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Six men jailed over £17m solar panels scam that targeted elderly and vulnerable

Defendants spent cash on luxury cars and holidays

Wednesday 03 October 2018 00:59 BST
Victims lost between £10,000 and £20,000 each, said the Serious Fraud Office
Victims lost between £10,000 and £20,000 each, said the Serious Fraud Office (Rex)

Six men have been jailed over a £17m solar panels scam which defrauded 1,500 victims nationwide.

Among those targeted were elderly, retired and vulnerable people who were “manipulated” into buying panels on the false promise that installation costs would be invested and they would get their money back in five years.

However, no monies were invested by the now-defunct Manchester-based firm Solar Energy Savings Ltd and the defendants instead spent the cash on luxury cars and holidays.

Victims were tricked by deceitful sales techniques, outright lies and false guarantees of reimbursement as they lost between £10,000 and £20,000 each, said the Serious Fraud Office.

The scam’s ringleaders, brothers David Diaz, 34, and Ludovic Black, 38, went on the run for seven months and were finally caught during a routine police traffic stop in Cheshire.

Both men and their co-defendants, Robert Ross, 52, Stephen Wilson, 56, Kenneth Reid, 60, and Niall Hastie, 54, were convicted by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court of fraud earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Diaz and Black, both of Glasgow, received jail terms of seven and half years and six and a half years. They each received an extra two months in prison for committing bail offences.

Wilson, of Widnes, Cheshire, and Ross, of Ayr, were each jailed for four and a half years, while Reid and Hastie, both from Glasgow, were sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Following sentencing, 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.”

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