A local gardener and handyman has been sentenced to 20 months in jail, suspended for two years, after he defrauded a vulnerable elderly Sheffield resident out of more than £6,000.
Steven Maycock, 35, of Stanley Road, Stocksbridge pleaded guilty to an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 and was sentenced on 21 December at Sheffield Crown Court.
He was also ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work, banned from any contact with the victim and required to do 6 months rehab for his alcohol/drug use.
Maycock was brought to court by Sheffield Council Trading Standards. The court heard that, while trading as a gardener, Maycock befriended the victim and created a position of trust with her over a number of years.
He presented himself as honest and hardworking and offered to carry out building repair work for a fraction of the cost of other builders. Money was handed over in advance but no materials were purchased and no work was completed by Maycock.
Trading Standards were alerted by a PCSO from South Yorkshire Police who had been approached by a taxi driver, concerned that he had driven the victim to the bank many times and each time she had told him she needed money to pay her builder.
Over the course of a few months in early 2018, the investigation revealed that Maycock had defrauded his victim out of more than £6,000, telling her he needed the money for building materials.
He had promised to carry out repairs to the garden building and rebuild the porch on the victim’s house. He told her he had fitted a new security door to her garden building, even giving her a key as reassurance. He put dates in her diary when tradesmen were coming to rebuild her porch and told her part of the garden cottage roof had been repaired. None of this was true.
When questioned by trading standards officers, Maycock changed his story a number of times. He claimed he had purchased building materials and these were stored in a secure lock-up, then claimed he had been assisted by another man who had taken the money until finally admitting that there were no building materials in storage and he had spent the money himself.
The elderly and vulnerable widow trusted Maycock so completely, that when Trading Standards officers exposed his fraud, she found it difficult to accept his wrongdoing.
Sentencing Maycock, his honour Judge Dixon said “This is a terrible offence for your own greed and without any thought to the victim. The victim who had lost her husband and was trying to look after her property calls on you for assistance. £6400 plus more appears to have gone missing. You have conned an old lady and you should be bitterly ashamed. You’ve blown that money on gambling, drugs and alcohol instead of sorting yourself out. The victim feels let down and upset, what you did to her is massive, who can she now trust, she should not be in that situation.”
Councillor Karen McGowan from Sheffield City Council, added: “This was an awful crime against a vulnerable individual and it’s with great thanks to the local community that this predator has been stopped. It is our duty to prevent such offences and we will always act on information and work hard to protect residents from people like Mr Maycock.
“Our Not Born Yesterday Campaign has increased awareness of these types of crime and has seen many offenders brought to justice. Unfortunately these crimes are still too common and I would encourage anyone who suspects or witnesses fraudulent activity, to report it so that we can protect more people in Sheffield from ruthless scammers and rogue traders.”
Advice sheets on how to spot scams and rogue traders are available on the council website.
Over the last 2 years the council has prosecuted numerous cases of doorstep crime and scams with prison sentences of up to 5 years given to offenders. There are a number of others cases going through court and under investigation.
These crimes are a common problem nationally but Trading Standards teams and other agencies share intelligence to help prevent scams growing across the UK.
Keeping in touch with neighbours, especially when they are vulnerable does make it harder for doorstep criminals and rogue traders to start and continue scams. People with concerns or suspicions about a scam, rogue trader or fraudulent business activity can report those concerns to Sheffield Trading Standards at: 0114 2736290 (Sheffield Trading Standards) 03454 040506 (Citizens Advice Helpline)