Six men have been sentenced to a total of 30 years and 4 months in prison for a scam which defrauded 1,500 elderly and vulnerable people, which netted them £17 Million.
A judge at Liverpool Crown Court has sentenced the six men to more than 30 years combined after a trial by jury found the men guilty. The case was bought after a four year investigation into the company Solar Energy Savings Ltd, by the Serious Fraud Office. The Serious Fraud Office alleged the men concocted a scheme to sell and install solar energy panels promising customers would generate an extra income which was on top of the government’s Feed-In Tariff.
The prosecution alleged that customers lost between £10,000 and £20,000 each because these six men manipulated them. They lied to them about profits and even gave guarantees of reimbursement. They used deceitful sales techniques, and misrepresented the profits to gain sales.
The four year investigation into Solar Energy Savings Ltd, was a joint operation and collaboration between multiple agencies including the Insolvency Service, Greater Manchester Police, Trading Standards and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office said: “These men built predatory schemes to steal thousands from the hard-earned savings of vulnerable people while pretending to offer them a chance to improve their own financial security. I’m extremely proud of the way our team worked hand-in-hand with law enforcement partners to untangle this complex and predatory fraud.”
Scott Crighton, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “The tactics used by these scam artists were particularly malicious and they shamefully targeted thousands of vulnerable people to secure a vast sum of money to fund their extravagant lifestyles. Thanks to the joint work between the Insolvency Service, SFO and several other organisations we have been able to secure substantial sentences for these fraudsters, putting an end to their deceitful activities and protecting many more people from being conned.”
The case will now be looked at by the Serious Fraud Office Proceeds of Crime Team, who will investigate whether any funds can be recuperated from the perpetrators to possibly compensate some of the victims.
What is the Government’s Feed-In Tariff ?
Feed-In Tariffs or FITs is a government scheme designed to encourage people to uptake a range of small scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation technologies. Under FITs, you could be paid for the electricity you generate if you install or have installed an eligible system like solar PV, a wind turbine, hydro or micro CHP technology.
If you are eligible to receive FITs payments you will benefit in three ways:
Generation tariff: your energy supplier will pay you a set rate for each unit (or kWh) of electricity you generate. Once your system has been registered, the tariff levels are guaranteed for the period of the tariff (up to 20 years)
Export tariff: your energy supplier will pay you a further rate for each unit you export back to the electricity grid, so you can sell any electricity you generate but don’t use yourself. At some stage smart meters will be installed to measure what you export, but until then the energy you export is estimated as being 50 per cent (75 per cent for hydro) of the electricity you generate (only systems above 30kWp need to have an export meter fitted, and a domestic system is unlikely to be that big)
Energy bill savings: you will be making savings on your electricity bills because generating electricity to power your appliances means you don’t have to buy as much electricity from your energy supplier. The amount you save will vary depending how much of the electricity you use on site.