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Orpington fraud tried to con pensioner out of £540,000 home over repair works which never started

PUBLISHED: 09:37 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:37 04 August 2017

Robert Vincent

Robert Vincent

Archant

The victim had been targeted by bogus builders before

Met Police has issued the following tips for protecting yourself from bogus tradesman:

- Always ask for identification before letting anyone you don’t know into your house.

- Check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. The mobile phone numbers given on business cards are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.

- Take control by asking the questions. Ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work.

- Don’t sign on the spot – shop around. Get at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not being ripped off.

- If in any doubt, ask the person to leave or call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. (Consumer Direct works in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities).

- If you’re suspicious, why not ask the salesman if you can take their photograph – on your mobile phone, for example? If the person is legitimate, they probably won’t mind.

A fraudster who tried to trick a pensioner into signing over his £540,000 house to pay for work that was never carried out has been jailed.

Robert Vincent, 47, of Sandpiper Way, Orpington, preyed on his victim around Christmas 2016, approaching his Haringey home posing under the name Terry Griffiths.

Under his alias, Vincent told the 68-year-old his roof needed to be replaced because of a leak.

The victim had already handed over £14,000 in cash and cheques between Christmas and March, when the pensioner said he could no longer keep up payment.

Vincent urged him to sign over his house, and the Haringey resident visited his solicitor soon after to list Terry Griffiths as the sole receiver.

Despite rewriting his will, Vincent urged the name to be changed to a man who police believe is one of his associates

However when later interviewed police, the man denied all knowledge, claiming he did not even know Vincent.

Bromley Trading Standards rung the victim on June 5 over another building scam he had almost fallen victim to a year before.

Whilst on the phone, the victim mentioned the building work on his roof, which led to a trading standards officer being sent to the property.

On arrival, the officer found no work had been carried out and the police were called.

Vincent was arrested on June 7 while leaving the victim’s home and was charged the following day of fraud by false representation.

He pleaded to two counts of the offence on July 20 and was jailed on Thursday for five years and three months.

Det const Alex Falconer, of the Met’s Falcon unit, said: “This was a deceitful crime in which Vincent tricked an elderly man into changing his will after charging him £14,000 for non-existent repairs to his roof.

“A swift police investigation established that Vincent had been using a pseudonym in his dealings with the victim and provided a name of his suspected associate.

“As a result of this conviction the fraudulent will has been destroyed. Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”

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