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Fraudster sentenced for £1.5million renewable energy and home safety scam

Monday, 17 June 2024

A handcuffed pair of male hands

A fraudster who conned elderly and vulnerable residents out of £1.5million for renewable energy and home safety products has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment alongside a 10-year directorship ban.

Robin MacDonald, aged 45, of Park Row, Bretby, Burton-on-Trent, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation along with charges of fraudulent trading following a five-month trial at Nottingham Crown Court where more than 200 victims gave evidence.

Between 2014 and 2015, MacDonald, repeatedly mis-sold victims products including solar panels and emergency medical buttons through his businesses Sunpower Renewables Ltd and Stirling Technologies Ltd trading as Proshield Alarms.

The defendant was prosecuted following an investigation led by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigations Team East Midlands, hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council, and supported by Derbyshire County Council Trading Standards.

Sunpower Renewables sold renewable energy products to customers and sales representatives often bullied and pressured victims into signing contracts for works which were then completed to a poor standard, with some creating structural instability in homes.

Proshield Alarms promised customers round the clock safety through products which would allegedly alert emergency services in the event that their alarm systems were triggered, with victims being misled through the deliberately false statements made by sales representatives and the marketing brochures.

A second defendant was found not guilty by the jury on the same charges.

Roy Hancher, aged 54, of Light Ash Lane, Coven, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading prior to the trial and was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months and a six-year directorship ban. Nicola Mather, aged 44, of Spindletree Drive, Derby, pleaded guilty to money laundering prior to the trial and was sentenced to one year imprisonment suspended for one year as well as 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Mark Walker, Interim Service Director for Place at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I’d like to thank and recognise all of the victims who came forward and worked with our investigators to bring this case to trial and these individuals to justice.

“These sentences show that the dishonest selling of products will not be tolerated.

“There is a saying that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is and sadly scammers hope to exploit this for their own gain.

“We would always advise residents to be alert to cold calling and to never buy at the door. If residents have any concerns or if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t, and nobody should ever be afraid to close the door.

“Scammers may turn up out of the blue offering something you didn’t think that you needed, but by working together to spot their behaviour we can make sure that they don’t take advantage of friends, loved ones and neighbours.

“If you think you've fallen victim to a rogue trader, you can report this to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline by calling 0808 223 1133. You can also contact them for advice prior to entering into a contract to purchase goods or services.”

Lord Michael Bichard, Chair, National Trading Standards, said: “MacDonald and his associates preyed on and took advantage of vulnerable people – stopping at nothing to get what they wanted.

“Lingering in the homes of their victims for hours, they bullied customers – many of them elderly – into signing contracts at vastly inflated prices for products they didn’t want or need.

“I hope that the sentences handed down today will provide some solace to the victims and serve as a powerful deterrent to anyone hoping to make money from fraudulently selling renewable energy and home safety products.”

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