A gang of four men who ran a huge telemarketing scam out of an office in Swansea, which it is claimed brought in over £50,000 a week, have been found guilty of conspiracy to defraud following a four-year investigation by Swansea Trading Standards.
Kyle Lewis, Darren Palmer and David Alford were directors of Renewable Energies Centre Ltd and REC Home Audits, while Jason Cunliff was compliance manager; together they called themselves “The Wolves of Wind Street”.
Swansea Crown Court heard that staff at the company cold-called potential customers – specifically targeting vulnerable pensioners – to offer them “free” boilers under a “Government scheme” with an upfront fee of £299 or £399.
But, of the 1,200 people who paid the fee, only three received boilers. Even then, the three customers, who were all elderly, did not get their boiler free of charge, as they were unwittingly signed up for monthly payments lasting 12 years.
Following a raft of complaints, Swansea Trading Standards raided the REC Home Audits office in 2015 and, once inside, seized damming CCTV footage and thousands of phone recordings revealing the extent of the group’s operation.
Victims were repeatedly reassured that the funding scheme was run by the Government, in a bid to make it appear legitimate. However, in reality consumers needed to be on benefits to qualify for a free boiler — something victims were never told. If customers tried to delay making a decision, callers piled on pressure by claiming they would miss out if they waited because the money would be gone.
In one CCTV clip, a staff member boasted to a colleague: “She thinks I’m going to speak to a director now, to guarantee the funding. She wants the work done September, October. I said the fund will be gone by then. So what I’m going to do is ‘speak to a director’, which I’m not. You are milking them, bullshitting them.”
The court heard how the gang would then lavish their staff with free drinks in pubs and clubs based on Wind Street, Swansea.
The Welsh city was dubbed “the nuisance call capital of the UK” by the Information Commissioner’s Office as far back as 2016, after the regulator took action against six Swansea-based firms.
Rhys Harries, of Swansea Trading Standards, said: “It’s a problem we’ve had to deal with as we’ve had so many problem call centres in Swansea. It’s got to the point now where we’ve just got to take decisive action on these companies to stop it.
“They were using all sorts of techniques to try to manipulate people. They would constantly pressurise people — they would put on pressure and pressure and pressure.”
The group are due to be sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on April 15.
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