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Arrests at copycat website company after a surge of consumer complaints

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  • Arrests at copycat website company after a surge of consumer complaints

    National Trading Standards is once again warning consumers to be vigilant about ‘copycat’ websites – and to report suspect sites – following the arrest of five people this morning. As part of an ongoing crackdown on the sites – which deceive consumers into spending over the odds for government services – enforcement officers from the National Trading Standards eCrime Team raided four locations across London and the home counties at around 09.30.

    This morning’s arrests relate to the operators behind a website which charged consumers a premium price over and above the official government service that could be found on the GOV.UK website. The unofficial site has been subject to over 500* consumer complaints from people who thought they were using the government site before realising they had been duped into paying over £100 for a fake service.

    During today’s arrests officers seized computers, tablets, phones and customer records believed to belong to the company behind the copycat site.

    Last edited by Amethyst; 25th June 2015, 14:42:PM.
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  • #2
    Re: Arrests at copycat website company after a surge of consumer complaints

    Examples of Third Party Websites include;

    Over the last 6 months there have been numerous stories in the press, reports on LegalBeagles and other consumer forums, relating to one particular third party website, BritishPassportServices. The website, run by UK Services & Support Ltd, offers to books consumers an appointment at the HM Passport Office so they can fast track their passport. The company behind the site, UK Services & Support Ltd, of Deer Park Road in Wimbledon, asks consumer to pay a fee of £117.60. The company then books an appointment for the consumer at the HM Passport Office. Booking an appointment at the HM Passport Office is free by calling direct 0300 222 0000. UK Services and Support Ltd have, since November 2014, bought over 700 claims in the county court against consumers who refused to pay the fee requested.

    Around 75% of consumers who received County court Claims have either settled the claim with the company or been given a CCJ in default of responding. Receiving a County Court claim can be very intimidating and the worry of having a County Court Judgment on your credit file, as well as the thought of having to attend a Court Hearing, can make consumers feel they have no choice but to settle the claim.

    However to date more than 45 consumers have chosen to defend the claims on the grounds the website was misleading and no valid contract was entered in to. Seven cases have so far been heard in the County Court, and have all been won by the Consumer, often being awarded costs against UK Services & Support. Mr Richard Howard, MD of UK services & Support, has only chosen to appear at one hearing, held in Cambridge on 7th May 2015 – where he lost (you can read the judgment here ). A further 14 hearings are booked in County Courts across the country over the next two months.

    At the beginning of the month one consumer successfully claimed damages of £1500 against UK Services & Support for breaches of data protection, and distress caused by the relentless hounding of him to make payment, despite no appointment having ever been made in his name at the Passport Office.

    LegalBeagles do not know if this company has been involved in today’s arrests, however this surely serves as a warning to anyone involved in running a misleading website. LegalBeagles would like to see the Government take further action and consider a requirement for third party companys offering consumers ‘added value’ to government services and products to be registered and sign up to a formal code of conduct.

    LegalBeagles have also seen a rise in consumers looking for help after making payment to a number of websites who charge between £12 and £50 to obtain their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card ) – which is also free through the official NHS website.
    Last edited by Amethyst; 25th June 2015, 15:12:PM.
    “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

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    • #3
      Re: Arrests at copycat website company after a surge of consumer complaints

      Originally posted by Amethyst View Post
      LegalBeagles do not know if this company has been involved in today’s arrests,
      I live in hope.


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