Scammers flog health supplements with a mark up of almost 700%; Cold callers targeting elderly woman and claiming to be health professionals.
An opaque business that hides behind virtual addresses and refuses to answer questions is foisting hugely overpriced health supplements on vulnerable customers.
This is a sadly common scam that typically involves charlatans based in India using call centres to extract outrageous sums for the mail order tablets.
A Mirror reader aged 86 has told me how she has been hit with bills of [pounds sterling]398, [pounds sterling]501 and [pounds sterling]299 in quick succession.
Now she's received another invoice for two products, one being seven bottles of flaxseed oil that works out at more than [pounds sterling]1 per capsule.
To put that in context, you can get them at around 15p a capsule from high street stores.
She was also sent eight bottles of pomegranate skin extract at an equally vast mark-up, with the invoice total coming to [pounds sterling]490 including postage.
The reader -- a widow I'll just call by her first name Sheila -- cannot remember being warned how much she would be charged.
The sick scam that exploits the health fears of the elderly and vulnerable
The charlatans began, as they usually do, with a phone call that gave the impression they were health professionals.
"It was a cold call in the first place, which indicated it was just a general health check on the over-70s in my local area," Sheila said.
"That was how I got talked into it, they fooled me. I've no idea what this pomegranate skin extract is. I don't remember that.
"I do remember the flaxseed which I think was supposed to be ideal forarthritis. I got talked into that -- I've got arthritis in my feet and fingers."
The company behind this isLifeline Wellness Limited. Its website gives two addresses -- one is serviced offices in Covent Garden, London, and the other a storage centre in Perth, Scotland. Neither has any record of them. The invoices sent to Sheila give a third address, this time in Selly Oak, Birmingham.
I paid it a visit and found Yuvaraj Kadam, who first told me that he does not work for Lifeline Wellness but "sometimes" deposits cheques for the company.
Perhaps I misunderstood, because he then insisted that he doesn't deposit cheques at all, but either forwards the mail to the address for Lifeline Wellness that he found on Companies House, or bins it.
"I've told them, don't use my address," he said. "I'm telling you I'm nothing to do with this company."
Exposed: the network of Indian health supplement scammers preying on the elderly in the UK
Coincidentally, his wife Vaishali Kadam is linked to another health supplement scam, Vitanix Limited, which was wound up in the public interest by the High Court last October.
Mrs Kadam was a director from June to November 2017.
According to the Insolvency Service, Vitanix's sales tactics included "cold calling vulnerable people purporting that the company was linked to medical advisors", excessive mark-ups, and trading "with a lack of transparency as to its management".
Which also sounds like a good description of Lifeline Wellness, especially the lack of transparency.
I rang it but neither person I spoke to would give their staffed office address or let me speak to the supposed director.
According to Companies House this is 33-year-old Emilia Ellis, who gives an address in Glasgow that is, naturally, a virtual office.
My emails have gone unanswered though I can say that they were opened in Mumbai, India, which came as no surprise.
Meanwhile, I've put Sheila in contact with trading standards and hopefully she won't be paying this lot another penny.
If they sue, I'd be delighted to finally make their acquaintance in court.
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|Title Annotation:||News,UK News|
|Publication:||Daily Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 2, 2019|
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