Rogue traders admit to £1.5m home repairs scam

(From left) Dominic O'Carroll, Jane Clark, Kevin Christian, Paul Hilton
Image caption It is thought the gang swindled up to 1,600 pensioners

Six people have pleaded guilty to conning up to 1,600 pensioners out of at least £1.5m in a home repairs scam across five counties.

Five men and one woman pleaded guilty to fraud charges at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard they cheated vulnerable pensioners by charging them large sums of money for home repair work that was not needed.

The six will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court next month.

'Sub-standard' work

Investigators said rogue builders Paul Hilton, 40, of Nottingham, and Kevin Christian, 45, of Mansfield, swindled up to 1,600 pensioners.

For five years their team of cold callers, based in Nottingham, specifically targeted elderly victims across the East Midlands, most of them in their 70s and 80s, the court heard.

Victims were conned into paying excessive amounts for sub-standard damp-proofing and repairs they did not need.

Ringleaders Hilton and Christian both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

Jane Clark, 29, of Nottingham, Melvyn Hayden, 58, of Derby and Christopher Baird, 27, of Mansfield, all pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

Dominic O'Carroll, 39, of Nottingham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.

The court heard they ran four businesses and persuaded customers to spend money on unnecessary and inferior work.

Public help

The gang cold-called elderly people and offered free property surveys that included damp-proof tests.

The surveys would then be used to sell work that was not needed.

The investigation by trading standards ran for five years across five counties - Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Yorkshire and Warwickshire.

Councillor Mick Murphy, cabinet member for community safety at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "It's extremely gratifying that, thanks to the dedication of our trading standards team, these unscrupulous traders have been brought to justice and older, vulnerable people in our communities protected from their vile way of working.

"But the ability of Trading Standards to catch these door-to-door crooks was greatly enhanced by the vigilance of the public, particularly those older people who showed such courage in standing up to these criminals by giving evidence against them."

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