Serious Fraud Office
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Solar energy panel fraudsters sentenced to 30 years

Today six men were sentenced to a total of 30 years’ and 4 months’ imprisonment for a £17m scam which defrauded 1,500 victims including elderly, retired and vulnerable people.

David Diaz, Ludovic Black, Stephen Wilson, Robert Ross, Niall Hastie and Kenneth Reid were convicted by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court in August and were sentenced today by His Honour Judge Warnock. This follows the Serious Fraud Office’s four-year investigation and prosecution into Solar Energy Savings Ltd.

The SFO prosecution set out that the men devised a scam to sell and install solar energy panels which would enable their customers to generate extra income in addition to the Government’s Feed-In Tariff.

However, in reality they manipulated their victims by using deceitful sales techniques, outright lies, and false guarantees of reimbursement to misrepresent the offer and maximise their sales, which ultimately led to victims losing between £10,000 and £20,000 each.

The trial began in April this year, when the scam’s ringleaders, brothers David Diaz and Ludovic Black, were finally caught during a routine police traffic stop in Cheshire, after 7 months on the run.

The sentences were as follows:

  • Ludovic Black: 7 years and 6 months for the fraud offence and a consecutive sentence of 2 months for the bail offence.
  • David Diaz: 6 years and 6 months for the fraud offence and a consecutive sentence of 2 months for the bail offence.
  • Steve Wilson: 4 years and 6 months.
  • Robert Ross: 4 years and 6 months.
  • Niall Hastie: 3 years and 6 months.
  • Kenneth Reid: 3 years and 6 months.

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.”

The SFO thanks the Insolvency Service, Police Scotland, Greater Manchester Police, the Trading Standards Agency, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for their assistance with this investigation.

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.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The SFO opened this investigation in December 2014. The trial began on 9 April 2018 and prosecution completed on 21 June.
  2. The case will now be passed to the SFO’s Proceeds of Crime Team who will examine whether any recovery proceedings are appropriate in this case.

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Channel website: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://www.sfo.gov.uk/2018/10/02/solar-energy-panel-fraudsters-sentenced-to-30-years/

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