After almost 4 years of delay and stalling, this week one of Australia’s most notorious solar conmen was finally jailed.
“Pastor” Stephen Jones was sentenced to 3 years in jail by a Queensland court this week and will be eligible for parole within 16 months.
Jones has a history of wide ranging offences dating back to 1978 that were exposed in court, but it was his solar scam that finally brought him undone, thanks largely to the persistence and dedication of a Victims support group that just wouldn’t give up. Just under 200 Queenslander families were caught in his scam (with allegations that up to 400 were affected), netting Jones hundreds of thousands of dollars. The money is gone and not a single person got the solar they were promised however, they can take some comfort that finally justice was delivered.
His ploy was simple; advertise incredible prices and a “too good to be true” deal. Take a $ 900 deposit backed by lots of promises, then go into hiding and deliver absolutely nothing.
I’ve followed this case since 2011 and stayed in touch with the work of the support group who morally supported each other and shared facts and figures as the case proceeded. They were also fortunate to have great support from A Current Affair who as you can see from their extensive video library, suffered physical threats, violence and intimidation from Jones on repeated occasions.
Whilst it’s cold comfort to his victims, I congratulate every single one of you for your persistence and dedication.
The lesson in this for the solar industry and regulators is that we need to stay vigilant and retain dogged persistence to weed out people like Jones. Fortunately, they are few and far between but as solar and related technologies boom scammers have a way of weeding their way in and manipulating the system. Many of you send me evidence of potential issues that could tarnish our industries otherwise good reputation and I want to encourage you to continue this work. I take it extremely seriously and carefully catalogue all the information I receive in case it is needed.
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