A cowboy builder charged a woman £17,000 to turn her house into a "bombsite" rather than completing any repairs, a court heard.
Fraudster Timothy Gokool accepted the money to install a new kitchen and bathroom and do some painting and decorating.
However a court heard how the 35-year-old hardly ever turned up to complete the work and made a complete mess of the home rather than carrying out any home improvements.
The traumatised customer was billed thousands of pounds for poor workmanship and renovations that were never done.
Appearing before a judge in Reading, Berks., Gokool admitted one count of fraud by false representation relating to the con in the summer of 2013.
The builder and director of Elite Home Services (EHS) Ltd had been employed to do up a home in Slough, Berks.
Sentencing him to 21 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, Judge John Reddihough said Gokool had only narrowly escaped an immediate spell in custody after turning the victim's home into "little better than a bomb site."
Do you recognise this woman?
She tried to buy £2500 in Euros from a post office in Station Road, Portslade, using a fake bank card and a fake driving licence at about 2.20pm on 22 May.
Staff at the branch recognised that neither the bank card for the driving licence appeared genuine and refused to hand over any currency.
The woman then left the post office empty handed and went towards the seafront.
She was white, in her early twenties, 5' 4" and of average build. She had long brown hair and tanned skin and was wearing a pink top and dark trousers.
"If you recognise the woman or have any idea where she could be, please get in touch with us. We would also be interested in any other businesses that have been visited by the woman where staff have had similar experiences that they have not reported to police."
A trial is due to begin later of a couple - who ran a children's day nursery - accused of fraud.
Michael and Marina Scott from Locks Heath are charged with Income Tax and National Insurance extortion of one point seven million pounds.
A gang have been jailed for more than 13 years for carrying out a series of fraud offences across the south east.Read the full story ›
Four men from Gravesend and Surrey have been sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail for their roles in a fraud.Read the full story ›
A group of fraudsters from Gravesend and Surrey have been convicted at court in connection with a fraud which denied British taxpayers of millions of pounds.
Narinder Chada and Gurmail Dosanjh set up fraudulent companies to buy and sell carbon credits. They would buy the credits at market value, but sell them on the cheap while also charging their clients VAT. By keeping the VAT rather than passing it on to the Government, the scheme deprived the UK public purse of £11.7 million.
Two other defendants, father and son duo Daniel Andrew Barrs and Daniel Barrs facilitated money laundering for this fraud and a previous case dealt with by HMRC in 2012. The total amount laundered was in excess of £20 million.
The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate commenced an investigation in May 2011 after information was passed to the force by HMRC. The first arrests were made in April 2012 and the complex case came to trial in 2015.
The two month-long trial at Southwark Crown Court concluded on 26 March. The four guilty men will be sentenced on 20 April.
Chada, 61, from The Russetts in Meopham; and Dosanjh, 46, from Singlewell Road in Gravesend were both found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public purse. Barrs, 65, from New Place Gardens in Lingfield and his 29 year-old son, from Suffolk Close in Horley, were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
"The group traded in carbon credits, which allow companies to legitimately produce more carbon dioxide than they would otherwise be permitted to. They are an ideal commodity for this type of fraud because they do not exist in a physical sense. The offenders used companies to buy credits from overseas and sell them in the UK. They collected the proceeds of their sales and then dishonestly and deliberately abused the VAT system. When the offences took place in 2009, the rate of VAT was 15 per cent. The more carbon credits they sold, the more VAT they could charge and keep. Invoices and paperwork were required to convince HMRC that the trade was genuine, but otherwise the fraud was relatively straightforward. In all, the offenders charged their customers £11.7 million in VAT and moved the money between several companies to try and cover their tracks. We followed the trail of laundered cash from the UK to Europe, the Middle East and as far as New Zealand and Australia. Barrs and Barrs facilitated the money laundering by setting up three offshore corporate structures and provided money laundering platforms within overseas bank accounts. This was a very organised operation but we were determined to piece together enough evidence to bring those responsible to justice. This was not a victim-less crime. By depriving the Government of millions of pounds of VAT, the offenders were in effect stealing from all UK taxpayers. The money should have been spent on schools, hospitals and other services. Once sentencing has been passed, the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate will be using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to attempt to recoup as much of the money for the taxpayer as possible. I hope this case serves as a warning to anyone trying to commit tax fraud that the authorities, whether Kent Police or HMRC, will catch up with you."
Police are warning residents in Winchester to remain vigilant following incidents involving fraudsters attempting to obtain bank details over the phone.
On Thursday, March 12 police received two reports of incidents in the Winchester area where residents were contacted by someone pretending to be from the police and claiming they had arrested someone in relation to criminal activity with the bank account.
A 76-year-old man from Littleton received a call from a man claiming to be a police officer from Hammersmith Police. He said he had arrested a man called Bailey, and then asked if he had his Visa card to hand. He then said the victim needed to phone his bank. At this point, the victim realised it was a scam, and hung up the phone without giving the offender any of his personal information.
The same day, a 75-year-old man at an address in Colden Common received a similar call from a man giving the same information and asking for him to call his bank. The victim hung up the phone and did not give any personal details.
On Friday, March 13 a 63-year-old woman living in Winchester received a phone call from a man using the same scam. He asked her for her PIN and other personal information. The woman refused several times, and the man eventually hung up on her.
People are reminded to protect themselves using the following advice:
- Never give out any personal information about your bank account to anybody over the phone.
- If someone calls claiming to be a police officer, ask for their identification number and police force. Hang up the call and advise that you will call them back using the 101 number. A genuine police officer will not mind waiting while you check. Call them back from a different phone if possible or wait at least 10 minutes before making the call.
- If you have given out information which could compromise your bank account security in any way, call your bank up to cancel your cards as soon as possible.
- Never hand over money to someone at the door to be sent off elsewhere.
- If someone comes to your door claiming to be a police officer or staff member, always ask for identification and make a note of their identification number. Ask them to wait while you verify their identity. Close the door and call 101.
“A number of residents in the Winchester area have been contacted by a man claiming to be from Hammersmith Police saying that they have arrested someone and asking if they had their Visa card to hand. The caller then advises the victim to call their bank. At this point, this is where the fraudster would stay on the line and when the victim calls the bank, they would pretend to be their bank and obtain personal information which could lead to the loss of money. We want to warn residents that these requests are not genuine and that no police officer or bank would act in this way. Anyone who recieves a suspicous call is urged not to give any details to the caller, and to report the matter to the polcie immediately.”
A fraudster who pocketed the proceeds from selling fake Royal British Legion Poppy and Help for Heroes pin badges has been handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and told to pay prosecution costs of £1,650.
Hampshire County Council Trading Standards secured the conviction of Jay Meech, 28, of Old Road, Gosport who sourced and sold counterfeit pin badges depicting the emblems of Premier League football teams and the two registered charities.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Meech designed the inferior quality pin badges, had them manufactured in China and shipped to the UK for him to sell via eBay and his website, ripping off the charities and football teams to the tune of £22,000 in turnover.
Following an investigation by Trading Standards officers, a warrant was executed in October 2013 and he was found to be in possession of more than 1,000 fake pin badges which depicted the emblems of several well known football clubs. Meech also had 5,849 Royal British Legion style ‘Poppy’ and 706 Help for Heroes ‘Medal’ pin badges.
These pin badges were confirmed, by the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, to be fake.
All the pin badges were of an inferior quality and had been manufactured and sold without permission from the football clubs or the charities.
Victims of 'scam mail' are often the elderly or most vulnerable in our society - losing hundreds of pounds - even hundreds of thousands.
Trading Standards officers launched a 'day of action' to fight back against the swindlers. Andy Dickenson met one man who used his savings to 'try his luck' - and who says he can't believe he fell for the scam.
A couple from Sompting were defrauded out of several thousand pounds when they were the victims of an elaborate scam on Tuesday last week.
A man who claimed to be calling from the Metropolitan Police rang the couple's home phone number and said that there had been fraudulent transactions on their bank account.
He then asked if they would be prepared to assist with an undercover operation to expose forged bank notes being trafficked by dishonest back staff.
A bogus courier was sent to their house and the couple handed over the money. He is described as white, in his early 20s, 5' 6"-5' 7", of small build with a pale complexion, mid-brown wavy hair and having 'childlike' features. He was dressed rather scruffily in casual clothing that included a dark round-necked T-shirt and a knitted grey cardigan with a large collar. Police have issued an e-fit of the man.
"This was an elaborate and convoluted con trick that must have required at least three people to pull it off. As in previous attempts across the county, some of which have been successful, the trick has been to convince the victims that they were phoning the police or their bank. They do this be remaining on the phone after they have called the victim, who then thinks they are making a new call to the police or bank that is 'answered' either by the original caller or an accomplice. It is a mean crime, invariably targeted at more vulnerable and trusting members of the public. We would like to hear from anyone who may have been the target of a similar scam or indeed, has become a victim. Please call us on 101 quoting serial 1643 of 16/09."
Police or bank staff will never ask you for PIN numbers or send a courier to your house to collect bank cards or cash. If you have any doubts about a caller who asks you to ring back, either use another phone to call or leave it for half-an-hour or so before doing so.
You'll find correct contact details for your bank on correspondence or statements and the police can always be called on 101, no matter where you are in the country.
If you think you are being targeted, use a different phone and dial 999 immediately.