A cold-calling company based in Swansea has been caught on CCTV pressurising elderly victims into buying boilers that didn’t exist.
Renewable Energy Centre Ltd, offered victims a free boiler under what they said was a government scheme, all people had to do was pay a one-off upfront fee of either £299 or £399.
The company managed to con 1,200 people into paying this fee, but only three households ever received their new boilers. The three elderly victims who did receive their new boiler, were actually unknowingly signed up for monthly repayments lasting 12 months.
A four year investigation was carried out by Trading Standards, after customers complained. Trading Standards discovered that the four fraudsters were raking in around £50,000 a week from their scam and were spending £5,000 a week on nights out for them and their team.
In 2015, Swansea Trading Standards conducted a raid on Renewable Energy Centre Ltd and ceased CCTV footage which revealed the heartless actions of the company, who mainly targeted elderly victims. Victims were repeatedly reassured that the funding was from a government backed scheme, which made the scam appear legitimate. What they failed to tell customers, was that in order to qualify for a free boiler you had to meet certain requirements, like being in receipt of benefits. If customers questioned the caller or refused to take up the deal, the caller would pile on the pressure by claiming they would miss out if they waited because the government had a pot of money which would soon run out.
In one CCTV clip, a staff member boasted to a colleague: “She thinks I’m going to speak to a director now, to guarantee the funding. She wants the work done September, October. I said the fund will be gone by then. So what I’m going to do is ‘speak to a director’, which I’m not. You are milking them, bullshitting them.”
Rhys Harries, of Swansea Trading Standards, said: “It’s a problem we’ve had to deal with as we’ve had so many problem call centres in Swansea. It’s got to the point now where we’ve just got to take decisive action on these companies to stop it. They were using all sorts of techniques to try to manipulate people. They would constantly pressurise people — they would put on pressure and pressure and pressure.”
The company’s three directors and compliance manager have been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and are due to be sentenced in a week’s time at Swansea Crown Court.