A pair of rogue traders who tricked their elderly victims into handing over tens of thousands of pounds have been sentenced.
Jamie Anderson, 36, of Grange Lane, Winsford, and Michael Hickey, 33, of Station Road, Winsford, pressured people in their 70s and 80s into paying for alarm systems and energy-efficiency home improvements. They then failed to carry out the work, overcharged for it, or failed to provide refunds following legitimate cancellations.
A prosecution brought by Cheshire West and Chester Council following an investigation by the National Trading Standards North West Regional Investigation Team resulted in a guilty verdict for both men in June 2022.
On 11 November at Chester Crown Court, Anderson was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, and disqualified from being a director for six years after being convicted of seven fraud offences and one trade mark offence. Hickey was given an 18-month Community Order and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work after being convicted of one fraud offence.
Lord Michael Bichard, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “It’s clear from the age of their victims that these defendants deliberately set out to target vulnerable individuals who could be easily manipulated.”
Several victims were bullied into paying for alarm systems by Anderson, who claimed they were at high risk of theft and burglary.
“They worked hard to win their trust, with one victim even indicating he had thought of Anderson as a friend, said Bichard. “Warning their customers about the risk of being burgled, only to steal thousands of pounds from them, is a particularly cruel tactic and I’m delighted that this pair have been brought to justice.
“I congratulate all involved in securing the sentence, which sends a clear message that this type of criminality will not go unpunished.”
The crimes were carried out between January 2015 and October 2017 in the North West and South East of England, and in North Wales. One 83-year-old victim paid £8,160 in two instalments for windows he never received. After making an initial payment of £2,407, a ‘salesman’ visited his home and told him he needed to pay the remaining £5,753 so that the price would not rise.
Another victim, aged 73 and living alone in poor health, paid £4,089 for a new boiler and radiators after Anderson visited his home unexpectedly. Anderson visited the victim a further four times, telling him he needed to pay another £2,961 for the boiler and radiators because the initial payment had not ‘gone through’. No boiler or windows were ever fitted.
A further victim, who was aged 82 and caring for his wife with dementia, was overcharged for an alarm system. He paid £2,000 – more than double the sum legitimate professionals would charge – for a system that was unfit for purpose. To mislead his customers further, Anderson falsely claimed his company, 999 Security Systems Ltd, was employing ‘ex-police officers and fire brigade officers’.
Sales brochures bearing the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) logo were also seized from Anderson’s vehicle following his arrest. His use of the trademark was intended to create consumer trust in 999 Security Systems Ltd, despite an earlier warning from BSIA about the unlawful use of their logo.