Today (Friday 3rd November) at Hull Crown Court Mohammed Usman (age 36) of Highfield Lane, Keighley was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years and ordered to pay £39,752 compensation to his customers and £17,778.59 prosecution costs.
A former company director of Eco Warm Home Improvements Limited, based at Office 3, Burnett Street, Bradford, Usman admitted negligence causing his company to commit offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations between May 2015 and March 2016.
The prosecution followed an investigation by the National Trading Standards Yorkshire & Humber Regional Investigations Team triggered by numerous complaints from former customers of the company, many of whom were elderly.
19 customers who had reported the company to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline gave statements to investigators. They described a variety of unfair trading practices including:
- Customers were cold called by telephone offering a free energy survey when the purpose of the call was to obtain sales
- Customers were told that their windows/glass was not efficient and they would make great savings by changing this when there was no evidence of this statement being true
- Customers were told that there were price reductions because of government subsidies when there was no such subsidy
- Customers were told that the price had been reduced because of a scrappage allowance or scheme when there was no such thing
- Cancellation rights were not complied with and customers did not always receive a full (or any) refund
- Work was sometimes of a poor standard and faults was not rectified.
Usman was arrested in May 2016 and gave a ‘No comment’ interview to investigators.
Councillor Ann Reid, Executive Member with responsibility for Trading Standards at City of York Council, said:
“This prosecution once again reaffirms our position that we will not tolerate any type of fraud, especially when targeting elderly and vulnerable people. I hope that the sentence passed today will act as a deterrent to people thinking about committing an offence and help to reassure victims.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“Mr Usman led consumers to believe his company would save them money but instead he knowingly abused their trust. National Trading Standards is committed to protecting consumers and I hope today’s sentence sends the message that we will not hesitate to bring to justice those who mislead and defraud people.
“Anyone who is concerned about themselves, or others, being the victims of similar criminal activity should contact the Citizens Advice helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
Notes to Editors
For more information about this case contact Rachel Welch, Senior Investigator (NTS) at City of York Council on 01904 551542.
For more general enquiries regarding National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards 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 provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.
National Trading Standards funds Regional Investigations Teams that target rogue trading, doorstep crime and scams, providing support across England and Wales through eight regionally based teams:
- Central England Trading Standards Authorities (CeNTSA)
- North East Trading Standards Authorities (NETSA)
- Trading Standards East Midlands (TSEM)
- Trading Standards North West (TSNW)
- 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)
- Trading Standards Partnership South West (SWERCOTS)
- Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group (YAHTSG) and
- Wales Heads of Trading Standards (WHoTS)
There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland.
For more information, please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk