• Welcome to the LegalBeagles Consumer and Legal Forum. Please register to get the most out of the forum. Registration is free and only needs a username and email address.
  • LegalBeagles is a free forum, founded in May 2007, providing legal guidance and support to consumers and SME's across a range of legal areas.

    Please do not post your full name, reference numbers or any identifiable details on the forum.

Copycat website scammers sentenced - TAD Services

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Copycat website scammers sentenced - TAD Services

    From TSecrime ( http://www.tradingstandardsecrime.or...website-fraud/ ) Six people have today (6 March 2018) been sentenced to a total of more than 35 years in prison after being convicted of defrauding UK consumers out of over £37 million in one of the largest UK online crime cases. They operated a number of ‘copycat websites’, impersonating official government services to sell passports, driving licences and other key documents for vastly inflated prices.

    The convictions and sentences follow one of the biggest investigations undertaken by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team. The convictions and sentences were handed down following two trials – one in July 2017 and the other in March 2018. The convictions and sentences relating to the July 2017 trial can only be reported now due reporting restrictions which were in place.

    The July 2017 trial resulted in the following sentences:
    • Peter Hall (age 47 of Homestead Road, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire) was sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in prison. Mr Hall also received a further 1 year and 4 months in relation to a previous suspended sentence following a conviction for fraud.
    • Claire Hall (age 41 of Homestead Road, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire) was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
    • Syed Bilal Zaidi (aged 35 formerly of Broad Street, Arlesford, Hampshire) was sentenced to 6 years in prison in his absence and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
    • Collette Ferrow (aged 50 of Longmead, Liss, Hampshire) was sentenced to 4 years in prison
    • Liam Hincks (aged 28 of St Albans Heights, Tanyfron, Wrexham, Clwyd) pleaded guilty before the trial began and was sentenced to 3 years.

    The March 2018 trial (which ended today) resulted in the followed sentences:
    • Peter Hall (age 47 of Homestead Road, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire) was sentenced to 5 years in prison. He was also disqualified as company director for 10 years.
    • Kerry Mills (age 49 of Hillsborough Park, Camberley, Surrey) was sentenced to 5 years in prison. She was also disqualified as a company director for 8 years.
    • Liam Michael Murray Hincks (aged 28 of St Albans Heights, Tanyfron, Wrexham, Clwyd) pleaded guilty before the trial began and will be sentenced at a later date.

    The July 2017 trial heard how the defendants set up copycat websites through the company Tadservices Limited between January 2011 and November 2014. These sites mimicked official websites run by eleven government agencies and departments and manipulated search engine results to appear more genuine. They knowingly misled hundreds of thousands of consumers into paying more than they needed for a number of government services including new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London Congestion Charge.

    The criminals also set up websites that mimicked the American, Turkish, Cambodian, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan official visa sites where travellers could apply and pay for electronic visas to visit those countries. In all cases the sites offered little or no additional value to consumers using them. It is believed that in addition to UK consumers Indian, Turkish and US citizens were also defrauded.

    The illegal profits funded a glamorous lifestyle for the defendants, with extravagant spending on expensive cars and luxury holidays. At one stage Claire Hall was preparing to buy a house for a cash payment of £1,400,000 when the authorities intervened.

    The Halls were arrested on 27 June 2014 as part of an investigation by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, who together with police raided properties across Hampshire. The eCrime Team seized items including computers and mobile phones.

    The second trial (March 2018) heard how the five defendants established a series of copycat websites through the companies Online Forms Limited and AE Online Services Limited in 2014 and 2015. These copycat websites mimicked a range of the visa application websites of a range on countries including the United States, India, Turkey, Bahrain and Sri Lanka.

    Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

    “These convictions represent an important milestone in the fight against online fraud. This was a huge fraud and a very large number of people lost money as a result of the malicious actions of these criminals. Our eCrime team – operating with finite resources – has worked tirelessly to bring these criminals to justice and I’m delighted that their efforts have led to these historic convictions.

    “I would urge members of the public to report any copycat websites they spot to the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06.”

    Mike Andrews from the National Trading Standards eCrime Team said:

    “This was a crime motivated by greed. This group defrauded people so they could enjoy a luxury lifestyle. They showed no regard for the unnecessary costs they imposed on their victims – I would say they treated them with contempt.

    “I would urge people to always use the GOV.UK website when looking to apply for any kind of government service such as a passport, driving licence or EHIC card. Search engines may seem the easiest route but searching using the GOV.UK website is the safest way of ensuring you do not fall victim to a copycat website.”

    Councillor Andrew Lee of North Yorkshire County Council, said:

    “This is a landmark consumer case for Trading Standards. It is one of the first ever successful prosecutions of a copycat operator and is also the biggest online fraud case ever brought by Trading Standards. Consumers searching for government services online can go directly to GOV.UK and search there instead.”

    Councillor Ann Reid of City of York Council, said:

    “Our experts have doggedly pursued this group to ensure no more consumers are defrauded by them. They deliberately misled consumers about obtaining important, confidential and sensitive documents and offered them no added value or, in some cases, failed to deliver the work they’d been paid to do.”

    The investigation into this case was led by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, which is hosted by North Yorkshire County Council, in partnership with the National Trading Standards Yorkshire and Humber Regional Investigations Team, which is hosted by City of York Council.

    In handing down his sentences in September 2017 His Honour Judge Sean Morris said:

    “Mr Hall was a highly manipulative and controlling individual and it was a determined, sophisticated long running fraud. He was a charming man but did not charm the jury. We live in a computer age, and crime is developing to meet that age. People live by their computers and need to know that the services they purchase online are genuine services.”

    In handing down his sentences in March 2018 His Honour Judge Sean Morris said:

    “The internet is now the most frequently used marketplace. It is full of busy people in a rush who don’t have time. It’s a tool used by everyone for buying train tickets, holidays, cars, visas and it involves millions of mouse clicks a day. There is a lot of money to be made by dishonest people out of the honest people who don’t have time to check that a site is an official government service. Those who deceive in this way should expect to go to prison for a long time.

    “The jury in the last trial found you {Peter Hall} guilty. You involved your wife in the running of these websites and continued despite being told to stop by trading standards, who told you your sites were illegal, but again and again you continue to commit these offences online.”

    Claire Hall (age 41 of Homestead Road, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire) and Andrew Baker (age 46 of Gascoigne Lane, Ropley, Hampshire) both stood trial as part of the March 2018 trial but were found not guilty.

    The Advertising Standards Authority previously found websites run by the defendants to be misleading. Commenting on the convictions and sentences handed down ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker said:

    “We welcome the action taken by National Trading Standards against this bogus operator. This is a real result for consumer protection and sends an incredibly strong message that there are significant consequences for those who swindle and dupe people out of their money. We’re continuing to take action against websites that misleadingly imply they’re an official provider of government services. To avoid being misled, consumers looking to access these services should go to .gov.uk.”


    We may not win by protesting, but if we don't protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win. Hetty Bower

    Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

    If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

    Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Couple more sentences handed down...


    Liam Michael Murray Hincks (aged 29, of Tanyfron, Wrexham, Clwyd) received 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud, and Doing Acts Tending and Intended to Perverting the Course of Justice. This sentence is in addition to the 3 year prison sentenced he received after pleaded guilty to previous offences in a July 2017 trial.

    Caroline Gowans (aged 53, of Petersfield, Hampshire) was handed a 2 year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to Unauthorised Misuse of a Trademark belonging to the DVLA and Money Laundering.


    FINAL DEFENDANTS SENTENCED IN LANDMARK COPYCAT CASE


    29/03/2018 by Stephen Forster


    Two more people have been sentenced after pleading guilty to their roles in one of the biggest online conspiracy cases in UK legal history. Liam Hincks received 11 months in prison on Monday 26 March – which took into account his cooperation with the prosecution – and Caroline Gowans received a two year suspended prison sentence, on Tuesday 27 March. Their sentencings bring to a conclusion Operation Dougal, National Trading Standards’ landmark investigation into the operation of copycat websites which has now secured convictions against seven defendants and prison sentences totalling 38 years and seven months.
    Liam Michael Murray Hincks (aged 29, of Tanyfron, Wrexham, Clwyd) received 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud, and Doing Acts Tending and Intended to Perverting the Course of Justice. This sentence is in addition to the 3 year prison sentenced he received after pleaded guilty to previous offences in a July 2017 trial.
    Caroline Gowans (aged 53, of Petersfield, Hampshire) was handed a 2 year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to Unauthorised Misuse of a Trademark belonging to the DVLA and Money Laundering.
    Gowans laundered £1 million of the proceeds of a £37 million conspiracy to defraud committed between October 2011 and April 2013 by copycat website criminal Peter Hall. Hall was jailed following a July 2017 trial for the conspiracy with three other defendants -Claire Hall, Collette Ferrow and Bilal Zaidi.
    Between 2011 and 2013, Gowans designed, hosted and maintained a number of websites for Peter Hall. Ms Gowans opened bank accounts in her own name which were then used to operate the websites, pay for advertising, and receive payments from online merchants, who are authorised to take credit and debit card payments on behalf of online businesses.
    Hall instructed Gowans to design websites to convince consumers they were using the official DVLA website. She closely matched the colour scheme and logo of the fake site to that of the genuine DVLA site. Consumers searching for government services clicked on search engine adverts that led them to fake sites and ended up paying premium fees for driving licences, and car tax renewals, as well as driving licence and driving test applications.
    Liam Hincks pleaded guilty shortly after he was arrested and charged in June 2014, despite his co-conspirators pleading not guilty at the time.
    Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:

    “Operation Dougal has been a landmark operation which has demonstrated very clearly that National Trading Standards will not hesitate to take action against those defrauding consumers using copycat websites.
    “While this case has dealt a firm blow to those operating copycat websites I would urge members of the public to report any copycat websites they spot to the Citizens Advice consumer service by calling 03454 04 05 06.”
    In handing down sentences His Honour Judge Sean Morris said:

    “These were highly complex and determined frauds which netted millions. It was the hard work and diligence of National Trading Standards and the police that brought determined fraudsters to book, one of whom (Peter Hall) is now serving 15 years….I warmly commend the officers for their hard work, dedication and professionalism.”
    Councillor Nigel Ayre of City of York Council said:

    “The National Trading Standards eCrime Team based at City of York Council has helped secure convictions against seven defendants and prison sentences totalling over 38 years, which sends a clear message to other fraudsters that this kind of crime does not pay.”
    Councillor Andrew Lee of North Yorkshire County Council said:

    “North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council decided several years ago to support the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, and convictions against copycat website operators such as this one vindicate those decisions. I am immensely proud of the team’s role in this prosecution, one of the largest online frauds of its kind.”
    More information about Operation Dougal and the previous convictions and sentences secured can be found here.
    ***ENDS***
    We may not win by protesting, but if we don't protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win. Hetty Bower

    Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

    Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

    If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

    Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

    Comment


    • #3
      £6 million confiscated from ‘copycat’ website criminals


      Three ‘copycat’ website criminals were ordered to pay back more than £6 million* between them at a proceeds of crime hearing at Teesside Crown Court yesterday (2 April 2019). They were told that failure to pay within three months will lead to a further 26 years behind bars for the trio, which would be in addition to the prison sentences totalling more than 38 years for this case.**

      The confiscation orders follow trials held in July 2017 and March 2018 which led to the initial convictions and prison sentences. These trials were two of the biggest conspiracy to defraud trials ever brought by trading standards and heard how, between January 2011 and November 2014, the criminals set up and operated copycat websites that knowingly misled hundreds of thousands of consumers into paying more than they needed for a number of government services including new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London Congestion Charge.

      Read more - >Â*https://www.nationaltradingstandards...ite-criminals/




      Has something happened with TAD services more recently ? only thing I can see is someone incorporated an completely unrelated company with the same name ( slightly unfortunate - always google your new company name before committing to it!)
      We may not win by protesting, but if we don't protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win. Hetty Bower

      Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

      Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

      If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

      Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

      Comment


      • #4
        Bloody impressive sentences.

        I like your pin shot
        I keep it with your letter
        Done up in blueprint blue
        It sure looks good on you
        And when you smile for the camera
        I know I'll love you better

        Then the shutter falls
        You see it all in 3-D
        It's your favorite foreign movie

        'Peg'

        Donald Jay Fagen

        Comment


        • #5
          They are bloody good. I haven't seen anything as to whether they did manage to pay up within the 3 months or not yet though..
          We may not win by protesting, but if we don't protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win. Hetty Bower

          Any support I provide is offered without liability, if you are unsure please seek professional legal guidance.

          Received a Court Claim? Read >>>>> First Steps

          If we have helped you we'd appreciate it if you can leave a review on our Trust Pilot page

          Find Solicitors offering fixed fees on our sister site - JustBeagle.com

          Comment

          View our Terms and Conditions

          LegalBeagles Group uses cookies to enhance your browsing experience and to create a secure and effective website. By using this website, you are consenting to such use.To find out more and learn how to manage cookies please read our Cookie and Privacy Policy.

          If you would like to opt in, or out, of receiving news and marketing from LegalBeagles Group Ltd you can amend your settings at any time here.


          If you would like to cancel your registration please Contact Us. We will delete your user details on request, however, any previously posted user content will remain on the site with your username removed and 'Guest' inserted.

          Announcement

          Collapse

          Online Scams

          You can report online scams to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline:

          03454 04 05 06



          Beware of COPYCAT Websites

          Check you are on the OFFICIAL website before parting with any personal information or money.
          See more
          See less

          Court Claim ?

          Guides and Letters



          Search and Compare fixed fee legal services and find a solicitor near you.

          Find a Law Firm


          Loading...
          Working...
          X