Churchdown man speaks out after Debt Help Direct boss arrested over fraud and theft
DESIGNER Andy George has spoken out after the boss of his debt management company was arrested on suspicion of fraud and theft.
The 29-year-old, from Churchdown, started getting worried when letters and calls from credit card companies began arriving claiming they had not been getting his usual regular payments.
He had been using debt management firm Debt Help Direct, which had been making payments on his behalf since 2008.
His worry intensified when he could not get through to anyone at the firm for an explanation before finally the company's managing director John Taylor-Groom responded to an e-mail blaming "technical problems".
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But Andy smelled a rat, looked up the man's name online and found he had been arrested on suspicion of pocketing clients' cash.
"It was shocking, but there was also a sense of relief," said Andy, a designer at Gloucestershire Media.
"All my creditors have been really understanding and sympathetic but I wonder if there are people out there who are in a lot more debt than me and don't know about any of this.
"I think I've lost about £450 to £500 to them, but there may be people in a lot worse situations than that.
"I'm fairly lucky, I'm not heavily in debt and I will be able to pay it off by the end of the year, but it's been stressful.
"I'm getting married next year so I've had this going on at the same time as trying to save for that."
Mr Taylor-Groom, 38, was arrested on Wednesday after police raided the company's base in Cheshire.
He has been bailed on suspicion of fraud, theft and possession of class A drugs, after suspected cocaine was found at his £2million home near Macclesfield.
Norman Gardner, deputy manager of Gloucester's Citizens Advice Bureau, urged those in debt to take care when going to third party companies such as Debt Help Direct.
"If people aren't getting any calls from their creditors then they can generally assume it's all going OK but if they are then they really need to be asking questions," he said.
The CAB offers its own debt management service, which doesn't take a fee, he said.