East Lancashire residents are being urged to beware of rogue traders after a man was jailed for three years and six months for conning pensioners out of more than £180,000.
Simon Fielding (56) of Wardsley Farm, Leagram, Chipping, appeared at Preston Crown Court last week after pleading guilty to eight counts of fraud and six counts of engaging as a trader in an unfair commercial practice contrary to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
Fielding conned an elderly Darwen man out of £147,380 over three years, after lying about work which had never been completed.
He then went on to con a West Yorkshire couple out of more than £30,000 by carrying out inadequate work or completing jobs which didn’t need doing.
Sgt Steve Dundon from Blackburn police said: “Fielding has once again shown that he will not hesitate to prey on the elderly and vulnerable for his own selfish gains.
“In this case, he has gained the trust of the elderly and vulnerable victim and systematically defrauded him out £140,000 for work that was either not necessary, not completed, or carried out to a poor standard.”
Police are urging people to be aware of bogus tradespeople and to be extra vigilant when someone calls unexpectedly at their door. They advise residents to never let anyone in without having seen some identification and also to be confident that the person is who they say they are.
People are also being advised to use the Safe Trader Scheme, operated by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards Service to help people in the county to find reputable local traders for property repairs, home improvements, gardening services, mobility aids and other services around the home.
Traders on the scheme have all committed to fair and honest trading by signing up to a Code of Practice and have agreed to work with Trading Standards should any dispute arise.
Residents can search for a local registered trader via the Safe Trader website www.safetrader.org.uk or by phone on 0303 333 1111. The only information needed is a postcode and the type of trade required and a list of relevant businesses will be produced in an order relevant to the postcode.
If searching via the website, you can compare businesses by checking out their profile pages and the customer reviews they have received.
Sgt Dundon added: “Residents, particularly the elderly and those who live alone, should remain vigilant and ensure that their home is secure at all times.
“Don’t allow anyone without valid identification access to your home and if you’re at all unsure, don’t let them in. Keep the chain on the door whilst talking to them and check with the company that the person is purporting to be from.”
Anyone with concerns should call police on 101 or alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
People should be reminded to always dial 999 in an emergency.