Rogue traders jailed for conning the vulnerable
Posted on: 17 June 2016
Two rogue traders have been jailed for two years at Exeter Crown Court today (Friday 17 June), after conning 17 elderly and vulnerable Devon residents out of £70,000.
Following a prosecution brought by Devon and Somerset Trading Standards, both Bryan Ferren, 38 and Kevin Hogg, 41, of Clifton Court, Clifton Road, Paignton, had pleaded guilty to five offences under the Fraud Act 2006.
During sentencing, Judge Graham Cottle said the men had ‘abused the trust of their customers.’
The court heard that Ferren and Hogg systematically conned the pensioners over a 13-month period between November 2012 and December 2013.
Trading as Unique Drives & Coatings, the men cold-called properties across the county pressuring their vulnerable victims in to driveway repair and resurfacing work.
They charged high prices for poor quality work, offered fraudulent and meaningless guarantees and failed to provide customers with the required paperwork, specifically in relation to their statutory rights as to cancellation of the contracts.
The work was either completed to a poor standard or left unfinished – and once they left the site they become impossible to contact, rarely returning despite repeated requests from their distressed customers.
Before sentencing Judge Graham Cottle told the two men: “In the main your customers were late middle age to very elderly. Your behaviour was unscrupulous with no moral compass. The money charged was well in excess of the proper charges for work not properly carried out. Your customers spent money they could not afford.”
Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with
responsibility for Trading Standards, said: “I am pleased that our trading standards team have stopped these two men ripping off any more of our residents and that they have been sent to prison.
“These two bogus businessmen were not ignorant to their crimes or their legal obligations in relation to consumer protection, and had in fact been reminded by Trading Standards three times by 2013 following concerns raised by the public.
“They were cold, callous and unprincipled individuals who sought out the elderly and frail in order to make money.
“For several of their victims, the money they defrauded from them was part of their life-savings set aside for their old age.”
“Rogue Traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high pressure sales techniques. Their work is often sub-standard or not required at all.
“We will not tolerate such dishonest trading activity in Devon and Somerset, and will continue to do all we can to protect our residents, particularly the most vulnerable, and safeguard the economic interests of legitimate local businesses from such damaging unfair trading practices by taking necessary enforcement action.
“I would encourage everyone to familiarise themselves with their consumer rights before agreeing a contract, and if you are looking for good reputable traders in Devon and Somerset use our Buy With Confidence scheme to find someone we have approved and vetted so you can trust them.
“The work Trading Standards do to protect the people of Devon and Somerset is invaluable and I encourage anyone who suspects they have been conned to come forward.”
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