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Carmarthen call centre boss banned for 221 million nuisance PPI calls

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A CARMARTHEN director has been banned for eight years after causing two companies to make almost 221 million unsolicited nuisance PPI phone calls.

Richard Jones, age 31, from Carmarthen, Wales, was the director of Miss-Sold Products UK Limited and Your Money Rights Limited, the two companies at the centre of investigations by the ICO and the Insolvency Service.

This latest case takes the total period of director disqualifications achieved through collaboration between the ICO, the Insolvency Service and other enforcement bodies, past the 100 year mark.

Miss-Sold Products UK Limited was a company Richard Jones used as a vehicle to make unsolicited phone calls contrary to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations*.

The company came to the attention of the ICO after the regulator received 146 complaints between November 2015 and March 2016 about automated phone calls from telephone numbers used by Miss-Sold Products UK.

Further investigations by the ICO found that in a five-month period, Miss-Sold Products UK made close to 75 million automated marketing calls, primarily containing a recorded message about PPI refunds.

The ICO attempted to engage with Miss-Sold Products UK from May 2017 onwards but were stonewalled before issuing a £350,000 penalty against the company for making unsolicited marketing calls to people without their specific consent and for failing to include a company name and contact details in the recorded message.

Miss-Sold Products UK failed to pay the debt and the company was wound-up through the courts in June 2018.

Richard Jones also used a second company, Your Money Rights Limited, as an additional vehicle to make unsolicited PPI calls.

In a near identical set of events, the ICO investigated Your Money Rights after the regulator received more than 250 complaints between March and July 2016 about automated calls from telephone numbers used by the company.

This time round, the ICO found that in a five month period Richard Jones’ second company made more than 146 million automated marketing calls to people who had not consented to be called, with a recorded message about PPI refunds.

The ICO attempted to engage with Your Money Rights but similar to proceedings with the first company, Miss-Sold Products UK, the regulator was thwarted in their enquiries.

This resulted in a second £350,000 fine being issued against the company for making unsolicited marketing calls to people who had not consented and for failing to include a company name and contact details in the recorded message.

Your Money Rights failed to discharge the debt and the company was also wound up on the petition of the ICO in March 2018.

Following referrals from the ICO, further investigations were conducted by the Insolvency Service to assess Richard Jones’ activities and how he had contributed to cause the two companies to breach the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Investigators concluded that Richard Jones played a central role, which led him to submit a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State.

Effective from 1 March 2019, Richard Jones is banned for eight years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

David Brooks, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:

“There are no justifications Richard Jones could provide that would have excused him from what he had done. Not only did he use two separate companies to make the unsolicited phone calls but we are talking about millions of intrusive calls rather than a small handful.

“Unsolicited phone calls cause misery and harm to unsuspecting people and being banned for eight years will put a significant dent on Richard Jones’ ability to do something similar again.

Andy Curry, ICO Investigations Group Manager, said:

“Richard Jones is one of the worst offenders we have come across in the 15 years since laws around electronic nuisance marketing were introduced. This disqualification which takes him out of action is good news for all those who have been a victim of his cold calling and should be a warning to other operators who use similar marketing techniques.

“The net is tightening and we now have increased powers to make directors and other company officers responsible personally liable for fines of up to £500,000 for nuisance marketing.

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Carmarthenshire towns win two prestigious awards

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CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council has congratulated two local town councils for their success in the One Voice Wales Awards.

Pembrey and Burry Port Council won the Best Community Engagement category for the multi channels of communication it has set up which enables the community to participate in any decisions the council takes. It was also recognised for the shadow forums set up in both primary and secondary schools to ensure the younger generation have a voice.

Kidwelly Town Council won the Best Devolution of Service or Asset Project category for acquiring ownership of Parc Stephens play area from Carmarthenshire County Council in 2019 as part of the asset transfer process. Since then it has increased accessibility and inclusivity for a wide age range of children and includes a sensory garden.

Carmarthen Town Council was highly commended in the Best Annual Report category.

One Voice Wales is recognised by Welsh Government as the national representative body for Community and Town Councils in Wales, providing a wide range of services to our 634 member councils representing approximately 8000 councillors.

This year’s awards ceremony has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths who is responsible for liasing with town and community councils said: “I’d like to congratulate Pembrey and Burry Port Town Council and Kidwelly Town Council on winning the awards. It just goes to show the great work being done across Carmarthenshire and more importantly how we are working with the communities to meet their needs. I’d also like to congratulate Carmarthen Town Council on the commendation.”

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Woman arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply

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AN AMMANFORD woman has been arrested on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers were on patrol in the Glanamman area on when they saw the woman driving a silver Peugeot away from them.

They were aware that the driver had no driver’s licence, and that she was suspected of being involved in supplying class A drugs in and around Ammanford.

Additional units made their way to her home, where the car was stopped. A search of the vehicle resulted in class A drugs being found, and she was arrested.

Further searches were carried out by the response team and dog unit. Around 16g of cocaine, some amphetamine, and some cannabis were found.

A 42-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply, possession and driving offences. The vehicle was also seized.

She has been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Sergeant Walters said: “This was a very swift response to information relayed by colleagues who recognised the woman and were aware that she should not have been driving.

“Ammanford Neighbourhood Policing Team, response teams and the dog unit worked closely together to achieve a positive outcome.”

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Play equipment gifted to children with disabilities

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CHILDREN with disabilities in Carmarthenshire have been gifted play equipment by the county council during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 26 children are already making use of new play materials and outdoor equipment which are helping to maintain their health and well-being during the lockdown.

Items such as garden swing seats, paddling pools, tablets, sensory black out tents, trampolines are making a huge difference to them whilst staying at home.

It comes after funding was set aside for those identified by the council’s social workers or disability intervention staff as needing extra support, and subject to an assessment.

Anna Martin, whose son Finlay has benefited from a garden swing said: “Finlay has spent many an hour calmly swinging in the garden. It has been great for him to spend time with the family outdoors. Fin is like a ‘toddler’ and enjoys a cwtch and a nap so the fact that this turns into a bed has been a big hit! It has certainly perked him up during lockdown.”

Funds are still available and anyone who is supported by the council’s disability service can ask their support worker for an assessment.

The council’s executive board member for children’s services, Cllr Glynog Davies said: “The restrictions of the current lockdown have been a huge challenge for all families, but particularly for those with a child who is disabled or has autism. Our teams identified that for some families having extra play materials or outdoor play equipment could make a massive difference to children’s wellbeing. We established a process where staff from our specialist teams could assess if families would benefit from this type of help. We have been able to purchase and arrange delivery of a number of items so far and we’re delighted to see what a difference it has made.”

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