Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Devon Trading Standards successfully prosecutes stairlift fraudster

This article appeared on the Devon Trading Standards website.

From Adrian Lane, Exeter 383262, April 16, 2007

A PLYMOUTH man has today pleaded guilty to seven charges relating to breaches of the Theft Act, Trade Descriptions Act and Consumer Protection Act, adding to two charges he had already admitted under the Fair Trading Act and Forgery and Counterfeiting Act.

Nigel Warren Roach, 34 years old, from Peverell, was remanded in custody until 11 May for sentencing. The hearing at Plymouth Crown Court came at the end of a long and detailed investigation by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service, assisted by officers from other authorities in the region.

Roach posed as a stairlift repairer/installer and set out to take advantage of the vulnerability of elderly and disabled 'clients'. As a result of his criminal activities, a number of them lost considerable sums of money.

Roach's attention was brought to the notice of Devon Trading Standards in June, 2005, when a complaint was made by an elderly couple who had been deprived of their savings and left stranded without access to all floors in their homes. Further investigations disclosed that Roach had preyed on other victims.

Roach advised that their stairlifts were irreparable and by this and other means, got customers to order expensive and unnecessary replacements which were then not supplied. Customer confidence was gained by various advertisements Roach had placed under the name of Delta Services, a company he created in 2005 while he was an undischarged bankrupt. These adverts showed the logos for two well known, major manufacturers of stairlifts in the UK. Unknown to potential customers, Roach had neither contracts to supply the products, nor permission to use the two trademarks. More importantly, customers never received the new stairlifts they had paid for. They not only lost their money, but he also took away their existing stairlifts.

Peter Greene, Devon County Council's Fair Trading Manager, said: "In a complex web of deception across Wales and the South West, Roach used a variety of false names and addresses and even fabricated a partner, Neil Richards. He then claimed Richards had vanished, blaming him for his business problems. He charged customers VAT when often they were exempt from this payment due to their disabilities. The VAT number he used on his documents was fabricated."

Councillor Brian Berman, Devon County Council's Executive Member for Communities, said: "Most people do not think that if they invite a person into their home they will fall prey to such unethical tactics. Roach cynically preyed on the vulnerable and this court case will put a stop to his deplorable activities. I think it is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of Devon County Council's officers that this man was finally brought to justice. "

Any Devon residents who consider they have been duped by a fraudulent business and require advice should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06 or log onto