A couple who were jailed a year ago for mis-selling mattresses, beds and mobility equipment to elderly customers have been told they must pay back nearly £1m within three months or could face a further six years in prison.
Husband and wife Claire and Paul Wray, from Clayton Wood Close in Leeds, both received prison sentences in March 2017 after being convicted for mistrading through their company Dreamwell Ltd and were ordered by recorder Iqbal QC to return £917,287 and pay £20,757 compensation to their victims.
Claire Wray, the sole director of the company, received 12 months in prison after being found guilty of misleading, banned and aggressive commercial practices, and money laundering. She was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.
Her husband, Paul Wray, company secretary for Dreamwell Ltd, was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment for illegal commercial practices in July 2016 and was disqualified from being a company director for nine years.
The couple were arrested in December 2014 following more than 50 complaints which triggered an extensive operation over an 18-month period by the National Trading Standards Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Investigations Team.
Investigators found that canvassers acting on behalf of Dreamwell misled elderly consumers into believing that they were carrying out market research, when in fact they were arranging appointments for sales staff to visit them in their own homes.
Consumers were then convinced to give information about their medical history, which was later used by sales staff to mis-sell mobility-related products. Staff created the impression that Dreamwell Ltd was a company with medical credentials or connected to a healthcare body, when it was actually a business acting with a purely commercial intent.
Sales staff were trained by Paul Wray to engage in aggressive commercial practices to sell mobility-related products. In one instance, the salesperson stayed in the consumer’s home for nearly seven hours. The investigation found that the products sold were unnecessary, unsuitable and expensive.
Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards, said this award, alongside the prison sentences previous handed down, “sends a clear message to criminals that crime does not pay and these sorts of deliberate attempts to deceive consumers – many of whom were in vulnerable situations – will not be tolerated”.
Councillor Ann Reid, executive member for Trading Standards at City of York Council, said: “The determined pursuit of this couple by our investigations experts, the Wrays’ sentences and now recouping the proceeds of crime are powerful deterrents to would-be criminals.”