A man described by a judge as “a slick and ruthless fraudster of elderly people” has been sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment following a prosecution brought by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Service.
Hassan Akhtar Qaumi defrauded elderly and vulnerable people living in Rugby, Nuneaton, Coventry, Birmingham and Worcestershire of almost £36,000.
Warwickshire Trading Standards investigated and prosecuted Qaumi after receiving complaints from consumers across Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
Qaumi, the sole director of HQ Energy Ltd, had pleaded guilty to 19 charges of fraud, theft and fraudulent trading at an earlier court hearing.
The Court heard how the fraudster used a list containing the names and addresses of people aged over 60 to ruthlessly target potential victims.
Qaumi called at victims’ homes unexpectedly, claiming they needed new or replacement solar panels (and/or associated equipment), radiators or boilers when in most cases they did not. He would then take payment up front for these products but failed to supply them. He also overcharged some of his victims for products that were of no benefit to them. He used the thousands he stole to fund an extravagant lifestyle of eating out, gambling, clothes shopping and entertainment.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “It’s important that criminals who seek to defraud elderly and vulnerable people living in Warwickshire are brought to book.
“This was a complicated investigation undertaken by expert Trading Standards Officers and I’m delighted that it has been concluded successfully. Warwickshire Trading Standards continues to work hard to prevent crime and protect our residents.”
Describing the effect on two of the victims, HH Judge Berlin said that one elderly lady had been “systematically defrauded” leaving her “in great distress and tears”. Another elderly victim described as being “very vulnerable” had panicked when he realised he could not pay his direct debits.