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Fraudster caught after tip-off

UK: The UK’s primary F-gas register REFCOM has praised Cornwall Council for bringing a dishonest heating and air conditioning trader to justice. 

As reported by the Cooling Post on Wednesday (Unregistered installer guilty of fraud), Adrian Miles, trading as Duchy Eco Heating, pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading after being prosecuted at Truro Crown Court for mis-selling heat pumps and taking payment for work he did not carry out. 

REFCOM has now revealed that the company was previously registered before being suspended for failing to undergo a compulsory safe refrigerant handling audit. This was triggered by a tip off from a refrigerant supplier who had grown suspicious of Miles’ apparent lack of technical knowledge. 

According to REFCOM, Miles had been passing off a sub-contractor as a member of staff and immediately removed him from the register. They then contacted Cornwall Trading Standards who had also received 14 customer complaints about Duchy Eco Heating and worked with REFCOM to build a legal case against Miles.  

He was found to have misled customers about the suitability of the heat pump systems he installed in their homes and failed to provide remedial work and servicing under warranty. He had also taken deposits for work he then failed to carry out and had falsely claimed that his business was properly certified. 

“We are delighted to see this case come to a satisfactory conclusion,” commented Graeme Fox, technical director at REFCOM. “The F-gas regulations were introduced to ensure responsible use of environmentally damaging substances and ensure they are only ever handled by properly qualified and registered companies and individuals.  

“This case has perfectly demonstrated how REFCOM will act whenever we are tipped off about anyone flouting the rules.” 

Rachel Davidson, director of certification at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) which oversees REFCOM, said the register’s members had sometimes been frustrated by the apparent lack of enforcement of the F-gas regulations in the past. 

“As well as endangering the public, it puts our members at a commercial disadvantage because unregistered firms like this one get away with not investing in technical and safety training or the systems needed to manage refrigerant gas safely and responsibly,” she said. 

“We are delighted that an example is being made of this company and hope this will make others think again about putting the quality of services and products at risk, endangering lives and property, and undermining the UK’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Related stories:

Unregistered installer guilty of fraud14 December 2022
UK: The owner of a business that falsely claimed to be F-gas certified has been convicted of selling unsuitable heat pumps and taking deposits for work he didn’t do. Read more…

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