TSI warns of new twist to the energy saving devices scam
The Trading Standards Institute is urging consumers to be aware of a bogus ‘Claims Management Company’ offering compensation to the victims of the energy savings devices rip-off.
In a new twist to the ongoing fraud, highlighted by the Trading Standards Institute and Westminster Council’s Trading Standards in December 2011, consumers are now reporting being cold called on the telephone with an offer of compensation. The Claims Management Company tells the consumer the energy savings device they bought is dodgy and unsafe and they have a cheque of up to £3,000 in compensation for them.
Sue Jones from Westminster Council’s Trading Standards said: “Just like with the first scam where consumers are cold called to buy the energy savings device, the caller appears very credible and has a lot of information about the person they are calling.
“Victims have told us the caller claims to be working in conjunction with the ‘Fair Trading people’ and in some instances even names the company that originally sold them the device.”
The consumer is instructed to purchase a Ukash voucher of approximately £300 to cover administration fees and to call the Claims Management Company back with the voucher code.
Victims who have purchased the voucher have failed to receive their compensation cheque.
The Claims Management Company gives Park Royal, London NW10 as its address – but these premises are in fact vacant.
The original scam is also continuing; trading standards are still receiving reports of the fraudsters selling the energy saving plug-in devices over the phone to elderly unsuspecting consumers using a new name of ‘ITS Development’ which claims to be in Broadwick Street, London W1. These premises are another virtual office and the occupant there has no connection with the scam.
Sue Jones said: “We want to remind consumers that these devices consumers have been buying from the companies we are investigating don’t in fact offer any energy savings, it is a complete fraud.”
Ron Gainsford, the Trading Standards Institute’s chief executive, said: “We are very concerned about the way these criminals are now targeting their past victims, taking advantage of the publicity given to their original scam, while continuing to lure in cash strapped consumers with their promise of energy savings.
“We’d urge consumers not to hand over money to anyone who asks for an upfront payment before awarding compensation - this is a classic scam scenario used by criminals in different guises; they dangle a carrot to obtain some money from the consumer and then vanish. Genuine companies would never ask for money up front before handing over compensation.”
2 March 2012