Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  

 

Couple banned after duping businesses to sponsor ‘educational' materials

11th February 2019

Husband and wife team received directorship disqualifications totalling 20 years after they duped small businesses to sponsor unnecessary educational material.

In a two-year period, the pair from Congleton, Cheshire, secured more than £1.7 million from businesses who were led to believe they were investing in books and DVDs about substance abuse in return for advertising in the books.

Child Protection UK Limited was incorporated in 2005 with Paula Ann Carson, nee Kasser, appointed a director at the same time.

Paula Carson would target businesses to sponsor the production and distribution of educational materials, including books and DVDs, concerning the dangers of drug and alcohol use to schools across the UK.

However, complaints were made and the Insolvency Service investigated Child Protection UK's practices, culminating in a winding-up petition presented against the company in April 2010 by the Secretary of State for BEIS.

Paula Carson negotiated with the Secretary of State and got the winding up petition dismissed in November 2010 by signing an undertaking committing her to amend the company's trading practices.

Soon after, Paula met Paul Douglas Carson in 2011 and he became involved in the management of Child Protection UK. The pair then incorporated a second company also in 2011, called Child Guidance UK.

The two companies ran in tandem from the same office and followed exactly the same business model. They would target small businesses to sponsor the production and delivery of books and DVDs to schools and in return, the sponsor's business would receive free advertising in the books. Businesses would then be targeted again for repeat business.

However, the Insolvency Service received fresh complaints about Child Protection UK, resulting in further investigations into the practices of both Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK.

Investigators discovered that both companies followed a standard procedure for sales calls, where scripts contained potentially misleading statements which may have led customers believing Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK were charities, worked on behalf of charities or were running a legitimate child safety campaign.

Further enquiries found that the trading practices of Child Protection UK and Child Guidance UK did not make clear to customers about their cancellation rights and while materials were sent out, there was no evidence that they either complied with national curriculum requirements or were of value to the schools who received them.

Between April 2015 and December 2017, Child Protection UK received £871,989 from its sponsors, while Child Guidance UK received £840,017 from its sponsors between April 2015 and December 2017.

Both companies were wound-up in the public interest in April 2018 after Paula Carson failed to fully adhere to the undertaking she had previously agreed with the courts.

And for their misconduct in the companies, both Paula and Paul Carson had their disqualification undertakings accepted by the Secretary of State on 8 January 2019. Paula Carson is disqualified from being a company director for 11 years, while Paul Carson is banned for nine years.

Effective from 29 January 2019 the pair are banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Ken Beasley, Official Receiver, said:Both Paula and Paul Carson purposefully targeted small businesses to part with their cash with the promise of helping to produce educational materials for schools, with the added bonus of advertising space. However, customers were duped as they failed to realise the two companies were not charities, the materials didn’t comply with national curriculum requirements and very few schools found the materials of any value.

20 years is a significant amount of time for the Carsons to be prevented from running companies and we want to remind businesses to be wary of any calls out of the blue asking to sponsor booklets, diaries or wall planners.

Highland Council warned about the scammers targeting small business with books for schools etc in October 2008 as follows-

The Highland Council is warning Highland businesses not to be duped after complaints that several companies have received bogus high pressure sales telephone calls requesting them to sponsor leaflets, booklets and other materials for their local schools. They are also advising people that new national regulations have been introduced to protect businesses from misleading advertising by other businesses.

Louise Jones, Health Promoting Schools Manager with The Highland Council & NHS Highland, has raised concerns that businesses are being asked to sponsor materials for schools where such materials are freely available as part of NHS Highland’s Health Information and Resource Service. Only Council approved material is circulated to Highland schools.

She said: "The Highland Council and NHS Highland has raised concerns that businesses are being asked to sponsor materials for schools where such materials are freely available as part of NHS Highland’s 'Health Information and Resource Service'. We understand that big-hearted Highland businesses are being conned into wasting their money by sponsoring materials for schools on Health and Wellbeing subjects, which Highland schools have found inappropriate and are unable to use.

“To avoid waste and to ensure only high quality information which is factually correct is provided the Highland Council Education, Culture & Sport Service in partnership with NHS Highland have set up a system of vetting and approval of such materials. We would urge businesses not to be duped by such unsolicited calls and to contact Highland Trading Standards Service for further advice. Local businesses do support school communities very well and this is something we encourage, any business wishing to do so can contact their local school direct to see what kind of support might be most beneficial to them."

Alistair Thomson, Head of Environmental Health and Trading Standards said that they are aware of this type of scam which does resurface in particular forms from time to time. He warned that the scam might tap into ‘emotional blackmail’ as a particularly unscrupulous tactic.

The caller may state that they are a ‘charity’ and that by not confirming the order the Highland business is letting down their local school or are failing a community responsibility of helping vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young adults of receiving valuable guidance.

Verbal demands made over the phone to unsuspecting businesses follow particular patterns and may catch the recipient on such calls unawares.

The opening lines of the conversation may start as:

“Good morning. This is (Name of company). I spoke to you some time ago about sponsoring of (health education/child protection/drugs awareness/sexual health etc) leaflets/promotional materials and I am pleased to say they have now been printed and this order is ready for distribution. Can you confirm the name and address of the local school you wish this order to be sent to?”

Up to this point the business has probably never heard of this company and will certainly become alarmed that either he/she or a member of his staff has agreed to any contract of this nature.

Alistair said: “Knowing how to tackle such telephone calls, some of which become very persistent, can be difficult. However, we have highlighted a few useful tips on how to spot such scam calls that, typically, businesses may receive.”

The tips are:

• You receive a call asking for payment of something you did not order, (this could be sponsorship of books/leaflets/wall charts/diaries), and for local schools in your area;

• The caller does not know the name of your local school and asks for this information to be confirmed or for your post code;

• Despite your protests and denials of making such an order, the caller insists that one has been made under your business name and that you will receive an invoice from anything between £99.00 to £500;

• The caller may become abusive, threatening or try to make you feel guilty for not supporting your local school in this way;

• After the initial unsolicited call is made, you or your staff may receive further calls of a similar nature over a period of time. These repeated calls, may be threatening, abusive or offer further incentives/benefits to the local school if you continue with the order made;

• You may also be informed, by the caller, that previous phone calls have been recorded and that they have a record of a ‘verbal agreement’ having been made. Remember, if the caller has recorded a call and cannot show that you have given permission allowing these conversations to be recorded, then this activity is illegal and transcripts held are inadmissible as evidence in a court. You may also hear a recording of you making a contract or agreeing to an order being placed. Cleverly edited recordings may be used in this manner in order to persuade you that you have no legal rights in this matter. Don’t be taken in. Repeat the denial that no order has been made;

• Finally you may receive an invoice demanding payment for this order placed. Do not ignore this invoice and keep it safe for future reference if required. Write to the business explaining that you have made no such order with them and they should amend their records accordingly. Also state you do not wish to be contacted by them in the future and they should remove your business details from their records. Keep a copy and send it recorded delivery. If you are taken to court over an unpaid invoice of this kind, it is important that you can show you have contacted the business and requested that they put matters right.

Highland Trading Standards would be interested in hearing from any Highland businesses who have received unsolicited calls of this nature or who may have fallen victim to this type of scam.

New regulations have been introduced to protect businesses from misleading advertising by other businesses. The introduction of ‘The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008’, defines ‘advertising’ as ‘any form of representation promoting the supply of goods and services’. If you have never agreed to sponsoring information materials to schools and have not given permission for your business name to be used in this manner, this may come under the remit of these new regulations and merit further investigation by Highland Trading Standards.

If you are concerned about unsolicited calls you receive as a business or you wish to inform Highland Trading Standards of any information relating to this type of scam, you can speak to trading standards confidentially by telephoning: 0845 600 4222

 

Related Businesses

 

Related Articles

12/7/2019
Public advised to avoid eating Shellfish from Loch Glencoul, Kylesku area
Highland Council's Environmental Health team have identified raised levels of naturally occurring algal toxins following routine monitoring in coastal waters at Loch Glencoul, Kylesku area.   Eating shellfish such as cockles, mussels, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.  
4/7/2019
Public advised to avoid eating Shellfish from Loch Eishort and Loch Slappin, Isle of Skye
Highland Council's Environmental Health team has identified raised levels of naturally occurring algal toxins following routine monitoring in coastal waters at Loch Eishort.   Eating shellfish such as mussels, cockles, oysters or razor fish from these areas may pose a health risk arising from the consumption of these algal toxins.  
1/7/2019
School Holiday Meals For Children
Funding for food and activities during the summer break.   More children and young people will benefit from a nutritious meal and a place to play this summer holiday.  
28/6/2019
Discontinuation of education provision at Altnaharra Primary School
At a meeting of The Highland Council on Thursday 27 June 2019, Councillors decided to discontinue the provision of education at Altnaharra Primary School, dividing its catchment area between Tongue Primary, Farr Primary and Lairg Primary schools.   A copy of the consultation report, together with the original proposal paper and all relevant appendices can be viewed on the Council's website at: www.highland.gov.uk/schoolconsultations The Council is satisfied that implementation of closure is the most appropriate response to the reasons for formulating the original proposal identified by the authority.  
27/6/2019
Council to have public question time at future meetings
"Highland Council as agreed to allow a question time for members of the public at future Council meetings.   The motion was presented by Depute Leader Cllr Alasdair Christie and means that from December 2019, Highland Council meetings will include a time allocation for questions from members of the public.  
27/6/2019
Highland Council supports UK Air Passenger Duty exemption for flights departing Highlands & Islands
Highland Councillors have unanimously agreed that the Council will support the continuation of the exemption from UK Air Passenger Duty for flights departing from airports in the Highlands & Islands; and Members also agreed that the Council will continue working with HiTRANS to present the case of the need for, and benefit arising from an exemption from the current UK Air Passenger Duty and any successor duty.   The Council's stance comes this week as calls have been made by Aberdeen Airport for greater parity with Highlands & Islands.  
27/6/2019
Why Is Suicide So High In Highland - Research to inform suicide prevention
Suicide prevention is a key priority for The Highland Council.   Members have agreed today, to take forward a piece of research with partners including NHS Highland and Police Scotland, to better understand the current evidence base and experience of suicide in Highland.  
27/6/2019
Counselling Service approved as part of range of wellbeing measures
The introduction of a service to support the mental health and wellbeing of Highland Council staff and councillors has been approved by the Council as part of a range of measures to improve wellbeing.   An Employee Assistance Programme for staff and Members will be put in place to offer telephone and internet-based counselling 24 hours a day.  
27/6/2019
Councillor Struan Mackie Questions Delays on Thurso Asset Transfer
Councillor Mackie had a written question at today's meeting of Highland council.   Item 12 - Question Time To the Chair of the Environment, Development & Infrastructure Committee "Official Highland Council guidance indicates that, unless extended, successful Community Asset Transfer requests should be completed by the Local Authority within a nine months' timeframe.  
27/6/2019
Highland Council Debt Highest Ever But Under Control
From highland council Meting today 27 June 2019.   Item 12 - Question Time To the Chair of the Corporate Resources Committee "What are the current best estimates for present total Highland Council debt and the annual financial commitment required to service this debt?".  

[Printer Friendly Version]