Six jailed for over 30 years between them for ‘shamefully’ targeting thousands in solar scam

Image: James Cridland.

Six men found guilty in August of defrauding 1,500 victims out of £17 million in a solar PV sales scam have been sentenced to a total of over 30 years’ imprisonment between them.

David Diaz, Ludovic Black, Stephen Wilson, Robert Ross, Niall Hastie and Kenneth Reid were convicted by a jury at Liverpool Crown Court in August after targeting elderly, retired and vulnerable people.

They were sentenced yesterday following a four-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into Solar Energy Savings, which used the promise of income from the feed-in tariff to sell and install solar panels.

In reality, the group used deceitful sales techniques, lies and false guarantees of reimbursement to misrepresent the offer, ultimately leading victims to lose between £10,000 and £20,000 each.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “These men built predatory schemes to steal thousands from the hard-earned savings of vulnerable people while pretending to offer them a chance to improve their own financial security.”

The ringleaders of the scam, brothers David Diaz and Ludovic Black, were caught during a routine police traffic stop in Cheshire after seven months on the run, allowing the trial to begin in April this year.

The sentences were as follows:

  • Ludovic Black: seven and a half years for the fraud offence and a consecutive sentence of two months for the bail offence.
  • David Diaz: six and a half years for the fraud offence and a consecutive sentence of two months for the bail offence.
  • Steve Wilson: four and a half years.
  • Robert Ross: four and a half years.
  • Niall Hastie: three and a half years.
  • Kenneth Reid: three and a half years.

The SFO has thanked the Insolvency Service, Police Scotland, Greater Manchester Police, the Trading Standards Agency, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for their assistance with this investigation.

Scott Crighton, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “The tactics used by these scam artists were particularly malicious and they shamefully targeted thousands of vulnerable people to secure a vast sum of money to fund their extravagant lifestyles.

“Thanks to the joint work between the Insolvency Service, SFO and several other organisations we have been able to secure substantial sentences for these fraudsters, putting an end to their deceitful activities and protecting many more people from being conned.”