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Business, Fraud and prosecutions

Security firm prosecuted over bogus claim

A Brixton security firm that conned customers into believing it was a member of recognised trade organisations by cutting out the logos from the Yellow Pages and sticking them onto its company headed paper has been prosecuted by Lambeth Council.

Professional Services Ltd, owned by Bashiru Vandi, claimed to be a member of British Security Industry Association and to have “Investors in People” status.

The company, based at Shakespeare Business Centre in Coldharbour Lane, supplied security guards, cleaners and other professional services to businesses. It came to the attention of Lambeth Council after complaints by two separate trade bodies who alleged the company was falsely claiming membership of their organisations.

Following an investigation it became clear the company’s claims of membership were false. Due to the nature of the business, where honesty and trust are paramount, council officers took court action against the firm.

After failing to attend court a warrant for Mr Vandi’s arrest was issued. After his arrest Camberwell Magistrates Court heard the case, taking into account Mr Vandi’s claims that the company had now gone out of business, and gave Mr Vandi a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay the prosecutions costs. He admitted that cut out the logos from yellow pages and applied them to his paperwork and defunct website. He apologised for his ‘stupid and irresponsible behaviour’.

Cllr Mark Bennett, Lambeth’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “Although we are disappointed in the level of punishment issued by the court, we are pleased that this case has been resolved.

“Making false claims, whether about goods or services, is a criminal offence. In this case many firms may have chosen to employ security guards on the basis of the perceived approval by reputable professional bodies.

“These guards were charged with protecting other people’s property, something that relies on their honesty and trustworthiness. A company deliberately making false claims is clearly neither of these things.”

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