The National Trading Standards Scambuster Team East Midlands has welcomed the latest crown court outcome against a criminal who preyed on older and vulnerable people on their own doorsteps.
The specialist team – hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council – works across the region to target organised criminals who set out with the intention of preying on the most vulnerable in our communities across the East Midlands, with victims in both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
David Argyle, 46, from Woodgate Drive, Chellaston, Derby, director of Energysave Midlands Ltd and Aquashield Ltd, was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on December 22 to a suspended sentence for two years of 12 months imprisonment for each of 12 charges, 250 hours community work and disqualified as a company director for seven years.
The organisation pressurised victims into paying extortionate sums of money for work to the exterior walls or roofs of their homes, which was often not required or ineffective. It largely targeted older and vulnerable people who were pressurised to pay large sums from their savings up front, which saw the company fail to return deposits when victims decided to cancel.
In one case a lady – paralysed from the waist down – felt so harassed for payment by the company that she made two trips in her motorised wheelchair over two days to withdraw money from her savings to pay the deposit and the outstanding balance, all before any works had been carried out to her home.
The National Trading Standards Scambuster Team began to investigate after receiving a string of complaints from customers who were concerned about the company’s conduct.
The company’s tactics also included:
- The offer of fictitious and time limited discounts in order to induce a complainant to enter into a contract
- Falsely claiming that a signed cheque, paid as a potential deposit against a seven day ‘cooling off period,’ would not be cashed immediately
- Commencing works before the expiration of the contractually agreed ‘cooling off period’, precluding the customer from cancelling the contract as otherwise permitted under the terms of that agreement
- Ignoring complaints and requests for redress and assistance once problems arose following the completion of works
Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, Committee Chairman for Community Safety at Nottinghamshire County Council, said:
“We welcome this outcome. Our team acted after receiving complaints from members of the public who were concerned about the high pressure and coercive actions of this company. We are here to protect the most vulnerable in our society and this organisation was deliberately targeting these sorts of people. This is the second type of this crime we have recently prosecuted and should be a clear warning to criminals we will not tolerate such actions. This result will help not only deter similar practices but hopefully encourage anyone else who feels they are being pressured in the same way to come forward and report the matter to Nottinghamshire County Council so we can investigate.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“Doorstep criminals continue to blight our neighbourhoods and leave many of our most vulnerable citizens scared, scarred and bankrupt. I am pleased to see this criminal has been brought to justice and urge people not to respond to cold callers offering work on the doorstep. Our teams are working tirelessly to clamp down on doorstep crime – to help our investigations I urge you to call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 if you suspect a doorstep criminal is operating in your neighbourhood.”
Argyle entered guilty pleas related to ten offences of Engaging in an Unfair Commercial Practice, contrary to Regulation 8 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, between May 2012 and February 2014. These relate to engaging in commercial practice which materially distorts the economic behaviour of the average customer.
He also entered guilty pleas related to two offences of Engaging in an Unfair Commercial Practice, contrary to Regulation 11 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, over the same period.
These relate to engaging in an aggressive commercial practice likely to significantly impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct in relation to a product by the use of coercion, harassment or undue influence – including the timings of payment for goods.
For more information about this case or others contact the regional Scambuster office hosted at Nottinghamshire County Council through Simon Redfern on 0115 9773791 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more general enquiries regarding National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
National Trading Standards funds the Scambuster Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
1.Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
2.North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
3.Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
4.Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
5.Tri Region Scambusters (TRS), on behalf of Trading Standards South East Ltd (TSSEL), East of England Trading Standards Association (EETSA) and London Trading Standards Association (LoTSA)
6.Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
7.Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
8.Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.
For more information visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk