A rogue trader who defrauded hundreds of people has been sentenced to five years in prison and disqualified from being a director for ten years, following his conviction for fraud at Bournemouth Crown Court.
Giles Ward-Best, aged 43 years of Firbank Road in Bournemouth, traded as Telecom Protection Service Ltd & others from his base in Bournemouth selling Call Blocker devices. His conviction came following a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team South West, hosted by Bristol City Council, with support from Bournemouth Trading Standards.
Between 2013 and 2015 complaints flooded in from consumers with many claiming they had been mis-sold, that they had been unable to return faulty devices or that they were unable to cancel within the cancellation period. A considerable number of Mr. Ward-Best’s victims were elderly and often found that their phones were simply not compatible with the call blocker, the equipment stopped the phone and internet connection from working at all or that when calls could be received, no nuisance calls were stopped.
Analysis of Mr. Ward-Best’s accounts showed that over the course of the scam he withdrew £424,000 in cash, with a further £44,100 directly transferred into his personal current account.
Commenting on the sentencing Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:
“I am delighted that the investigation by our Scambuster Team has led to these sentences. Mr. Ward-Best deliberately misled hundreds of people – many of them in vulnerable situations – leaving them out of pocket and distressed. I am pleased that they will be brought to justice.
I urge everyone to check references and credentials before paying out any money and if you are in any doubt, contact your local trading standards department or the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.”
Sentencing Mr. Ward-Best the presiding Judge His Honour Judge Fuller said:
“You were just another scammer using carefully crafted lies. Scripts were riddled with falsehoods and misleading information. You exploited those you promised to protect from exploitation. You deserve to be called a scammer and a fraudster.”
He went on to say “Trading Standards need some degree of recognition in the way they have dealt with this case. They are to be commended.”
As a result of the complaints from consumers the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team South West executed a warrant at the business premises on 18th March 2015 with the assistance of officers from Dorset Police. A large amount of documentation was seized including telesales scripts, complaint letters and ‘charge-back’ and refund forms from debit card processing companies. Analysis of these documents suggested that Ward-Best was also selling the call blockers under other business names such as Call Barring UK, Compete Phone Solutions, Call Prevention Service and CPS, sometimes using others to front these new trade names. The execution of the warrant brought an end to these new businesses.
Ward-Best’s companies claimed that they would compile their own, “do not call” lists that would be sent to direct marketing companies. The website claimed that any company caught flouting this list would be reported to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The ICO confirmed that they had never received such reports from Ward-Best. The ICO have, however, carried out their own investigation into Ward Best’s activities and imposed a fine of £80,000 upon him.
Evidence from debit and credit card use showed that 9,633 transactions had been carried out with a total value of £861,153. Ward-Best was eventually charged with 2 offences of operating a business for a fraudulent purpose contrary to the Companies Act 2006 and 11 offences against the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
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Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards 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.
National Trading Standards 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).