Doorstep seller jailed for conning vulnerable pensioner
Council chiefs today urged Kingston residents to keep a keen eye out for rogue traders who may be preying on vulnerable neighbours in the area.
The warning follows the case of a 79-year old Chessington woman being driven to a bank to withdraw thousands of pounds by a builder who undertook poor and unnecessary work.
Hugh Christopher Coyle, aged 48, of Clayton Rd, Chessington duped the pensioner into paying him £12,900 for sub-standard work after a small repair job escalated. Coyle was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court today (Monday 24 November) to 9 months in custody and ordered to pay £5,000 compensation to the victim.
There is vast underreporting of doorstep crime and latest research shows there could be as many as 170,000 incidents of doorstep crime each year.
Doorstep criminals exploit vulnerable citizens by convincing them to pay for shoddy or incomplete repair work, charging extortionate fees for their services, or threatening residents who do not comply.
The 'Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders' campaign, supported by Kingston Council, focuses on preventing doorstep crime by encouraging neighbours, family, friends and carers to look out for those most at risk in their communities.
The trading standards team at Kingston listed the signs to look out for:
- traders have been cold calling in the area
- a builder’s van is parked nearby, particularly one that doesn’t include a company name or contact details
- building or maintenance work on your neighbour’s garden or house starts unexpectedly
- poor quality work is visible on the roof, driveway, or property
- your neighbour appears anxious or distressed
- your neighbour visits the bank, building society, or post office more frequently, particularly if they are accompanied by a trader
If you do suspect that a rogue trader is preying on one of your neighbours, there are several actions you can take, including:
- ask your neighbour in private - in person or on the phone - if things are OK, If they are displeased, suggest calling a relative or carer on their behalf
- note any vehicle registration numbers
- keep hold of any flyers you have received through your door
- ask if the trader has left any paperwork and put it in a clean food bag
If you suspect a crime, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or your local trading standards office. If the situation with the trader becomes volatile, call the police.
Councillor David Glasspool said:
“These people are despicable; they search out the most vulnerable members of our society and attempt to extort money from them, sadly a lot of the time they succeed.
“But we are fighting back. Only today a rogue trader operating in our borough was sentenced to 9 months in prison and fined £5,000 at Kingston Crown court for extorting money from a vulnerable woman. The message is clear, expect to get caught, expect to end up in court and expect a prison sentence and a large fine.
“Good neighbours look out for one another and if you spot any of the signs I urge you to act.”
The ‘Good Neighbours Stop Rogue Traders’ campaign is a partnership led by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI), Citizens Advice and the National Trading Standards Board. More information can be found at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk
24 November 2014