Exmouth director who let his firm make thousands of nuisance calls slapped with six-year ban

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 February 2019

Nuisance Calls. Picture: Getty Images

Nuisance Calls. Picture: Getty Images

Refat Mamutov

An Exmouth-based director of a market research has been slapped with a six-year ban for allowing his polling company to make thousands of unregulated marketing calls.

Aaron Frederick Stalberg was the sole director of The Lead Experts Limited, which came to the attention of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following complaints of automated calls made between February 2015 and September 2016.

Enquiries by the ICO established that, between May 4 and 5, 2016, the market research company made more than 115,000 automated marketing calls to members of the public, breaching the regulations covering privacy and electronic communications.

The ICO also found that the market researchers failed to include the company name, address and telephone number in the automated messages.

Calls were routed through Buenos Aires, making it difficult to trace the company, and phone numbers used were ‘added value’ numbers that charged people when they would call to try to identify the company.

The ICO expressed its concerns to The Lead Experts, only for the market research company to deny it had ever used automated dialling.

The firm said it had only purchased a small batch of test leads from which it had dialled a limited number due to the poor quality of the sample.

However, the ICO was not satisfied with this explanation and, after seeking further clarification from the voice broadcasting platform used by The Lead Experts, was able to establish the market researchers had placed a signed order for the test leads, while using two audio files containing messages to be played when calls connected.

After The Lead Experts failed to clarify the new findings, the ICO imposed a £70,000 penalty in October.

The Lead Experts also failed to lodge an appeal or pay the debt, which led the ICO to refer the company to the Insolvency Service to pursue a directorship disqualification against Mr Stalberg for his role in the company’s misconduct.

The referral resulted in the Secretary of State accepting a disqualification undertaking from Mr Stalberg on January 16, 2019, after he did not dispute that he failed to ensure.

Mr Stalberg was banned for six years from directly or indirectly becoming involved - without the permission of the court - in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

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