A nationwide investigation conducted by Croydon Council Trading Standards has resulted in the successful prosecution of six fraudsters who scammed £400,700 out of vulnerable homeowners.
Between March 2016 and June 2017 the criminals pressured 19 victims – aged from 60 to 92 – into having roof repair work carried out on their properties. The overpriced work was either unnecessary, carried out to a poor standard, or not carried out at all.
After receiving payment from their victims, the fraudsters used a network of contacts to launder the money via different bank accounts.
One victim in his seventies paid £12,250 for repairs on his property in south-east London; an expert witness subsequently found that the work was worth just £28.
Another victim in his eighties paid £39,560 for roofing work worth £650, while a man in his nineties paid £20,250 for work which a chartered surveyor found had no value at all.
Croydon Council Trading Standards became alerted to the scams after discovering a series of doorstep frauds in South Norwood, and finding that a woman in Greenwich had paid £22,000 to a company they were investigating. This led to a series of arrests and the examination of mobile phone and bank records by trading standards officers.
At Croydon Crown Court on September 10, six people were either jailed, given suspended sentences, ordered to pay financial penalties or given community orders after convictions at earlier hearings.
Ashlie Davis (31) 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) was jailed for two years and four months for the same offence. He was also ordered to pay a £3,255 confiscation order to compensate two victims.
Jake Hemsworth (30) was also found guilty of the same offence and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work and pay £450 compensation to a victim.
Terence Davis (31) 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.
For a similar offence Katie Amos (39) 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.
Four more people are due to be sentenced at a later date.
Councillor Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “These were sickening crimes that preyed on older and vulnerable people and left them thousands of pounds out of pocket. Thanks to a superb investigation led by our trading standards team alongside national colleagues, these criminals have been stopped from defrauding even more people.”
Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, which supported the council on the case, said: “Doorstep criminals are continuing to operate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. I hope these sentences send a strong signal that crime does not pay.”