By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter
A network of rogue roofers conned thousands of pounds from vulnerable people in South London.
Croydon Council has successfully prosecuted 10 people for duping 19 victims aged between 60 and 92 into paying thousands for unnecessary roof repairs.
Some of the victims were from Croydon while others were from elsewhere in London, the South East and the midlands.
Between March 2016 and June 2017 the fraudsters pressured their victims into expensive roof repairs that were either completely unnecessary, done badly or not done at all.
One victim in his 70s, from Lee, paid £12,250 on 7 March 2016 for roof and windows work that an expert witness later found was worth £28.
While in July 2016, a couple in their 70s from South Norwood were persuaded to agree to roof and guttering work for £14,200 – the actual value was later found to be £1,324.
A neighbour of theirs in his 80s ultimately paid £39,560 for a roof job worth £650.
The final sentencing took place on Wednesday, January 20 at Croydon Crown Court.
The court heard that a common tactic was to tell the victim they had noticed roof damage while doing work for a neighbour. After the money was paid, a network of contacts worked to launder the money via different bank accounts.
The investigation began when a Croydon trading standards officer discovered the South NorwoodNorwood frauds.
He then found a Greenwich woman paid £22,000 to an individual he was already investigating. This led to arrests and an inquiry led by Croydon trading standards officers, with support from National Trading Standards, examining mobile handsets, call data and bank records to show links and evidence trails.
Councillor David Wood, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for communities, safety and resilience, said: “By successfully prosecuting a network of devious con men and women who preyed on the vulnerable they have almost certainly prevented further crimes from happening not just in Croydon but across the country.
“Let this be a warning to other unscrupulous individuals that we will do all we can to tackle these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
And Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “These ten individuals deliberately targeted people in vulnerable situations on their own doorsteps. In many cases they pressurised victims – who were often older people living alone – into work that they didn’t want or need.”
To report suspected doorstep frauds, call Citizens’ Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.
The following 10 people were convicted:
- Steven O’Driscoll, 29, of Hever Road in Edenbridge, Kent, was jailed for four years three months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property.
- Anthony O’Driscoll, 39, of Hever Road in Edenbridge, Kent, sentenced to 18 months, suspended for 18 months and told to pay £30,200 compensation, and carry out 100 hours of unpaid work for conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property.
- Bertie Palmer, 50, of Tilney Road, Dagenham, was jailed for 28 months for charges of converting criminal property.
- Colette Thompson, 32, of Daventry Green, Romford, was sentenced to 26 weeks, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 30 days rehabilitation activity and 100 hours of unpaid work.
- Ashlie Davis, 31, of Chippenham Road, Romford, Essex, was jailed for five years and four months after being convicted of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert and/or transfer criminal property. He was also given a Criminal Behaviour Order to prevent money laundering and given a 20-month concurrent sentence for a similar crime.
- Cody Wright, 27, of Bower Close, Collier Row, Romford, Essex, was jailed for two years and four months for conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert and/or transfer criminal property. He was also ordered to pay a £3,255 confiscation order to compensate two victims.
- Jake Hemsworth, 30, of Hilldene Avenue in Romford, Essex, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months for conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert and/or transfer criminal property. He was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work and pay £450 compensation to a victim.
- Terence Davis, 31, of Cannington Road, Dagenham, Essex, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for four counts of knowingly receiving the proceeds of crime into a bank account. He was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work.
- Katie Amos, aged 39, formerly of North Hill Drive, Romford, Essex, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. She was also sentenced to be electronically tagged and placed on a three-month overnight curfew.
- Cindy Mary Lappin, aged 46, of High Street, Romford, Essex, was given an 18-month Community Order with 180 hours’ unpaid work for acquiring or using proceeds of crime.
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