News item

Swansea Council wanted to protect vulnerable in 'Sky' scam case

Swansea Council says it will continue to do all it can to investigate future complaints of unscrupulous telesales cold calling.
The pledge follows a landmark investigation by Swansea Council into a company operating a call centre in the city. The investigation concluded with a judge handing out a total of 22 years in custodial sentences to 14 employees.

June Burtonshaw the Council’s Cabinet Member for Place said: “We made a very brave decision in deciding to investigate such a complex and widespread case. We are very pleased that the outcome was as successful as it was. As the investigation developed we knew that we had a strong case. But had we lost in court, we would have had to pick up the costs of the investigation."

The Council originally brought the charges against 17 people who had posed as telesales agents for Sky and were attempting to sell unsuspecting customers with insurance cover plans they did not need. 

All seventeen worked for a business trading under a variety of names including Aurora Logistics, Cable Guy and 1st Choice Satellites.
The dishonest tactics by the individuals enabled them to collect approximately £500,000 from unsuspecting members of the public including many vulnerable and elderly people.

Cllr Burtonshaw added: “The Council decided to do the right thing and pursue the case because of the impact it was having, not just on people living in Swansea, but on thousands of people the firm targeted across England and Wales

Our main concern was that this company should be stopped from preying on older and vulnerable people.”

"We were right to proceed with the case because we knew it was the right thing to do to help protect vulnerable people. It is something we will not hesitate to do again if the same concerns are raised with us.”
Innovative investigative techniques, including voice recognition experts, were used, to listen to thousands of recorded phone calls. 
National Trading Standards Board provided additional financial assistance to the Council to take the case forward.

Chair of the National Trading Standards Board Lord Toby Harris said: “This was an appalling case where unscrupulous criminals were exploiting vulnerable individuals and defrauding them. We were pleased to be able to support Swansea Council in taking these people to court.”

The Council also confirmed that up to 60% of staff that had worked for the business had fraudulently claimed multiple benefits from the Council and also the Department for Work & Pensions without declaring this. Court action has previously taken place.

For further information please contact: Jason Rogers on 01792 636845  jason.rogers@swansea.gov.uk
 
DATE: 14 February 2014