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Rogue trader jailed for 12 weeks for conning vulnerable homeowner

By Hannah McLaverty-Williamson, on 14 December 2010

A man who conned an elderly resident out of more than £2,000 for building work he did not complete has been sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.

Joseph Smith of Mole Lane, Sindlesham pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud at the hearing at Reading Magistrates Court. As reported by Get Reading, the Chair of the Bench drew attention to how vulnerable the elderly victim was when sentencing him to 12 weeks imprisonment.

It was in August 2009 that Smith cold called at the property of an elderly man in Woodley and completed work on the damp proof course of his home. Upon completing the task, he told the man that his patio needed replacing before offering to block pave it for £2,000. However, the amount was letter increased to £2,200 with Smith saying further work needed to be completed.

The resident was told he needed to pay in advance and he spread the money across six or seven payments, but only the removal of the old patio in addition to other small amount of work, was completed.

The case should act as a warning for other elderly residents in the area. Homeowners should ensure that they only use recommended builders when carrying out work on their property, so as not to be conned over money.

Cllr Ulla Karin Clark, Wokingham Borough Council's executive member for community development and human resources said: "This is yet another example of fraud perpetrated on an elderly resident in their own home. We are pleased that the Magistrates recognised for the severity of this offence and handed down a custodial sentence."

"We have been working hard to try to raise awareness of the issues of rogue trading and doorstep crime. This work will continue, as will our proactive work with the Police and our regular rogue trader patrols.

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