A ‘SLICK and ruthless fraudster’ targeted pensioners across the Midlands, fleecing them out of tens of thousands of pounds for boilers and solar panels he failed to install.
But callous Hassan Qaumi was finally brought to justice following an investigation launched after an elderly victim from Rugby contacted Warwickshire Trading Standards department.
It was found Qaumi had conned pensioners from Rugby, Coventry, Nuneaton, Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, and Halesowen out of a total of £35,600 a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Qaumi (28) of Lynton Drive, Wolverhampton, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to fraudulent trading, 15 offences of fraud and three thefts.
Prosecutor Ben Mills said Qaumi was the sole director and shareholder of H Q Energy Ltd which supplied and installed solar panels, boilers and central heating systems.
But over a 16-month period between June 2016 and October 2017 he deliberately targeted and systematically fleeced customers aged between 60 and 91 who he believed to be ‘easy prey.’
And at his home officers found lists of other potential customers in Cannock and Lichfield, with addresses and dates of birth showing all of them to be over 60.
Mr Mills, prosecuting on behalf of Warwickshire Trading Standards, said the fraudulent trading offence related to Qaumi using the company account to pay for personal items totalling just over £79,000.
The first victim of his frauds was an 80-year-old woman living in Halesowen, in June 2015 when he carried out work to her solar panel system at a cost of £3,600.
Having gained her confidence, he persuaded her to let him use her phone to transfer £280 from her account for scaffolding which was not needed or erected.
He then got her to pay £1100 for a vortex system which he never fitted, and which in any event should only have cost £250.
Two weeks later he used her phone to transfer £4,400 from her account, then persuaded her to pay £5,240 for additional solar panels which were not installed and a £1,600 ‘registration fee.’
His next victim was a 74-year-old woman in Northfield, Birmingham, who he conned into paying £3,259 for a battery storage system which he never fitted.
Qaumi next persuaded a retired Rugby man that the roof insulation company which was going to do some work on his home was ‘a rip-off’ and helped him to cancel the contract.
In December 2016 he got him to pay £4,480 for a battery storage system, and before the pensioner realised he was being taken for a ride, tricked him into forking out a further £3,500 for two solar panels and a boiler – and none of them materialised.
After conning him into paying out another £1,600 which he said would be refunded by a Government scheme, Qaumi returned again – but by then Trading Standards had been alerted.
When he was challenged he said he would refund the money, but never did – and the pensioner had paid out so much that he did not have enough in his account to meet direct debits he had.
Qaumi’s oldest victim was a 91-year-old woman living in Sutton Coldfield who he defrauded out of a total of £8,500 for a new boiler and by claiming her central heating system needed to be replaced when in fact there was nothing wrong with it.
Qaumi conned an 84-year-old Nuneaton man into paying a deposit of £840 for a boiler than was never fitted.
And a retired Coventry man shelled out a total of £3,580 for a new boiler, which was not installed, after being told he was entitled to a refund of part of the cost from a Government scheme.
Mr Mills said there had been a number of adjournments to give Qaumi an opportunity to make good a promise that he would pay back all the money he had obtained.
Of that, he had paid back just £4,000 leaving £31,000 outstanding – and a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for an investigation into his finances.
Katy Appleton, defending, said there was a letter from Santander bank to show Qaumi’s brother had been accepted for a mortgage to buy Qaumi’s home, which would raise the money, and Qaumi and his wife would then move in with his mother.
Asking the judge to ‘step back’ and impose a suspended sentence, she said the business had not been fraudulent from the start, and Qaumi was ashamed of what he had done and remorseful.
But jailing Qaumi, Judge Barry Berlin told him: “You were the sole director and shareholder of the company, and you used that company as a vehicle for your deliberate and persistent deceptions on customers.
“You made false statements to your customers which you never had any intention of honouring.
“Your victims were aged from just over 60 to 91, and at your home were lists of potential customers, all of them over 60 years of age, who you sought to target with your smooth patter.
“You plainly targeted elderly and vulnerable people. You are a slick and ruthless fraudster of elderly people.
“I’ve seen in the report of the remorse you express, but that cuts no ice with me,” added the judge, who disqualified Qaumi from taking part in the management of any company for nine years.