Bogus builder fooled elderly residents to pay more than £380,000 in 'pointless' repairs
PUBLISHED: 18:29 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:36 11 April 2019
A rogue trader has been convicted of tricking elderly Redbridge and Bromley residents into forking out thousands for "pointless" repairs and laundering the cash through a tax haven.
Patrick Cleere, 65, was today (April 11) convicted of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of converting criminal property following at six-week trial at Inner London Crown Court.
The court heard how the Ealing Village resident was part of a group of scammers who targeted 11 elderly and vulnerable victims across Redbridge, Bromley, Haringey, Waltham Forest, Enfield, and Essex between April 1 and September 30 2016.
In each case, the bogus builders pressured the victims to pay money for fraudulent roofing and drainage repairs which one building surveyor described as “totally pointless”.
Det Con David Saffery, who led the investigation, said: “These criminals ruined the lives of the vulnerable and elderly householders they preyed on.
“After a careful and meticulous joint investigation, the scammers have been brought to justice.
“I would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of criminality to speak to police at the earliest opportunity.
“We have specialist officers who will investigate and support you.”
In one case, a victim in Penge paid more than £38,000 building repairs worth just £250, according to a building surveyor who described them as “abysmal”.
The scam involved the use of a variety of fake company names to target vulnerable householders and created professional looking leaflets.
Victims were offered a gutter cleaning service and it was then claimed their roof or drain urgently needed repairing.
The group then demanded increasing amounts of money for work that was either not carried out or done to a poor standard.
Over six months April to September 2016, police believe the scammers made at least £388,000.
Officers from Waltham Forest CID launched an investigation in June 2016 after they were made aware of the group’s activity by a victim in Chingford.
Following an 18-month joint investigation by the Met and Bromley, Enfield and Essex Trading Standards, police charged the suspects on November 17, 2017.
The gang opened numerous bank accounts in false names using fraudulent identification documents.
Detectives traced the defendants through analysis of payments made by the victims.
The group laundered funds through a complex financial network in the UK and Gibraltar.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “We are proud to have worked with the Metropolitan Police and other partners on this important investigation, designed to protect our most vulnerable elderly residents from this vicious and callous crime.
“The conviction demonstrates the value of this type of joint investigation and we congratulate our Trading Standards team, the Metropolitan Police and all the other agencies involved.”
Two other defendants pleaded guilty for their roles in the scams at earlier hearings.
William Cleere, 64 of Uxbridge Road, confessed to converting criminal property on Wednesday, March 27.
Timothy Cleere, 39, Gurnell Grove, also admitted converting criminal property on July 2 last year.
All three men will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on Friday, May 10.
For more information and advice on how to protect yourself from fraud and report fraudulent activity, visit www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/