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Consumer News

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About to cough up tons of cash for an autumn wedding? Check out the venue first as to whether they will go bust during the coronacrisis and you lose your deposit – here is a cautionary tale

When bride-to-be Roxanne Reeve paid a £500 deposit to the Lenwade House Hotel for her September wedding last year at the posh Norfolk venue she had no idea it would go bust.

She was doubly shocked when not only did she lose the £500 deposit and her dream wedding but she discovered the hotel had gone bust before. Trading under different names the hotel had closed down dumping debts of hundreds of thousands of pounds in 2013, 2017 and 2019. The owner of the various firms was Jane Scrivens who claimed the hotel couldn’t pay its debts of which she was one of the largest creditors claiming it owed her £250,000.

A simple search on Checkaco for £3.85 would have revealed to the many people who lost their deposits along with Roxanne Reeve Jane Scrivens’ dodgy financial record as a director of various firms and the hotel’s track record as well.

If you are booking a holiday, wedding or weekend break at a hotel then check the company out at https://checkaco.com/

Picture: Eastern Morning News

Check this out guys – you don’t want to be ripped off: https://www.facebook.com/checkaco/videos/527900498141033/UzpfSTEwMDA0NDg3NzMzMDI3MjoxNDcyODI3NzAxMTA5Njc/

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A Useful Tool to Prevent Getting Scammed

It’s easy in today’s world to turn to online browsing when you’re looking for certain services or products. When websites have wonderful enticing images and promises of bargain prices, how do you know if by pressing click you might just be waving goodbye to your hard earned cash?

Check here first

We offer a useful tool here at Checkaco that has the ability help you prevent getting scammed. The Checkaco website lets you find out important information when you check a company, providing useful details about its business background before you part with your money. You can check how long it has been trading, see details of the directors’ names and changes in directors, look at the credit rating and risk score and see profit and loss accounts for up to 5 years. These checks are quick and easy to do, letting you check a company in a fast, simple and anonymous way.

Useful Advice

If you’ve been asked to pay a deposit or asked to pay money upfront, you need to do some checks on the company’s business background to avoid getting scammed. Checkaco has been designed to offer the ordinary person quick and easy access to information that will provide vital clues as to how much of a risk this payment might be, all at a low price. It offers simple guides to those who might be unsure as to what to look for or what the significance of the information is.

Our quick and easy to use tool could save you heartache and stop you from being scammed by unscrupulous businesses who could cause you frustration and financial loss by making you promises provided you pay in advance. Don’t let it happen to you! Check with Checkaco first and have the reassurance of being able to make a more informed decision when deciding which businesses you can trust.

For just £3.85 and a quick anonymous check on the company with Checkaco he would have saved himself £3,000 and found another suit from a financially stable tailor. If in doubt of using a company in which you plan to pay large amounts of money do check them out first at https://checkaco.co.uk/ and save yourself a lot of heartache, stress and cash.

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£3,000 for a suit that never materialised

Posted on 20th February 2020by Harry Mottram

Dominic Hall of Hertfordshire paid A Suit That Fits £3,000 for a suit that never materialised. When he asked for his money back the company went bust. A simple credit check with Checkaco would have flagged up a string of financial irregularities and persuaded Dominic to spend his money elsewhere.

Writing for This Is Money this month Grace Gausden reported: “Unfortunately, the company went into administration – but the owner subsequently setting up a similar business under a different trading name, Tailored Franchises Ltd. When trying to get a refund after he realised the business was no longer trading, Dominic, 31, was advised that nothing could be done, leaving him wondering how consumers could be given so little rights.”

This is Money reported that because Dominic had paid by debit card, rather than on credit card, he has been left with asking his bank for help. The bank’s policy was to repay money in some circumstances if the request was made within 120 days of the transaction. Because the company kept stalling and not answering his calls four months quickly passed and so the bank declared the money was lost.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute issued this statement: “We feel very sorry for this consumer and I am afraid that when a business becomes insolvent there is little that the consumer can do to reclaim what they have paid over. 

“Customers should always try and pay for any goods costing more than £100 by a credit card if they have one. No matter how much of the purchase price is paid using the credit card, the credit card company are equally liable, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, for any breach of contract.

“Payments using a debit card are also protected, through the banks chargeback rules, so it would be worth the consumer contacting their bank to ask them to look into this transaction, particularly because payment was taken some time earlier and the order was not fulfilled. This is not a statutory right, so would be a matter for negotiation with the bank.”

A Suit That Fits, run by Daniel Warwick went bust in 2018 owing £2m to its customers and suppliers.

For just £3.85 and a quick anonymous check on the company with Checkaco he would have saved himself £3,000 and found another suit from a financially stable tailor. If in doubt of using a company in which you plan to pay large amounts of money do check them out first at https://checkaco.co.uk/ and save yourself a lot of heartache, stress and cash.

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Fiona Boston ‘stole’ her sofa having paid for it but when House of Fraser went into administration she was told she had lost her money – and her sofa

Paying a deposit for furniture? Don’t get caught out if the company goes bust like House of Fraser and like Fiona Boston you are forced to ‘steal’ it since you’ve paid for it already – save the trouble and check them out with Checkaco first

So many people got caught out when House of Fraser went bust as they lost their deposits on furniture and various goods.

And although one family took matters into their own hands and went into the Bristol store and carried out the sofa they had paid for in reality you will have lost it all. Fiona Boston became famous for ‘stealing’ her own sofa from House of Fraser when they went into administration. The police stopped her but she was let go as she had the receipts having paid for the furniture – including delivery.

Now the High Street stalwart Laura Ashley is on the brink of collapse as crisis talks take place with its owners due to a slump in sales and a falling market share. Thousands of their customers have paid up front or deposits on a range of products and if the retailer does go into administration then millions of pounds will be lost.

So if you are about to pay a deposit to a builder, a furniture company or a wedding venue then stop. Spend £3.85 and do a credit check on the firm with Checkaco. The online credit checker is unlike the usual credit companies as it has up to date accurate details on all limited businesses – so you can see if the firm you plan to pay has a bad financial track record or dodgy directors.

If in doubt of using a company in which you plan to pay large amounts of money do check them out first at https://checkaco.co.uk/ and save yourself a lot of heartache, stress and cash.

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Before you switch energy companies – read this and save money and heartache

Last year nine energy firms went bust in the UK meaning nearly a million people lost their energy company of choice as they were automatically switched to a new one. Many of those customers were in credit and won’t get their money back from their defunct supplier. Instead Ofgem allocates the customers of the bust company to a different utility company on a new tariff although those in credit will not lose their money but they are in effect they are loaning energy firms money by being in credit. And those energy firms use this interest free credit as cash flow – free money from their customers. It’s wrong and especially when they mismanage their business and collapse.

By doing a credit check with Checkaco on your energy supplier you can see if they are about to go bust or have long term financial problems.

In 2019 Breeze Energy, Toto Energy, Uttily Energy, Eversmart Energy, Solarplicity, Cardiff Energy Supply, Brilliant Energy, Our Power and Economy Energy all went bust. In 2018 eight suppliers went out of business and last year a further five firms withdrew from the market. If you are one of those whose energy supplier has gone bust you are likely to lose out in interest on the credit you have with them, plus the hours of heart ache and worry as you try to find out what’s happened. For just £3.85 if you are planning on switching to a new supplier you can find out their history, their debts and who their directors are and make a judgement on whether they are trustworthy. All eyes are on Robin Hood Energy at the moment. In October the company almost went bust owing £9m but were saved by a last minute loan by Nottingham Council. The council want the loan repaid by April – if Robin Hood Energy can’t repay it by then they’ll go bust leaving thousands of customers high and dry. 

Ian Carrotte of Checkaco is a member of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce. He founded the firm when a Wiltshire based Hot Air Ballooning firm went under in 2013 taking up to £1m worth of prepayments. If their potential customers like Ian had known the background to the company they would never have paid deposits for balloon flights. For £3.85 you can check out a company that you are about to pay a large deposit to find out if they are financially OK. For details
https://checkaco.com/

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Her wedding venue went pop – if only she’d done a credit check with Checkaco for £3.85 instead of losing £5,500

Posted on 16th February 2020by ianc


Botleigh Grange Hotel in Southampton went into administration.

Her wedding venue went pop – if only she’d done a credit check

A bride to be has lost her £5,500 deposit for her wedding reception when Botleigh Grange Hotel in Southampton went into administration.

Sasha Miles was reported in the Daily Mail to have planned her wedding day with Fraser Monahan of Hampshire for May this year. They paid up the hefty deposit in January but soon afterwards the hotel went bust and was placed in administration on January 13, 2020. If she had spent £3.85 with Checkaco she would have spotted the warning signals as the venue was already seeking administration with Neil Bennett and Andrew Duncan, Directors at Leonard Curtis Business Solutions Group. The hotel is now up for sale as a going concern but it is unlikely Sasha will get her money back as the new owners are under no obligation to honour the booking.

Ian Carrotte of Checkaco is a member of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce. He founded the firm when a Wiltshire based Hot Air Ballooning firm went under in 2013 taking up to £1m worth of prepayments. If their potential customers like Ian had known the background to the company they would never have paid deposits for balloon flights. For £3.85 you can check out a company that you are about to pay a large deposit to find out if they are financially OK. For details
https://checkaco.com/

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Beware giving a wedding shop a hefty deposit: check them out first before you order your gown and accessories (so as to be sure you won’t lose everything ahead of your big day)

Last summer Absolute Bridal Couture in Prestwich went bust leaving heartbroken brides to be without their dresses and out of pocket. It’s not the first wedding shop to close down suddenly and it won’t be the last.

It’s standard practice for a wedding shop to ask for a 50% deposit on a dress with off the peg gowns costing upwards of a £1,000 on average. I remember when the Bridal Gallery in Preston went down leaving lots of girls without anything to show for their deposit. Add bridesmaids outfits, a veil, tiara and shoes and the deposit can run into several thousand pounds.

So the first rule is to check out the shop – look on-line for complaints or problems – and do a credit check on them for £3.85 with checkaco – look out for county court judgements (CCJs) against the owners and their previous businesses. Anyone with CCJs should be avoided and certainly don’t pay in cash but always with a credit card. And it’s not just the small shops or wedding shop chains to be circumstance about – remember House of Fraser of Fraser went into administration with many people losing their deposits.

Ian Carrotte of Checkaco is a member of the Axbridge Chamber of Commerce. He founded the firm when a Wiltshire based Hot Air Ballooning firm went under in 2013 taking up to £1m worth of prepayments. If their potential customers like Ian had known the background to the company they would never have paid deposits for balloon flights. For £3.85 you can check out a company that you are about to pay a large deposit to find out if they are financially OK. For details
https://checkaco.com/

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HQ Trivia collapses and ends in live video drunken rant

The future of TV broadcasting HQ Trivia goes bust as backers pull out

The so-called future of TV broadcasting HQ Trivia set up in 2018 has gone to the wall firing its high profile presenters and 25 staff when funds ran out.

Two years ago presenter Sharon Carpenter told the BBC that the live TV app was: “the future of television – it’s the future of broadcasting. It’s the same reason people love live TV, but this you can take wherever you are. You never know how the game is going to end up – and I think because of that there is this element of the fear of missing out.”

The BBC reported this week: “HQ Trivia has gone bankrupt and shut down, its presenters drinking and swearing during its last live broadcast. The final game’s prize was just $5 (£3.83) – and that came out of the pocket of host Matt Richards. That prize was split by 523 viewers. It’s a far cry from the app’s heyday, when prizes could reach $300,000 (£214,000) and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was a guest presenter on the 15-minute show. HQ Trivia was free to download and free to play. A live presenter would ask 12 multiple choice questions and anyone who answered them all correctly would win part of the game’s prize fund. A live chat ran during the game, and presenters read out messages from players during the live daily broadcasts.”

The video show was aired in the evenings from New York and featured various versions including sport and music funded by backers such as Warner Brothers who had their products promoted on the show.

Presenters Matt Richards and Anna Roisman drank during the final broadcast allowing their feelings to spill out in colourful language as the future of broadcasting shut down.

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Thousands left high and dry as Woodford closes fund

Posted on 21st January 2020by Harry Mottram

The report on Neil Woodford’s fund management company on CreditCheckCo makes grim reading – but for £3.85 it could have saved investors a fortune

The Oracle of Oxford is no more following the closure of the Woodford investment fund last year although the man at the centre of the scandal has walked away with millions of pounds. In contrast the thousands of ordinary people who put their trust in his so-called Midas touch when it came to investments have collectively lost millions of pounds with the losses continuing as they cannot now access their money. This week another £150m was wiped off the locked up funds.

Neil Woodford. Pic: Daily Mail

Writing in the Daily Telegraph Jonathan Jones said: “Beleaguered investors in the LF Equity Income fund formerly run by Neil Woodford suffered another £150m loss on Friday. It meant investors lost 5pc of their money in one day. It occurred as the fund was being revalued in anticipation of the first tranche of money being returned to investors later this month.

“Link Fund Solutions, the administrator for the fund, said the latest loss was due to an adjustment to the valuation of the unquoted companies in the portfolio. It did not state which of the portfolio’s stocks had been marked down. It is the latest in a long line of disappointment for the nearly 300,000 investors of the fund, who have suffered significant losses so far, with a fifth of their money wiped out since its suspension.”

BBC Panorama

Alex and Beryl are among hundreds of thousands of his investors waiting to discover how much of their money they’ll get back. Speaking on the BBC Panorama programme they explained how they had lost their savings as they believed Neil Woodford would make them huge returns. He invested their cash in high risk firms which turned out to be duds. Once the returns didn’t come in the fund was closed effectively locking in the investors’ cash – which has dwindled in value ever since.

Graphic: This is Money

One search on CreditCheckCo for £3.85 would have shown that Woodford Investment Management Limited was high risk and nobody should put in a penny of their cash. Too late now but the next time someone suggests you put your cash into an investment fund check out the directors, the company and any associated companies at www.creditcheckco.co.uk and keep you life savings for yourself and not for the likes of Neil Woodford.

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I lost £180,000 when firm went bust

Posted on 20th January 2020by Harry MottramEdit “I lost £180,000 when firm went bust”

The Mail Online reported on the case of John Hopkinson 70, who lost his life savings

If only they had checked out Premier FXs background writes Harry Mottram.

Hundreds of investors lost a total of £11m when the Premier FX currency firm collapsed in the summer of 2018 soon after its sole director and owner Peter Rexstrew died.

The case continues to be investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) more than 18 months later as they try to discover what’s happened to all the money.

The Portuguese English language website Expatica reported:”The company, owned and run by Peter Rexstrew, persuaded expats in Portugal and Algarve property owners living outside the country, to deposit cash with Premier FX on the promise of benefiting from exchange rate fluctuations and interest payments. Significant sums, often for house purchases, were left on deposit and a select few also were paid interest on deposits.”

Pauline Creasey of Dover lost £489,000

Since its demise former customers of Premier FX have come forward with their stories. The Mail Online reported on the case of John Hopkinson 70, who lost his life savings of £180K and was forced to look for a job rather than retire to Yorkshire. Writing for the same website Jack Elsom illustrated the case of Pauline Creasey of Dover who lost £489,000 when the company collapsed.

Expatica said: “Andrew Bailey, the FCA’s chief executive, told MPs at a Treasury Select Committee on Tuesday, that ‘the first priority is to find the money,’ explaining that ‘The person involved in this is said to be dead. I think it’s incumbent upon his relatives and business partners to tell us where the money is.’”

This is no comfort to those who have lost their money and if only they had checked out the company on CreditCheckCo along with the business history of Peter Rexstrew they would have smelled a rat. For just £3.85 they would have saved themselves the heart ache of losing the hard-earned savings.

Visit https://thecreditcheckco.co.uk/ to check out a company that you are considering investing it or spending money with for £3.85.

For more news, views and features on consumer issues and business visit www.harrymottram.co.uk and follow Harry on FaceBook, Twitter as @harrythespiv, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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The man in question

Self-publishers beware of this man: he’s ripped off authors and printers alike to the tune or thousands of pounds

Last summer Neill Stuart Malcolm John was banned by the Insolvency Service from being a director of a company after he ran a string of bogus online printing companies that ripped off self-publishers.

Scores of wannabe authors and dozens of printing firms were left out of pocket to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds over a period of three years before the business man was brought to book.

Based in his home in Cardiff the one-time salesman together with his then partner Clair Hunnisett took money up front from the public to print their books, magazines and pamphlets through a series of websites. They had names like The Book Printer, The Printing House and the Magazine Printer – with some names the same as legitimate companies. However, neither of the pair owned a printing press but instead farmed the work out to various print firms. Some customers received the books but the majority either received none or only a partial number printed incorrectly. When they attempted to get refunds, they were met with hostility and legal threats. Printers who had taken on the work on trust also failed to get paid.

I spent a considerable amount of time highlighting their activities in the trade press as a journalist for Print Monthly Magazine as well as contacting the Insolvency Service, Trading Standards and Action Fraud with evidence. Every day victims contacted me with their stories and these I passed on to the authorities. Printing companies in Hungary, Turkey, Latvia and the UK had been caught out – some to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds. Eventually the Insolvency Service and the Official Receiver took action.

An internet search could have flagged up potential problems with various complaints and news stories about the couple. But there was a problem as the duo ran many websites and John changed his name on numerous occasions so as not to be linked to all of the trading names of his companies.

If a potential customer had used CreditCheckCo for the sum of £3.85 they would have been enlightened about the activities of John (and his various companies) who incidentally now calls himself Neill St John.

Despite the ban by the Insolvency Service John set up more online print firms but those were closed down last September, but my information is he’s still active – so you’ve been warned. If in doubt of using a company in which you plan to pay large amounts of money do check them out first at https://thecreditcheckco.co.uk/ and save yourself a lot of heartache, stress and cash.

For more news, views and features on consumer issues and business visit www.harrymottram.co.uk and follow Harry on FaceBook, Twitter as @harrythespiv, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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I lost my £500 deposit when the kitchen company went bust

If only they’d used Credicheckco – then they would have spotted the rogue trader

A few years ago, I put a deposit for a new kitchen with a local kitchen company who went bust after I had placed my order along with a deposit of £500. I never did get my kitchen and as for the deposit – you guessed it – that was lost. If I’d had the services of Creditcheckco then I would have discovered that Really Easy Peasy Kitchens (or some such name) had directors who had a history of a long list of insolvencies and dodgy companies behind them.

It seems a thing with kitchen companies as a quick look on the internet and up pop various kitchen nightmare stories. Like this one as reported by consumer champion Anna Tims in The Guardian. She reported on a story about a householder from Hull known only as GR who lost £8,000 with a firm called Mabola Kitchens.

The story is a veil of tears as first of all GR stumped up a 10% deposit – before being asked for a further a further £7,000 in cash before the order could be placed. If GR had known that Mobala of Hull was a failing franchise of Early Nights Limited that had already ceased trading then he or she would never have placed the order let alone paid up £8,000 in cash. For a quick search on the Creditcheckco website for £3.85 not only thousands of pounds would have been saved – but they wouldn’t have suffered all the stress and heartache.

Last year The Daily Record reported on Carol Ann Liddle from Scotland who paid a £4,000 deposit to a firm trading as Luxury Kitchens. Several months later after a string of false promises she still hadn’t received her kitchen and demanded her money back. The newspaper published the story and then received similar stories from other customers of the firm with deposits paid but not returned and kitchens that never appeared. A simple search with Creditcheckco for £3.85 would have revealed that Campbell Kane of Stirling – the man behind the operation – was known to trading standards. Luxury Kitchens was a trading name of Luxury One Limited while Mr Kane also traded as CAM Living which was a trading name for LKD Limited.

In the Daily Telegraph consumer journalist Jessica Gorst-Williams heard from PF somewhere in the South West of England about the trials of ordering a kitchen worktop from an unnamed firm. The company persuaded PF to part with £954 as a deposit. You guessed it the kitchen company went bust and the money was lost.

It makes me think that back in the 1990s losing £500 wasn’t so terrible – although with a £3.85 search with Creditcheckco I wouldn’t have lost a penny as I’d have sussed out the cowboy outfit and gone elsewhere.

Picture Caption: Last year The Daily Record reported on Carol Ann Liddle from Scotland who paid a £4,000 deposit to a firm trading as Luxury Kitchens

For more on how to check out companies to save yourself heartache visit https://thecreditcheckco.co.uk/

For more from Harry visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

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Year closes on rogue businessman who went on trading after ban by Insolvency Service

The year 2019 has closed on a sorry chapter of dishonest trading by the business man Neill Stuart Malcolm John whose firms were wound up by the Insolvency Service.

John, along with his then partner Clair Hunnisett, became known as the Bonnie and Clyde of the print industry as they took online orders in cash from self-publishers but failed to deliver any printed books. They used the names of Printed Books Ltd, Book Printer UK, The Printing Press and UK, Litho Printing Limited and similar sounding firms.

Despite being banned in May in court in Manchester John continued to set up new websites offering discounts to aspiring publishers with near identical websites trading under the names of Book World Ltd and Hardback Printer Limited. The court wound them up in September in the public interest.

Writing on Print Week’s website in October Jo Francis said: “The court heard a familiar tale regarding the mode of operation of Book World, which attracted customers – often self-publishers – by offering cheap prices and then outsourced the printing, mainly to printers based in Eastern Europe. The registered addresses of the two firms were in London, but the Insolvency Service found they were in reality virtual office providers and the companies actually operated from Barry, in South Wales.”

In a statement, Insolvency Service chief investigator Helen Cosgrove said: “Many of the companies’ victims were everyday consumers looking for a good price to get their work published as they didn’t have the support of a big publishing house behind them. However, investigations clearly proved Book World had no interest in serving their clients and provided shoddy levels of output, while Hardback Printer was all set-up to do exactly the same. We are pleased the courts recognised this and have shut down their activities to prevent further people from becoming victims.”

Although the duo fleeced hundreds of people of their cash with a promise of printed books they also ordered print from some UK firms but others from Europe including Turkey, Ukraine and the Baltic nations. Some of their customers received their books – although usually in an unsatisfactory condition – but the print firms rarely if ever got paid with some left with large unpaid invoices to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds.

At this point the story one would hope would come to an end and John would hopefully return to his original vocation that of a high pressure salesman. However a tip-off from one of his victims this week has noted he’s changed his name again to Neill St John and has apparently got married in a lavish ceremony – not to his long term partner Clair Hunnisett – but to events company manager Krystal St John.

ICSM Credit’s Ian Carrotte said: “We have been warning members of this man for more than two years as he has left print companies in this country with unpaid invoices. He has also taken hundreds of thousands of pounds off members of the public. My fear is under a new name he will again begin trading and targetting the unknowing public and trusting businesses.”

For details about ICSM Credit call 0844 854 1850 or visit the website www.icsmcredit.com or email Ian at Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com on how to subscribe and to join the UK’s credit intelligence network to avoid bad debts and late payers. Follow ICSM Credit on FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube and Ian Carrotte on LinkedIn.

To keep up to date subscribe to the FREE ICSM Credit Newsletter to hear all the latest insolvency news and to see who has gone out of business click on the orange panel on the top left of the home page of the website www.icsmcredit.com or send an email to Ian.carrotte@icsmcredit.com

For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk

Picture: Ian Malcolm Stuart John’s new Facebook profile image although he now calls himelf Ian St John – not to be confused with the Scottish footballer

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