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Trading Standards stop 'fraud' call centre in Swansea

Swansea Trading Standards have welcomed the outcome of a long investigation into a Swansea based call centre which potentially prevented millions of pounds being scammed from the public.

operation nemo

The investigation, which started in 2015, has led to four men being sentenced to a total of 153 months at Swansea Crown Court.

The men who all worked at Swansea-based Renewable Energies Centres (REC) Ltd, were all found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the public after conning more than 1,200 customers out of a total £425,000 during a five month period.

The three directors - Darren Palmer - Cwmbath Rd, Morriston, Kyle Lewis - Jersey Quay, Port Talbot and David Alford - Llys Coed, Park Rd, Ynsytawe, were each sentenced to 45 months.

Manager, Jason Cunliffe - Trewyddfa Rd, Morriston, was sentenced to 18 months.

Officers from Swansea Council's Trading Standards raided the business premises of REC Ltd in July 2015 after receiving hundreds of complaints from members of the public.

All the customers were promised a free boiler if they paid a one-off fee for an Energy Performance Certificate which cost £250 - £450.

The investigation established that none of the customers received the promised free boiler and prompted hundreds of calls to the Council's Trading Standards.

Many of the customers who were duped by the company have since been refunded but some signed up for loan agreements for new boilers which will take twelve years to pay off.

Rhys Harries, Swansea Council's Trading Standards Team Leader, welcomed the sentencing. He said: "Many of the people targeted by this company were elderly or vulnerable and were taken advantage of by unscrupulous and deceitful selling techniques.

"This has been a long investigation but fortunately we prevented this company from continuing their operation only five months after they started up. In that time they extracted large sums of money out of the public and I'm convinced that without our intervention they would have continued their dishonest activities, potentially making millions in the process."

Mark Thomas, Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure Management, said: "This investigation has been complex and required a huge amount of effort from our Trading Standards Team to bring this case to a conclusion.

"I'm pleased we have been able to protect the general public, including elderly and vulnerable people from giving out any further money in what was plain and simply a scam.

"Our advice to consumers is always the same - when cold callers contact you offering something for free, more often than not it is not free. Do not give out your financial details to cold callers either over the phone or on the doorstep."

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