A ruthless rogue trader has been brought to justice for scamming and harassing a retired couple for fictitious roof repair work.
William Collins was found guilty last month of defrauding a retired couple out of £2,400 after his case was heard in Sheffield Crown Court. He was sentenced last Friday 18 May 2018.
Collins, aged 49, of Meadowhead Avenue, Sheffield, was found guilty of offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. He received a 12 month custodial sentence for each offence to run concurrently.
In court, it was put forward in mitigation that whilst Mr Collins had a long history of offending this had slowed significantly in recent years.
Whilst trading as Roofix, Mr Collins made a false representation about the need for emergency repair work on the roof of the Sheffield couple’s property and then intimidated, harassed and coerced them into agreeing to pay him cash to carry out the fictitious work.
A representative of Roofix made a cold call at the home of the couple who agreed to pay around £50 to have a missing roof slate repaired.
Mr Collins subsequently ‘upsold’ the contract from £50 to £3,400 by telling the victims that further extensive emergency repair work was required and that scaffolding was needed.
He intimidated the victims into believing their roof was in a dangerous state of repair and this work was urgent. The couple felt they had no option other than to agree to have it done. Luckily, they became concerned about Mr Collins’ behaviour and reported the matter to Sheffield Trading Standards before paying the bill in full.
During the investigation, Sheffield Trading Standards commissioned an expert assessment by an independent Building Surveyor who concluded that the work did not need to be carried out immediately and the victims’ roof presented no immediate danger.
When questioned by Trading Standards officers, Mr Collins chose not to answer any questions and denied any wrongdoing during the five day hearing, where he was found guilty.
Ian Ashmore, Head of Environmental Regulation at Sheffield City Council, said:
Our team follow up on all complaints of doorstep crime, with more than 100 incidents reported across the city since this investigation began. With elderly or vulnerable residents often targeted by doorstep criminals, our priority is to safeguard those at risk and disrupt the trader’s activity. This important work continues with a number of other criminal prosecutions pending.
Last year, Sheffield Council’s Trading Standards officers intervened in more than 30 serious incidents of doorstep crime involving elderly or vulnerable residents and investigated dozens of allegations of rogue trading.
The officers have also been visiting hundreds of people at risk of mail and phone scams. Thousands of door stickers and leaflets have been distributed across the city. A number of other criminal prosecutions are pending. Advice and leaflets on the Not Born Yesterday campaign are available online.
Anyone who has concerns that someone they know may be a victim of scammers or rogue traders should call 03454 040506 or email email@example.com.