October 19

Exploitative debt advisers and lead generators

Google is targeting paid-for debt advice firms masquerading as free debt charities in a tightening of its rules on advertising. Firms which charge people for debt management services were paying to be promoted in Google searches for charities like StepChange and the National Debtline. StepChange said it was having to pay the search engine extra just to appear above the copycat firms. Google has now announced that, from November, only firms which can prove they are regulated by the FCA or as Insolvency Practitioners will be able to advertise on debt-related matters. It hopes this will stop those with problem debt being tricked into paying for debt management plans, believing they are speaking to an adviser for a well-known charity, such as StepChange.

 

 

We Fight Any Claim

A further 120 jobs are to be lost at claims management company We Fight Any Claim at its Cwmbran call centre, bringing the total to 250. In September it announced it was shedding 130 jobs. 150 of its 400 staff will remain at the company.

 

 

Centurius Ltd

Two complaints were upheld against Centurius Ltd by the Advertising Standards Authority. Centurius Ltd is a lead generation company that operates what appeared to be a pensions price comparison website. It would pass on consumers details to financial advisors, but the ASA considered that this information was not made sufficiently clear on the website and that its advertising falsely implied that Centurius Ltd was acting for purposes outside its trade, business, craft or profession (misleadingly to claim that it provided financial advice), and did not make clear its commercial intent. The ASA told Centurius Ltd, trading as www.comparing-pensions.co.uk  not to claim or imply that it was acting for purposes outside its trade or business and to make clear the commercial intent of its marketing.

 

Direct Financial Claims Limited

On 2nd October there was an application to strike Direct Financial Claims Limited off the Companies House Register. Direct Financial Claims Limited, trading as PaydayRefunds.co.uk was one of the most aggressive CMCs in 2018 but in many cases failed to validate the facts of the consumer claims it promoted. A large number of its claims had to be withdrawn from consideration by the Financial Ombudsman when this lack of validation came to light.

 

Compare My Claim Limited

On 14th October there was an application to strike Compare My Claim Limited off the Companies House Register. It had been first incorporated on 1st March 2019 and does not appear to have been FCA authorised. The website comparemyclaim.com says it is a trading name of Bollin Marketing Limited (same registered address as Compare My Claim Limited) whose name was changed to Clickdrive Media Ltd on 20th May 2019.

 

 

Mohammed Aumran

A former employee of a claims management company has been jailed for three years and one month after abusing his position at the firm and also making fraudulent claims on his own insurance policies. Leeds Crown Court handed the sentence to Mohammed Aumran, 42, of Pudsey, Leeds, on 10th October. A month earlier, Aumran plead guilty to six counts of fraud by false representation and one count of fraud by abuse of position. He also diverted around £18,000 into his own account when he worked at a claims management company and attempted to divert nearly £17,000 more.

 

Trees

Looking for new income streams, CMCs are targeting local Councils over damage caused to properties by tree roots. One Council is working its way through 60 disrepair claims at an estimated total cost of £240,000. Tree removals are becoming more prevalent due to increased notification of damage to structures and buildings through root damage.

September 19

We Fight Any Claim

A claims management call center is shedding 130 jobs following the end of the claims window for mis-sold payment protection insurance. We Fight Any Claim in Cwmbran, Torfaen, said there would not be enough work for all its employees in the future. The company has operated in Cwmbran for over a decade. In 2013, it had to defend receiving a £290,000 grant from the Welsh government a year after a debt firm owned by the same family was stripped of its operating licence for deceitful and oppressive practices.

 

We Fight Any Claim says it has won £500 million in pay-outs for mis-sold PPI, and is best known for an advertising campaign fronted by John Cleese. Joy Chorlton is listed at Companies House as the ultimate controlling party due to her 100% shareholding in the company. She was a director of Yes Loans, one of the biggest credit brokers in the UK, handling 50,000 loans a month, enjoying a profit margin of more than 50% and paying millions of pounds a year in dividends. But in March 2012 – after Joy Chorlton had resigned as director but while it was under the control of her son, Simon – the Office of Fair Trading revoked the Yes Loans licence to lend, saying it was unfit to hold a consumer credit licence.

 

We Fight Any Claim operates out of Cradoc House in Bridgend, Wales, the building that was the headquarters of Yes Loans in its heyday. Simon Chorlton was a director of We Fight Any Claim for 10 years, but resigned in May 2019. Joy Chorlton also resigned as a director, in November 2017, but remains its 100% shareholder.

 

 

Barings Solicitors

Barings Solicitors has been the subject of concerns raised with the FCA concerning large volumes of complaints originating from the firm. The Financial Ombudsman is experiencing a significant volume of complaints from Barings in the pipeline and is liaising with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which has visited Barings recently.

 

Compare Finance Ltd

CMC Compare Finance Ltd is now in administration having appointed a voluntary liquidator on 7th September 2019. Its sole Director is Georgina Jayne Earle who was formerly a director of CMC Chadney-Smith Associates Ltd until 3rd April 2019.

 

LFS Claims

On 27th September 2019 Companies House showed a total exemption for full accounts made up to 31st December 2018 by Ciaran Hamilton and Peter Cookson’s CMC, Legal and Financial Solutions Limited trading as trading as LFS Claims. Profit for the financial year 2017 was £ 2,106,577  but profit for the financial year 2018 had dropped to £7.653.

 

 

Hamilton Philips Ltd

The Hamilton Philips Ltd website is no longer available and the FCA register shows that its Appointed Representative status ended on 9th September.  Hamilton Philips Ltd claimed it was a leading debt advice company specialising in helping people who are struggling with outstanding finances. Since June 2018 it had been an appointed representative of Sterling Green Limited, a mortgage broker authorised and regulated by the FCA. It also had links to claims management companies.

 

Mindflow Marketing Ltd

Mindflow Marketing Ltd (previously named Total Claims Management Ltd) has recently changed its registered office address from Atrium Court, the Ring, Bracknell RG12 1BW to Suite Hh C/O Hilton Manchester Airport, Outwood Lane, Manchester M90 4WP on 22nd July 2019. This address appears to be short term serviced offices.

 

Mindflow Marketing Ltd has a host of trading names including Active Cash; All UK Loans; Any Credit Loan; Cash Piggy; Chosen Money; Cosmic Loans; EZ Loans;         Little Finance; Loan Capital; Mint Money; Money Pup; Morgan Money; On Track Loans; Quid Capital; Smart Money UK; SmartPing; and Wizz Money.

 

Mindflow Marketing Ltd is authorised by the FCA as an Appointed Representative of Maintain Marketing Ltd of Bayside Business Centre, Sovereign Business Park, Willis Way, Poole, Dorset BH15 3TB. Another Appointed Representative is Triple Eight Media Ltd of Monomark House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AX. The Principals responsible for the activities of this Appointed Representative are Maintain Marketing Ltd and T Dot UK Limited Suite 4, Bourne Space, Bourne Gardens, Exeter Park Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5BD but until 26th February 2019 a Principal was The Quint Group, Oxford House, Oxford Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 8HS.

August 19

Allay Claims

The FCA has placed requirements on Allay Claims Ltd:

Cannot promote on social media or on any websites

1. Allay Claims Limited (ACL) will:
1.1 Remove from public view the financial promotions on https://bank-refund-checker.co.uk, Angie’s Advice posts relating to ACL and Sarah’s Money Advice posts relating to ACL.
1.2 Remove from the website www.allay.co.uk both the ‘what a difference Allay Makes” and the text under the “what a difference Allay makes” strap line on the home page.
1.3 To refrain from putting any further financial promotions onto social media sites (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other similar social media sites) or on any other website, including the website www.allay.co.uk.

The term ‘Financial promotion’ shall have the meaning ascribed to it in the FCA Handbook (and shall include all banner advertisements even if ACL does not agree that these fall within the meaning of financial promotions set out in the FCA Handbook).

Duration
2. This will apply until such time as the Authority agrees with ACL that it may make further financial promotions.

Allay still only has temporary permission, so this action appears designed to impinge on its activities immediately, until its application for Authorisation is assessed.

 

 

Clear Legal Marketing Ltd

Clear Legal Marketing Ltd trading as Payday Loan Fightback does not appear (August 2019) to be complying with FCA advertising requirements on its website; no obvious prominently state if a claim can be made to a statutory ombudsman/compensation scheme without using a CMC and without incurring a fee or indeed to include prominent information relating to fees and termination fees which the customer may have to pay if a firm uses the term ‘no win, no fee’ or a term with similar meaning. There is just a tiny statement at the bottom of the home page: we will not charge you anything unless your claim is successful. If your claim is successful our fees are 36% inc VAT (30% + VAT).

 

It also has two very odd links, half obscured, on the bottom left of its home page: https://forcescompare.uk/compare-car-insurance/  (Forces Compare Limited is an FCA authorised firm) and https://www.bloommobilebeauty.com/

 

 

Direct Financial Claims Ltd

Direct Financial Claims Ltd (Payday Refunds) is winding down and from 1stAugust, the company could not carry out any new claims management activity and must cease all activity by 31stAugust 2019.

 

Andrew Stuart Gannon was appointed as a director of Direct Financial Claims Ltd on 30th July 2019. He has worked for the firm for a long time, despite being made bankrupt on 3rd April 2018, owing a large sum to HMRC. He is now also the director of Blue Balance Solutions Ltd and Olijam Media Ltd.

 

Direct Financial Claims Ltd may have transferred its outstanding claims book to a firm, Lastminute Refund Ltd, that has only one director, Toni Marie Hatton, who has no other directorships. The firm was only incorporated in April 2018 so is clean from a regulatory point of view. It is located in Exeter.

 

Lastminute Refund Ltd trades as Simplypaydayclaims and has temporary permission as a CMC with the FCA. It is run by sole director, Toni Marie Hatton.  Companies House records have a correspondence address for Ms Hatton which is a residential address in Exeter. A Toni Hatton also appears to work as an Outreach Co-Coordinator for debt advisors, Debt Consultancy Service CIC, a company that also has links to Exeter. Debt Consultancy Service CIC is run by Matthew Osborn who is also the director of the CMC, Chadney-Smith Associates Ltd which is located in Exeter. Past directors of Chadney-Smith Associates Ltd have included Damien Kennedy, Ciaran Hamilton, Georgina Earl and Carolina Costa (a former director of Direct Financial Claims Ltd) who shares the same address in Monaco as disqualified director, Mark Kennedy.

 

SW Reclaim

CMC Shepherd and West Limited is not taking on any new clients. It has temporary permission as a CMC from the FCA trading as SW Reclaim. Its sole Director is Ciaran Hamilton appointed on 27th November 2018. He is also a Director of Legal and Financial Solutions Ltd which did not obtain Temporary Permission as a CMC from the FCA. Both firms share the same address in Manchester.

 

Fake holiday sickness claims

Brian-Paul Cromby, 34, has been given a 12 month prison sentence for encouraging people to submit fake holiday sickness claims. Cromby’s claims management firm, RTA & PI Solutions Ltd (which was dissolved in May 2018), even sponsored a cancer charity’s fundraising boxing match, then cynically used it to drum up fake claims. He had ring girls collect money for the charity, which supports cancer patients, survivors and carers. But they also handed out business cards, telling spectators they could win huge pay-outs .At the event he was secretly filmed telling two journalists how he could secure them each a pay-out of £2,000 if they lied about being ill on holiday. RTA & PI Solutions Ltd found clients and directed them on to claims lawyers. It is illegal for lawyers to pay claims companies for referrals but some circumvent the rules by paying a monthly retainer.

July 19

Strange goings-on

There has been a great deal of movement since February (just before CMCs came under the FCA’s regulatory ambit in April) with some CMC directors replacing each other at various companies. It does seem that aliases are being used in some cases, and setting up new directors (just one or two for a firm) who have no regulatory record, to run new or rejuvenated business. Several firms that filed dormant accounts in 2018 now appear to be trading.

 

First Claims Group Ltd filed accounts as a dormant company up to 30th November 2018, yet received temporary permission to trade as a CMC from the FCA on 8th February 2019. However, on the FCA register its website is declared as

www.paydayclaimhelp.co.uk

an active CMC site being a trading name of First Claims Group Limited. It has only one Director, Maria Louise Jones, who has no other directorships.

 

Hardwick Financial Solutions Ltd based in Wigan went into Administration owing £500,000 to HMRC. A former director of Hardwick Financial Solutions, Kylie Sheedy, was appointed a director of active CMC, Consumer Claims UK LLP on 19th July 2019. The only other Director of Consumer Claims UK LLP is Claims to Gain Ltd, of which Kylie Sheedy is also a director. But the Claims to Gain website says that it is one of the trading names of Consumer Claims (UK) LLP. Consumer Claims (UK) LLP has temporary permission from the FCA to operate as a CMC. Claims to Gain Ltd has not. Other Claims to Gain Ltd directors are Jamie Hubbard and David Sankey. Scott Sheedy is a former director. Claims to Gain Ltd also filed accounts as a dormant company up to 28th February 2018.

 

Direct Financial Claims Ltd filed accounts as a dormant company for the two years ending 30th June 2017 and then filed abridged accounts for the period 1st July 2017 to 30th September 2018 which show very little – not at all enough to assess levels of trading. Yet it has been one of the most prolific CMCs in recent times, so it is surprising that its accounts appear to show only mediocre activity. Resurrecting dormant companies currently appears to be a popular pastime in the CMC world.

 

 

The PPI Team

Consumer organisation Which? has found claims management company The PPI Team is overcharging commission on PPI claims. Customers who have been overcharged could be entitled to claim back the extra money they have paid. Commission fees charged by CMCs for PPI claims were capped at 20% plus VAT, by the Financial Guidance and Claims Act in July 2018. The cap applies to all agreements that were entered into on or after 10th July 2018, when the cap was introduced. The PPI Team appears to have been charging 39% commission, plus VAT. The PPI Team website (now down) also supported the claims, stating it charged 39% commission plus VAT. In a recent case, Which? says a customer successfully challenged his 39% fee and his commission payment was reduced by £1,118. The PPI Team told him a mistake had been made.  However, The PPI team website says that the firm is no longer taking on new business, but will continue to progress existing claims.

 

 

Easy Claims Collection

CMC, Easy Claims Collection Ltd appears to be continuing to trade but does not seem to be on the FCA register.  The FCA’s list of CMC’s with temporary permissions does not include Easy Claims Collection Ltd.

 

 

CMC Chadney Smith Associates Ltd

Chadney Smith has filed its accounts for the year to 30th November 2018 which show no activity at all. The firm was incorporated on 17th November 2016, ceased to be authorised by the FCA on 10th November 2017 but currently has temporary permission from the FCA to operate as a CMC.

 

No 1 Accident Claims Limited

Former company director David Cullen has been fined for illegally obtaining people’s personal data and selling it to solicitors chasing personal injury claims. David Cullen, from Manchester, was also issued with a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. But the court was unable to recover the £1.4 million he made from illegal activities due to Cullen’s lack of assets.

 

David Cullen was the managing director of No 1 Accident Claims Limited, based in Manchester, from 2010 until the company was liquidated in 2012. The business profited from selling illegally obtained personal data to solicitors. The data, relating to people who had been in road accidents, could then be used to pursue personal injury claims. Appearing before Manchester Crown Court, Cullen was fined £1,050 and ordered to pay £250 costs. He was disqualified from being a company director for five years and an order was made for the forfeiture and destruction of computer devices seized under a search warrant in 2012.

 

Following sentencing, confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 commenced. The exact figure which Cullen is believed to have benefited from during his illegal activities is £1,434,679 but the court proceeded by making a £1 nominal order. Cullen’s financial circumstances will be regularly reviewed, and should they improve, the amount of the confiscation order can be increased.

 

Cullen pleaded guilty to 21 charges of unlawfully obtaining and selling personal data in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, when he appeared before Manchester City & Salford Magistrates Court in September 2018.

 

CMC director forged claimant signatures

Haroon Karim, who was a director of various claims management companies, has been found guilty of contempt at the High Court in Nottingham. The judge sentenced the 33 year old to six months’ imprisonment, saying he made fanciful and speculative assertions for substantial rewards. The proceedings arose from a previous case brought by defendant firm Horwich Farrelly in conjunction with insurer LV=, where the judge at Nottingham County Court ruled that a solicitor at defunct Bolton firm Asons made gross failures in handling a personal injury claim where documents were found to contain forged signatures. The judge also ruled that Karim, whose company had referred the claim to Asons, had forged a claimant’s signatures on these documents, including the claim form used to start proceedings, without their knowledge.

 

Karim, from Nottingham and formerly a director of ACA Claims Ltd, ACA Accident Claims Assistant Ltd, Medicals Elite Ltd, Easy Go Hire Ltd and Medical Healthcare Services Ltd, was one of Asons’ larger sources of work before it was shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2017.

1 / 8

Please reload

Media enquiries:  Email: enquiries@moneycheats.co.uk      

  • Twitter Social Icon