13th December 2023

Loft insulation scammers jailed

A pair of rogue traders have been brought to book by Herefordshire Trading Standards.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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Targeting of the elderly to sell spray foam loft insulation is the biggest rogue trading scam in the UK

A company director and salesman who ripped off elderly and vulnerable people with a spray foam loft insulation scam have each been jailed for four months following an investigation by Herefordshire Council Trading Standards.

Between January and September 2021 Leon West (42), director of Green Energy Saving Solutions Ltd t/a Sovereign Eco Systems, and salesman James Ellis (48) deceived victims into buying unnecessary and overpriced spray foam loft insulation which made their homes virtually unsaleable.

The company illegally cold-called Telephone Preference Service-registered homeowners offering free loft inspections. Commission-only salesmen then attended the appointments, pretending they were surveyors and making false claims to coerce and mislead their victims. The average age of the seven victims in the case was 82.

In one case Ellis made false claims about energy savings, telling the resident that huge repair bills would be needed if spray foam was not installed quickly. He conned consumers into believing the fees charged were half price, when in fact they far exceeded what a reasonable price should have been.

To qualify for the bogus discounted price, victims were forced to agree to have the installation within the statutory 14-day cooling-off period so their opportunity to cancel was limited. The company also sold a number of victims a wholly unnecessary roof cleaning process involving the spraying onto the tiles of a water proofing product called Properla.

In addition to receiving immediate custodial sentences, both defendants were ordered to pay £17,820 compensation to the victims and a contribution of £18,000 towards prosecution legal costs. The company is in liquidation and so a nominal fine of £2000 was imposed on it.

His Honour Judge Jackson deemed it such a serious case that only immediate custody was appropriate. He praised Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards Service for their work.

Councillor Barry Durkin, Hertfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Roads and Regulatory Services, said: “Targeting of the elderly to sell spray foam loft insulation is the biggest rogue trading scam in the UK. What makes it worse is that you may be unable to sell your home without having it removed at considerable additional cost. Almost every home owner over the age of 55 will receive unsolicited telephone calls trying to scam them into accepting an appointment for a free survey.

“Having the recommended 270mm of mineral wool loft insulation is the most efficient and cost-effective way of insulating your loft. Many retired home owners may still qualify for free top ups. Replacing this with spray foam between the rafters is likely to increase your heating bills, not reduce them as rogue companies falsely claim.

“Our advice is never to deal with any cold callers, either on the phone or at the door.”

 

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