Rogue Traders in this feature

l cold calling l equity release l dependence Paying the price Scambusters and West Yorkshire Trading Standards have put paid to two rogue businesses after they scammed pensioners out of thousands of pounds. TS Today reports S The wicked part of this offending was to release equity from the victims home of 40 years, an act which has had a profound impact on the mans life Judge Marson QC windlers and rogue traders can have a devastating impact on their victims lives, robbing them of their life savings and in the worst cases their independence. In a case successfully prosecuted by West Yorkshire Trading Standards and the National Trading Standards Regional Scambuster Team, one pensioner was conned into releasing thousands of pounds in equity from their home for shoddy repair works, while another was forced to leave her home of 50 years and move into a nursing home. Marc Jones and Nathan Jones, both of Wakefield, who operated a home improvement business, Home Improvement Centre, and a mobility aid company, Adjust 4 Life, cold-called customers from call centres in the Wakefield area, pressurising people into unnecessary building work and charging extortionate prices for sub-standard jobs. One 74-year-old man in Huddersfield was repeatedly contacted by telephone and eventually agreed that someone could call in person. When Marc Jones visited, he originally gave a price of 4,000 for damp-proofing a stone terraced house. Afterwards, the victim tried to cancel the work but, instead, a lower price of 2,500 was agreed. In the end, however, the pensioner paid 36,000 for shoddy and unnecessary work to his cellar, repairs to his roof and a new kitchen. The money was obtained after the victim was persuaded to borrow 36,500 through equity release on his home, and by cash. Marc Jones took his victim to the bank to withdraw money on numerous occasions. The man now owes 47,000 and suffers sleepless nights fretting about his actions and how his debt is escalating annually. A surveyor who examined the work deemed it to be unfit for purpose and estimated that the man had been significantly overcharged by about 16,000. Another 81-year-old woman, who lived alone in the Morley area and suffered from Alzheimers disease, was persuaded to have Marc Charles Jones, 52, of Normanton, Wakefield, work done on a cracked lintel in her home trading as Home Improvement Centre and mobility and agreed to some pointing and replacement aids business, Adjust 4 Life, pleaded guilty at an cladding to her garage. earlier hearing to: Against the express wishes of her l One count of fraud by false representation daughter, who wanted to check the work was l Two counts of acting as a company director satisfactory before making payment, Marc while disqualified Jones took the woman to the bank where she l Three counts of contravening the Consumer withdrew 1,500 for the works. He ignored an Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations arrangement to meet the victims daughter at 2008 by doing shoddy and overpriced her mothers home at 5.30pm that afternoon building works and operating an aggressive commercial practice because he had already been paid. l Two counts of operating without a credit licence A chartered architect examined the works while arranging finance for one elderly customer carried out by Marc Jones and found them of Adjust 4 Life, and an equity release for an to be, in the main, excessively overcharged elderly victim of the Home Improvement Centre and inadequate. Only the work on the lintel The second defendant, Nathan Jones, 23, of Walton, was found to be adequate. Following this Wakefield, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to and other similar incidents, the victim has one count of operating without a consumer credit had to give up her home of 50 years and her licence, while being a director of Adjust 4 Life. independence to live in a care home. The case took three years to come to trial after several lengthy adjournments caused by the ill-health of one of the defendants. Judge Geoffrey Marson QC sentenced Marc Jones to a total of three years imprisonment for fraudulent trading and disqualified him from acting as a director for 12 years. He was ordered to pay 10,000 compensation to the elderly victim in Huddersfield. Nathan Jones was sentenced to undertake 80 hours unpaid community service within the next 12 months, and to pay 500 costs, after operating without a consumer credit licence while a director of Adjust 4 Life. In passing sentence, Judge Marson said: The wicked part of this offending was to release equity from the victims home of 40 years, an act which has had a profound impact on the mans life. Judge Marson also referred to the fact that Marc Jones had dishonestly charged VAT, which he was not entitled to do. David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said: This has been a very long and difficult investigation, which yet again demonstrates the value of having the regional Scambuster teams. The individuals involved went to great lengths and used whatever dishonest means they had to defraud their customers, in many cases involving significant amounts of money. This verdict gives a very strong message: conning the public in this manner is simply not acceptable. Officers are making ongoing enquiries into the circumstances of the equity release arrangement. Guilty as charged Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: Doorstep crime continues to blight our communities and leaves many of our most vulnerable citizens scared, scarred and bankrupt. I am pleased to see that these two criminals have been brought to justice and urge people not to respond to cold callers offering work on the doorstep. Our teams are working around the clock to clamp down on doorstep crime. To help our investigations, I urge you to call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 if you suspect a doorstep criminal is operating in your neighbourhood. Credits Published You might also like Edited from a court case originally supplied Tuesday 29 September, 2015 Prize-draw coup July 2015 by Colin Rumford, head of regional investigations, National Trading Standards Regional Scambuster Team. Images: / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar