Six men have been jailed after scamming Lincolnshire pensioners out of thousands of pounds.
The scam saw gang members ruthlessly deceive older and vulnerable people on their own doorsteps, pressurising them into paying extortionate prices for shoddy and unnecessary building work on their properties.
The gang members received the following sentences:
· Tyrone St John Beard, 46, of Marnham Road, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, received six and a half years imprisonment.
· Marcus Reading, 27, of Marnham Road, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, received four and a half years imprisonment.
· Simon Davies, 24, of Ash Vale, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, received 18 months imprisonment.
· Michael Sean Sumner, 28, of Peel Avenue, Tuxford, Nottinghamshire, received 18 months imprisonment.
· Christopher Russell, 28, of Rowan Drive, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, received 18 months imprisonment.
· Mohammed Zulbair Ditta, 42, of Hawes Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, received three years imprisonment.
The investigation was originally launched by Kirsty Herbertson, senior trading standards officer at Lincolnshire County Council, following complaints from elderly residents in the county.
She said: “When we started receiving these complaints, the size and scale of the investigation quickly became apparent. It was quite clear that this was a huge project and as such, we referred it to the Trading Standards East Midlands “Scambusters” Team.
“The team then lead a two year investigation into this group of conmen. They had been targeting hundreds of elderly, frail or vulnerable people to agree to improvements to their driveway or roof coatings. Complaints were received from across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire.
“The gang, who used a variety of company names including Tileshield, Tileshield Coatings, Weatherproof and Nationwide Roof Coatings Yorkshire Ltd, scammed the victims out of around £228,000, although this figure is likely to be higher as it is recognised that there are many more victims involved.”
A victim, who does not wish to be identified, used the company to clean her roof and add a protective seal to prevent moss growth. She was shown a video before the work was carried out that indicated plastic sheeting would be used to protect her garden whilst the pressure cleaning took place.
She said: “The salesman who knocked on my door was suited and booted and had an official looking van. We also researched the company’s website and it all looked very reputable but we were very wrong.
“They did not protect my garden or my neighbour’s and we were both left with horrible black slurry on most of our plants, which killed them.
“We believe we only had one coat of protective paint added to our roof and a lot of that was splattered on our drive and fencing.
“These were real cowboys and they clearly targeted the old and vulnerable. They are utterly despicable.”
Ms Herbertson added: “With the weather getting warmer, more and more people are starting to tidy up their gardens, driveways and considering getting their roof tiles cleaned. This provides plenty of opportunities for dodgy dealers to con residents into buying their services, whether this be mowing lawns, resurfacing driveways or creating pathways, amongst others. Please stick to three golden rules:
· Get at least three written quotes to compare.
· Use reputable companies that have been recommended by friends or family, are part of an approved trader scheme, or where you’ve seen examples of their work first-hand.
· Keep in control and don’t feel pressured. If in doubt, just say “no”.
“If you suspect a rogue doorstep trader in your neighbourhood, contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or call the Police on 101. In an emergency situation, always call 999.”