Rogue company directors whose firms attempt to dupe consumers out of their cash by selling them call-blocking devices take note: one of your kind has just been banged up for five years after being found guilty of swindling thousands of people out of £600,000.
Giles Ward-Best’s business, Telecom Protection Services, cunningly used the same acronym as the official Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Staff cold-called almost 10,000 people, often claiming they were calling from reputable organisations including BT, in order to sell them the £99 Call Blocker device.
However, victims found that the gadget did not work, caused their Internet to fail and was only compatible if they had a caller ID on their landline. They then found they were unable to return faulty devices or were not refunded after cancelling their orders within the specified cooling-off period.
Trading Standards officials received more than 200 complaints about the Bournemouth-based company and launched a two-year investigation, during which Ward-Best, 43, dissolved the business.
In a raid of Telecom Protection Services premises, Trading Standards seized telesales scripts and bank statements, and discovered the firm had carried out 9,633 transactions for the call-blocking device, totalling £861,153.
After successful refunds and declined bank payments, Ward-Best’s company pocketed £600,000, of which he withdrew £424,000 between September 2013 and July 2015.
Ward-Best was charged with operating a business for a fraudulent purpose contrary to the Companies Act 2006. He denied charges but was found guilty after a trial.
Jailing him at Bournemouth crown court, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: “A distasteful part of this fraud was that it used the methods that it claimed to try and stop. You therefore exploited those you promised to protect from exploitation.
“You were just another scammer using carefully crafted lies. Scripts were riddled with falsehoods and misleading information. You deserve to be called a scammer and a fraudster.”
Ward-Best, who last year was fined £80,000 for failing to register consumers’ personal data with the Information Commissioner’s Office, was also disqualified from directing a company for 10 years.
Bournemouth borough council Trading Standards Officer Andy Sherriff, commented: “Ward-Best established his business on a foundation of lies. He sought to take advantage of ordinary people and exploited customers who were entitled to believe that he could help them.
“He adopted trading styles that appeared to relate to TPS (the Telephone Preference Service) in order to convince customers that his business was legitimate. This sentence should also be a warning to others with get-rich-quick ideas and no scruples. The law recognises what you do as a scam, a con, a fraud – and will deal with you accordingly.”
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