A man described by His Honour Judge Berlin as “a slick and ruthless fraudster of elderly people” has been sentenced to four and a half years imprisonment.
Hassan Akhtar Qaumi defrauded elderly and vulnerable people living in Rugby, Nuneaton, Coventry, Birmingham and Worcestershire of almost £36,000.
Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service investigated and prosecuted Mr Qaumi after receiving complaints from consumers across Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
Mr Qaumi (aged 28 of Lynton Avenue, Wolverhampton), the sole director of HQ Energy Ltd, had pleaded guilty to 19 charges of fraud, theft and fraudulent trading at an earlier court hearing.
The Court heard how the fraudster used a list containing the names and addresses of people aged over 60 to ruthlessly target potential victims.
Mr Qaumi called at victims’ homes unexpectedly, claiming they needed new or replacement solar panels (and/or associated equipment), radiators or boilers when in most cases they did not. He would then take payment up front for these products but failed to supply them. He also overcharged some of his victims for products that were of no benefit to them. He used the thousands he stole to fund an extravagant lifestyle of eating out, gambling, clothes shopping and entertainment.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:
“It’s important that criminals who seek to defraud elderly and vulnerable people living in Warwickshire are brought to book.”
“This was a complicated investigation undertaken by expert Trading Standards Officers and I’m delighted that it has been concluded successfully.”
“Warwickshire Trading Standards continues to work hard to prevent crime and protect our residents.”
Describing the effect on two of the victims, HH Judge Berlin said that one elderly lady had been “systematically defrauded” leaving her “in great distress and tears”. Another elderly victim described as being “very vulnerable” had panicked when he realised he could not pay his direct debits.
At Warwick Crown Court on Friday 25 October 2019 Mr Qaumi was handed a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence. He was also disqualified from being a company director for nine years. A further court hearing will be held at a later date to determine whether Mr Qaumi will be ordered to pay back his ill-gotten gains.
In mitigation, Ms Appleby representing Mr Qaumi said that her client was now a father and had been employed for the past 18 months. She further stated that Mr Qaumi had not intended from the outset to defraud elderly people, but things had got out of hand and he ended up being 3 or 4 installations behind. He accepted by is guilty pleas that he had found it easier to sell to elderly people. He was now ashamed and his remorse was genuine. Mr Qaumi had also paid £4,000 towards compensating his victims.
However, HH Judge Berlin said that Mr Qaumi’s “remorse cuts little ice with me” and that it was “borne out of being caught”.