Scam warning for homes fitted with solar panels

Money with green flames, wind turbines and electric cars.jpg
Money with green flames, wind turbines and electric cars.jpg

Households with solar panels are at increased risk of being scammed as new figures show a sharp rise in fraudsters tempting victims with energy-saving deals.

Data from Action Fraud, the national fraud database, showed there had been 450 reports in 2022 related to bogus energy rebates, or where fraudsters had referred to solar panels, heat pumps, and other forms of renewable energy – up 50pc from the year before.

The figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request lodged by The Telegraph, showed a high concentration of cases in September and October of last year, around the time the energy price cap was frozen under then Prime Minister Liz Truss.

Households that have already installed solar panels are also being targeted by fraudsters using publicly available information from feed-in tariffs, warned Dr Tim Jones, of Cornwall-based charity Community Energy Plus.

Dr Jones said fraudsters would cold-call homes with panels installed and pressure them into buying batteries, or spray foam insulation, which is “often an unwise step” for most homes.

He added: “People are desperate for help. That’s where those who can take advantage will try and jump in.”

The FoI also showed there were 130 reports of frauds relating to energy in September last year, compared to 40 the month before. Over the last two years, there were 735 reported cases, however, City of London Police warned the scale of the problem could be much worse.

Victims were scammed out of thousands of pounds, according to the data. In one instance, a victim reported a loss of £170,000. Others were defrauded by between £1,000 and £10,000.

Over-60s were shown to be twice as likely to be scammed as those aged 59 and under, accounting for almost half of all cases. Two victims were under 19, it emerged.

Ross Martin, of Barclays, said fraudsters would often call households claiming to be from comparison sites, offering “special deals and discounts that could sometimes seem too good to be true”, pressuring victims to switch immediately in order to obtain their financial details.

He added: “Scammers can also send fake emails appearing to be for a government scheme, urging you to click a link that redirects you to an official-looking website offering support for energy bills.

“Be wary of these, as the personal details you provide could be used by criminals to commit fraud.”

National Energy Action, a charity, said individuals most likely to be targeted by fraudsters were those who were vulnerable in various ways.

Matt Copeland, of the charity, said: “These scams often prey on these most vulnerable of people – adding misery to a situation that is already a disaster for many.”

Have you been scammed? Email tom.haynes@telegraph.co.uk