back to article Oh dear, Lads: Spam marketing bosses banned from forming UK firms for clobbering folk with 500k calls and texts

The bosses of lead-generation firms Lad Media and The Lead Experts have been slapped with four and six-year bans on forming companies respectively after they fell foul of direct marketing laws. Aaron Frederick Stalberg, the 27-year-old former director of The Lead Experts, was banned after his business was found to have made …

  1. Oliver Mayes

    So they ignored the rules about not acting like this, they then ignored the fines they were issued with.

    What are the chances of them obeying the ban on starting up new companies and continuing as normal next week?

    1. Saruman the White Silver badge

      Of course they can ignore the rules about starting up a new company. However it will be spotted (probably by Companies House who maintain a register of banned directors), at which point they will either face much bigger fines or even time in an HMP (for basically ignoring what amounts to a court order).

    2. Herring`

      Companies House is supposed to keep tabs on disqualified directors and prevent them setting up another limited company - and they aren't going to set up a non-limited company for obvious reasons.

      However, a wife or an uncle or a mate could act as a director. Seen it happen.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "However, a wife or an uncle or a mate could act as a director."

        And they can go down for it. They as in both the banned director and the stooge. The stooge can get out by claiming they didn't know, signatures forged etc. and if that's proven then the banned director is even deeper n it.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      What are the chances of them obeying the ban on starting up new companies and continuing as normal next week?

      That should be easy to get around. Just use a false name or get a friend to become the one to be in charge (at least on paper). Then again, the prisons are full of people who thought they were above the law or smarter than the law.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      lead-generation firms

      I say double the fines just because of being called (or calling themselves?) "lead-generation firms". Same goes for "digital influencers".

  2. Mr Sceptical

    Make them pay?

    Anyone care to wager on whether they'll recover the full amount of those fines from the miscreants involved? I doubt it.

    Icon for how I'd prefer they end up --->

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Make them pay?

      Icon for how I would prefer them to end up.

      How about confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act?

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Make them pay?

      "Anyone care to wager on whether they'll recover the full amount of those fines from the miscreants involved?"

      The fines were on the companies, now liquidated so no, they aren't going to get paid and the disqualifications are because they're not going to get paid.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The men have been banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved

    ok, so let's set it up, say... Channel Islands. No, wait, Cyprus, even better (brexit, etc.). Or the usual suspects (British Virgin Islands, Panama, etc.)

    p.s. presumably, the fine they never paid won't EVER get paid?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: The men have been banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved

      Or even Scotland (if the company was registered in another part of the UK, another part of the UK if it was registered in Scotland). You don't have to go that far

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I'd like to think these are a couple that I've complained about. I wonder if they're cheeky enough to try to get round their bans and discover just how big trouble they can really get themselves into.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the ICO had recouped just £2.2m of the £8.5m fines

    The ICO definitely needs more powers - But to be fair to the ICO, many of these "companies" are individuals running the operation out of their spare bedroom, so whilst issuing these ball-busting fines that righteously makes the culprits bankrupt, it's unlikely these 1-man-bands have anywhere near this amount of cash, so its unfair to measure the ICO on it!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: the ICO had recouped just £2.2m of the £8.5m fines

      "The ICO definitely needs more powers"

      The ICO now has more powers. At the time of these offences they didn't. They can now fine the directors as in the next to last paragraph of TFA - and the last para explains it's the Reg that done it.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: the ICO had recouped just £2.2m of the £8.5m fines

      Note that this happened in October 2017, before GDPR came into force, so the ICO does currently have more powers (at least until next month...)

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Follow the money

    They setup a company, annoy and hassle a couple of million people, breaking the law and what happens? They get fined and shut down ... and the fine goes where? Not to the people who had to put up with the hassle. Essentially they formed a business that generated money for the government so the chances of anyone jumping on them for starting up again are small ... they will start again, stash their profits under the mattress, get caught, get fined and it all starts again.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's one punishment missing IMHO

    I think people like that should be forced to publish their phone numbers and email addresses, and be prevented from having any private ones, and none of it accepted by the TPS or be allowed anti-spam filters in the case of email.

    I reckon 4 years of that would be far more educational.

  8. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Death to telemarketers! =-D

    No fines, no jail/prison time, no slap on the wrist, just a short walk to the hangman's noose & a dance beneath the platform.

    Next comes insurance premium adjusters, corporate executives, and used car salesmen...

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Death to telemarketers! =-D

      To be fair... a used car salesman doesn't usually turn up at your house to try and sell you his latest outstanding deal. If you are fool enough to go to a second-hand dealership and find the archetypal used car salesman, just walk away!

      But as to the rest, yep, hanging is good.

      PS, I'm not a used car salesman, or connected in any way with purveyors of personal transport.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Death to telemarketers! =-D

      Hanging is too quick - unless of course you take the American stance of leaving the crims on death row for forty years before they are euthanized.

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: Death to telemarketers! =-D

        "Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I fancy. Something of that sort.

        I think boiling oil occurs in it, but I'm not sure.

        I know it's something humorous, but lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead."

        -- The Mikado

    3. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Death to telemarketers! =-D

      And spammers

  9. Duffaboy

    This will hardly stop them from setting up again.

    They will just ask someone else to be the front of the company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This will hardly stop them from setting up again.

      And they'll risk being prosecuted, possibly jailed and certainly get their disqualification extended. A look at the Insolvency Service press releases contains a number of examples of both the shadow director and the frontman being hit with penalties.

  10. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    One might think that a short custodial sentence would focus their minds a little more effectively than what is essentially a ban on being naughty again, for a bit.

    I wonder if the law now allows for this as a remedy, along with the confiscation of personal assets.

    1. Nick Kew

      Prisons are full, don't want more inmates.

      You have to do something really bad, like say the wrong thing to a snowflake[1], to get put away.

      [1] Of any age. I don't believe snowflake is a generational thing, except insofar as some in our universities nurture it.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    One small step for a man

    That's about all it is really.

  12. Steve 114

    Fine the channel

    The calls come through BT. BT systems allow the numbers to be spoofed. BT charges extra to let customers (inacccurately) block numbers. Now who do we think should be fined?

  13. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    There are so many ways to circumvent this ban without even leaving the country &/or EU.

    Easiest way is to set up shop in India (where I heard that call spamming is the new "backyard industry").

  14. robbo1100

    What about these lead generation companies clients?

    I always wonder about the brands who think its a great idea to employ these companies utilising cold callers and spammers like this - they dilute their brands and p..s off their customers - what happens to the marketing genius inside these companies - do they get penalties?? Or bonuses?

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