A MIRFIELD businessman who misled people about their chances of winning back thousands in council tax payments must pay out more than £12,500.
Jack Henry’s firm Council Tax Review sent flyers to homes across West Yorkshire falsely claiming residents were in the wrong council tax band and due a refund.
Bradford Crown Court heard on Wednesday that the firm charged up to £185 to apply to the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for re-assessments and offered to help secure rebates for a share of any money won back.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards officers began an investigation after customer complaints from September 2009 to September 2010.
Five of the 12 complainants were elderly and infirm.
Prosecutor Howard Shaw said the firm used ‘false and misleading’ claims in flyers and letters to some clients which gave them unrealistic expectations.
In two cases, the firm failed to submit any application to VOA and in three others the standard of material submitted was ‘shabby’.
The Huddersfield firm also failed to refund four people who cancelled contracts.
Mr Shaw said it was clear that Henry, 45, had a ‘deeply flawed’ understanding of VOA procedures.
Henry, of Huddersfield Road, admitted 14 counts of engaging in misleading commercial practices.
David Friesner, for Henry, said: “This was not in any way shape or form some sort of advanced fee fraud.”
He said it had been a proper business, which Henry accepted was run poorly at first, but around 10 per cent of clients had the banding of their homes lowered.
Henry was given a nine month jail term suspended for a year with 150 hours unpaid work and £12,500 costs.
He must also give refunds to the 12 clients the charges relate to.