In the Media

Victims of energy-saving scam targeted a second time

PUBLISHED March 7, 2012

Bogus callers offer energy-saving devices which put buyers at risk of electrocution ? and then call again in compensation scam

Victims who fell prey to telephone fraudsters selling bogus energy saving devices are being targeted again by the same people purporting to offer compensation.

The Trading Standards Institute revealed in December 2011 that older people were being targeted by rogue telephone salespeople selling electric plug-in gadgets for ?99 which they claimed could save up to 40% on energy bills. Trading standards tested the devices and found they failed to reduce energy consumption and put buyers at risk of fire or electrocution.

Trading Standards is now warning that the same people are being cold-called a second time by bogus "claims management companies", offering to procure up to ?3,000 in compensation in return for an initial outlay of ?300.

The representative of the company tells the consumer the energy savings device they bought is unsafe and they have a cheque of up to ?3,000 in compensation for them. The consumer is instructed to purchase a Ukash voucher for approximately ?300 to cover administration fees, and to call the claims management company back with the voucher code.

But victims who have purchased the voucher have failed to receive their compensation cheque.

Sue Jones from Westminster Council's Trading Standards said: "Just like with the first scam where consumers are cold-called to buy the energy savings device, the caller appears very credible and has a lot of information about the person they are calling.

"Victims have told us the caller claims to be working in conjunction with the 'Fair Trading people' and in some instances even names the company that originally sold them the device," she said.

The claims management company gives Park Royal, London NW10 as its address ? but these premises are vacant.

Trading standards says the original scam is also continuing ? it is still receiving reports of fraudsters selling the energy saving plug-in devices using a new name, ITS Development, supposedly based in Broadwick Street, London W1. The occupant of these premises, however, has no connection with the scam.

Jones said: "We want to remind consumers that these devices we are investigating don't in fact offer any energy savings ? it is a complete fraud."

Ron Gainsford, the Trading Standards Institute's chief executive, said: "We are very concerned about the way these criminals are now targeting their past victims, taking advantage of the publicity given to their original scam, while continuing to lure in cash-strapped consumers with their promise of energy savings.

"We'd urge consumers not to hand over money to anyone who asks for an upfront payment before awarding compensation ? this is a classic scam scenario used by criminals in different guises; they dangle a carrot to obtain some money from the consumer and then vanish. Genuine companies would never ask for money up front before handing over compensation."

Trading standards urges anyone who has been contacted in connection with either the original energy saving device scam or the fraudulent offer of compensation to contact their local trading standards officers. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds