Detectives have charged seven people over allegations they conned elderly people in Essex out of around £1 million.
Essex Police said there were around 40 victims aged between 65 and 99.
Sixteen people were arrested in Colchester, Clacton and Epping yesterday.
Seven have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation between 2009 and 2013. The charges relate to work carried out on victims' homes at inflated prices.
Six men will appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court later today. A woman has been bailed to appear in court on July 16.
The remaining nine people have been released on bail until next Wednesday.
Police investigating a #1 million scam targeting elderly people in the Clacton area have made 16 arrests. The inquiry led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate focused on reports of an organised crime gang taking advantage of elderly and vulnerable people. Serena Sandhu reports.
AgeUK has spoken out after police made 16 arrests in connection with a scam that preyed on elderly people in the Colchester and Clacton areas.It said it was saddened to hear of what would have been a devastating experience for older people and urged others to seek help.
– Robert Needham, Chair of AgeUK Colchester
Along with similar agencies serving older people, there is ready advice available from AgeUK. Any person who is unsure about their welfare rights, who is needing to access a service or simply seeking advice is strongly urged to make use of the completely reliable and confidential services offered by the recognised volunteer agencies.
Trading standards say advice on how to choose a reliable and trustworthy business for home maintenance and repairs or general building work is available from the national consumer advice service on 08454 040506. A list of Trading Standards approved traders can be found at this website.
People are advised to never have work carried out by anyone who knocks at their door. It is always best to seek two or three quotes from reputable traders. Ask friends or family to recommend reliable companies or use Trading Standards Buy With Confidence scheme.
Trading standards say anyone who believes they have been a victim of rogue trading, or has concerns about a friend, relative or neighbour, should contact Essex County Council Trading Standards via the national consumer advice helpline on 08454 040506.
– Roger Walters, cabinet member for Trading Standards
The arrests today demonstrate that we will not tolerate the unacceptable and abhorrent behaviour of those who prey on the most vulnerable members of our community. It is through vigilant work by Trading Standards officers and Essex Police that means we can identify rogue trading, act upon evidence and hopefully stamp out this activity across Essex.”
Police have arrested six men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, one woman and one man on suspicion of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and seven people on suspicion of money laundering. They are in custody in police stations in north Essex.
– Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, Head of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate
Over the past seven months my officers have been investigating a series of cases which appear to be the work of an organised crime group taking advantage of the elderly and vulnerable and exploiting them for criminal gain. During the investigation we have spoken to around 140 people.
The offences we are looking at basically amount to the financial abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. The evidence would suggest that these vulnerable people have been groomed and then preyed upon by a group whose sole intention appears to be to line their own pockets.”
The investigation, led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate has been running since early December 2012 and is looking at fraudulent activity in excess of £1m.Police have been working with Essex County Council Trading Standards and Adult Social Care.
The warrants were executed earlier this morning, at addresses in the Colchester and Clacton areas. A team of 65 officers is involved. Police say they are building a case around 39 victims whose ages range from 65 and 99-years-old.
Detectives have arrested 16 people in raids across Essex in one of the biggest investigations in England and Wales into a criminal conspiracy targeting vulnerable elderly people.
Essex police say up to 140 pensioners, aged between 65 and 99, were allegedly conned out of more than £1m by the gang.