Bogus property repairers jailed for ripping off victims
Posted on: 6 July 2016
Two rogue traders who conned vulnerable pensioners out of almost £100,000 have been jailed.
Following a joint investigation by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards and Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards, Hughie Fury, 33, of Gospel Oak Lane, Pathlow and Clayton Foster, 33 of Pathlow Park, Pathlow, Warwickshire were both jailed for two years at Warwick Crown Court.
The pair worked together to defraud elderly residents out of £96,200. Their victims will receive a full refund.
Both Fury and Foster pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy to defraud and were sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on Thursday 30 June 2016.
The Court heard that they systematically conned a Warwickshire householder, at the time in her eighties, over a period of almost four years from 2010 to 2013.
They repeatedly visited her home and charged her grossly excessive sums of money for property repair and maintenance work. Some of the work was completely unnecessary and of no value at all and work was charged for which was not done.
Over the four year period Fury and Foster quoted the householder £94,750 for work that was worth less than £14,000.
Fury and Foster had initially offered to wash her tiled roof, but then claimed that the roofing felt had been in the sunshine too long and needed replacing, for which they charged her £20,000. Next they replaced her garage roof, for which she paid them £16,500.
They visited her twice more over an 11 month period, each time applying a product to the new garage roof which they claimed to be a sealant. They charged her £5,050 for these treatments.
On a subsequent visit they charged her £16,000 for boarding the loft and adding structural support to her roof. Expert evidence showed that Fury and Foster’s boarding was of such poor quality that it needed re-doing. Furthermore, there was no defect in the existing roof – the additional “support” would provide absolutely no benefit.
On their next visit the customer paid £6,500 for the replacement of a section of concrete path – work valued at no more than £650.
Warwickshire Trading Standards were called in by a quick-thinking member of staff at her local building society when the customer asked to withdraw £32,000 to pay for replacement guttering, soffits and fascia. This work was subsequently valued at no more than £2,750.
Meanwhile in 2013 in Paignton, Devon, a pensioner paid Fury and Foster £1,450 for work to his roof. The Court heard that Fury and Foster presented fraudulent business documents which gave the impression that they had a number of branches, to give the impression of reputation and size.
A Financial Investigator at Devon and Somerset Trading Standards took swift action to prevent the withdrawal of the offenders ill gotten gains from a bank, and Warwickshire acted to further restrain their accounts, preventing them from moving any of their proceeds of crime and ensuring the money was available to pay back their victims.
Following their arrest in Devon the case was transferred to Warwickshire.
Fury and Foster pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Warwickshire customer and dishonestly making a false representation to the Devon customer.
In mitigation Mr Suggatt, defence counsel, said: “The defendants have been on restrictive bail, and during that time they have no further complaints have been made to the police or Trading Standards.
“They have changed the way they conduct their business and lives and found employment elsewhere in a different field which does not involve the risk of reoffending. “They are now employed by legitimate businesses.”
The Court heard that in 2009 Hughie Fury was sent to jail for six months by Oxford Crown Court after charging a 90 year-old a vastly excessive sum of £2,600 for work he claimed to have done to her drains. Clayton Foster is of previously good character.
In sentencing Recorder Redgrave QC said: “In my judgment this was a dishonest and cynical course of conduct.”
“Fury and Foster deliberately targeted the elderly and vulnerable by befriending them and pretending to be legitimate local traders. The Buy With Confidence scheme, which Devon and Somerset Trading Standards help to run, is an excellent way to find honest and reliable local traders, support your local economy and avoid inadvertently funding crime. If we work together we can protect our local communities better.”.
“These traders acted despicably. Fortunately we have enthusiastic, skilled and professional officers and partner agencies actively working together to tackle this crime in a cost effective way. It is in everyone’s best interests to support this high priority work to protect our families, friends and neighbours and keep our hard earned cash in the local communities that we serve.”
Posted in: Community | Environment