Bogus builder who fooled elderly residents into paying more than £380,000 for unnecessary work is jailed
PUBLISHED: 13:41 11 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:56 11 May 2019
A rogue trader who scammed 11 elderly victims by tricking them into paying for pointless repairs has been jailed.
His victims included pensioners in Redbridge and Bromley.
Patrick Cleere, 65, of Ealing Village, west London was convicted on April 11 of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of converting criminal property following a six-week trial.
He was jailed for nine years on Friday, May 10.
William Cleere, 64, and Timothy Cleere, 39 - both also from west London - previously pleaded guilty to converting criminal property. William was jailed for 32 months. Timothy Cleere was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months and 240 hours of unpaid work.
Inner London Crown Court heard that 11 elderly and vulnerable victims across Waltham Forest, Enfield, Redbridge, Haringey, Bromley and Essex were targeted between April 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016.
In each case, bogus builders pressured the victims to pay money for fraudulent roofing and drainage repairs which one building surveyor described as "totally pointless".
The scam involved the use of a variety of fake company names to target vulnerable householders and created professional looking leaflets. Victims were offered a gutter cleaning service and it was then claimed their roof or drain urgently needed repairing.
The group then demanded increasing amounts of money for work that was either not carried out or done to a poor standard.
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In one case, building repairs described by a building surveyor as "abysmal", for which a victim in Penge paid more than £38,000, were worth just £250.
Over six months April to September 2016, police believe the scammers made at least £388,000.
Officers from Waltham Forest CID launched an investigation in June 2016 after they were made aware of the group's activity by a victim in Chingford.
Following an 18-month joint investigation by the Met and Bromley, Enfield and Essex Trading Standards, police charged the three defendants on 17 November 2017.
The gang opened numerous bank accounts in false names using fraudulent identification documents. Detectives traced the defendants through analysis of payments made by the victims. The group laundered funds through a complex financial network in the UK and Gibraltar.
Following sentencing, Det Con David Saffery, who led the investigation, said: "These criminals ruined the lives of the vulnerable and elderly householders they preyed on.
"After a careful and meticulous joint investigation, the scammers have been brought to justice.
"I would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of criminality to speak to police at the earliest opportunity. We have specialist officers who will investigate and support you."
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: "We are proud to have worked with the Metropolitan Police and other partners on this important investigation, designed to protect our most vulnerable elderly residents from this vicious and callous crime. The conviction demonstrates the value of this type of joint investigation and we congratulate our Trading Standards team, the Metropolitan Police and all the other agencies involved."
Anyone seeking advice or wishing to report an issue to Trading Standards should contact 03454 040506.
For more information and advice on how to protect yourself from fraud and report fraudulent activity, visit the Met police website https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/