A conman jailed in 2013 for duping the elderly out of thousands of pounds has resurfaced with a new money-making venture, the BBC can reveal.
Carl Mould, 52, from Nottingham, has been posing as voice actor Edward C Harwell, offering to help people make money from audiobook narration.
It is estimated he has taken £100,000 in 18 months from dozens of customers, one of whom was left feeling “a fool”.
When confronted, Mould said he had not done anything wrong.
His company Sun King Media, which was based at the Custard Factory arts complex in Birmingham, says it provides “related vocational training inspired by our continued success in global media”, and claims to be “recognised by the market leaders as key account openers in a subscription based book sharing programme worth over £10m”.
During a secretly-filmed voice assessment session, Mould said he was affiliated with Audible, Amazon’s audiobook company, and has told people he can help them become narrators.
He has targeted actors, many retired former professionals, through their listings on casting websites, always with the same sales pitch, telling them they are perfect for voiceover work and could earn thousands.
Flattered by the approach and his assessment of their talent, many were persuaded to hand over cash in order to make it happen. The 30 victims the BBC has traced have handed Mould an average of £2,000 each.
These customers say all they received were poor quality recordings, uploaded to free-to-use websites and a microphone and home recording studio which was a wooden box, padded with foam.
David Taylor should know a conman when he sees one – he met many during his 35-year career in the prison service.
For 20 years he was a governor, including at HMP Gartree in Leicestershire and HMP Manchester.
When he retired in 2013, he returned to his first love of acting.
“I joined a few agencies to get some extras jobs on films and TV as well as to try and break into the voiceover industry.
Speaking about Mould, he said: “He is a character who exudes confidence and talks to you and convinces you that these things he’s telling you are quite genuine.
“He showed me invoices, made out to himself, or Ed C Harwell, for £10,000 a month for the recording he had done from Amazon Books.
Mr Taylor did not get any work after giving Mould £1,500 and initially took that to be just another performing arts rejection.
“When something doesn’t come of anything, you just put it down to experience. This was something slightly different because it was a big outlay.
“Given my background, I feel as if I should have been slightly more wary. And that’s the bit I’m really ashamed of, that I should’ve seen through it – I just feel a fool.
“I’m sure that most of the victims of his cons thought that he was an absolutely charming fella; that’s why he’s so good at it I suppose.”
Audible, part of the Amazon Group, said in a statement: “Audible is proud of its longstanding connection to the creative community and narrators are at the heart of Audible’s work.
“We take this misrepresentation of us and our work very seriously. Our lawyers are contacting Sun King Media.”
Ian Bayes, Midlands organiser for actors’ union Equity, said it had received a number of complaints from members about Edward C Harwell and Sun King Media.
“These [complaints] have been passed on to our legal department which is currently investigating those claims.
“We always advise our members to contact the union if they are offered work but before that work materialises, they are asked to pay an upfront fee.”
The BBC understands Mould has since left his offices at the Custard Factory, which says it terminated his lease after his activities were brought to its attention.
Two decades of dishonesty
- 2001 – Carl Mould was sentenced to three years in prison by Nottingham Crown Court for nine counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception. A widow in her 80s was conned out of £30,000 of her life savings for poor building work on her bungalow in Carlton, Nottingham
- 2008 – Mould’s “Broadcast Support” scam was exposed by BBC Inside Out. He charged dozens of people, many of them pensioners, thousands of pounds for shoddy showreels and poor websites after claiming he could help them to get work in film or on TV
- 2013 – Mould was jailed for five years for his role in a mobility aids scam in which the elderly and infirm were charged over the odds for products that often did not arrive. Mould even claimed to be a doctor at one point and escorted one elderly victim to the bank
After being confronted in Birmingham and asked if he was sorry for taking money from people, Mould said: “I’m not sorry for anything. I have not done anything wrong.”
In a letter, Mould said if anyone was unhappy with the service he had provided, “they could come back and record it again”.
He added: “We refute your claims that we target ‘older’ ‘vulnerable’ or ‘retired’ people as nonsense. We had an opportunity listed on a website which provides a media platform for ‘current working actors’.”
Peter Dickson, one of the UK’s best known voiceover artists and the voice of the X Factor, deemed the recording “appalling value for money”, after being shown the footage.
“This is a skill you need to learn and it takes time and practice. That there is just saddening and sickening.”
The full report can be seen on BBC Inside Out in the East and West Midlands on Monday 5 March at 19:30 and across England on BBC One HD.