Express M S Limited, a Tyne & Wear firm masquerading as a debt collection company, has been wound up following an Insolvency Service investigation.
The company was wound up in the High Court on 9 September for failing to provide the services it claimed it could deliver. The investigation quickly unravelled the shady practices that had been employed by the business to defraud honest customers of money.
Helping creditors recover their debts
The investigation quickly unravelled the company’s spurious claims that it could take action against the directors of failed companies to help creditors recover their debts. The firm charged annual fees ranging from £100 to £1,250 plus VAT for a service it did not deliver. Over a two period, the company received more than £665,000 from unsuspecting creditors.
The lack of accurate accounting records prevented the investigators from establishing the full scale of the company’s trading activities. It is known that the company was paid to collect at least £489,734 of debt. However, it successfully recovered a single debt to the value of £1,586. This amount was not paid to Express MS Limited’s client.
Misleading and unfounded statements
The court heard how the company had duped creditors into believing they were dealing with a legitimate debt collection by making “misleading and unfounded statements”. In actual fact, the services they delivered or failed to deliver in this case, had “little or no commercial benefit” for clients.
In particular, the company claimed to be:
- Working with an insolvency practitioner when no such connections existed;
- Using sections of the Insolvency Act 1986 to recover debts when it was not appropriate to do so;
- Employing a team of doorstep debt collectors across the UK when no such employees worked for the company.
To add further weight to the company’s supposed legitimacy, some customers were even offered a money-back guarantee if Express MS failed to reclaim the money creditors were owed. Predictably, no provision was made to meet the guarantees when customers did make a claim.
The Insolvency Service’s investigation supervisor on this case, said: “This company took substantial sums of money from businesses for services it did not provide. Those responsible should be aware that the Insolvency Service can and will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.”
The company has been wound up as a result of the Insolvency Service investigation.
Legitimate debt collection companies
This story highlights the importance of checking the credibility and legitimacy of debt collection companies before handing over any money. In this case, businesses struggling to reclaim their debts have been left further out of pocket by the activities of this fraudulent outfit.
As always, a personal recommendation from someone you trust is the best source of reassurance. However, client testimonials, case studies, awards and accreditations can also provide peace of mind.
Always, always ask for identification and if in any doubt you can visit the Citizens Advice Bureau website http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/ and check the bailiff’s details and claim.