Four fraudsters who scammed pensioners across London out of three quarters of a million pounds will spend a total of 18 years in prison following a major investigation conducted by Brent and Harrow Trading Standards.
The defendants, who all worked for Randhawa Roofing Ltd, cold-called and bullied their victims to pay huge sums of money for unnecessary work that was either not carried out or done to a poor standard.
The company, owned by Harpreet Singh Randhawa, came to the attention of Trading Standards in 2017, when two Harrow homeowners, aged 84 and 86, were tricked into making payments totalling £350,000. Officers discovered more victims in Enfield, Haringey and Bromley. Some were left with no roof when they refused demands to pay more money.
The investigation, supported by the National Trading Standards eCrime team, also discovered an international money laundering operation in which the victims’ money was transferred out of the UK to Dubai, China and Singapore.
At Harrow Crown Court on October 11, Harpreet Singh Randhawa, Harinder Singh Arora, Mahmoddun Nobi Siddique, and Vytautas Glinskas were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. In total they were sentenced to 18 years in prison. Siddique, Glinskas and Randhawa were also banned from owning a business for eight years.
Between September 2017 and March 2018, a total of £870,000 was taken from six victims with £150,000 eventually being recovered by the banks.
Multiple dawn raids were executed across England and Wales during May 2018, leading to the arrest of Randhawa and Arora on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. Glinskas was in Lithuania at the time and later interviewed.
Further warrants were executed in London in September 2018 and a fourth defendant, Siddique, was interviewed for his role in the transfer of large sums of the money via various company bank accounts.
Sentencing followed unanimous guilty verdicts after a six-week trial at Harrow Crown Court.
Cllr Varsha Parmar, Harrow Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “These heartless criminals preyed on vulnerable people, bullied them to hand over their life savings and left them with a shoddy roof – or even nothing at all. I cannot imagine the stress and nightmare their despicable actions caused.
“Thanks to the hard work of our trading standards officers, we brought an end to their rogue practices and I hope victims feel a sense of relief that these crooks will be spending time behind bars.”
Simon Legg, Head of Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, said: “This was a sophisticated criminal operation and it is our job to defend residents from unscrupulous and exploitative rogue traders. Their behaviour was motivated by greed, they had no interest in completing the works or cared about the immense stress they caused their victims and families. Cases like this emphasise the importance of not agreeing work with trades people who cold call and to do your research before commencing any work.”
The court heard how a further £400,000 sent to one of the company accounts in January 2018 was in fact payment for a fictitious scam investment bond, leaving a 92-year-old without his life savings, which were intended to pay for his wife’s care. They also heard how Siddique used his banking experience to transfer money out of the UK.
Mobile phones, laptops and diaries recovered from raids provided crucial evidence of the offences along with prosecution witnesses, including building surveyors and a forensic accountant.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “These criminals deliberately preyed on vulnerable consumers to fund their web of organised crimes – in some cases leaving victims without their life savings – and I hope these sentences bring some sense of justice to the victims involved.
“What began as an investigation into local doorstep crime quickly became a more expansive joint initiative between local and national trading standards officers to tackle an international money laundering operation. This was a unique case that demonstrates the effectiveness and contribution of trading standards officers in tackling fraud and organised crime and I would like to thank and congratulate the investigative teams involved for securing these sentences.”