2014 CTSI award winners

Woman scammed out of £250,000 educates the nation

Steve Playle, Sylvia Kneller & Helen Clack

Sylvia Kneller received a Hero Award following the media attention that her story bought to scam mail and highlighted what vulnerable people can do to avoid becoming a victim. Sylvia's case is arguably one of the largest trading standards stories of the year.

Sylvia, 76, had been receiving scam mail since she was 20-years old, filling in forms and sending money to schemes sent to her through the mail. 

Over 50 years Sylvia sent off £250,000 and never saw a prize.

Sylvia was identified as a scam victim by Surrey County Council's trading standards as a result of Operation Sterling, when a large consignment of scam mail was intercepted at Heathrow airport. 

Picture left to right: Steve Playle, TSI lead officer doorstep crime. Sylvia Kneller Hero Award winner & Helen Clack, Dorking Rural Conservative, cabinet member for Community Services. 

Bradford girls group set up safer community project







Bradford's Frizinghall Girls Group received a Hero Award  for the significant contribution they made to consumer protection in their local area.

In a community project created and delivered by the Frizinghall Girls Group (FGG), the team aged between 12 and 18 began a crime prevention project, supported by West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Trading Standards.

The girls identified that one of the main problems in their area was cold callers targeting vulnerable residents, as well as the theft of Asian gold. The group created two No Cold Calling Zones, encompassing over 250 homes and a 12 minute long crime prevention video to be shown around their community. In addition to this, the group worked with elderly residents attached to the Big Lottery funded 'SAFER Project' delivered by West Yorkshire Trading Standards' Education Team, which aims to empower older and vulnerable people to feel more confident and help protect themselves.

Picture left to right: CEO Leon Livermore, PCSO Danny Mynott, Javeria Ishaq, Lisa-Marie Wilson and TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Concerned North Yorkshire carer brings down organised crime gang

Leon Livermore, Wendy Sonley, John Peerless







Carer WendySonley received a Hero Award after she made a Safeguarding Alert to North Yorkshire Police who referred the matter to North Yorkshire Trading Standards Investigations and Safeguarding team. Trading Standards began an investigation called Operation Opal.

Mrs Sonley is carer for an elderly man with Parkinson's Disease. In October 2012 Mrs Sonley discovered that he had repeatedly made substantial payments to an organised crime group posing as property repair tradesmen. Overall he was defrauded of £250,000 over eight years.

In October 2013 four members of the gang pleaded guilty to an eight year conspiracy to defraud and associated money laundering offences. In February 2014 they were sentenced to five years, two and a half years, one year and a 15 month suspended sentence. In May 2014, the Court of Appeal increased the sentences for the two main offenders to seven and a half years and four years.

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Hero Award winner Wendy Sonley & TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Bank branch staff prevent disabled man from losing life savings to scammers







A team from the Halifax bank Romford branch received a group Hero Award following the creation of a doorstep crime preventative scheme called the Havering Banking Protocol, trading standards officers from Havering Council helped train staff on the ways a bank can protect vulnerable members of the community.

Staff embraced the scheme, which involves a dedicated telephone contact at Social Services, and implemented training that helped protect a vulnerable member of the community when he tried to withdraw £100,000. The elderly customer said it was to 'help his cleaner buy a house so that he could go and live with her because she has been very kind to him and would look after him.'

The Halifax Bank cashier consulted with the branch's doorstep crime colleague, and delayed the withdrawal proceedings by issuing a 'bankers draft'. Staff knew this would take several days to clear, providing sufficient time to cancel the transaction. This stalling technique allowed the police, social services and the gentleman's family to be alerted. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Phil Carr, Debbie Dennis, Scarlett Castleman, Nicola Radley, TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Carpenter cracks counterfeiting operation

Leon Livermore, Keith Bunt, John Peerless







Truro carpenter Keith Bunt received a Hero Award for his huge contribution to consumer protection.

It was while carrying out repairs on a property that Mr Bunt noticed several stacks of counterfeit DVDS, CDs and games. Choosing not to turn a blind eye, the housing association employee reported the illegal stash to Cornwall Council Trading Standards. It was through the evidence provided by Mr Bunt that a conviction was secured and the offender was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on 29 August 2013. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Hero Award winner Keith Bunt and TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Community champion protects elderly and vulnerable residents from scammers 








Community champion Ian Brooke received a Hero Award for regularly volunteering his time at the local Area Committee, Neighbourhood Watch Network, Huddersfield Pensioners Group and Kirklees Tenants and Residents (TRA) Committee meetings. 

Kirklees Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations (KFTRA) set up a Financial Fitness course to help local tenants and residents identify potential scams, fraud and doorstep crime, as well as learn new skills regarding debt awareness. 

When suspicious telephone calls from 'Microsoft' offering to fix a computer fault over the phone begun targeting elderly people, Mr Brooke's Financial Fitness training allowed him to identify it as a scam and alert the elderly and vulnerable residents in his area, preventing a potentially devastating financial loss. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Ian Brooke and TSI Chairman John Peerless.

Broadcaster receives award for significant contribution to consumer protection 








Linda McAuley received a Media Hero Award for the significant contribution she made to consumer protection in Northern Ireland through the 'On Your Behalf' show on BBC Ulster.

Linda has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the trading standards profession and has provided a platform for trading standards officers to raise awareness on key issues.

The radio show regularly blends consumer advice, information and education with robust confrontation of unfair trading, with an excellent record of naming and shaming rogue traders, and rectifying the problems created by these traders.

Linda is an advocate of trading standards, fully supporting the Northern Ireland Young Consumer Competition where she has acted as a question master for the event.

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Media Hero Award winner Linda McAuley, TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Press officer receives award for significant contribution to consumer protection








Press officer Murray Evans received a Hero Award for his hard work to raise the profile of the profession, Mr Evans provided a platform for trading standards officers to reach the most vulnerable and at risk. 

When Mr Evans joined Kent County Council as a press officer in April 2013, he was only meant to be maternity cover. But with his background in marketing and journalism combined with a proactive approach, Mr Evans knew that trading standards had plenty of stories waiting to be picked up by the media.

As a result of Mr Evan's hard work, Kent trading standards has been featured on BBC Radio 4's 'You and Yours' programme and BBC1's 'Fake Britain', as well as in local radio and newspapers. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Murray Evans, TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Carer helps catch violent rogue traders








Carer Lyndsay Taite, an Age UK carer received a Hero Award for her participation in Operation REPEAT, a project aimed at raising awareness of doorstep crime prevention run by Lincolnshire trading standards, Lincolnshire police and Community Lincs, Ms. Taite learned to identify bogus callers and rogue traders who target the elderly. This training served Ms. Taite well eight months later when she used the knowledge and skills she learned to assist a 93-year old client.

It was later revealed Ms. Taite’s client had been subjected to five years of visits from suspected rogue traders and had become fearful of not paying the sums demanded of him even when he knew no work had been carried out.

Thanks to Ms. Taite’s swift and brave reaction to what she witnessed at her client’s house, police have made a number of arrests in relation to various cases. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Lyndsay Taite, TSI Chairman John Peerless.

Retired police officer recognised for protecting pensioners from scams








Michael Hall, a retired police officer, received a Hero Award for his actions that led to the commencing of North Yorkshire Trading Standards, Operation Herring . Mr Hall's 84-year old aunt was defrauded of at least £6000 in 2010. An organised crime group targeted Ms Gardener, taking her money for roofing work which was valued at no more than £25. 

It was revealed through the operation that the rogue traders had targeted a second victim, defrauding him of £70,000. Four suspects were prosecuted for fraud and associated money laundering. Following guilty pleas in December 2012, the two main offenders were sentenced to three years and four and a half years respectively in February 2013.

Seeing how the scammers had damaged Ms Gardener's well-being, Mr Hall worked tirelessly to support the work of trading standards and helped to deliver trading standards' doorstep crime messages to the media. He took part extensively in local media coverage and was featured in ITV's 'Hunting the Doorstep Conmen'.

Picture left to right: David Miller and Ruth Andrews both from North Yorkshire trading standards (collected on behalf of Michael Hall). 

Witnesses and PC help bring deceptive business owner to justice







Three witnesses and an investigating police officer received a Hero Award  for their significant contribution to consumer protection in the Kingsbridge area of Devon.

A business owner who cold called Kingsbridge residents in order to obtain work was subject to an investigation following concerns raised by residents and South Hams District Council, to neighbourhood beat officer PC Rachel Ward. One local resident handed PC Ward a leaflet after being cold called, and next to “specialist in” they wrote “conning old ladies” as they were concerned with their business activities.

Using finger print evidence, CCTV footage and witness statements, PC Ward worked with Devon & Somerset Trading Standards Service and South Hams District Council to prosecute Dan Ward, owner of Master Roofing.

The elderly witnesses provided vital evidence explaining the serious fraud Daniel Ward inflicted on his victims. It  ravery, combined with PC Ward's ingenuity and skill, that saw the witnesses and PC Ward put up for a Hero Award nomination by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards service.

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, PC Rachel Ward, TSI Chairman John Peerless. 

Girl guides create loan shark awareness badge







Berkshire's 5th Tilehurst Guides received a Hero Award for the significant contribution they made to consumer protection.

After prosecution an illegal lender often has to pay back the money he or she has made through criminal activity under the Proceeds Of Crimes Act. The Illegal Money Lending Team and Reading Trading Standards held a 'Your Choice' event where the money was offered back to local community groups through a 'Your Choice' event. Several projects put in applications and the public voted for their favourites. 

The Girl Guides were one of the groups that won and used the money to create a Guides Loan Shark Challenge Badge. Taking a year to complete the project, the process involved the participation of the whole group. After submitting and choosing artwork designs for the badge, the guides set about educating themselves on illegal lenders, debt, money management and budgeting skills. They now have a Stop Loan Sharks challenge booklet that is available to other guide groups across the country. 

Picture left to right: TSI CEO Leon Livermore, Kim Jakubiszyn, Katie Taylor, Kirsty Jones, TSI Chairman John Peerless.