Insurance director disqualified after targeting elderly with ‘predatory’ sales calls

Tomus Patrick Arif, who used to direct both Cover Utility Team Limited and Digital Team UK Limited, has been disqualified for 7 years after making 77,000 unsolicited sales calls to elderly and vulnerable individuals.

Related topics:  insurance,  disqualification
Tabitha Lambie | Editorial assistant, Barcadia Media
24th August 2022
Judge's hammer and documents
"His companies were found to have made 77,000 predatory marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations."
- An ICO spokesperson

Prior to disqualification, Arif’s conduct had already been brought into question after an investigation was triggered during Cover Utility Team’s insolvency in March last year.

Investigators uncovered that Cover Utility Team had previously been investigated and fined £160,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after complaints were received that the two companies connected to Arif had targeted elderly and vulnerable people.

Over six months, Arif caused the company to make just under 77,000 unsolicited calls to people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service to avoid nuisance calls.

This was a breach of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, made worse still by Arif’s failure to register with the ICO as a data controller of personal information in a breach of data protection regulations.

Investigators also uncovered customers were often mistreated, complaining they were charged for various home appliance policies they didn’t agree to. Some customers didn’t even own the appliance(s) which had allegedly been insured.

On 25th July 2022, Arif was issued a 7-year disqualification by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy after failing to dispute that he’d allowed Cover Utility Team to breach privacy and electronic communications regulations, as well as data protection regulations.

The disqualification is effective from 17th August 2022 and will prevent Arif from directly, or indirectly, becoming involved in the promotion, formation, or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

Commenting on the case, Elizabeth Pigney, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, has said:

“Tomus Arif’s conduct fell well below what is expected of a director. Not only did he ignore regulations put in place to guard against unsolicited calls but he ruthlessly targeted elderly and vulnerable people to purchase insurance often which they didn’t need.

“Thanks to joint working with the ICO we have removed Tomus Arif from the corporate arena for a substantial amount of time. His 7-year ban should serve as a harsh warning to other rogue directors that we will use the full extent of our powers to curb reckless and harmful behaviour.”

An ICO spokesperson added:

“Unwanted calls are at best a nuisance and in the worst cases can cause real distress. Complaints regarding the mis-selling of white goods insurance are among some of the highest we receive, and we’d encourage people to tell us when they get one.

“The information people provide helps us track down offenders and take action to stop them making further calls, as well as deterring others from doing the same. We also jointly work with other regulators, including The Insolvency Service, to take the appropriate regulatory action against the companies and individuals behind these scams.

“This case was brought as a result of an operation set up to look specifically at White Goods Insurance and companies targeting vulnerable individuals. His companies were found to have made 77,000 predatory marketing calls in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.”

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