The warning comes after a trader who scammed a Sheffield couple out of £4,500 was prosecuted at Sheffield Crown Court.

Michael Renshaw, 34, of Crown Street, Chesterfield preyed on people who had already been on the receiving end of dodgy building work by claiming he could repair the problems – despite not having the skills to do the work properly.

Renshaw pleaded guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 Act in Sheffield Magistrates Court on 29 January 2019.

He was sentenced on Thursday 14 March 2019 at Sheffield Crown Court to 250 hours unpaid work, 20 days rehabilitation and ordered to pay the victims £2,000 compensation.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that, during 2017, his victims were already experiencing problems and delays with the building of an extension to their home.

In August 2017 Renshaw was employed by the-then current builder to help move the work on. Knowing that the couple were experiencing difficulties with their builder, he convinced them he would complete the build for £9,000 if he received £4,500 in advance.

Alarmed by the actions of the first builder and desperate to get the work completed, they put their trust in Renshaw and paid him the £4,500, the court heard.

Renshaw knew he had neither the business nor building skills to manage the project. After two days on site and very little work, Renshaw began making a series of excuses and never attended again.  When questioned by trading standards officers he admitted to having no building qualifications or formal training.

Sentencing Renshaw Judge Dixon said he had a chequered history and had got himself in a financial mess. He had offered a number of false promises to vulnerable people, building up their trust and then did nothing at all.

Ian Ashmore, Head of Environmental Protection Service at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is another example of blatant criminal behaviour, commonplace within the rogue trading complaints investigated every week.

“We take these complaints seriously and will not tolerate targeted financial abuse such as this. I hope this outcome provides a warning to others who show no regard for their victims when carrying out fraudulent activity.”  

The Trading Standards officers work hard to prevent rogue traders, doorstep criminals and scams and through a network of partner agencies, the council’s Not Born Yesterday campaign continues to raise awareness of these types of crimes, with increasing numbers of offenders brought to justice.

Mr Ashmore added: “It’s often vulnerable people who are targeted and it’s very upsetting for those who are swindled. We ask anyone who suspects or witnesses fraudulent activity to report it so that we can protect more people in Sheffield from these types of abuse.”

This latest instance is the twelfth serious case that Sheffield Council’s Trading Standards Service, aided by the support of the Sheffield Safeguarding Board have successfully prosecuted in the last two years, nine further cases are pending court action and a further nine are currently being investigated.

Keeping in touch with neighbours, especially when they may be 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 trading.standards@sheffield.gov.uk or 0114 2736290 (Sheffield Trading Standards) 03454 040506 (Citizens Advice Helpline).