Gang is guilty of £17m solar panel fraud

Liverpool Crown Court
Liverpool Crown Court

A former Kilsyth man is one of a gang of six who were found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court of running a £17m fraudulent scheme to install solar panels.

David Diaz, who changed his name from Black, moved from Stirling Road to the Manchester area several years ago after selling his luxury home.

Diaz, his brother Ludovic Black and accomplices Stephen Wilson, Robert Ross, Niall Hastie and Kenneth Reid were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by false representation. Gary McVey was acquitted.

Over more than two years, Diaz, Black and the rest of the gang devised a scam to sell and install solar energy panels which would enable their customers to generate extra income in addition to the Government’s Feed-In Tariff.

However, in reality they manipulated 1500 victims by using deceitful sales techniques, outright lies, and false guarantees of reimbursement to misrepresent the offer and maximise their sales.

The fraud encouraged victims to spend significant sums – and in some cases all of their savings - on installing panels while also offering additional cashback schemes which falsely guaranteed that the victims’ costs would be separately and safely invested, insured, and returned to them in full in a number of years, risk-free.

In reality these were blatant lies. No such guarantee existed and no money was ever invested as claimed, leaving the victims out of pocket for between £10,000 and £20,000 and causing particular financial and emotional hardship for the large proportion who were elderly people on fixed incomes.

Instead of reinvesting the funds as promised, the money was transferred between Solar Energy Savings and other connected companies to misdirect law enforcement, prolong the scam and aggressively pursue more fraudulent sales through apparently separate entities – in some cases this was so crudely done it involved manually crossing out company names on certificates.

The defendants’ bank accounts also showed that they had paid themselves £1.9m from the companies and were enjoying extravagant lifestyles.

This included driving Lamborghini and Porsche sports cars, paying for expensive cosmetic surgery and taking private jet flights to Switzerland and Italy.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the Series 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.

This verdict is the result of four years’ hard work by our case team to ensure that these men will answer for their crime.”

The men will be sentenced on October 1.