In an era of tight budgets and fiscal responsibility, it’s a treat for any businessman or businesswoman to be invited to a corporate box at a major sporting event to enjoy some quality corporate hospitality.
Companies spend thousands of pounds to secure the best corporate hospitality packages to events at Silverstone, Twickenham, Wembley and Wimbledon. So you can appreciate the frustration they feel when they’ve found that instead of purchasing Six Nations corporate boxes they’ve been victims of a fraud.
Penningtons Manches is investigating a number of claims against Elite Sports Hospitality which targeted senior business figures with offers of “half price boxes” at sell-out rugby fixtures including the recent England v Wales and England v Ireland games.
Corporate hospitality packages for up to 20 people in a “glass-fronted private box” in the East Stand of the ground, costing up to £12,240 including VAT were promoted by email by the Oxford based company. Each package offered a champagne reception, four-course lunch with fine wines, a complimentary bar and a post-match savoury selection.
Between first approach and payment there were a number of conversations and exchanges of correspondence between Elite Sports Hospitality and their clients, all undertaken in a professional and courteous manner.
Payment was requested by BACS transfer by the start of February, but any client who made a transfer of funds received an email advising them that their “booking will no longer be going ahead” after a “mix-up”. The email asked for bank details so that they could issue a full refund on the package purchased. When clients tried to contact Elite Sports Hospitality their emails bounced and their phone lines were dead.
It is understood that as many as 80 executives have fallen victim to this fraud, paying thousands of pounds for bogus corporate hospitality packages.
The commercial dispute resolution team at Penningtons Manches is leading a group action on behalf of victims of this fraud. Associate Oliver Cooke said: “This type of fraud is pernicious and highly effective. The perfected fraudulent email can be copied and pasted or forwarded repeatedly. Company details and sales language give a veneer of authenticity and reassurance to the unsuspecting victim. Like many such scams it urges speed to avoid missing the cut price bargain by making early payment. We would recommend anyone who has been a victim to seek legal advice urgently."
The fraud was featured in a recent Evening Standard article.