News : Seven People Jailed for Part in Cold Calling Scam
Feb 21, 2014 -- Seven people have been given prison sentences totalling more than 15 years for their part in a UK-wide fraud targeting thousands of mobile telephone customers.
Swansea Crown Court heard staff from a bogus call centre based in the city’s Sun Alliance House preyed on customers who had recently purchased mobile phones, persuading them to cancel legitimate phone insurance policies for worthless ones for a discounted one-off fee.
David Elias, prosecuting, said 3,000 people across Britain were conned in the fraud which he said "contributed to the erosion of confidence in the industry by members of the public".
BBC Consumer programme Watchdog looked into the Swansea call centre following complaints from the public and in August 2008, officers from Swansea’s trading standards department and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) visited the call centre demanding assurances it would stop selling unauthorised polices.
But days later more people were being "cold called" from the centre and it was only in March and April 2010 when police placed a covert camera and microphone on the sales floor that the operation ended.
Yesterday Christopher Surman, 47, of Rembrandt Court, Sketty, described by Judge Keith Thomas, sentencing, as the "leader" of the operation was jailed for four years while senior figures in the fraud, Wayne Ghosh, 43, of Coedfan, Sketty and Andrew Patterson, 32, of Terrace Road, Mount Pleasant, were each jailed for three and a half years and Omar Mapara, 33, of Bridge Road, Bristol, another senior figure, was jailed for three years.
They admitted conspiracy to defraud.
Helen Lewis, 28, of Monterey Street, Manselton, was given six months suspended for 18 months, Craig Odger, 29, of Park Place, Brynmill, Swansea, was given eight months suspended for 18 months with 180 hours’ unpaid work and Craig Pitman, 33, of Crown Street, Port Talbot, also got eight months suspended for 18 months with 180 hours’ unpaid work.
Lewis and Odger were sales workers in the operation while Pitman allowed his company to be used as a vehicle for what happened. They admitted the lesser charge of selling insurance without authorisation.
Mr Elias said 3,000 customers with legitimate insurance for their phones to cover theft and the cost of fraudulent calls were duped into exchanging their deals for heavily discounted one off payments.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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