A BUSINESSMAN who duped pensioners out of thousands of pounds has been ordered to hand back the cash.
Martin McGuiness claimed to be selling devices to help cut his victims’ energy bills – but despite accepting their money the fraudster never ordered the equipment.
During a hearing at Preston Crown Court, the 50-year-old was ordered to hand back more than £4,000 stolen from his elderly victims.
The court heard McGuiness, of the Promenade, Blackpool, used to work for a reputable firm installing solar panels and had visited his victims’ homes in the past to install equipment.
But, having left the firm and set up his own business, Greener Home Solutions, he returned and offered to sell them a £1,400 Voltis Home device – without mentioning he was now trading alone.
Each of his four victims – the eldest being 88 – handed cash over to McGuiness on the spot, parting with amounts ranging from £600 to £1,260.
But Trading Standards told the court McGuiness had never ordered or owned any of the devices, and failed to return his customers’ cash.
As well as being ordered to pay back the £4,740 he owes his victims, McGuiness, who had previously pleaded guilty to knowingly or recklessly engaging in an unfair commercial practice which contravened the requirements of professional diligence, was also given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and must pay £500 court costs and complete 200 hours’ unpaid work.
Coun Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “This is an excellent example of our Trading Standards service righting wrongs on behalf of vulnerable consumers.
“We hope this case sends out a clear message that it’s not OK to rip consumers off and expect to get away with it.”