Three businessmen, who traded as Electricity Saver Ireland, have been sentenced to 15 months imprisonment suspended for three years for their role in selling and supplying bogus electricity saving devices.
Gary John McGeown, John Paul McGeown and Peter Doran all pleaded guilty on Thirsday, March 16 at Newry Crown Court to conspiring to defraud consumers and businesses.
The trio ran a business which traded as Electricity Saver Ireland and operated from Abbey Street, Armagh.
An investigation involving the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service discovered that the business sold and fitted devices which they claimed would save users up to 25% off their electricity bills.
The business also referred to numerous testimonials from "satisfied customers" which were fictitious.
Forensic testing of the devices by the PSNI and the Trading Standards Service revealed that they did not deliver any savings and that they amounted to little more than pieces of plastic. However, the defendants managed to persuade their customers that there was a "science" behind how the devices worked and that they represented value for money.
The court heard how customers had paid between £200 and £7,500 to have the devices supplied and fitted. Devices were supplied to farmers, bars, restaurants and even nightclubs.
The court heard that the defendants had been reckless in their activities and had failed to carry out any independent tests on the devices which had been manufactured in India. Between 2009 and 2013 the businessmen had turned over £275,000 in sales.
Richard Knipe, Trading Standards Service said: "The laws of physics would have to be rewritten for these devices to have worked in the manner claimed by the defendants. Probably the best way of saving money on your electricity bill still remains to be turning electrical devices off."
Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Economic Crime Unit welcomed the sentencing: "The victims in this case were the loyal customers of Electricity Saver Ireland who handed over their hard-earned money for these fake devices which claimed to reduce electricity bills by 25%. In reality, the devices were found to result in a maximum saving of 0.8% and in some cases actually used 1% more electricity when installed.
"When the police were made aware of concerns about them being sold by Electricity Saver Ireland, we conducted an investigation together with Trading Standards Service. This involved having the devices examined by Forensic Science Northern Ireland as well as a University Professor who found that the equipment did not provide the promised reductions.
"As a result of the joint investigation, the fraudsters pleaded guilty to the offences last year and not only have they received suspended sentences for their crimes, they are also now subject to a Proceeds of Crime Confiscation Investigation aimed at recovering monies from the scam which could be used to compensate their victims."
Anyone who believes they have been affected by this matter can contact the Trading Standards Service’s Consumerline for advice on 0300 123 6262.