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Gambling syndicate ad offering ‘money back guarantee’ banned

Written by: Emma Lunn
It was the third time the man behind the gambling syndicate, Paul Coleman, had faced action by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The website, featured the headline claims “Welcome to VIP inner circle” followed by a link to “join here”, “enter the world of professional betting…” and “and totally tax-free cash!”

Further text on the website claimed the site offered “a genuine way to make you easy tax-free money” and suggested that an unstable economy means it was “a good time for you to join”.

The website claimed people could make a regular income from the VIP Inner Circle Syndicate and that there was a “100% lifetime money back guarantee” in place.

A customer who had been using the VIP service for four months complained to the ASA that the text was ‘misleading’ after he asked for a refund but failed to receive one from Coleman.

In response, the ASA challenged both the accuracy of the claim and whether the ad was socially irresponsible because it suggested that gambling was an alternative to employment and a way to achieve financial security.

Responding to the regulator, Coleman said he had thought that the complainant had received their refund and that he had “always promptly refunded clients who had requested refunds”.

He claimed to have “satisfied clients” using his service who had been with him “for many years and had no complaints.”

Coleman agreed to remove the guarantee claims from his website, but failed to provide a substantive response to the ASA’s challenge that the ad was socially irresponsible.

The ASA ruled that the ad should no longer appear on the website in its current form.

A statement from the regulator said: “The CAP code stated that marketing communications must not use the word ‘guarantee’ in a way that could cause confusion about a consumer’s rights and that marketers must promptly refund consumers who made valid claims under an advertised money-back guarantee.

“We considered that consumers would understand the claims ‘100% Lifetime Money-Back Guarantee’ and ‘you will see for yourself how using the VIP Inner Circle Service you can make excellent profits now and in the future or..I will give you your money back Guaranteed for Life!’ to mean that they were guaranteed a full refund in the event that they did not make any profit from the gambling syndicate.”

The ASA also stated that the CAP code states that advertisers must not suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security.

Coleman has faced action by the ASA twice before, most recently in June 2020 in relation to which promoted gambling systems and claimed to exploit weaknesses in online casinos. The previous complaint was in 2015 and was in relation to a direct mailing promoting a gambling system.

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