Nicola Booton presented with TSI Hero Award
Building society worker gets national hero award for helping catch rogue traders
85-year-old victim had already paid £21,000 for work worth no more than £900
A customer assistant working at the Market Harborough Building Society has received a Trading Standards Institute's Hero Award today for her part in helping catch rogue traders who were forcing an 85-year-old widow to pay over the odds for building work at her home.
Mrs Nicola Booton was working at the Desborough branch of the building society in Northamptonshire when Mrs X, a familiar customer, asked for a £7,600 cheque to be made payable to a third party whose name had been handwritten on a slip of paper. Mrs X also requested £200 cash. She had been brought into the branch by an unfamiliar man.
Mrs Booton, who noticed that Mrs X was anxious, raised her suspicions about the withdrawal with head office and did not authorise the transaction. She noted the name on the trader’s van and later that weekend, when she saw the same van in a nearby car park, noted the registration number on her hand using eyeliner.
The information was passed to Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards team who investigated the case and identified several other victims. The work carried out on Mrs X’s property was inspected by a surveyor and valued at only £900. Mrs X had already paid over £21,000 for the work.
Three men – William Wallace (the principal offender), Craig Taylor and Lee Warburton – were later sentenced to jail. Wallace, 39, of Northampton Road, Market Harborough admitted nine fraud charges against pensioners in three counties. He was jailed for four years at Leicester Crown Court. Craig Taylor and Lee Warburton, both of Green Lane, Market Harborough pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and were each jailed for six months.
Nick Lenton, Trading Standards Officer in Northampton, nominated Mrs Booton for the Hero Award. He said: “It is because of Nicola’s eagle eye, resourcefulness and attention to detail that trading standards and the police were able to catch these rogue traders. As a result of Nicola’s actions, we were able to act swiftly in bringing the offenders to justice and prevent them ripping off other consumers.
“This type of scam can have a serious impact on vulnerable victims and we urge anyone who suspects they have been visited by a rogue trader to report it and help warn others. Sadly Mrs X passed away before these traders were sentenced.”
TSI's chief executive Leon Livermore said: "Interventions like this by professionals and others in the community who come into contact with the more vulnerable members of our society are invaluable in our fight against rogue traders, who often callously rely on the isolation of their victims to get away with repeatedly ripping them off.
“We are delighted to give national recognition with our Hero Award to Nicola Booton, whose actions went beyond the call of duty and resulted in a successful court case."
Notes for Editors:
The awards ceremony was at the TSI Conference at the Brighton Centre on Wednesday 19 June.
For further information, or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.
The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2013
The Trading Standards Institute’s annual trading standards and consumer affairs Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe. The 2013 Conference is at Brighton Centre from Tuesday 18 June to Thursday 20 June.
Some 1,500 people attended the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations.
For more information please visit http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/events/conference2013.cfm and follow the #TSIConf13 stream on our @TSI_uk Twitter account.
DATE: 19 June 2013