Issued By
North Yorkshire County Council

WONDER DIET PAIR JAILED


A MAN AN
D WOMAN
who bought multi-vitamin tablets and then re-packaged them and sold them on as 'a wonder diet pill' are both now serving jail sentences after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud at Teesside Crown Court.

Following a national investigation by North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards Service Madjide Khalik, 40, and Marcella Hynes, 33, made more than £300,000 through the scam after conning more than 1,600 clients.

The pair established a number of companies based in London including Regional Health and Diet Centre Ltd and South West Diet Centre Ltd. They also set up another company, Debt Enforcement Agency Ltd to pressurise their unfortunate victims into paying any money owed.

The court was told that through a tele-sales operation people were cold-called and asked if they had a weight problem.

If they said they did, they were then offered a 'wonder diet pill'. Sales staff claimed a guaranteed weight loss of 10lb to 15lb in the first month. The slimming drug which was sold on some occasions for in excess of £150 for 25 tablets was in fact repackaged vitamin pills bought for £2.39.

Trading Standards officers from North Yorkshire County Council took up the investigation after receiving a string of complaints from consumers, some of whom had put on weight while taking the tablets. Officers from North Yorkshire executed search warrants on business premises and home addresses connected to the pair in London.

When the 'diet pills' were sent for analysis by trading standards officers they were found to contain no slimming properties whatsoever. Experts dismissed the claims made for the pills as unbelievable.

Khalik of Hampstead Heath, London, was jailed for a total of a year, after he pleaded guilty to three charges of conspiracy to defraud and two charges of acting in the management of a company after being disqualified for eight years in November 1998.

Hynes of Brixton, was jailed for six months after she admitted three charges of conspiracy to defraud.             MORE……….

 

  Richard Flinton on 01609-766421

Stuart Pudney, head of the county council's trading standards service, said: "I'm very pleased with the outcome of this case. This was a complicated investigation about a number of companies who were based a long way from North Yorkshire, but who targeted this region with this cynical deception.

"People who suffer from weight problems are often anxious to look for anything that will help them. This deception prayed on people's fears and took advantage of some vulnerable individuals. I hope that prison sentences will act as a deterrent to others who are minded to con consumers."