A man who conned elderly homeowners out of more than £122,000 has been jailed for six years following an investigation by West Sussex Trading Standards.

Using Altia-ABM software, a new technology which helps to speed up investigations, Trading Standards was able to give £60,294.64 in compensation to 77 victims.

Sacha Dixey used the business names Future Homes Energy Ltd and Nationwide Home Renewables to offer eco-friendly heating systems to vulnerable people.

He took deposits from his victims – typically £3,500 per person – but then failed to return to install the heating systems and did not answer their calls requesting a refund.

In some cases, Dixey did install the heating systems – telling his victims they would get money back from the government for installing the energy-saving heating equipment. However, he knew his companies were not registered for the Government’s incentive scheme, meaning his customers could not claim a penny in government grants.

Some pensioners were cheated out of £17,000.

Dixey used various false names to return to his original victims and carry out further fraud, including defrauding a 77-year-old blind man twice.

West Sussex County Council Trading Standards Service launched an investigation after receiving almost 100 complaints from members of the public in West Sussex.

Debbie Kennard, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said: “Our Trading Standards service used this new technology to bring this heartless individual to justice. Targeting elderly and vulnerable and conning them out of their life-savings is a despicable crime.

“I hope this sentence will deter others tempted to defraud people in this way.”

Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “We used Altia-ABM software to gather a robust portfolio of evidence against this man. The speed and accuracy of this specialist software allowed us to pinpoint the crucial pieces of evidence which underpinned the prosecution. In this case we were able to show that he had acted with deliberate intent to defraud.”

Dixey pleaded guilty to 31 counts under the Fraud Act, Companies Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations in a prosecution brought by both Trading Standards and Sussex Police.

Ian Watson, CEO of Altia-ABM said: “Investigative teams from Trading Standards, HMRC and police forces nationally and internationally are increasingly relying on investigation software as a key weapon in their fight against crime. Altia-ABM’s technology automates much of the data analysis and transaction matching, allowing trained and experienced investigative staff to home in on the key transactions that prove wrongdoing. It has been estimated that complex investigations would take ten times longer to complete if the data was cross-referenced manually. In addition, Altia-ABM’s software also generates documentation which is accurate enough to stand up in court and withstand close scrutiny.”