A husband and wife pair of fraudsters have been jailed for operating a bogus home improvement company in Worcestershire following an investigation by the National Trading Standards (NTS) Regional Investigations Team.
Adrian and Rebecca Hillman, along with their associate Philip Farrington, were handed a combined sentence of 111 months at Birmingham Crown Court on August 26 following an eight-week trial. Together with Farrington, the couple were found guilty of 34 offences under the Companies Act 2006, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The trio scammed members of the public into paying for home improvement work which they said would make properties more energy-efficient. Some of the work was never carried out at all. They mis-sold wall and roof coatings, as well as solar panel batteries which they claimed would reduce energy bills – claims that were dismissed by expert witnesses in the trial.
When customers attempted to cancel the work or get their money back, the trio refused to refund their payments – which amounted to around £208,000.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of NTS, said: “This scam affected more than 50 homeowners who were misled by fraudulent claims and paid hard-earned money for overpriced, ineffective or unnecessary home improvement work. These criminals operated in a number of locations across the country and consistently acted dishonestly to deceive their victims, often older people or people in vulnerable situations.”
Several of those targeted by the trio were in their 80s and 90s. The majority of the victims live in the Midlands, although some were from further afield, including one in the Isle of Wight.
Sentencing judge HHJ Mukherjee described Adrian Hillman as “a thoroughly dishonest businessman” who was the driving force of the operation. Hillman, who was already in prison on remand, was sentenced to a total of five years in prison and banned from being a company director for eight years.
HHJ Mukherjee said Rebecca Hillman was directly involved with the scam and had full knowledge of what was happening. She was found guilty of eight offences, jailed for 30 months and banned from being a company director for six years.
Farrington was found guilty of 10 offences, received a 21-month sentence – suspended for two years – and was banned from being a company director for four years.
Energenie Shield UK Ltd, one of the two companies used by the Hillmans and Farrington to carry out their activity, was ordered to pay a fine of £8,000.
A Proceeds of Crime case will now follow the conclusion to the criminal investigation.