Pensioners lose £600,000 in cowboy builder roofing scam

Pensioners lose £600,000 in cowboy builder roofing scam

COWBOY builders lured three pensioners into a £600,000 scam that saw shoddy and unnecessary roof works carried out.

Three victims, aged 79 to 84, were among those overcharged by a trio of men who forced their prey to quickly agree to expensive work.

All victims were told they needed basic low-cost roof work before the rogue traders then switched to doing extensive repairs – including complete roof replacements.

Those preyed upon were an 84-year-old in Colden Common targeted in April 2021, a 71-year-old nearby neighbour in October 2020, and a 79-year-old in Langley in May 2021.

Rogue trader Tommy Lee, 44, of Swift Lane, Bagshot, Surrey was jailed for seven years and ten months after Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards prosecuted him at Winchester Crown Court.

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Accomplice Maurice Cole, 55 of Queen’s Road, Hook, was jailed for five years and two months, while Charlie Bath, 24, of Wyke Avenue, Aldershot, was given a two-year jail term suspended for two years with 250 hours of unpaid work and 10 days probation work.

Trish Burls, Chair of the National Trading Standards Tri-Regional Investigation Team, said: “Luring in their victims with low-cost, basic repairs, this trio of fraudsters deceived homeowners into agreeing to more extensive work, which was completed to a poor standard and carried out quickly before their victims had a chance to change their minds.

“[Around] £600,000 was taken from elderly victims aged 60-89.”

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The defendants all admitted to participating in fraudulent business and money laundering.

Ms Burls added: “Providing investigational and operational support, officers from the National Trading Standards Tri-Regional Investigation Team worked together with colleagues from Hampshire to secure guilty pleas for fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering offences, sending a clear message that fraudulent trading will not be tolerated.”

A Hampshire council spokesperson added: “In all cases, the work escalated from low-cost, basic repairs to substantial roof repairs, often including total roof replacement, delivered to a poor quality.

“Work was carried out without affording the consumers the mandatory 14-day cooling off period, meaning homeowners did not have the opportunity to obtain advice, alternative quotes or to cancel the contract.”

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, executive member for countryside and regulatory services, said: “The individuals sentenced were defrauding property owners who were overcharged for unnecessary roof repairs, and then left to employ legitimate builders to conduct costly repairs.”

Report rogue traders to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline on 0808 223 1133.

The trio were sentenced in early January.