A print firm based in Dartford has been stung by a dodgy debt collector to the tune of around £700. John Parsons of Footprint Litho was keen to chase down an unpaid debt of £1,700 when he was approached by phone by Rojen Debt Collecting Services of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The firm insisted on a rolling contract agreed by email to chase the owners of Footprint Litho’s client for an upfront fee of £300 and 18% of the recovered debt suggesting he would receive around £900. What John Parsons didn’t know was Rojen had no plans to pass on any cash from the debt as it was a con. They kept the money from his client and even insisted on him paying more money as “a release fee” which he paid but then heard nothing. When he contacted ICSM Credit for help he heard the unhappy news that Rojen were wound up by the Insolvency service on February 3 for telling lies.
John said he initially believed Rojen and expected to get some of his lost cash repaid minus their cut. The problem was he was being conned. He said: “I didn’t realise I was on a rolling contract as they didn’t say that on the phone they just asked for a one-off payment of £300. I paid it and didn’t hear anything about it for nine months.
“Then about three weeks ago I had a phone call from Rojen who said they’d managed to recoup £1,125 of the original £1,700 and they were still chasing the rest. They said if I paid the interest of the amount of 18% they would release the money.
“I said well if you pay me the money and send me an invoice I’ll pay that but Rojen said ‘it doesn’t work like that.’ I said OK so I paid the money which was £200 plus the VAT. Since then I’ve been chasing them for the money.”
When John Parsons finally got through to Rojen they claimed he would need to pay another contract fee of £370 as his firm was on stop with them.
According to an emailed rolling contract and invoice Rojen claimed John had agreed to their terms and conditions by replying by email. ICSM Credit’s debt collecting manager Paul Carrotte said: “In this case the rolling contract is unlikely to stack up in court. The percentage the firm are demanding plus all their fees are far too high and completely out of proportion to the amount they are charging. When you look at what the court said it was clearly a very dodgy company.”
In a statement from the court the Insolvency Service said: “The court wound-up the company on the ground that it traded with a lack of commercial probity because it made false and misleading statements to its clients, failed to account for monies collected on behalf of clients, charged fees to clients in circumstances where no such fees were due and charged excessive fees to clients. The court also accepted that the company, and the individuals in control of it, failed to cooperate fully with the investigation and failed to keep adequate accounting records.”
David Hope, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Redwood Business Management operated in a cynical manner throughout its trading history. It charged clients substantial fees for services that were not required or not provided and at the same time, collected debts that it did not pay on to its clients. Thankfully, the court has now put a stop to the company’s activities, preventing further harm.”
The question is have the court put a stop to the company’s activities? Their website is still up and despite a promise made to Axbridge Chamber of Commerce member ICSM Credit to repay John Parsons his cash Rojen have so far not paid up. Ian Carrotte said firms like Rojen are like Lazarus. He said: “They go to sleep when things get hot and wake up and start all over again. It’s their standard mode of operation as it makes them money and they can’t break the habit.”
And making money was what Rojen (or rather Redwood Business Management Limited as that was the real name of the firm) was all about as one million pounds passed through their accounts in the space of a year according to the Insolvency Service. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator. Whether John Parsons eventually gets his money back we shall wait and see.
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For details for the work of the journalist Harry Mottram visit www.harrymottram.co.uk