Derbyshire entrepreneur jailed for £10.5m home improvement scam

Jason Rowan

A Derbyshire entrepreneur has been jailed for seven years and disqualified from being a company director for a decade after being found guilty of conning often elderly residents.

Jason Rowan, who set up EnergySave, had been the subject of a BBC Rogue Traders report after it sent an undercover reporter to the company to record secret films.

EnergySave specialised in wall insulation, coating systems, double glazing and conservatories, all aimed at reducing customers’ energy costs. Managing director Rowan began the business three years ago after starting out selling ironing board covers on Ilkeston market.

Between 2014 and 2018, the fraudsters marketed and sold home improvement services via multiple companies, most often selling exterior wall and roof coating products they falsely claimed were “guaranteed” to cure damp and significantly reduce heating bills.

The turnover of the businesses was £10.5m. Initial contact was made with victims from a company call centre. Following the initial cold call, victims were visited by a sales rep in their home, where they were subjected to scare tactics and pressure selling. These included scare tactics about the condition of the customer’s property and the risks of not agreeing to sign a contract.

62 victims were identified, with many reporting feeling pressured into making a decision on the spot for a “today only” so-called bargain, whereas in reality, the price had been grossly inflated. The fraudsters refused to refund customers’ money when they cancelled within their cancellation period.

Rowan’s business partners, Stephen Tomlinson, David Beeson, Christopher Simpson and Philip Eremenko, who were employed through a network of connected businesses and entities, also received prison sentences.

In January 2018, Rowan closed his business following accusations of aggressive selling and targeting elderly or vulnerable people.

At the time, he said: “Following on from the BBC broadcast last year, which forced us to engage with a legal team to clear our reputation, and set the record straight, and due to subsequent events which occurred thereafter, I have taken the very difficult decision to close Energy Save.

“I am a family man, and employed many local people, all of whom meant a lot to me personally and professionally, and this has been one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. The TV broadcast ruined our once great reputation, and many of our staff encountered abuse and bullying as a result of the accusations made.

“I spent thousands trying to clear our name, because I truly feel that we were been misrepresented, and this has unfortunately led to the downfall of the business.”

In January 2017 the firm told that it was ready to create 100 new jobs and break into the West Midlands market.

Lord Michael Bichard, chair, National Trading Standards, said: “Elderly and vulnerable victims were cruelly targeted and pressured into agreeing to buy products they were wrongly assured would save them money on their energy bills.

“I congratulate the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team East Midlands and everyone who supported the investigation for stopping this fraud. These sentences send a strong message that fraudulent techniques will not be tolerated.”