5PB helps secure convictions in massive pyramid promotional scheme

Following the decision at Bristol Crown Court to lift reporting restrictions in the case of R v Fox and Others, it can now be revealed that 9 people have been convicted in the first ever prosecution of a pyramid promotional scheme under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Miles Bennett led Dennis Barry in trial 1 and Teresa Hay in trials 2 and 3. They were instructed by the Office of Fair Trading, and its successor, the Competition and Markets Authority, because of 5PB’s specialist knowledge in Consumer and Trading Standards law.

The pyramid promotional scheme - known as the 'G&T' or 'Give and Take' scheme - started in Bristol, and spread throughout the South West and into Wales. The scheme was run by a committee of women and involved some 10,000 people. When the scheme collapsed, as these schemes always do, consumers lost a total of £21 million.

The decision to prosecute, in which both Miles and Denis were involved, meant that criminal proceedings were brought by the OFT(CMA) against 11 defendants. Over a series of trials 9 of those defendants either pleaded guilty to or were convicted after trial of Operating and Promoting or Promoting a Pyramid Promotional scheme contrary to paragraph 14(1) of Schedule 1 and Regulation 12 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

3 defendants who were on the committee that ran this scheme were sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, 3 await sentence and 3 who pleaded guilty to promoting the scheme received sentences ranging between 3 and 4 ½ months imprisonment suspended for 2 years.

Confiscation proceedings have been commenced against 8 of the 9 defendants.

The convictions have attracted widespread national and international press coverage, including from BBC News and Sky News.