was the companies’ focal point. It is believed that the persons responsible for the management of the company decided that if they invested the time, effort and money in producing a high quality, glossy magazine, unlike many of their counterpart’s shoddy efforts, this product could somehow legitimise their scam.
By producing a high end quality publication, they believed it would act as their defence and ally if the companies’ authenticity was ever brought in to question by an authority. The companies’ other strategy was to lure businesses in to a water tight verbally recorded contract that they believed would support them if ever accused of false claims in their initial telephone approaches to businesses. The company riddled their magazines with images of emergency services personnel, vehicles and written topics in an underhand attempt to fool advertisers and other readers of their literature in to believing it was an official and endorsed publication by the emergency services.
In truth, it was nothing of the kind. They called the magazine ‘SafeGuard’. The company further believed that they could contact businesses across the UK and hoodwink them in to believing they were acting by appointment on behalf of the emergency services. Many of the complaints that were received by TAPA alleged that representatives of Abingdon House Limited actually claimed to be police officers themselves or were calling direct from police stations to deceive businesses in to believing they would be donating money destined for the coffers of the police to purchase new equipment.
The company employed high commission based telesales representatives to call small businesses and dupe them in to agreeing to what they believed would be a sponsorship donation to the Police through an advertisement. The company would then deviously call the businesses back to falsely lure them in to advertisement bookings but this time not reiterate the fraudulent claims the previous caller made and simply confirm the advertisers businesses details and basics of the advertisement including the size, price and other dimensions of the advert.
If then challenged at a later date, the company would refer to the recording that would on the face of it appear to be an individual placing a legitimate order for an advertisement for their business. Steven Richards, owner of the company was so convinced by his own lies that after a few years of operating the scam, even he believed he legitimately was doing the emergency services a good turn and raising public awareness.
At which time the company discovered that representatives of TAPA were taking statements from scores of their victims across the UK, Richards had the audacity to contact TAPA by way of telephone threatening legal action against our practice if we did not cease our efforts and accused our practice of being a scam that was wrongly approaching ‘his happy clients’ without just cause. This absurd sense of grandeur was followed up by threats of legal action in writing from his instructed solicitors in an attempt to scare and warn our practice to ‘back-off’.
The company then decided to produce a document authored by themselves, referring to it as a ‘public notice’ to warn businesses of our practice that they stated was a scam and circulated the document to businesses all over the UK. The company boldly made no secret of this malicious activity and sent it out to businesses at which time they duped them in to paying the company money for useless adverts. The company went on to invest further time posting false complaints about TAPA on a large number of online consumer forums pretending to be disgruntled businesses that had allegedly been scammed by our practice.
TAPA contacted the forum moderators and obtained the IP Addresses of the hoax postings that were all traced back to Abingdon House Limited computers through their telecom providers. The company even went to the extent of creating a text message campaign and circulated scores of texts to businesses all over the UK warning them that if approached by TAPA, to not speak to our representatives if they wished to avoid being duped by our practice. TAPA approached Merseyside Police, Trading Standards and Company investigations, channelling copies of all of the complaints that we had received from businesses.
The copies of complaints filled a foot high cardboard box to the top. Over the years, the company managed to hold off the authorities by dealing with each individual complaint one at a time, providing tape recordings of what appeared to be legitimate bookings. The lack of any further action against the company only seemed to increase the confidence of Steven Richards who after several years thought he was untouchable and somehow an official person.
This bizarre disillusion was to be Steven Richards eventual downfall. Instead of quitting while he was ahead, he continued to grow in self-belief and run the operation thinking that Trading Standards were somehow his colleagues because he liaised with them so often. However, the complaints continued to flow in smoothly which eventually triggered an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service after enough was enough.
The official investigation found the companies’ telesales representatives did mislead advertisers by claiming to be serving police officers. Representatives were also found to have misled advertisers in to believing monies would be passed on to the emergency services. The company was also found to have falsified the distribution number of magazines to be circulated. Businesses were also misled in to believing they would be given exclusivity and that no other businesses within their line of work would be allowed to advertise within the same publication.
It was found by the High Court that the magazine served no commercial benefit to any of the advertisers. The magazine was distributed over a wide geographical area outside of the advertisers trading locations. Investigators proved that Abingdon House Limited manipulated its cancellation policy to ensure advertisers could not cancel the contract. It was also found that the company employed bully-boy tactics to recover outstanding payments by intimidating businesses to pay-up.
Multiple unauthorised transactions were debited to advertisers bank accounts that previously made payments to the company by way of debit and credit card. The company claimed advertisers terms and conditions stated they had to pay for multiple additions of the magazine unless they cancelled but advertisers claimed they were unaware of this. The company turned over around £4m in the three year period leading up to the investigation and dividends were paid to shareholders in the same period of around £600,000.
Abingdon House Limited was compulsorily wound up by the High Court on the 26th June, 2012.
Alderleys Limited Struck Off in the Interest of Public Safety
17th April 2012
Registered Office: Suite 120, 41 Oxford Street, Leamington Spa, CV32 4RB
A company that falsely coerced the sale of advertising space in a non-existent publication and website has been struck off in the High Court in Manchester following a fraud investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Alderleys Limited, of Leamington Spa was found by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service to have targeted businesses all over the UK to deceive money from them under false pretences through purported advertising space in media sources that did not exist. The company claimed to publish an online business directory and safety and emergency services booklets. Investigators found that in truth, no website actually existed and no booklets were ever published and distributed by the company.
Investigators discovered that Alderleys Limited fraudulently approached businesses through unsolicited telephone calls to hoodwink them in to believing they had previously placed orders with the company for advertising space in one of their media sources. The company was found to be using a common fraud technique used widely in the support publishing industry where operators play on the fact that businesses have previously placed advertising orders with other companies and call these businesses as if to be calling from a previous company they have placed orders for advertisements with.
Alderleys Limited spoke to unsuspecting victims as if they had a rapport with that business and made out they were calling just to announce they were now ready to deliver documents such as artwork drafts that they had allegedly been preparing since the alleged previous telephone conversation. When businesses challenged Alderleys Limited, representatives of the company would play businesses a doctored tape recording they had obtained from other companies they were associated with to deceive the recipient in to believing they had placed an order with the company.
From December 2009 to September 2010, Alderleys Limited duped around £300,000 from businesses based in every region of the UK. Businesses that attempted to resist the companies’ fraudulent approaches and demands for payment would find themselves on the receiving end of intimidation tactics including threats of Court action and visits from debt collectors. Alderleys Limited was also found to have kept improper accounting records and investigators were not able to establish the companies trading position.
TAPA received a large dossier of complaints from small to medium sized businesses across the UK that instructed our practice to represent them with the disputes they were having with Alderleys Limited. Our practice contacted the company in writing on two occasions to inform them of the complaints that we were receiving and to invite a response from the company regarding their position on the allegations. Alderleys Limited declined to respond on both occasions and our practice continued to receive complaints of fraud against the company.
Alderleys Limited was wound up by the High Court in Manchester on the 5th April, 2012.
Excel Media Limited Shut Down Following Fraud Investigation
08th April 2012
Registered Office: PO Box Suite 330, Queens Dock Commercial Centre, 67-83 Norfolk Street, Liverpool, L1 0BG
A company based in Liverpool that preyed on the good will of small businesses across the UK has been wound up in the High Court in Manchester after an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
It was found that Excel Media Limited cold-called businesses to coerce them in to sponsoring purported advertising space on a website the company created entitled ‘Emergency Service Press’. Businesses were deceptively led to believe that their participation would result in their business financially supporting public services including the police, fire and ambulance services as well as the armed forces, local authorities and charities.
Company Investigations established that the company had no association, link, partnership or involvement with any public services or worthy causes and that the company was operated as a deliberate fraud. Large numbers of businesses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were also deliberately mislead in to believing that their business would be advertised on an official emergency services wallplanner and would be distributed to tens of thousands of locations.
One business in particular was assured that his advertisement would be published and distributed on to no fewer than 40,000 calendars. Others were told their business would be advertised in a magazine, booklet or brochure. Investigators established in another instance that one business was informed that the name of their business would be printed on to a T-shirt and then entered in to a prize draw. Investigators discovered that in truth, only one wallplanner was ever produced containing a handful of advertisers on there and was only circulated to the actual advertisers contained on the wallplanner.
The enquiry concluded that the alleged advertising promised to businesses had no commercial benefit or advantage to them whatsoever and was in large part never produced. Excel Media Limited rained in approximately £300,000 from around March 2010 to June 2011. Investigators further discovered that the companies’ accounting records were incomplete and monies could not be fully accounted for. The investigation concluded that the company was ran on the basis of a deception and served no benefit to the public services.
TAPA received scores of complaints from businesses across the UK in the period that the company was trading that instructed our practice to represent them as a result of disputes they had found themselves involved in with the company. To the delight of the businesses that instructed our practice, no cases were ever brought to the Small Claims Court resulting in representation needing to be provided by our practice.
TAPA wrote to Excel Media Limited back in November 2010 to raise concerns we had with their companies’ trading practices as a result of the complaints we were receiving from small businesses across the UK. No response was ever given by the company and our practice resumed in building up further complaints for the dossier we set up for the eventual destination of Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.
The company was wound up in the High Court in Manchester on the 2nd April, 2012.
Sarah Musa Jailed for STREETBEAT Associates Bogus Police Magazine
16th January 2012
Sarah Louise Musa of Bellemer Street, Dingle has recently pleaded guilty to fraudulently trading as a sole trader, a limited company and fifteen further charges of money laundering after an investigation by Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Team.
Vile Musa, 26, was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment in November at Liverpool Crown Court following an investigation that uncovered large numbers of businesses that had been coerced in to paying for purported sponsorship adverts in a bogus magazine entitled ‘Streetbeat’ that allegedly subsidised the Police. The magazine was never published or distributed. Written correspondence of what appeared to contain images of the front cover of a previously printed magazine were distributed to businesses to hoodwink them in to believing that previous versions of the magazine existed and that the latest edition was in production.
Victims were found all over the UK and included councils and solicitors. Payment demands to businesses started at around £100 and went as high as £1500 in some instances. TAPA was approached by the Merseyside Police Economic Crime Team for assistance after our practice held an initial meeting with Trading Standards Scambusters Liverpool at our offices when the regulator requested intelligence from TAPA on Streetbeat Associates.
‘STREETBEAT Associates / S L Musa t/a’ broadcasted a trading address of Unit 17, 20 Henry Street, Liverpool on their correspondence and later changed their published address to IL Palazzo Office, F2-F3, 7 Water Street, Liverpool. TAPA began to receive complaints against Streetbeat Associates in October 2009 from concerned businesses. It was a further two years before a case was brought to the Crown Court.
This case is yet another significant landslide that has resulted in custodial sentences being given to offenders and should send a further warning to the support publishing industry that this type of practice will not be tolerated simply because the crime took place under the guise of civil disputes between businesses. Fraudulent traders in previous years have played on the fact that these scams will be likely classed as civil matters between businesses and as a result have aggressively targeted and defrauded the same businesses over and over again without fear of reprise. This is the third case we have seen in the last few years where prison sentences have been handed out to individuals that have attempted to exploit this type of white collar crime.
Clear Sky Communications Ltd Wound Up in the High Court
11th January 2012
Registered Office: Hampton House, Oldham Road, Middleton, Manchester, M24 4SR
A support publishing company that was trading in Middleton in Greater Manchester has been wound up by the High Court in Manchester following a recent investigation by The Insolvency Service.
It was found that Clear Sky Communications Ltd was in effect a continuation of a previous company called Rose Garland Ltd that had been wound up in the High Court back in November 2009 (see TAPA press release) after a previous investigation by Companies Investigations Branch.
The company sold purported advertising space to businesses in various publications of an A5 booklet format that included themes of Fire Safety, Road Safety and Drugs Awareness. It was found that the company misled businesses in to believing that the publications were of high calibre and was an inexpensive way to promote their businesses when in truth there was no commercial benefit for advertisers whatsoever.
Businesses were also informed that up to 1,000 publications would be distributed in each instance but investigators could not find any evidence to substantiate the companies’ claims. The Court heard that Clear Sky Communications Ltd chased large numbers of businesses for payment when in actual fact they had not entered in to legally binding orders with the company.
Aggressive methods were employed in order to chase payments to a degree that constituted harassment and bullying. Over £400,000 worth of invoices were issued to over 1,400 businesses across the UK between October 2008 and June 2011. The companies’ trading records were found to be inadequate and nearly £60,000 worth of payments and cash withdrawals could not be explained or accounted for.
Businesses that instructed TAPA to represent them that were in contractual dispute with Clear Sky Communications Ltd found themselves on the receiving end of written correspondence from the company aimed to intimidate and unnerve them in to bewilderment. The letter informed businesses that ‘TAPA are out of their minds to advise you that you are entitled to your money back – we have completed our contractual obligations – it really is a no-brainer.’
The correspondence then went on to inform victims that TAPA’s advice was ‘really not good’ and ‘woeful’ and that their company was struggling financially like the ‘average person’ does and really needed paying. Businesses immediately notified TAPA on receipt of receiving the bizarre correspondence which was then submitted in to the companies’ complaints dossier.
Clear Sky Communications Ltd was wound up by the High Court in Manchester on the 16th December, 2011.
Online Distance Selling Resource for Businesses Launched by OFT
08th August 2011
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has recently launched an online resource to assist businesses that sell their products and services online, over the telephone or by mail order to ensure they are trading in compliance with the law regarding the distance selling regulations (DSRs). Research undertaken by the OFT has found that lots of businesses do not properly comply with the Distance Selling Regulations. The OFT wants all businesses that distant sell their products and services to review their sales and returns policies to make sure that they are fully complying with the law.
The OFT’s online resource is called the ‘Distance Selling Hub’ and has been launched as part of their commitment to help businesses understand their legal requirements. Distance Selling is when a business sells products or services to consumers without face-to-face contact where consumers have not had the opportunity to examine the goods before purchasing them or discussed the service with a representative of a business in person. Distance selling includes selling products and services over the internet, over the telephone, by text message, through a fax machine, by mail order and through the TV.
The regulations provide consumers with certain legal protection and cancellation rights that are different to transactions that consumers enter in to in person in a retail shop or store. The DSRs do not apply to products and services that have been sold to businesses. These types of transactions are known as business-to-business contracts. The online resource gives businesses a guide to the regulations, training tools, explanations and examples of their legal requirements. If you are a business or a consumer and would like to visit the Distance Selling Hub you can do so online at www.oft.gov.uk/distanceselling .
The Distance Selling Hub was launched on 1st August, 2011.
Needy Children International Foundation Limited Wound Up
13th June 2011
Registered Office: 1 Merridale Crescent, Chapel Ash, Wolverhampton, WV3 9QY
A charity marketing company trading from Manchester and Wolverhampton has been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by The Insolvency Service. Needy Children International Foundation Limited by Guarantee was registered as a charity by the Charity Commission and began trading in January 2006.
The company carried out its business by contacting consumers and businesses by way of unsolicited sales telephone calls to raise donations for underprivileged children. It was found that the company breached its legal obligations under Section 60 of the Charities Act 1992 by failing to inform donors of the proportion of commission that was paid to telesales representatives of the company for achieving donations from the public. The companies’ accounts showed that only a very small percentage of donations was ever passed on to worthy causes.
It was established that only between 9-22p of every pound turned over was given to charity. The remainder of the proceeds were used to subsidise the running of the company including commission for sales representatives and expenses for couriers to collect donations. In February this year, the Secretary of State obtained an injunction from the High Court in order to prevent the company from continuing to approach the public to raise more funds due to suspicions that the company was trading unlawfully through the use of a defective sales script that mislead potential donors.
The company was wound up by the High Court on the 23rd May, 2011.
New UK Code of Practice on Data Sharing by ICO
19th May 2011
The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a new statutory code of practice in order to assist businesses and the public sector to share individuals’ personal data appropriately. The code of practice gives advice on how and when personal data can be shared with other organisations and how to keep personal data secure in one-off and regular instances.
The ICO has also published a checklist to accompany the code of practice that can be referred to for quick reference when organisations share individuals’ data. The code of practice aims to help organisations to have a better understanding of when, whether and how personal data should be shared. It also aims to help improve individuals’ trust of organisations that want to share their information and reduce the risk of organisations inappropriately sharing individuals’ data. The code of practice will also reduce the risk of organisations breaking the law and receiving enforcement action against them by the ICO.
The code of practice was launched on the 11th May 2011.
New Fining Powers for ICO
28th April 2011
The Information Commissioner’s Office has been given new powers to impose penalties of up to £500,000 on telemarketing firms found in serious breach of making unlawful unsolicited sales telephone calls (live or automated), sending unsolicited marketing emails and sending unsolicited marketing texts to consumers and businesses that have exercised their legal entitlement to not receive such marketing approaches. These new powers are coming in to effect as part of the amendments to the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 which have also given the ICO other new powers as well.
The new powers will come in to effect on the 25th May, 2011.
New Rules on Silent Calls
02nd March 2011
New rules have recently come in to force that now give Ofcom the power to fine telemarketing firms up to £2million that repeatedly make silent calls to consumers. Call centres that use automated dialling equipment to dial multiple numbers at once sometimes fail to have representatives available when some calls are answered which contributes to the amount of silent calls people receive. The technology that is used on this type of equipment that detects answering machines sometimes mistakes live human interaction for an answering machine and then terminates the call leaving the recipient hearing nothing. The technology is programmed to then attempt to dial numbers again at later stages in the day that has resulted in consumers receiving repeated silent calls.
In the past, consumers have been left worried and distressed, believing they may be being targeted by hoax callers with malicious intent. This has resulted in consumers approaching the police for assistance which has wasted valuable police resources. The new rules have put restrictions on this type of equipment. The rules prevent telemarketing firms using technology that detects answering machines more than once per day if an answering machine is detected the first time a particular telephone number is dialled. The new rules are designed to protect those consumers that are affected the most so that consumers do not receive more than one silent call per day.
The new rules and fining powers came in to force on the 1st February, 2011.
Office of Fair Trading Clamps Down on Unlawful Cold Callers
05th January 2011
The Office of Fair Trading has been conducting a major crackdown on illegal lead generation firms that unlawfully generate leads for the debt management industry. The clampdown came about as a result of large numbers of complaints from consumers that reported they were receiving misleading unsolicited telephone calls from firms searching for individuals in need of help with bad debts or desperately in need of loans. These firms then sell the data they collect to debt management firms who then contact easy targets to sell their products and services to them.
Under debt management licensing rules, debt management firms are only allowed to employ the services of licensed lead generation firms. Over recent years, unscrupulous debt management firms have breached the rules by employing the services of unlicensed lead generation firms that unlawfully cold call individuals asking them questions relating to their private data and personal circumstances. Some firms call on the pretence that they are conducting surveys on behalf of the government or are part of a government scheme helping individuals to write off their debts for free.
The OFT recently warned the debt management industry to stop using unsolicited misleading cold-calling methods to generate client leads. The OFT is working with the Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) and the Debt Resolution Forum (DRF) to warn debt management firms that they must use licensed lead generation firms if they wish to avoid licensing action being taken against them.
The OFT’s new measures will be published in their Debt Management Guidance publication this year.
Further Prison Sentences Handed Out For Liverpool Charity Conmen
02nd November 2010
John Waring of Heswall and Gary Campbell of Page Moss, Liverpool, have been jailed respectively for five years and eight months. Both men pleaded guilty to publishing fraud. Waring was behind a series of fraudulent support publishing firms including Enterprise UK Media, Platinum Publishing, Trinity House Publishing Ltd and Regency Advertising (UK) Ltd. The firms approached businesses across the UK through unsolicited sales calls to sell advertising space in purported publications, allegedly on behalf of the emergency services.
Waring was never licensed by any section of the emergency services to undertake the projects and none of the publications were ever printed or distributed. Waring even continued trading whilst on bail from Merseyside Police. A criminal investigation was instigated by Merseyside Police after an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch (CIB) found evidence of criminal activity and passed its findings on to the Criminal Enterprise Team of Merseyside Police. TAPA was approached by Merseyside Police and assisted officers with their investigations.
TAPA hopes that these convictions will send another clear message to the support publishing industry that this type of fraud will not be tolerated and those found guilty should now expect to face prison sentences.
Fairchild Publications Ltd, Hogan-Reynolds Publications Ltd & Smithson Publications Ltd Wound Up
01st March 2010
Registered Offices: 3A Crown Street, Bolton, BL1 2RU, Swan Centre, 4 Higher Swan Lane, Bolton, BL3 3AQ & 20 Manor Street, Bolton, BL1 1TU
After a recent investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, three companies trading in Bolton, Lancashire that were operating under the control of the Fearn family have been wound up in the High Court. It was found that the companies fraudulently approached businesses to request sponsorship for booklets covering themes relating to child safety issues that were destined for schools. Representatives employed a series of deliberate misleading sales tactics in order to convince businesses that the companies´ were working under a government / publicly contracted basis when in fact no actual schools had ever requested any booklets from the companies or were ever told in advance that they would be receiving booklets.
TAPA received multiple complaints from businesses across the UK that informed our representatives that they were approached by these companies and informed they had previously agreed to sponsor booklets when in fact they had not. The usual aggressive and intimidating debt recovery tactics often employed by businesses trading in this sector of the advertising industry were also engaged by the companies in order to coerce money from businesses when they refused to make payments.
The court found that in the case of each of the companies, appointed company officers that were registered with Companies House had very little knowledge of the financial and trading affairs of the companies. However, it was found that members of the Fearn family were always associated with each of the companies in some type of other official capacity that controlled the companies finances. TAPA representatives also established links that the companies had to other firms trading in this sector of the advertising industry.
All of the companies were wound up by the High Court on the 24th February, 2010.
Costello Limited Wound Up by the High Court in Manchester
09th February 2010
Registered Office: Swift House, 6 Cumberland Close, Darwen, Lancashire, BB3 2TR
After a painstaking wait, TAPA is delighted to announce that Costello Ltd has now been wound up by the High Court in Manchester. TAPA initially brought the fraudulent trading practices of Costello Ltd to the attention of Companies Investigation Branch back in June 2008. The original dossier of complaints and accompanying investigative report was only TAPA´s second ever report published after our organisation received staggering numbers of complaints from business consumers across the UK.
The company approached businesses with proposals of effective advertising by sponsoring handbooks that covered themes such as ´kids against crime´ and ´road safety´ allegedly destined for schools, libraries and medical practices in their localities. Businesses complained that they were informed by Costello representatives that they had previously agreed to sponsor handbooks in earlier conversations they had no knowledge of. If businesses attempted to resist, multiple numbers of telephone calls would be executed threatening court action.
Costello representatives threatened businesses that refused to forward payment to their company through an alleged debt recovery company called Liberate Financial Recovery Ltd. Written threats were made to businesses in order to cause personal fear to individuals and their families by warnings of private home visits to directors´ residential dwellings to collect monies if payments were not immediately issued.
Costello Ltd was wound up by the High Court in Manchester on the 27th January, 2010.
Prison Sentence for Manchester Charity Conman
29th January 2010
A charity conman from Stockport, Cheshire has been jailed for four years and six months after an investigation by Staffordshire Police Economic Crime Unit and Stoke-On-Trent Trading Standards. Peter Kemp of Bramhall, ran a series of support publishing firms in Cheshire and Staffordshire that purported to publish anti-drugs publications for schools. The firms approached businesses by telephone to sponsor the bogus campaigns. No publications were ever produced and sent to the schools of the sponsors’ choice.
The firms included React Publications, MM Publications, The Publication Company and DotCom Publications. Kemp pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception to the value of approximately £700,000. Three other individuals that operated the scam with Kemp also pleaded guilty to charges of fraud. Christopher Gibbs, Michael Schaffer and Denis Earle were sentenced to twelve months in prison, suspended for two years and each also received 250 hours community service. A confiscation hearing to recovery Kemps’ assets is to be held in June.
TAPA hopes that this landmark case will shake up the support publishing industry. Unscrupulous traders in the industry need to be aware that this type of activity no longer is an offence that may only carry a directors’ ban.
Rose Garland Limited Wound Up in the High Court
24th November 2009
Registered Office: 15 New York Street, Heywood, Lancashire, OL10 3EU
Following TAPA´s largest ever dossier of complaints received against any one advertising firm that was presented to Companies Investigation Branch back in February this year, TAPA is delighted to announce that after a lengthy investigation by CIB, Rose Garland Limited has been wound up in the High Court. It was found that the company based in Heywood, Lancashire cold-called small businesses to generate revenue through the sale of advertising space based on fraudulent claims. These claims included false distribution figures and bogus claims that businesses had pre-booked orders that had never actually been placed.
Representatives of Rose Garland Ltd claimed the company published community awareness booklets covering themes such as drug awareness,safety on the roads and fire prevention. The company claimed to distribute the booklets to officers working in the emergency services as well as hospitals and police stations. CIB established that the company intimidated and defrauded over 5,000 businesses in to making payments totalling over £1m by sending out an alleged ´legal letter´ that the company had obtained off the internet. It was found that the company had no true intention of taking any businesses to court and had sent the letter to frighten businesses in to forwarding payment.
In the companies´ time of trading between October 2006 and November 2009, it was established that there was an absence of complete trading records. Although a small number of publications were published by the company, they were found to be of very poor quality and served no commercial benefit to businesses. TAPA has been the victim of various taunts and derision by one of the key individuals behind the management of Rose Garland Limited through various other firms currently trading. TAPA has never experienced this type of assault from any other individuals responsible for the management of an advertising firm and is currently compiling evidence to be presented to the Metropolitan Police which we endeavour will lead to criminal proceedings being instigated.
Rose Garland Limited was wound up by the High Court on the 13th November 2009.
Carroll-Dillon Publishing Ltd / Ikonic Publications Ltd t/a Education Support Publications Shut Down
25th June 2009
Registered Offices: Unit 96, 2 Sawley Road, Manchester, M40 8BB & 28A, Middle Hillgate, Stockport, Cheshire, SK1 3AY
Two publishing companies born from one another trading in Greater Manchester have been wound up in the High Court after an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch. The companies, managed by the same individual, approached businesses requesting sponsorship for ´safety awareness books´ allegedly intended for primary and secondary school children. TAPA began receiving complaints from businesses in August 2008 where concerns were reported that they were not receiving the service they were promised. Businesses concluded fraud was occurring after they contacted various schools in their local district.
To their dismay, schools informed businesses that they were not aware of any such arrangements or had ever even heard of the said companies. Representatives of the two companies threatened businesses with court proceedings and additional costs when invoices were not paid.Letters were sent to businesses warning the side effects of county court judgements in an attempt to frighten individuals in to forwarding payments. Their correspondence usually ended with the statement; ´This debt will not go away.
Carroll-Dillon Publishing Ltd and Ikonic Publications Ltd were wound up by the High Court on the 9th June, 2009.
Crime Prevention Advice & Information Limited Wound Up
02nd June 2009
Registered Office: 23, Sherborne Street, Manchester, M8 8HF
A support publishing company based in greater Manchester has been wound up by the High Court in Manchester. An investigation carried out by Companies Investigation Branch found that the company had approached UK businesses to sell available advertisement space in crime prevention journals. Officers found that their representatives had coerced businesses in to believing that they had previously agreed to place orders in these publications when in fact they had not. The distribution figures that were put to businesses were found to be false and immensely exaggerated.
In truth, the purported advertising advantages served no profitable or commercial gain for businesses advertising in there. The company further employed unsuitable methods of recovering alleged outstanding payments owed to them by sending continuous threatening letters to businesses advising them of imminent bailiff action if payment was not received. The High Court found that there was very little transparency as to whom was actually responsible for the management of the company and the company was found to be completely abandoned at the time of the investigation. Between January 2007 and November 2008, the company generated over £850,000 in revenue.
A winding up order was issued by the High Court on the 8th May, 2009.
PY Communications Limited t/a Primary Years Closed Down
13th April 2009
Registered Office: 67, Westow Street, London, SE19 3RW.
A publishing company based in Greater London that mislead businesses in to sponsoring a children´s drug, tobacco and alcohol awareness book destined for primary schools of the sponsors choice has been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch. It was found that the company operated a self-employed telesales team based in Malaga, southern Spain to make unsolicited telephone calls to businesses based in the UK to persuade them to purchase multiple orders of the books using a series of misleading statements and sales tactics. The company was to direct the books to a primary school of the sponsor´s choice with the sponsor´s name printed on the publications. Upon receipt of orders, persistent debt collection methods were operated to recover payments promptly and in many cases it was found that there was no actual official client agreements in place to allow the company legal entitlement to chase these payments.
It was proved that totally inadequate accounting records were kept by the company and there were no proper records of its transactions. There was no sales ledger in place to state what accounts were owing to the company or where monies were being received from or sent to. Although the winding up petition issued by CIB was initially opposed by PY Communications Limited, the company later agreed grounds on which it would not oppose the winding up of the company based on the acceptance that the company did deliberately put pressure on businesses to place orders with their operatives and that there was no transparency in their accounting records.
The company was wound up by the Court on 6th April, 2009.
Yellow Partnership Ltd, Strawberry Educational, MPH Direct & Aardvark Learning Resources Wound Up
27th February 2009
Registered Offices: (Yellow, Strawberry, MPH) The Old Bank, 197A, Ashley Road, Hale, Cheshire, WA15 9SQ, (Aardvark) Wellington House, 39-41, Piccadilly, Manchester, M1 1LQ & (MKB) Hilton House, 71-73, Chapel Street, Blackfriars, Manchester, M3 5BZ.
Following TAPA´s largest ever dossier of complaints to date at the time, handed over to Companies Investigation Branch back in October 2008, five companies based in the Greater Manchester district have been wound up in the High Court after an official investigation by Companies Investigation Branch. The group of companies that were managed by the same operators were found to have coerced business consumers in to believing that payments they made to sponsor advertising space contained in various publications they published destined for primary schools across the UK, were forwarded on to charity.
McEwan Kingston Bailey Ltd was found to be the ´unofficial, in- house´ debt recovery agents who aggressively chased unpaid accounts on behalf of the other four companies. MKB attempted to convince consumers they were an independent debt recovery agency with no management links to any of the other companies and harassed, abused and intimidated business consumers in to handing over payments. Charges that were not legally entitled to the company were added to outstanding accounts including court costs, solicitor´s fees and other statutory compensation fees.
It was found that Yellow Partnership Ltd and MPH Direct Ltd approached various charities on the pretence of being charitable fundraisers. Both achieved official contractual agreements with charities and as a result subsequently used their names, official charity logo´s and other literature to generate advertising sales in their children´s publications in return for a regular license fee. In the case of Strawberry Educational Limited, the company conducted its own charitable fundraising operations not directly related to any particular charities.
The group generated more than £1.1m in the first eight months of 2008 and its three directors received more than £12,000 each month in salary alone. This was achieved by the companies illegally debiting payments from consumer´s credit cards where they had illegally retained their card details from previous transactions that had been undertaken with their group.
All of the companies were forced in to compulsory liquidation by the Court on 18th February, 2009.
Red Sky Creative Media Ltd t/a Community Wise Publications Shut
26th January 2009
Registered Office: Unit 3, Spa Industrial Estate, Spa Road, Bolton, Lancashire, BL1 4SS.
In the last few weeks, the High Court in Manchester has wound up a publishing company based in Bolton , Lancashire as a result of an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch. Red Sky Creative Media Limited which also traded as Community Wise Publications was found to have fraudulently approached UK businesses on the pretence of recovering payments for alleged outstanding balances regarding safety awareness booklets destined for schools in their local district.
Businesses were falsely informed that they had previously agreed to sponsor the booklets and before the publications were to be distributed to the designated schools of their choice, payment was required from them. The scam generated vast sums of revenue totalling over £76,000 between October 2007 and January 2008. Approximately 100 companies reported complaints to Trading Standards advising that they had never agreed to any such sponsorship but were persistently pursued for payment regardless.
CIB´s investigations found that the company had no intention of ever producing or distributing any publications and the company was also found to have been abandoned. The directors of the company did not provide any cooperation to investigating officers and the financial records of the company were found to be deficient.
The company was wound up on the 5th January, 2009.
Magnify Media Ltd and Sabretooth Media Ltd Put in to Liquidation
15th December 2008
Registered Offices: Ingles Manor, Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 2RD & 2, Kingsley Road, Middleton, Manchester, M24 2PE.
Two publishing companies trading in Greater Manchester that coerced over £300,000 from businesses have been wound up in the High Court after an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch. The companies approached the business community claiming they were raising money to help the underprivileged and the needy through the sale of advertising space in their sponsorship publications.
CIB Investigators found no evidence to show that the companies had ever handed over any money to charity whatsoever. Furthermore, there was no evidence to suggest that the companies ever produced a single publication. The companies´ accounts were found to be insufficient and had no structure to them and only showed that the companies formed part of a wider UK network of fraudulent activity. Both companies were found to be abandoned when CIB officers commenced their investigations.
Both companies were wound up by the High Court on the 2nd December, 2008.
Crime Prevention Advisory Services Limited Receives Liquidation Order
13th April 2008
Registered Office: Suite 201-208, Gainsborough House, 109, Portland Street, Manchester, M1 6DN.
Crime Prevention Advisory Services Limited, a publishing company based in Manchester, has been wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation. After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, it was established that Trading Standards had received in excess of a 100 complaints from business consumers regarding the unscrupulous trading practices of the company.
The complaints included allegations of harassing and intimidating consumers in to paying for advertisements that they had not actually ordered and complaints that consumers had paid for advertisements in good faith in publications that had not been printed. During the investigation, investigating officers found that the trading address had been evacuated and the directors were unable to be traced.
The company was wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 19th March, 2008.
Garrett Tate Partnership Ltd and Achieve Media Ltd Shut Down
17th March 2008
Registered Offices: 67, Wellington Road North, Stockport, SK4 2LP & Riverside View, Thornes Lane, Wakefield, WF1 5AW.
Garrett Tate Partnership Ltd and Achieve Media Ltd, two related publishing companies´ based in Manchester, have been wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation. After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, the companies´ were found to be falsely approaching businesses claiming they were producing anti -bullying books for schools that had Local Education Authority backing.
It was further found that the companies´ made claims to consumers that they were operating on a charitable basis and employed very aggressive and intimidating credit control tactics to pressurise businesses in to forwarding payments to their organisation.
The two companies were wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 11th March, 2008.
Glade Solutions Limited
25th February 2008
Registered Office: 83, MM2 Building, Pickford Street, Manchester, M4 5AG.
Glade Solutions Limited, a publishing company based in Manchester, was wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 19th February 2008.
After growing concern from an array of complaints from business consumers, the company was forced to stop trading in the interest of public safety. After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, it was found that the company had turned over a large sum of money from business consumers for alleged advertisements in various business publications that the company had not produced.
The officers of the company failed to cooperate with the investigation and the company was also found to have been set up to continue the trading practices of other companies that had previously been wound up in the public interest.
Hourglass Design Limited
25th February 2008
Registered Office: 45, Hazelhurst Drive, Middleton, Manchester, M24 6TL.
Hourglass Design Ltd, a publishing company based in Manchester, was wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 4th February 2008.
After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, the company was found to have taken money from hundreds of businesses for advertisements to be featured in a publication covering the themes of safety awareness. The alleged publications were never produced.
The accounts of the company were found to be insufficient and it was also found that the company was set up to continue the trading practices of other companies that had been previously wound up in the public interest.
Fire & Safety (UK) Ltd and Starlight Media (UK) Ltd
25th February 2008
Registered Offices: Orchard Chambers Business Centre, 4 Rocky Lane, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 0BY & 121 Telegraph Road, Heswall, Wirral, CH60 0AF
Fire & Safety (UK) Ltd and Starlight Media (UK) Ltd, two related publishing companies´ based in Merseyside, were wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 4th February 2008.
After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, the companies´ were found to be invoicing business consumers for advertisements that had not actually been ordered in publications that were never published. The publications were supposed to cover themes relating to crime and safety awareness in the home.
The officers of the companies obstructed the investigation by refusing to cooperate or attend interviews with investigating officers and would not disclose accounting records or trading addresses.
Individuals were put in place as front men of the company to hide the true identity of the companies´ real controllers and it was found that over £100,000 had left company bank accounts with no accounting record or explanation.
Taylor Tanner Publications Limited
25th February 2008
Registered Office: 113, Mariners House, Queens Dock Commercial Centre, Norfolk Street, Liverpool, L1 0BG.
Taylor Tanner Publications Limited, a publishing company based in Merseyside, was wound up in the High Court and put in to compulsory liquidation on the 4th February 2008.
After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch, the company was found to be implementing an alarming number of fraudulent sales methods to coerce businesses in to paying for advertisements in publications covering themes relating to drugs, bullying and internet safety awareness for children.
The scams included invoicing and harassing business consumers for advertisements that had not actually been ordered, invoicing businesses again for invoices they had already paid, invoicing businesses that declined their services and employing fictitious debt collection methods to intimidate payments from businesses.
It was also found that large sums of money was being disbursed from company bank accounts, which according to the companies´ accounting records were to over 150 alleged advertising sales representatives. The alleged beneficiaries of these disbursements could not be verified or traced.
Regent House (UK) Ltd
21st December 2007
Registered Office: Regent House, Regent Street, Liverpool, L3 7BN
After an investigation by Companies Investigation Branch that found almost £1m had been defrauded from businesses, Regent House (UK) Ltd has been wound up in the High Court.
The company mislead businesses in to believing that large proportions of revenue they received under an alleged scheme entitled ´Safety Watch´ would be distributed to charity and other good causes through the sponsorship of advertising space.
It was found by the Court that the publications were distributed in a way that offered very little commercial benefit to the advertisers that sponsored the publications. Abusive credit control methods were found to be employed by the company and it was found to have sent out fictitious debt collection notices that were in fact issued by the company itself.
The individuals managing the company failed to keep adequate financial records and would not cooperate with CIB investigators. It was further found that there was a ´lack of transparency´ in to who the actual person controlling the finances of the company was. The alleged controller of the company was not appointed as a director until after Companies Investigation Branch commenced their investigations.
Regent House (UK) Ltd was wound up by the High Court on the 30th October, 2007.
Source: The Insolvency Service, Crown Copyright 2006