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On the sentencing of a couple who fraudulently claimed they could clear people's debts, at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday 17 September 2012, Gordon Ramsay, OFT Deputy Director of Enforcement in Consumer Credit said:
'People in debt should beware of firms such as Credit Card Killer that claim they can write off your debt. They cannot, so don't be fooled by them. If you are struggling with debts, contact one of the many free advice agencies for help as soon as you can. Free advice agencies include National Debt Line or the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.'
Basil Rankine, 46 and his wife Amanda, 36 of Somerset Avenue, Rugeley in Staffordshire, set up Credit Card Killer (CCK), a trading name of Momentum Network Limited. According to their website, CCK was 'a specialist company that purchases debt directly from consumers and commercial companies'. They claimed to 'help thousands of sellers to clear their debts in just two weeks.'
Following a seven-week trial, the pair and their company were convicted of a total of 14 offences including fraud after providing misleading and false information both on their website, through their agents and in correspondence with clients. Mr Rankine was sentenced to four years' imprisonment and Mrs Rankine was given a 12-month suspended sentence plus 200 hours of unpaid work.
The investigation into CCK and the Rankines was led by the England Illegal Money Lending Team, which is hosted by Birmingham City Council. The prosecution was supported by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The OFT has said since June 2009 that this kind of practice is a scam. This case has confirmed that view. In sentencing, His Honour Judge Tomlinson said 'There was no secret formula. The business had no legitimacy whatsoever. Even after a High Court judge had told them they simply could not do what they had been doing, they continued.'
Debts cannot be sold or assigned to a third party without the lender's permission.
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