Fraud conviction: Suffolk Trading Standards has successfully secured the conviction of a Newmarket business owner who left his victims out of pocket by over £80,000. Francis Smart, proprietor of Smart Residential Letting Agents, pleaded guilty to two counts in respect of retaining rent and deposits under the S1 Fraud Act 2006 at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday 12 August. Officers from Suffolk Trading Standards, along with colleagues from the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigations Team, began investigating Mr Smart and Smart Residential in Autumn 2018. This was in response to numerous complaints from landlords and tenants who were unable to make contact with the company after its premises on 5B Wellington Street, Newmarket, closed in July 2018, leaving them out of pocket and without answers. A spokesperson for Suffolk Trading Standards said: “Many of these landlords entrusted Smart Residential with their rental properties, and to hold tenancy deposits on their behalf. By law, these deposits should have been placed into a Deposit Protection Scheme – offering protection to tenants in the event of a landlord or letting agency facing financial difficulties. We believe that Mr Smart failed to use this scheme, resulting in substantial losses for his victims. We spoke to over 30 witnesses, with numerous landlords telling us that they didn’t receive rental income and had to refund tenancy deposits out of their own pocket. This resulted in individual losses ranging from £700 to over £8,000 and an estimated total loss in excess of £80,000.” Since 6 April 2007, a deposit must be placed in a tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of the landlord receiving it. Landlords should also provide the tenant with information about where their deposit is held. Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, commented: “This successful prosecution sends a very clear message to business owners, like Mr Smart, that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated in Suffolk. His actions led to countless landlords being significantly out of pocket, causing immeasurable personal and financial stress – and highlighting the importance of ensuring that any rental deposit is placed into a Deposit Protection Scheme. I’d like to thank officers from Trading Standards, and the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigations Team, for their incredible work on this complex case, along with everyone who provided information to enable this investigation to be brought to court and to see justice done.” Mr Smart, aged 46, from Dowding Avenue, Cambridge, will be sentenced on Friday 26th August. Further information about Deposit Protection Schemes can be found here: www.gov.uk/deposit-protection-schemes-and-landlords Anyone who suspects that an individual or business is fraudulently trading can report their suspicions in confidence by contacting Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
Nottingham Knockers: We’ve had reports that Nottingham Knockers are calling at properties in Knodishall. They may still be in the area, or could have moved on elsewhere in the County. These individuals are claiming to have been in prison and are on a youth offending scheme, attempting to mend their ways. The individuals go on to then try and sell the householder everyday household products at very high prices. Trading Standards always advise residents to refrain from buying at the doorstep and not to buckle to pressure from salespeople offering supposedly one-off ‘buy it now’ low prices. These Nottingham Knockers work in groups across the country but they are not involved in any officially recognised offender rehabilitation programme and many do not possess Pedlar’s Certificates, which are issued by police. If you are approached at the door, please refuse to buy. Report all doorstep callers to us via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
Underage Sales: We carried out an underage sales operation last week, with five shops were visited across Ipswich, Felixstowe and Saxmundham. Sadly, two of the retailers sold alcohol and cigarettes to our underage volunteers. Intelligence was received from Police and members of the public on all of the retailers, with each given advice in previous months on their responsibilities, and told that we will be visiting to test their due diligence. Investigations will continue. Selling alcohol and tobacco to underage people is serious and can lead to anti-social behaviour along with the associated health issues. Businesses are advised to always check for ID, operate a Challenge 25 policy, keep a log of refused sales and ensure all staff are regularly trained. Should anyone have information on premises selling alcohol, tobacco or E-cigarettes to under 18's please call 0808 223 1133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone scammers: We are receiving reports that residents are being targeted by telephone scammers claiming to be from OFGEM, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. Ofgem do not sell you energy, and will never ask you for personal information or come to your property.
If you receive such a call hang-up.
If you receive an email, check that the address ends in @ofgem.gov.uk
For more information, check the OFGEM page dedicated to scam awareness - https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households/avoid-and-report-energy-scams
If you think you are a victim of fraud or have been contacted by someone trying to scam you:
Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online form - https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Fake Revolut texts: Beware of fake Revolut text messages that Suffolk residents have received. Revolut have confirmed that they did not send the text messages and that the number used in the text has been spoofed. Report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726 (it's free of charge).
Gas grill warning: The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has issued a safety warning relating to the use of gas grills on certain Belling, Stoves and New World gas range cookers manufactured by Glen Dimplex Home Appliances (GDHA). If the gas grill is used with the door closed, there is a risk that dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can build up, posing a significant risk of serious injury or death to those within the immediate environment. For further information, consumers should contact GDHA on 0800 110 5728 or via their website:
New World https://newworld.family/safety-notice
OPSS has issued safety requirements to GDHA, who are writing to all consumers reminding them to only use their gas grill with the grill door fully open.
Primark plate recall: Primark are recalling the plate that has been on sale in their stores since 13th January 2022, after being found to contain unsafe levels of lead and formaldehyde. This presents a serious risk if swallowed.
Primark Winnie the Pooh Plate
Kimball no. 6041901
Please stop using it immediately and return it to a Primark store for a full refund (no receipt is required). Please share the information with friends and family who may have this product, or share our Facebook post to make sure others are aware: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=444793384356571&set=a.310393091129935