ASA welcomes sentencing of Richard Howard, the man behind misleading passport renewal websites

The ASA have reported on the oucome of a case that they investigated showcasing how advertising was abused, there is more on their website but I have copied the text below, please clook at their website for more info and useful information.

We are pleased with the outcome of a case at Leeds Crown Court in which the defendant, Richard Howard, has been found guilty of breaking consumer protection law following an investigation by National Trading Standards. He has been handed a one year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £200,000 within 28 days.

Mr Howard, who changed his name to George Orwell during the investigation, ran three websites through his company, UK Services and Support Limited, which claimed to offer additional benefits to consumers when applying for a UK passport. The ASA formally investigated complaints about one of his websites, UK Passport Offices, in 2015. We found the website misleadingly implied that it was the official website for Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) and that it did not make clear that the fee charged by the advertiser was a service charge only, with an additional fee payable to HMPO to obtain a passport.

In reality the services he provided were of little or no value. Following the investigation by National Trading Standards and the court case, it was judged consumers would not have paid for these services had they not been misled or deceived into doing so. UK consumers were conned into handing over approximately £1.6m to UK Services and Support Ltd for their passports.

Commenting on the sentencing of Mr Howard, ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker said:

The sentence handed out is welcome news for consumers. Mr Howard blatantly conned people out of their money by offering a service that was next to pointless. We commend National Trading Standards for its successful investigation and prosecution. As ever, it serves warning to businesses that choose willfully to mislead consumers that they will feel the full weight of the law.”

Links

https://www.asa.org.uk/news/asa-welcomes-sentencing-of-richard-howard-the-man-behind-misleading-passport-renewal-websites.html

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