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Hornchurch company fined after targeting schools and charities with paper scam

11:21 04 August 2014

Romford Magistrates

Romford Magistrates' Court

Archant

A company and its director have been fined thousands of pounds after scamming schools and charities into buying paper at an inflated price.

Paul Siddle of Green Glades, Emerson Park, director of Express Business Products Ltd in Station Lane, Hornchurch, pleaded guilty to five offences when he appeared at Romford Magistrates’ Court on Monday last week.

His company, which was found guilty of the same counts under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations, cold called the schools and charities, offering printing paper at a cheaper price than other suppliers.

Upon receiving the goods, the buyers discovered the reams only contained 250 sheets, not the traditional 500, and as a result, they were charged double the price.

A nationwide investigation followed and unearthed complaints from Cornwall, east Yorkshire, Coventry, Kent and Brighton.

The company, which states on its website “we guarantee to beat the price you pay for office stationery!” was charged a total of £3,980 - a fine of £500 per offence, £1,360 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

Mr Siddle, 40, received a 10 per cent reduction in fines for his guilty pleas and was handed a £4,400 bill - £450 per offence, £2,000 costs, a £120 victim surcharge and £30 compensation to one of the schools.

Cllr Osman Dervish, Havering’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “While these scammers may think they’re clever in the way they mislead innocent people, they will be caught out and brought to justice.

“This company deceived these schools and charities out of money and we will not tolerate that.”

Anyone who needs advice on related matters can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.

The council has urged businesses to take precautions against scammers, including requesting offers in writing and restricting the number of employees who can approve purchases.

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