Founder of far-right Voice of Wales gets suspended jail sentence for huge insurance scam
A prominent far-right activist who set up a group called Voice of Wales and campaigned against “illegal” migrants has been handed a suspended prison sentence for his involvement in a fraud that robbed hundreds of ordinary people of their savings.
Daniel Raymond Morgan set up the group in Swansea with another activist called Stan Robinson. Their YouTube channel was banned permanently in 2021 for its racist content.
Morgan stood as a UKIP candidate for the Senedd in 2021 and, following the row over a now discontinued Home Office plan to house asylum seekers in Llanelli’s Stradey Park Hotel, has been touted as the party’s general election in the town’s constituency.
But his political future is now in doubt following a conviction for his role in a despicable insurance scam that tricked many into parting with their money.
Swansea Crown Court heard how a call centre was set up to con people on the back of the PPI scandal. It was responsible for an astonishing 53 million scam phone messages.
The fraudsters promised big payouts in connection with mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance policies but in reality their aim was simply to get victims’ credit card details and steal money from them.
Hundreds of people paid up to £550 each after being tricked by the call centre staff into believing they were due substantial PPI refunds, with many of the victims of the scam being elderly and vulnerable. Sentencing 16 people involved in the fraud – from directors of the firm to those working the phones – a judge described the aim of the business as “deliberate, planned fraud”.
Lee Reynolds, prosecuting, told the court that the company at the centre of the fraud went by various names including HES Synergy Limited and HES Savings Audit Ltd, and was set up with the aim of taking unlawful advantage of the financial scandal around mis-sold PPI. He said the fraud was “specifically and carefully planned” to give victims the false impression that they were entitled to a significant PPI refund and to get them to pay a fee to process their claims.
The court heard the victims of the scam were led to believe the business had specific knowledge regarding their individual finances and had access to information about their payment of PPI as well as knowledge of how much they were entitled to by way of a refund. In reality those behind the fraud had no such information or knowledge.
The prosecutor said the scam began with the firm sending out millions of deliberately misleading recorded messages – known as “voice broadcasts” – designed to “hook” potential victims.
The message said: “Our records indicate that you haven’t yet claimed back your PPI on certain loans and credit cards. You are owed thousands. To claim this back press 5 to speak to an advisor and 9 to opt out”. Over a three month period the message was broadcast an astonishing 53,191,988 times.
The court heard that though the message was a short one, it contained three important false statements and was nothing more than a “fishing” exercise. In reality the business did not have “records” about each consumer; it had no way of knowing whether the consumer had ever taken out PPI; and the positive statement that the victim was “owed thousands” was false.
The prosecutor said if a consumer responded to the initial voice broadcast message by pressing option “5” the call would be answered by a “lead generator” in the Swansea call centre who would usually answer the phone by saying “You’re through to the refund department”. Mr Reynolds said from this point “call centre staff would act together and fraudulently to facilitate the taking of financial information from customers with the aim being to convince the victim to part with the upfront fee”.
The court heard that, following scripts of what to say, the lead generators would harvest basic information from the callers such as name, address, date of birth, email, general information on past financial agreements, the name of the bank they used, and details of active credit cards. Misleading phrases such as “our solicitors” and “you’re on the database” would often be used to build confidence, and specific amounts of refunds the callers were supposedly entitled to were mentioned.
The lead generators would then pass the victims’ details to a “closer” who would call them back and introduce themselves variously as a “senior adviser”, or someone “from the legal team”, or “from the verification team”. The closer would tell the victims that they were going to run a financial report to verify the PPI agreements and to look for any agreements they might have forgotten about before a decision was made as to whether there was a valid claim.
The court heard call centre staff would then create secret email accounts for their victims and, using the information gleaned from earlier calls, access people’s private credit reports from companies such as Noddle, Clearscore and Experian. Any additional information needed by the fraudsters to access the credit reports would be requested from the victims under the guise of data protection requirements or security checks.
The court heard that the information in the credit reports told call centre staff nothing about any PPI payments or potential refunds but it could be used to further hoodwink consumers into thinking the company was genuine and had access to some kind of PPI database. Once the credit report had been secretly obtained the next step for the scammers was for a closer to ring the victim back again, provide them with details of the agreements on the credit report, and tell them there was a “green light” from the “legal team” and they had a strong claim. Again, all this was a lie.
The prosecutor said it was at this stage that the call centre staff introduced the concept of an “upfront fee” – this was normally £550 – which was presented to the victim as a “holding deposit” to be put on their credit card while the claim was being processed and was often referred to as being refundable. The closer then pressed the consumer to access their email account while on the phone so that documents with the terms and conditions could be sent to them to sign immediately.
Some consumers who didn’t have internet access or were unfamiliar with the online “e-sign” process were often asked if they could go to the local library to access their emails or get their son or daughter to help them. If victims had no email account the company arranged for a courier service to visit them to deliver the documents. The court heard the purpose of obtaining a quick signature was so that the company could take the upfront fee as soon as possible. However the evidence suggested that in many cases the fees were simply taken before signatures were collected or without any signature being obtained.
Mr Reynolds said victims would typically receive around five phone calls from the Swansea call centre on the same day, usually within the space of a few hours and with each successive phone call being “cleverly designed to build the victims’ trust and reinforce the impression that the victim had a valid PPI claim”. Having given their credit card details the victim would often get a final call just to confirm that their payment had gone through, and to say their claim was now commencing.
The court heard that to allay any concerns about the company the victims were frequently told the company was “regulated”, “fully regulated” or “government regulated”, and they were directed to the Companies House website to show the firm was registered on a “government website”. If a victim chose to look at the Synergy website they would find fake customer testimonials, such as the one purporting to be from a “Mr Jones in Devon” which read “Synergy Express Audits were fast and reliable … and also passed my information onto their affiliate company to handle my PPI and package bank account fee. This was mis-sold to me and I got my refund in less than 12 weeks”. The court heard no evidence of a Mr Jones from Devon having got a refund was ever found in the company records.
It was complaints from legitimate PPI reclaim companies about the conduct of HES Synergy that led the Ministry of Justice to launch an investigation into its operations in September 2015. The extent and sophistication of the fraud was revealed after search warrants were executed at the company’s offices on Swansea Enterprise Park in the following January.
The court heard that by the time of the raids the business had already stopped trading but this was not due to an attack of conscience or morals on the part of the scammers but was simply because so many unhappy consumers had used the chargeback procedure on their credit cards to try to get their payments back that the firm was struggling to get payment providers willing to work with them.
Trading standards officers recovered hundreds of thousands of recorded phone calls between staff and victims and potential victims, as well as the call centre scripts with the misleading and false statements which staff had been using.
The prosecutor said while the fraud was orchestrated from those at the top of the business, anyone involved in the PPI calls for any length of time would have realised that lying was “rampant, essential, and expected” and in the call centre “lying to customers was the norm”.
Six defendants, including Morgan, were convicted at trial in January this year but the trial could not be reported at that time due to reporting restrictions ahead of a second trial of their co-accused. All the remaining defendants subsequently pleaded guilty.
Judge Huw Rees said the call centre operation had been a “deliberate, planned fraud carefully structured and fraudulent from its inception” and at the heart of the conspiracy lay the defendants’ greed which “overrode any compassion or concern” for the victims. He told the defendants they had routinely misled people about the prospect of PPI refunds and peddled “blatant lies” on the phones, noting the lies “tripped easily off the tongue” for them. He said not only had the fraud affected individual victims who had been left with a feeling of “violation” but had affected the wider public’s respect and confidence in the industry.
Nine admitted conspiracy to commit fraud, six – including Morgan – were convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud following a trial and one admitted money laundering.
Morgan, 38, of Lamberts Road, SA1 development, Swansea, was part of the “Noddle team” fraudulently accessing people’s credit reports. He was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 12 months with a rehabilitation course and a mental health treatment requirement.
Tom Scapens, for Morgan, said the defendant was a father to four children and, given his lack of convictions before or after his involvement in the call centre, the court “might think he is not a man in need of rehabilitation”.
Morgan has been a prominent far right activist in Wales for several years. In 2021 YouTube removed two channels jointly run by him and fellow far-right activist Stan Robinson because of their racist content. Welsh politicians and race equality groups condemned the Voice of Wales channel for airing interviews with The Proud Boys, an American far-right group that has been outlawed in Canada, and controversial figures such as former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.
The YouTube account was terminated for breaching the platform’s terms of service. A second YouTube account, also set up by the men, was also removed.
Morgan usually styles himself “Dan Morgan” and did so when he stood in Swansea East at the Senedd election in 2021, coming fifth with 567 votes (3%). But in the South Wales West regional list section of the ballot, his full name – Daniel Raymond Morgan – appeared as Ukip’s number two candidate. Ukip came sixth with 2809 votes (2%).
We asked UKIP whether it would be taking any action against Morgan following his conviction, but received no response.
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