A Bristolian business man has been sentenced to five years in prison for trading monitored burglar alarms that were completely useless.
Daniel Rivers, 34, of Weston-Super-Mare headed up a company called Approved Home Business Group Ltd and ‘preyed’ on vulnerable victims by having cold-callers visit them at home and providing them with false crime statistics. Rivers’ company had been using high-pressure sales tactics to con people into buying the faulty home intruder alarms.
The defendant had even used logos of security industry accreditation bodies on his advertising materials without actually being approved by those organisations.
Rivers made £230,000.00 in just under a year by using these dishonest business tactics.
The jury at Bristol Crown Court found him guilty of 12 charges. Sentencing Judge Michael Longman disqualified Rivers from being a company director for eight years.
Alan Fuller, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court that Rivers was the sole director of the company and therefore the responsibility lay with him. Mr Fuller said: “The company’s sales team would either cold call by telephone or knocking on the door. Having done that they would offer a free monitored alarm.
“But the monitored alarms were not free – and that was just the start of the dishonest practices. Those that agreed were more often than not subjected to lengthy, highly pressurized sales tactics.
“Salesmen made exaggerated claims about the nature and speed of the response and many customers thought security or even the police would be at their homes within minutes after the alarms were activated.”
Rivers’ customers were contracted to pay between £2000 and £4500 for their alarm monitoring services which, at first, were being outsourced at a cost of £30 a year. But soon after the customers’ alarms were not being monitored at all. Several alarm activations did not trigger a response.
When the disgruntled customers tried to contact AHBG Ltd, they discovered that the Weston company had moved premises, leaving absolutely no contact details.
Mr Fuller said some customers were not informed that they were paying 23p every time they set their house alarm, and also when it was deactivated on their return.
The court heard that after AHBG Ltd ceased trading, Rivers formed another company, Homeguard UK, providing driveway and roof cleaning services, where his dishonest business practices continued.
Jean Scantlebury was quoted £2,899 for her alarm in July 2013 and a salesman came round a short time later.
She paid the company a £1,600 deposit and agreed to pay the rest in installments She told the jury she was under the impression that the alarm would be monitored and the Police would be alerted if the alarm was activated. After a power cut in May 2014, she needed to reset the alarm but was unable to contact Rivers’ security firm.
An experienced security alarm fitter came round to look at it and discovered that the alarm was not connected to anyone or being monitored at all.
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