Carbon credit firms preyed on older people

 

Simon Read
Friday 08 November 2013 22:00 GMT
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Carbon credit investment schemes, which targeted the elderly, proved to be mostly hot air
Carbon credit investment schemes, which targeted the elderly, proved to be mostly hot air (AFP/Getty Images)

Firms that "preyed on older people" through carbon credit scams have been closed down. In the last 15 months 19 businesses that persuaded more than 1,500 people to invest £24m in "worthless" carbon credits – or certified emission reductions. (CERs) – have been wound up.

The businesses targeted older people – with most customers ranging between 50 and 85 years old – and used high-pressure sales techniques to encourage then to invest.

Consumer minister Jo Swinson said: "This is a particularly contemptible scam as it not only preyed on older people but also targeted their sincere desire to make ethical investments. Instead investors have been left out of pocket with shares that are either worthless or do not exist."

Investors were promised huge returns by selling carbon credits to corporate giants such as Marks & Spencer. But there was no market for the small amounts they held as companies that trade CERs only do so in high volumes.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK, said: "It is despicable that these companies targeted older people. If something sounds too good to be true then it probably is."

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