If you are angry about being ‘ripped off’ and being left out of pocket then you probably don’t relish the thought of spending money on solicitors or grovelling to disinterested authorities either!
There is another option though, which has been in existence longer than the police and the CPS, and which can be cost neutral regardless of whether you win or lose your case. Best of all, as well as the prospect of recovering what’s owed to you, you may also get the satisfaction of knowing that the person who ripped you off could serve a sentence behind bars, because a prison sentence could also be applied as a result of your actions.
Don’t get mad, get even!
Do not be fobbed off by the authorities!
I got fed up of hearing stories about letting agents going out of business having plundered their client accounts and leaving both landlords and tenants out of pocket.
The police regularly tell victims that scenarios of this nature are “civil matters” and to seek advice from a solicitor. If you think about it, is it really that surprising that the police try to fob off financial crimes, which they don’t really understand, when they haven’t even got enough resources to prosecute known paedophiles who download illegal images of children or run child prostitution rackets?
Most financial crimes lead to nothing because solicitors charge a fortune, and that’s not particularly helpful to people who are already suffering financially! I rarely hear stories of money being recovered via civil litigation in these circumstances anyway, probably because the businesses owing the money tend to go into liquidation leaving the unscrupulous owners of those businesses to enjoy the protection of limited liability.
However, my frustration turned to inspiration in 2010 when I learned of the crime “Fraud By Abuse of Position”, a new law created in 2007.
Also, did you know that if a judge considers a private criminal prosecution to be justifiable that Counsels fees and investigation costs (i.e. the barristers fees and disbursements) are paid for by the state, regardless of whether the accused is found to be innocent or guilty at a trial by Jury? To protect both his client and his own reputation the barrister must, of course, be confident that there is a case to be answered. There is no requirement for Police or CPS involvement in a Private Prosecution. In fact, Private Prosecutions are as old as law itself and pre-date both the CPS and the Police.
I bided my time until I came across somebody I knew well who had a good enough case to package up and refer to a criminal barrister. Within days of him issuing a summons the wayward letting agent paid the landlord back all the money he had taken, as well as costs including the legal fees of the barrister, on the understanding that charges would be dropped. This was agreed in the best interests of public funds.
The problem was that I couldn’t publicise this great news, because that was the basis upon which the deal that was made, but I knew I was onto something very useful, not just for landlords and tenants but for any business which has been a victim of financial crime.
Other example cases might include:-
- Rogue letting agents who have stolen clients money
- Builders taking money for materials but vanishing without trace before doing the job.
- Copyright theft on behalf of record producers.
- Assisting Insolvency Practitioners.
- Financial Services Network collapses, e.g. Directors misappropriating funds received from mortgage lenders and insurers leaving brokers out of pocket.
- Call Centres hacked and telephone lines diverted to premium rate numbers running up massive bills.
Important note: if you drop charges made after a barrister has been appointed to initiate a private prosecution, then Counsels fees and costs incurred to that point will become payable by you. Therefore, it is imperative that you consider this if you are offered a settlement deal.