Se­cret Diet Drop scam sis­ters to pay for lies

Fake health tonic pair must hand over £820,000

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID PROC­TOR

TWO con­niv­ing north-east sis­ters who prof­ited to the tune of £2 mil­lion thanks to a bo­gus slim­ming scheme have been or­dered to pay more than £820,000.

He­len Buchan and Carol Wise­man ran an on­line firm called Se­cret Diet Drops and claimed their reme­dies could help weight loss and treat cancer.

Thou­sands bought into the scam be­fore their false ad­ver­tis­ing caught up with them in 2016, when they were fined £9,000 and or­dered to carry out 180 hours of un­paid work.

The Crown Of­fice has pur­sued them un­der Pro­ceeds of Crime leg­is­la­tion and yes­ter­day the sib­lings were or­dered to hand over hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds.

Buchan and Wise­man ap­peared in the dock at Peter­head Sher­iff Court and were hit with two sep­a­rate con­fis­ca­tion or­ders to­talling £826,821.

They have been given six months to come up with the sums and three months to ex­plain to au­thor­i­ties how they will foot the bill.

Two north-east sis­ters who duped thou­sands of slim­mers with fake diet treat­ments have been or­dered to pay back more than £800,000.

He­len Buchan, 52, and Carol Wise­man, 51, from Fraser­burgh, made mil­lions of pounds through their Se­cret Diet Drops busi­ness.

The pair of­fered reme­dies that claimed to help burn fat and even treat cancer but the vic­tims they preyed upon later dis­cov­ered they were worth­less.

The sib­lings were fined £9,000 two years ago but since then the Crown has been pur­su­ing them un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

Af­ter months of ev­i­dence and le­gal ar­gu­ment, Buchan, of Green­bank Grove, and Wise­man, of Burns Place, ap­peared at Peter­head Sher­iff Court yes­ter­day, where they were hit with con­fis­ca­tion or­ders of £528,505.87 and £298,316.24, re­spec­tively.

The sis­ters have been given six months to pay the amounts but must re­turn to court in Fe­bru­ary to de­tail to au­thor­i­ties how they will cough up the cash.

Buchan and Wise­man made more than £2 mil­lion from their diet aids scam, which was con­vinc­ing enough to snare countless vic­tims.

The sis­ters ad­mit­ted sell­ing com­mon ap­ple vine­gar cider and telling peo­ple it would break down fat, kill cancer cells and help with arthri­tis.

They con­fessed to a se­ries of charges un­der con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws that in­cluded mis­lead­ing com­mer­cial prac­tice by a com­pany and a trader en­gag­ing in mis­lead­ing ac­tion.

Buchan and Wise­man were fined in 2016 and

“False claims to en­tice vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers”

both were given 180 hours of un­paid work as a di­rect al­ter­na­tive to jail.

Se­cret Diet Drops was dis­solved by Com­pa­nies House three months af­ter the pair’s pun­ish­ment was handed down.

The Crown’s bid to re­coup the money made by il­licit means has been hit with a string of de­lays.

The case was held up in May this year when Buchan and Wise­man asked for more time to set­tle their ac­counts.

At a hear­ing in Fe­bru­ary, it emerged Buchan had a “sub­stan­tial” amount of her as­sets frozen and that Wise­man had been de­clared bank­rupt.

They have both re­lied on tax­payer-funded le­gal aid as the pro­ceeds of crime case has rum­bled on.

Fis­cal de­pute Gavin Whyte said yes­ter­day: “In re­la­tion to both, they must in­form the Crown and the court in three months how they will sat­isfy the or­der.”

Ad­vo­cate Ross Tag­gart, who was rep­re­sent­ing Buchan and An­drew Or­mis­ton, ad­vo­cate for Wise­man, said they agreed with the sums set out in court. Mr Or­mis­ton said there was “no op­po­si­tion” to the con­fis­ca­tion or­der af­ter Sher­iff Chris­tine McCrossan granted it.

Procu­ra­tor fis­cal for spe­cial­ist case­work Jen­nifer Har­rower said in the wake of the case: “Carol Wise­man and He­len Buchan made false claims to en­tice vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers into pur­chas­ing their prod­ucts.

“In cases such as this, pros­e­cu­tion of a crim­i­nal of­fence does not mean the end of our in­volve­ment.

“We will use the laws avail­able to us to en­sure money ob­tained through crime is con­fis­cated from those who do not de­serve it, and rein­vested into the com­mu­nity.”

GUILTY: He­len Buchan and Carol Wise­man claimed their fake rem­edy could help weight loss and treat cancer

PAY­BACK: He­len Buchan, left, and Carol Wise­man were hit with con­fis­ca­tion or­ders

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