Two Leamington men have been punished for playing their part in a ‘sickening’ multi-million pound advertising scam which ensnared companies in the UK and Europe.
Matthew Walker, 28, of Avenue Road, and Ricky Lal, 30, of Stidfall Grove, Sydenham, were both involved in company Wyvern Media’s huge scam which missold advertising space to around 18,000 different customers, turning over around £7 million a year.
Walker admitted two counts of fraud and was jailed for 16 months, while Lal was given a three-month sentence suspended for 12 months after also pleading guilty to two counts of false representation.
Under the direction of Jonathan Rivers, Wyvern Media cold-called small companies to pressurise them into purchasing advertising space in its publications.
The defendants lied to customers using false figures and led them into thinking their publications would be promoted at high profile events.
They also used aggressive selling techniques to secure sales, tended to be unclear about what publication they were representing and made unauthorised withdrawals from customers’ credit and debit card accounts.
It took Nottinghamshire Trading Standards five years to fully investigate Wyvern Media’s crimes.
More than 500 complaints from 74 witnesses formed the basis of the prosecution and the highest amount lost by one business was £31,305.
Cllr Glynn Gilfoyle, chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s community safety committee, said: I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work and persistence of our experienced investigators which has led to Jonathan Rivers and key directors receiving significant prison sentences for their part in this sickening operation.
“Many of the victims lost their businesses over this scam including small charities that work hard for good causes.
“We are yet to meet a business that made one single sale from an advertisement in a Wyvern Media publication.
“We will now be seeking to hit those involved where it hurts by seizing assets to help compensate some of the victims for their financial losses.”
10 people in total were punished for their part in the scam, including two Kenilworth men.
Andrew Simpson, 44, of Fieldgate Lane, was jailed for 38 months, and Dennis Draper, 44, of Denton Close, was jailed for 20 months.