The latest scalp in the war against so-called nuisance calls has exposed the ease at which rogue directors can set up dodgy operations in residential properties to bombard consumers with thousands of illegal marketing calls, after an East Sussex marketing firm has become yet another notch on the belt of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
AMS Marketing is run by sole director Elia Bols from the small seaside town of Peacehaven. On the outside it looks like any other unassuming bungalow; inside, the ICO discovered the tiny firm had made 75,649 calls to people who had opted out by registering with the Telephone Preference Service, with the aim of getting them to make accident claims, with no evidence they had been involved in an accident in the first place.
The calls, made between October 1 2016 and 31 December 31 2017, triggered a total of 103 complaints to the ICO and TPS.
One person who complained said:“They knew my name and address and claimed that I was legally owed circa £1,800 for a non-fault traffic accident;” another said: “Saying we had an accident and they can help with compensation. They asked for my daughter who has not been driving long, so I found it very stressful and disturbing.” And a third added: “Trying yet again to persuade us to claim compensation despite being with TPS and asking them repeatedly not to ring us.”
The ICO investigation found that AMS Marketing bought lists of data from other companies, but that no checks were made to find out if any of the people listed were registered with the TPS.
As the ICO points out this is against the law unless people give specific consent to receive marketing calls from a particular company. The ICO investigation found no evidence that AMS Marketing had done that and handed the firm a £100,000 fine.
An ICO spokesperson said: “Firms that buy in lists of data are duty-bound to check whether people are registered with the TPS. Firms that fail to make the proper checks, do so at their peril. The ICO can and will take action.”
AMS Marketing was set up in January 2016 by Bols and his then 22-year-old co-founder Kurlos Assad. According to Companies House, the company offers “management consultancy activities other than financial management”.
Assad resigned in August of the same year – two months before the business was found to have been making illegal calls. He has held a total of seven directorships, and is now managing director of two other firms in nearby Hove. One also offers “management consultancy activities other than financial management”; the other runs “take-away food shops and mobile food stands”. There is no suggestion that he has done anything illegal.
Bols, meanwhile, has held a total of five directorships, and, as well as AMS Marketing, is a director of a company called M&N Sons, which offers “other retail sale in non-specialised stores”.
One industry source said: “All too often ICO investigations lead to residential properties, where, behind the closed curtains, rogues are wreaking havoc on the legitimate marketing industry. The sooner laws are passed to make them personally liable for fines the better. These shysters are killing our business.”
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