On 6 Mar 2015, the successful conclusion to Operation Kennet was heard in Reading Crown Court after a complicated two year investigation by West Berkshire Council Trading Standards Service.
This investigation was supported by the National Trading Standards Tri Region Scambuster team and other National Trading Standards Scambuster Teams, who assisted in obtaining victim and witness evidence from across the country. The protracted investigation was focused on the activities of those involved in running of the former Cameo Auctions.
In April 2012 the business closed leaving a large number former clients and suppliers unpaid. The Service received many hundreds of enquiries who had lost money or goods or who had payments taken from payment cards. It also transpired that the auction had been running an account in a false name to bid on items and following the closure of the auction Jonathan King was discovered to have being selling former clients items on e-bay having told the Insolvency Service he didn’t have them.
On 18th December 2014, after a seven week trial in Reading Crown Court, the jury returned guilty verdicts against all three defendants on ten out of the eleven charges laid against them.
On the 6th March 2015 Jonathan King, aged 66, his wife Beverley King, aged 62, of Matlock Way, Abingdon, Oxfordshire and Glenn Norcliffe, aged 64, formerly of Marcuse Road, Caterham, Surrey were all sentenced for their involvement in the Cameo Auction Fraud, which had caused an estimated £276,000.00 in losses to consumers.
Jonathan King who was the owner of Cameo Auctions, formerly based at Kennet Holme Farm. Midgahm, Berkshire was sentenced to five years imprisonment for a variety of offences including four counts of fraud, two counts of breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and one count of perjury.
Glenn Norcliffe who was the Auction Manager was sentenced to four years imprisonment in respect of the four counts of fraud and one count of false accounting.
Beverley King was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years and given a 150 hours Unpaid Work Requirement Order in respect of one count of money laundering.
Glenn Norcliffe had previously been acquitted of one count of fraud at the trial in November and December 2014 and Beverley King was acquitted of one further count of money laundering. Each defendant was also ordered to pay a £15 victims surcharge.
Jonathan King and Beverley King have appealed their convictions.
In sentencing Jonathan King, His Honour Judge Stephen John stated that the way he had treated his clients over a prolonged period ‘was nothing short of disgraceful’ and found that he had lied to, cheated and stole from former clients. Jonathan King and Glenn Norcliffe were described as having ‘behaved with calculated and sustained dishonesty towards clients of the auction house’ and ‘in so doing lining their own pockets’. In respect of Mrs King HHJ John said, ‘I find it highly unlikely that were unaware that the business was being milked by the use of clients monies: why should such large sums of money be routinely carried from the auction house to the bank if not to avoid records being kept?’. Over a two year period some £61K in cheques and £57K in case were paid into the Kings’ joint bank account.
Cllr Hilary Cole, Executive member for Trading Standards said, "The sentences reflect the serious nature of the offences that were committed. The systematic fraud that was perpetrated at the former Cameo Auctions took place over a prolonged period. It left many people losing significant amounts of money and goods and caused a great deal of distress to many of its former customers.
This was extremely large and complicated investigation led by the Councils Trading Standards Service that involved witnesses from all over the country as well as a lot of detailed financial analysis. The case was also one of the largest ever prosecuted by the Councils Legal Services team. In conducting the investigation we are grateful for the assistance we received from colleagues at West Berkshire Police CID as well the National Trading Standards Tri-Region Scambuster Team. Above all I would like to thank all the victims that came forward to provide information and the many that gave evidence that led to these convictions."
Following the sentencing His Honour Judge John adjourned the case until the October when the matter of confiscation of any criminal assets will be dealt will be dealt with. The Trading Standards Service is now conducting an investigation to what assets can be recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
A number of media articles and supporting links follow:
For more information about this case contact the regional Scambusters office.
For more general enquiries regarding the National Trading Standards Board please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors
About the National Trading Standards Board
The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
The National Trading Standards Board funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)
Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.