23 Sep 2016

Community Safety and Licensing

Alarm fraudster convicted

A cold calling criminal who conned elderly and vulnerable people out of over £150,000 has been found guilty at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Thursday 22 September) of fraud and for breaching Consumer Protection legislation for his part in a fraudulent home alarm business.

Daniel Jody Rivers aged 34 from Yatton, Somerset, a director of Approved Home Business Group (ABHG) Ltd and also trading as Homeguard UK, was found guilty by the jury at Bristol Crown Court and is due to be sentenced on Friday 14 October. This follows a lengthy investigation by the National Trading Standards Scambuster Team South West, hosted by Bristol City Council.

The investigation revealed that more than 90 alarm systems were installed by ABHG Ltd during 2013 and early 2014 throughout South Wales, Bristol, North Somerset and Devon. On average the victims paid between £2,500 and £3,000 for the system installation.

ABHG Ltd (also known as Approved Security or Approved Home Security) would typically cold call victims at their home, either in person or by phone. Many of the victims were elderly, lived alone and were vulnerable to high pressure sales techniques.

Victims were falsely informed that Rivers’ company was working with the local police and that they were installing alarm systems either free of charge or at a reduced rate for their post code area. Some were even told that they lived in a high volume crime area and without the alarm system installed would be exposed to the risk of crime, or were persuaded to have existing working alarm systems deactivated in order to have a new alarm system fitted by Approved Security.

In almost all cases following installation, faults developed with the alarm systems resulting in the systems becoming inoperable. Victims of this scam then experienced difficulty in contacting anyone from the company. At best they received poor instructions over the phone as to how to remedy the faults and at worst were unable to make any contact at all. In many cases the victims had their systems either removed and replaced, or repaired at their own expense. In a few cases Approved Security have removed the system but did not refund any money.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said: “These criminals knowingly deceived vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds. I hope this conviction sends a clear message that National Trading Standards and our Scambuster teams are working hard to ensure those undertaking this sort of criminal activity are brought to justice.

“I would urge people to think twice before agreeing to purchase products and services from cold callers. Always check references and credentials before paying out any money and if you are in any doubt, contact your local trading standards department or the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.”

Councillor Fi Hance, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards at Bristol City Council, host authority to the South West Scambusters Team, said: “Many of the victims lived alone, were elderly and vulnerable.  The conviction on all charges fully reflects the seriousness and extent of Rivers’ callous exploitation of those poor victims he deliberately targeted. I would like to send my heart-felt thanks and sympathy to those victims coming forward to provide the crucial evidence in Crown Court necessary to secure this conviction.

“I would also like to pass on my compliments to the Scambusters team for such a thorough investigation which has brought about such a successful result.”