Nathan Betts duped Dyson owners into believing they had to pay for their machines to be serviced.
A “greedy” conman posed as an official Dyson service engineer in a £150,000 scam which left hundreds of victims, including vulnerable pensioners, out of pocket.
Gambling addict Nathan Betts (28) duped householders who owned the well-known brand of vacuum cleaners into believing they had to pay for their machines to be serviced.
He tricked them into having costly and needless ‘repairs’, despite many of the machines still being under their five year warranty, Leicester Crown Court was told.Conman: Nathan Betts at Leicester Crown Court
John Hallissey, prosecuting on behalf of Leicestershire County Council’s trading standards department, said Betts even deliberately damaged some of the vacuum cleaners to justify repairs he dishonestly claimed they needed, such as piercing the machines’ hoses with a screwdriver, or charged for replacement parts that were not provided or not made by Dyson.
The victims, including some in their 80s and 90s, were approached by cold-callers over the phone, falsely purporting to be from Dyson, or to be manufacturer-approved.
Appointments were arranged for Betts, trading as Nathan Dyson Services Limited, to visit.
In fact, he had no connection to the genuine company.
When unsuspecting householders quibbled or were reluctant to pay, he sometimes became threatening and aggressive.
Betts, of The Green, Thringstone, near Coalville, sobbed loudly as he was jailed for three years.
The court heard that after three months of carrying out the con, the county’s trading standards officers warned him about his dishonest activities after receiving complaints. Betts ignored the warning.
He later operated the same fraud after setting up a new firm, NDS Limited, of which he was also the sole director.
He admitted two counts of fraudulent trading, by falsely representing his companies were affiliated with Dyson, between January 2016 and September 2017.
Betts also pleaded guilty to defrauding two elderly householders and one count of engaging in aggressive commercial practice, in October last year.
His girlfriend, Charley Gray (29), of the same address, admitted transferring criminal property, switching £16,829 from the company’s account to her own, on the same day trading standards raided their home, where their office was based.Nathan Betts, with his girlfriend Charley Gray
She was given an eight month jail sentence, suspended for one year, with 120 hours of unpaid work.
Both were disqualified from acting as company directors for five years and were placed on criminal behaviour orders, for five years, banning them from engaging in any business involving vacuum cleaner repairs.
During the search, officers found invoices showing the fraud had earned £43,000, between July and October, 2016.
The total obtained from the scam was estimated at in excess of £150,000.
Betts, who spent much of the cash on gambling and alcohol, and Gray, a mother-of-two, were said to have virtually nothing left.
Betts benefited by £96,513 in card payments alone, but had £370 left, which was confiscated by the court.Nathan Betts, with his girlfriend Charley Gray
Gray’s benefit was £27,687 and the £200 balance in her account was also confiscated.
Victims payments ranged from £14.99 for a Dyson service with additional repair costs being anything up to in excess of £200.
Mr Hallissey told the court: “Betts’ entire business model was based upon deceiving customers into believing they need work done and deceiving them into believing he has actually done that work.
“His two companies were vehicles for his fraud.
“His dishonesty was persistent and unrelenting and in May 2016 he was warned by the county’s trading standards about his conduct.
“Betts had, for a number of years, worked for companies that serviced and repaired Dyson cleaners.
“He was an engineer on the road, being given jobs, and Gray worked in the office for the same business.”
By January 2016 they left and decided to “go it alone” and became involved in fraudulent activity.
Mr Hallissey said: “He has not and never has been employed by Dyson, nor has he been given training by them or permission to work on their behalf.”
Helen Johnson, mitigating for Betts, said: “He recognised he needed to stop the behaviour after the first crown court hearing and he got himself a job with a company sub-contracted to Severn Trent, which doesn’t involve taking money or dealing with clients.
She said he had a one-year-old child with Gray and helped to look after her 11-year-old son.
Miss Johnson said Betts pleaded guilty which avoided complainants coming to court to give evidence.
She said he had been diagnosed with an emotional and an unstable personality disorder, leading to “reckless behaviour” including drinking and gambling which were “ongoing issues.”
“He was desperate for money for gambling,” she said.
Michael Garvey, for Gray, said: “The transfer of money was a panicked reaction.
“She’s expressed remorse and didn’t lead a lavish lifestyle.”
He said she was not a director of Betts’ companies and had “no intention” of ever being a director.
Gary Connors, Leicestershire County Council’s head of regulatory services, said: “We’re pleased to have secured a successful prosecution which follows a lot of hard work and persistence by my officers. We hope the decision of the court serves as a warning to other unscrupulous businesses who are putting at risk the livelihood of legitimate businesses. If anyone has concerns over work carried out by the defendants, or other businesses, they are encouraged to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
A Dyson spokesperson said: “Dyson works closely with trading standards to prevent our owners being mis-sold parts and services.
“We recommend our owners to come to us directly if they had any issues with their machines – we never cold call and our team are clearly distinguished by their uniforms.”Source.