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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Estate agent fined for fake sales
'sold' sign (generic)
Trading standards said the company misled customers
An estate agency has admitted putting 'sold' signs outside its own directors' houses in order to boost business.

Romans Estate Agents in Wokingham, Berkshire, confessed to the ploy on Wednesday after it was taken to court by trading standards officers.

The case was prosecuted after a rival firm reported Romans to the council.

Directors Vincent Courtenay and Paul Coles were each fined 300 for each of the three signs outside the houses, while the firm was fined 3,000.

'Clear message'

Hamish Simmonds, chief trading standards official, told BBC News Online it was a serious matter as the firm was misleading people by wrongly claiming to have carried out services.

"The thing to focus on in this case is that the directors instigated it all and it was done at their own properties," he said.

"A clear message has to go out to the industry."

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