A ROGUE loft insulation salesman who massively overcharged a 72-year-old woman while telling her she'd save a fortune on her fuel bills has been spared a prison sentence.

Francis Ballyntyne – who is also known by the surnames Ballantine and Robinson – insisted the woman could save up to 35 per cent if she installed fibre glass loft insulation.

He gave her a 'discounted' price of £3,495.

A chartered surveyor later said the price was three times more than estimated as reasonable.

Ballyntyne, 47 and of Harcourt Road in Bournemouth, has now been given a three-month suspended prison sentence by a judge at Worcester Crown Court after admitting two unfair trading offences.

He was prosecuted by Herefordshire Council's Trading Standards service, which is advising the public to stay wary of unsolicited cold callers and doorstep sellers.

At the time of the offence, Ballyntyne was working as a commission-only salesman for Eco Roof Ltd.

The court heard that Eco Roof Ltd was one of many companies in Bournemouth which used databases of elderly home owners to target them for unnecessary work at excessive prices.

Ballyntyne sold the insulation to a woman from Lyonshall. However, she became suspicious after the work was done the very next day, breaching her legal 14-day cooling off period, and she cancelled her cheque for the balance.

In addition to the suspended prison term, Ballyntyne was ordered to repay the victim the £700 deposit she had paid, as well as £2,000 towards prosecution costs.

Marc Willimont, Herefordshire Council’s acting assistant director for regulatory, environment and waste, said: “We want family, friends and neighbours to remain vigilant and to protect elderly residents who are often the target of such scams.

"I would urge people to never respond to unsolicited telephone calls, mail shots, text messages or door-to-door selling. By responding to this unsolicited contact, victims are likely to be put onto a mailing list and have their information sold to other scammers.

“The way that vulnerable elderly home owners are sold spray foam loft insulation and roof and wall coatings is a scam.

"This particular case demonstrates the aggressive sales technique and price inflation that rogue companies use to scam Herefordshire residents into agreeing to unnecessary or poor quality work.”