Episode 1 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 1

Hidden camera series where an an acting rogue tradesman tries to rip people off in their own homes using well-known con tricks to show us all how easy it can be to be taken in.


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Transcript


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Our money has to work hard for us, and one of our biggest expenditures is on our property.

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Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on repairs to our homes.

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But how can any of us be certain we've not been taken for a ride?

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-How much will it cost?

-It's hard to say, but I reckon 325.

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300 quid.

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Probably about seven and a half grand.

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With audacious secret filming,

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we reveal just how easy it could be for you to be duped.

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You've been ripped off. He's not a bona-fide tradesman.

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He's not?!

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I knew there was something suspicious.

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DIALOGUE BLEEPED

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And we lift the lid on some of the UK's most shocking tradesmen rip-offs.

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An awful leak came right through the bedroom. I was absolutely livid.

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The house was a death trap.

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We didn't know if he would get violent.

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On today's show...

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A battle of wills. How long will this Essex bouncer stand firm

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against our rogue roofer?

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You are joking, mate? £150? You just put a ladder up and changed a tile.

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I risked my life to get up there.

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The staggering story of a Surrey rogue

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who conned his victims out of almost a quarter of a million pounds.

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He didn't give a jot about his victims or their future,

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their security, their finances or anything.

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And prepare for a truly criminal scam

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when a policeman's streetwise dad falls for every trick in the book.

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£400, then, and 65 for the initial call out.

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Is that all right?

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Stand by for dirty tricks of the tradesmen.

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Let's be honest, most of us know little about the trades -

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plumbing, electrics, roofing -

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so we put our trust in tradesmen and we expect them to play fair.

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Of course, the vast majority do play fair.

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It's a small minority who turn rogue

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and make life a misery for thousands of us each year.

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We meet people who've been ripped off by dodgy tradesmen.

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Plus, with your help, we reveal how easy it is

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to fall for a typical set of tradesman's tricks.

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Our viewers have set up their friends and relatives

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to receive a visit from our very own tradesman.

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Why? To show you how to avoid being taken for a ride.

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This is Roger Bisby.

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He has over 40 years' experience under his builder's belt.

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There's nothing he hates more than a dirty trickster,

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out there to make a fast buck.

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But in order to show you how not to get conned,

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we've asked Roger to go against everything he believes in -

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to become a rip-off merchant.

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We'll create minor household problems

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and send in Roger to show us all how easy it is to be ripped off.

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It's all being filmed in secret

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and Roger will be working with our cameraman Luke, who's posing as his apprentice.

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We'll find out in just a moment

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where they're springing their first scam.

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No-one wants a flood in the bathroom

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and qualified plumbers usually fix minor leaks in under an hour for less than £100.

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But what if a cowboy turns up?

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Let's meet the streetwise family where Roger is paying a visit.

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Dean likes to keep trim around his Hertfordshire village.

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His dad Henry is a painter and decorator who lives next door.

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Dean has a special reason for wanting to set him up.

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I'm a police officer

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and I feel that the scams that are happening in society today need to be exposed.

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I consider my father to be quite an astute person

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and I wanted to show people how easy it is

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for people to come into your home and scam you.

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Dean's given us access to tamper with his radiator valve, creating a minor leak.

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A reputable tradesman shouldn't charge more than £100 for an hour's work fixing it.

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But Roger isn't feeling reputable today.

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Now, there's one problem - Henry's in the trade. He's a painter and decorator.

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I've got to find out how much he knows about the trade

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see if he's the kind of guy I can take for a ride.

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I've got Luke here, the cameraman.

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I've got a camera here to do a bit of secret filming and Luke's got one.

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Between the two of us, we're going to get some good pictures

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and make a few quid, as well. Let's go.

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Roger, you rotter. The van is packed with gadgets he'll use for his dirty tricks.

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First, he'll try and convince Henry that the water is contaminated with rust

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using a rigged corrosion meter.

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He'll give the pipes a flush to remove the rust,

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one of the most common tricks scammers use.

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Finally, he'll try to scare Henry with added costs.

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Roger's piping up trouble.

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It's 9:00am when Roger arrives, where Henry is housesitting.

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Remember, he has no idea that this is a simple job

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and should cost a maximum of £100 to put it right.

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But can our cowboy do better? Let's find out.

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Wish me luck.

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Hello there. It's the plumber.

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-I've got my glamorous assistant here.

-Hello, mate. All right?

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-You don't have to pay for him. He's on work experience.

-That sounds good!

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Henry seems very trusting and he hasn't asked Roger for ID.

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The first thing our man has to do is pretend to assess the radiator.

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OK. This is it.

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Leaking radiator. Quite honestly, you get loads of these.

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Take me about quarter of an hour to fix.

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I'm going to try and persuade him there's a bit of corrosion in the system,

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tell him his system's run away, put the frighteners on him.

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We could be on a good little earner here.

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Roger knows that to squeeze the most money out of a job,

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he has to quickly gain the confidence of the owner. This is key.

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It's just a little ring. I can put one on the valve.

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This water, it looks to me like it's got a bit of corrosion in it.

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I've got a tester in the van. I'll bring that in.

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Roger's about to use one of the oldest tricks of the trade.

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OK, this is what I'm after. This is the corrosion meter.

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It's a complicated bit of kit, so he won't know whether it's got corrosion or not.

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But what I really want to do is persuade him that it needs a power flush.

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This is where I turn a £50 job into a £400 or £500 job

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and if we can get this baby working, we're going to be in the money.

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Right, let's give it a little go.

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Sure enough, it gives the false reading that Roger's expecting.

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Ohh! It's sky high.

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We've got 2,200...parts,

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which means that the whole system is rusting away.

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-That's what I'm going to tell him.

-Time to give Henry the bad news.

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If Roger can baffle him with pseudo science,

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he can hopefully turn a job that should cost £100

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into a hefty £450.

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This is rust, you know?

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Orange rust.

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What's happening, I've put the meter in...

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..and it gives you a reading.

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That's quite advanced corrosion.

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So what that's doing is, it's rusting away the radiators.

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And also the boiler.

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What I would say, the best thing to do with that

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is for me to flush that out.

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Wait for it. Here comes the all-important question.

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If I do it now, rather than come back,

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there's some chemicals involved in it, so probably 400, 450.

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If I did it for cash, say 400.

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If I come back, it's going to be more.

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I'm not pressuring you. I've got enough to do. I've got loads on.

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If Roger can't convince Henry the job needs doing today,

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he'll seek quotes elsewhere and realise he's being conned.

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So our rogue has one of the oldest tricks in the book ready to roll.

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If we left it, the chances are

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you'd be forking out for a new boiler and a radiator.

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That's the point. I could come back and do it, but it'll be more money.

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For someone who isn't pressurising Henry, Roger sure is laying it on thick and fast.

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But will Henry fall for it?

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We said 400. I'm doing myself really.

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400 cash. Lovely.

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Yeah, I'll do it for that.

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Henry hasn't even got another quote for this job,

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let alone the recommended three.

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So with the deal done, Roger heads off to supposedly buy some chemicals,

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whilst poor old Henry heads off to the cashpoint.

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So, how many more dirty tricks will Roger get away with

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as he pushes Henry for cash?

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I'm not even going to bother connecting it up. It's aggro.

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Will Henry hand over £400 for nothing?

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And the 65 for the initial call out.

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Unbelievable. Now, Roger's tricks may seem extraordinary,

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sadly, they're used by conmen all too often,

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like the man in our next story who played some pretty dirty tricks in Surrey.

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But like most rogues, thankfully, he got his comeuppance.

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This is Mark Cooper,

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whose ruthless antics made him richer

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by almost a quarter of a million pounds.

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It took two years to bring him to justice

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and the combined efforts of three different police forces and Trading Standards teams.

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He didn't give a jot about his victims or their future,

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their security, their finances or anything.

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So shocked and distressed were his 38 victims,

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not one of them is prepared to discuss him on camera.

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Senior Trading Standards Officer Linda Cobbett explains.

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They were too embarrassed, too ashamed,

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didn't want any friends or neighbours to know how much they paid this man.

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Mark Cooper's history of horrors only came to light

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when Linda received a call from a retired GP from Surrey, known as Doctor S.

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He was cold-called by Cooper

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and persuaded to let the tradesman work on his roof and driveway.

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I went and got a statement from him and had a look at the work that had been done.

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He'd paid £5,000 to this gentleman for throwing a bit of gravel down in the drive,

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and an appalling job, in my view, on his garage.

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Cooper certainly left that doctor in distress.

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But because he'd paid by cheque,

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Surrey Trading Standards Financial Investigator Paul Diaper was able to trace it.

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I was looking to see what was his turnover,

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whether he had any assets or cash,

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in the hope of trying to identify other victims.

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He was repeatedly targeting certain victims

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and he was receiving not only cheques, which we could trace, but large amounts of cash.

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They discovered dozens of tricks

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played on victims like Miss A from Surrey.

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Cooper told her that her chimney needed repointing to strengthen it,

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but all he did was paint it red.

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Surrey Trading Standards established this useless work cost £3,000,

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but over the course of nine months, Cooper charged Miss A

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an unbelievable £59,000 for it.

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She was in a position where she felt alone and vulnerable

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and didn't know how to go about telling people what was happening

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and was frightened to send him away.

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If 59 grand sounds bad, wait till you hear about Mrs C from Hampshire.

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Cooper spent a year pestering her.

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Finally, he convinced her that she needed a new tarmac driveway.

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But all he did was cover her old drive in black paint.

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The value of the actual work - £690.

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How much did Cooper charge? £78,000.

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Her life savings.

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It was clear that the victim had written at least 15 cheques to Cooper

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for a considerable sum of money.

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It had all the classic hallmarks of a rogue trader,

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targeting an elderly lone victim, cold calling,

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then charging an awful lot of money for work that probably didn't need doing at all.

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Linda's team at Trading Standards wanted to put an end to Cooper's reign of intimidation.

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They enlisted the help of Surrey Police to gather crucial evidence

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and Trading Standards officer Ian Inglis was present when they swooped.

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We obtained a warrant to enter Mark Cooper's premises.

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A number of discoveries were found.

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Wads of cash found in the shower, of all places,

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a number of valuable items, jewellery and so on,

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and further evidence

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indicating that he was involved in the fraud against elderly people.

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The police raid turned out to be a major turning point in the investigation.

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Not only did they search the motorhome, police also checked Cooper's vehicles.

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It turned out that one of them was used during the scams on victim Mrs C.

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She'd noted down the registration number of the vehicle.

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This was critical.

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This allowed us to chase Mark Cooper as being the potential offender

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involved in the fraud against Mrs C.

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In addition to that, she was also able to note down two phone numbers

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that had been used by Mark Cooper at various stages of his campaign against her.

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Now, at last, Surrey Trading Standards felt they had enough evidence

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to bring Cooper before a judge

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at Guildford Magistrates' Court in April 2010.

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Whilst we were at the court, I called one of those numbers.

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Sure enough, Mark Cooper's phone went, in the court waiting room.

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The moment that he reached for his phone, and we all heard it ringing,

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was a moment of quite high excitement.

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That was it. We knew we had him.

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Crime doesn't pay. Mark Cooper was sentenced to five years for his offences.

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So, how can we stop rogues like him in the future?

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Well, homeowners everywhere who feel intimidated or ripped off by dodgy tradesmen

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should contact their local Trading Standards for advice at the earliest opportunity.

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We hope that it will send a message

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that Surrey will not tolerate this sort of activity

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and we will do our best to defend vulnerable people.

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It needs to be recognised that this isn't just a period of rehabilitation for him.

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It's a period of respite for his would-be victims

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who he'd otherwise be out ripping off.

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Later, on Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen,

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another shocking case

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when a Dorset couple discover that a tricky tradesman has wrecked their roof.

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Two days after the work was finished, water was pouring into our lounge.

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And in our quest to show you how not to be ripped off,

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Roger's dirty tricks get him into hot water with a family in Chelmsford.

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DIALOGUE BLEEPED

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Hello there.

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First, time to find out whether Henry from Hertfordshire falls for our cowboy's dirty tricks.

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Roger went to fix a leaky radiator, a job worth around £100 to put right.

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But like all tricksters, Roger is using every con he knows

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to inflate the charge to four times as much.

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What that's doing is, it's rusting away the radiators.

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And also the boiler.

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Using a rigged meter,

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Roger has persuaded Henry that the boiler pipes are corroded.

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A power flush will solve it, he says and stop the boiler from seizing up.

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For this, Roger wants £400!

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A power flush takes about four or five hours at least to do a proper job.

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We don't want to be hanging around that long, so I'm going to try and speed it up a bit,

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pretend to do it in half an hour and see if he wears it.

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Roger heads back, where Henry has cash fresh from the ATM.

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Instead of watching them like a hawk, Henry lets them gets on with it,

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which gives Roger the chance to push his tricks even harder.

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I'm not even going to bother connecting it up. It's aggro.

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At one point, Henry even breaks the ultimate rule and leaves them alone in the house.

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It's incredible when you realise he's only known them for a couple of hours.

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You should never leave people alone because you don't know what they're up to.

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Ten minutes later, Henry's back.

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Finally, he does something sensible by taking an interest in the job.

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Have you got a sensitive smell?

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Because they do stink a bit sometimes.

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This is the old magic potion. Super concentrated this stuff.

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So concentrated, in fact, you don't even need to break the seal or take the top of the bottle.

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Surely Henry must be getting suspicious.

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-Lovely job.

-And after 35 minutes of the machine doing nothing,

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except making a bit of noise, Roger decides to call it a day.

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But will Henry believe the job is done?

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We're all right. We're OK.

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Just done a test on the meter. It's fine.

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Basically, that pump is so powerful...

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..it runs through...

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Now, remember that agreed final cost of £400?

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A deal's a deal. Unless you're a cowboy, of course...

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£400, then, and 65 for the initial call out.

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Is that all right?

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So Henry was housesitting for his son

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and let in a tricky tradesman, without checking his identity.

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Roger turned a simple £100 repair

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into a £465 central heating rip-off.

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He's used gadgets and scare tactics to persuade Henry

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that the pipes were filled with rust and needed flushing out.

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Will Henry pay Roger's asking price?

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Is that all right?

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Sorry, we had the... That was for the flush.

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Power flush. That's all right.

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That's lovely. Thank you. Pleasure to meet you. Cheers, mate.

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With the cash safely in his pocket, our cowboy rides off with £465,

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handed over without any second opinion, written quotation,

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any receipt or any evidence that the work has been done

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because Henry was rushed into the job.

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As Roger leaves, it's time for our producer to reveal the truth.

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First off, what did he make of our plumbers? Remember, he's in the trade.

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I thought they was great, actually. The boiler's done.

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They drained all the boilers out, because we had corrosion in the boiler and the radiators,

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so they drained all that out, they done the job, I paid them and I'm quite contented.

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Good news, but let's see how he reacts

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when we tell him the work was completely unnecessary

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and that he's handed over £465 for nothing.

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Well, I don't know. I'm absolutely gutted to think that.

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But I didn't know that at the time.

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Everybody gets builders in, don't they?

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We take their word for it.

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Of course, the radiator is fine.

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Just to make sure there are no hard feelings, here comes Roger with the cash.

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You're a nice bloke!

0:19:570:19:59

If this happened again, I don't think I'd let him come in just like that.

0:19:590:20:04

I would've checked IDs and one thing and another.

0:20:040:20:08

There's the money back, all right? I'll keep 20 for myself!

0:20:080:20:13

There you are. Cheers. Thank you. That's brilliant.

0:20:130:20:17

I wouldn't have left them in the house, another thing I done wrong,

0:20:170:20:20

but I thought they was a couple of good guys, fair enough.

0:20:200:20:25

And I certainly wouldn't have paid the money.

0:20:250:20:28

-I'm really sorry, Dad. Do you still love me?

-No hard feelings!

0:20:280:20:31

I'm really sorry, mate. You're a good sport and I love you to bits!

0:20:310:20:35

Henry was such a good sport there.

0:20:350:20:37

But what should you do if you're in that situation?

0:20:370:20:41

First, always get at least three quotes.

0:20:420:20:45

Second, do your best to check tradesmen's credentials.

0:20:450:20:50

And finally, never leave them alone.

0:20:500:20:52

If Henry had stood over Roger and Luke,

0:20:520:20:55

they wouldn't have got away with so much.

0:20:550:20:58

Now, plumbing scams are very common, but statistics show the highest number of complaints

0:21:020:21:06

tend to be about dodgy roofing jobs.

0:21:060:21:09

In fact, in 2009, there were more than 1,500 reported complaints.

0:21:090:21:14

Cowboys use allsorts of scare tactics

0:21:140:21:17

to turn simple repairs into full-scale roof replacements.

0:21:170:21:21

So, how convincing are these dirty tricks?

0:21:210:21:24

Well, Roger's on another mission to show how easy it is to be ripped off.

0:21:240:21:28

When Pauline isn't running a bowling alley in Kent,

0:21:320:21:35

she's running around her house and garden in Chelmsford in Essex.

0:21:350:21:39

She's invited us to send Roger round to trick her husband David, a former boxer and bouncer,

0:21:390:21:45

who's now training to be a psychic medium.

0:21:450:21:48

I think David does fall for some tricks sometimes. He can be a bit gullible.

0:21:480:21:53

There's been a tile missing from the front of their roof for six months now

0:21:530:21:57

and Dave still hasn't got round to getting it fixed.

0:21:570:22:01

Remember, David has no idea that he's been set up by his wife.

0:22:010:22:05

A gap in the roof is all Roger needs to spring his dirty tricks.

0:22:050:22:10

I've come to Chelmsford and it's a lovely sunny day. It's ideal for being out on a roof.

0:22:100:22:16

-I've got Luke. You've got a few props.

-I went to a roofers merchant and they gave us these samples.

0:22:160:22:21

-You've got one of each colour, which is sensible.

-Yes.

0:22:210:22:24

Now, here's an idea. I've got the magic spray here.

0:22:240:22:28

This is a foam that fixes everything. If I tell him his roof is in danger of slipping off,

0:22:280:22:33

then I can really push him.

0:22:330:22:35

So the plan is to repair the missing tile,

0:22:350:22:38

but convince David the roof is about to collapse,

0:22:380:22:41

a common trick used by cowboys.

0:22:410:22:44

The next trick will be to sell David an unnecessary coating of foam spray

0:22:440:22:48

and, finally, convince him to have the whole roof repaired at a later date,

0:22:480:22:54

hopefully at the cost of a few thousand pounds.

0:22:540:22:56

Roger's having a day on the tiles.

0:22:560:22:59

Including labour, replacing a single roof tile

0:23:030:23:06

shouldn't cost more than £40-50.

0:23:060:23:09

Roger doesn't trifle with small change

0:23:090:23:12

and his dirty trick should bring him six times that amount in cash today.

0:23:120:23:17

David's alone when our cowboys rock up at three o'clock.

0:23:190:23:23

-It's a nice day for it.

-Beautiful.

0:23:230:23:27

-Hello there.

-Hiya, mate.

-Mr Hanlon? We're going to look at...

0:23:380:23:41

-It's your roof, isn't it?

-It's only a matter of one tile.

0:23:410:23:45

-That shouldn't take a few minutes.

-Can you see it, Rog?

-Yes.

0:23:450:23:48

I'll nick one from round the side to put in there.

0:23:480:23:51

I'll put the new one in round the side so that it won't stand out.

0:23:510:23:54

Then nobody will know any difference.

0:23:540:23:58

He's very trusting. He hasn't asked Roger for ID.

0:23:580:24:01

But to be fair, he thinks his wife, Pauline, booked a reliable builder,

0:24:010:24:05

known to family.

0:24:050:24:06

Roger's doing all he can to gain his victim's trust,

0:24:100:24:13

crucial if he's to squeeze out the most money.

0:24:130:24:16

But hang on. Is our victim about to hand Roger a whole new scam idea?

0:24:160:24:22

-Do us a favour...

-Sorry?

-Could you see if there's anywhere squirrels could get in?

0:24:220:24:27

-Have you got a squirrel problem?

-I think so. In the loft.

0:24:270:24:30

-Really? Have you seen them in there?

-No. They're always on the roof.

0:24:300:24:34

-My son, who's in the front bedroom, heard scratching and dragging.

-Oh, no.

0:24:340:24:39

OK, I'll have a look at that, for sure.

0:24:390:24:42

-Watch him.

-I'll watch him.

0:24:450:24:48

OK, well,

0:24:480:24:50

I was just going to go up there and replace that tile

0:24:500:24:54

and just tell him a story about the sagging battens and so on,

0:24:540:25:00

but he's just told us that he's got a squirrel problem

0:25:000:25:04

and there may be somewhere up there that squirrels are getting in. So we'll have to see how it goes.

0:25:040:25:09

We may be changing our tactics slightly. We'll see what we can do.

0:25:090:25:14

Roger had planned his dirty tricks carefully.

0:25:150:25:18

Let's hope this last-minute change of strategy with squirrels doesn't backfire on him.

0:25:180:25:24

First things first, Roger will slip his new, darker tile into the side section of the roof

0:25:240:25:29

so that it's hidden from our street view by the chimney.

0:25:290:25:32

He's not wearing a hard hat.

0:25:320:25:34

It's reckless. The kind of thing a rogue might do.

0:25:340:25:38

Now he has an old yellow tile to use on the front of the roof to complete his job.

0:25:380:25:45

-OK, I've got the tile here.

-Good.

-This is the one we need.

0:25:470:25:51

-If you grab that... There you go.

-All right, mate.

0:25:510:25:55

David's not showing too much interest in the tradesman scampering over his property.

0:25:550:25:59

Roger has free reign to do what he likes.

0:25:590:26:02

But David would be better to stay watching him like a hawk.

0:26:020:26:06

When it comes to some rogue tradesmen,

0:26:060:26:08

don't even trust them with your teacups.

0:26:080:26:12

THEY LAUGH

0:26:140:26:16

Oh, tea!

0:26:160:26:18

-Oh, that's got sugar in it!

-It's the other way round, isn't it?

0:26:190:26:23

-Let's get the deck chairs out.

-Shall we?

0:26:230:26:25

I think we're going to have to carry deck chairs in future!

0:26:250:26:29

I know you're trying to brazen it out to charge for extra time,

0:26:290:26:32

but come on, guys, the roof has a hole that needs filling!

0:26:320:26:36

With the jigsaw neatly finished, the roof is repaired.

0:26:510:26:55

Roger's almost ready to spring the first of his dirty tricks.

0:26:550:26:58

But what story will he spin David?

0:26:580:27:02

-We're going squirrel hunting now. It's that chimney, isn't it?

-Sorry?

0:27:020:27:08

-I reckon it's got to be that chimney.

-Right.

0:27:080:27:11

Are the rafters rotting from damp, or have the squirrels had them for breakfast?

0:27:110:27:16

I'm on the edge of my seat here.

0:27:160:27:19

I think what I'm going to do is,

0:27:210:27:23

I'm going to say that we can fix the squirrel problem,

0:27:230:27:28

and, erm, then I'll talk to him about the ridge tiles coming off

0:27:280:27:32

and say we'll do all the bits and pieces altogether, er,

0:27:320:27:37

and that'll be... we'll take £1,000 for that.

0:27:370:27:41

But I'll get this squirrel problem out the way for about £300.

0:27:410:27:46

Squirrel infestation and ridge tiles?

0:27:460:27:49

Roger could now be looking at £1,300 for a job he's invented from nothing.

0:27:490:27:55

Time to spring the trick on the trusting David,

0:27:550:27:58

probably with a load of Roger's trademark highfalutin flannel thrown in.

0:27:580:28:03

David? All right.

0:28:030:28:06

There's a few places round the back where it could be getting in,

0:28:060:28:10

on the flat roof where it joins up to the pitched roof.

0:28:100:28:14

What I could do is squirt some foam in there all the way along.

0:28:140:28:19

-Have you seen that fixer foam, that expanding foam?

-Yes.

0:28:190:28:22

I could put that all the way along the gap.

0:28:220:28:24

They can chew their way through that and they'd probably get bored with it.

0:28:240:28:28

The tile wasn't too much of a problem.

0:28:280:28:31

There's a bit of water got in there.

0:28:310:28:33

The rest of the roof is a little bit...

0:28:330:28:37

The hips look like they might blow off if you get a strong storm or something.

0:28:370:28:42

I could do that, but that'd be a later date.

0:28:420:28:45

If you want me to fill the back where the squirrels are coming in...

0:28:450:28:49

How much is that going to cost?

0:28:490:28:51

With the tile I've already done, say £350 for the lot?

0:28:510:28:55

-£350?!

-Yes.

-You're joking?

0:28:550:28:59

Watch out, Roger, he's a big lad.

0:28:590:29:02

So, will David hand over the £350 for nothing?

0:29:030:29:08

You are joking, mate?

0:29:080:29:10

How far will Roger push him to grab that cash?

0:29:100:29:14

There's cowboy builders out there, but there's also cowboy customers.

0:29:140:29:19

Brilliant. I love it when the public fight back.

0:29:230:29:26

Now, Roger's tricks are based on real life,

0:29:260:29:28

but when you compare them to some of the genuine roofing catastrophes we've heard about,

0:29:280:29:34

he seems almost restrained.

0:29:340:29:36

As you watch our next story unfold,

0:29:360:29:38

once again, you'll see that crime doesn't pay.

0:29:380:29:41

Take a look at this.

0:29:420:29:44

And this. And this.

0:29:440:29:48

It's the work of roofing scammer Aaron Barnes.

0:29:480:29:51

Not only is this job shockingly awful,

0:29:510:29:54

it cost an eye-watering £7,810.

0:29:540:29:59

Mr Barnes would always start off

0:29:590:30:01

doing a small amount of work for a few hundred pounds, say,

0:30:010:30:06

and then he'd always notice that roofing work was needed

0:30:060:30:09

and the price would escalate.

0:30:090:30:11

Before consumers knew it,

0:30:110:30:13

they were agreeing to thousands of pounds of roofing work.

0:30:130:30:16

Barnes operated around the Ringwood area of Dorset.

0:30:160:30:20

In April 2009, he knocked at the door

0:30:200:30:22

of retired engineer Paul Dickson and his wife Roberta.

0:30:220:30:27

He said, "I can see you need work on your gutterings and fascia boards."

0:30:270:30:31

I said, "Yes, I do.

0:30:310:30:34

"But I don't take work from builders who just call at the door."

0:30:340:30:38

I thought that was that, but he was very persistent.

0:30:380:30:41

He said, "I'll just give you a price if you'd like."

0:30:410:30:45

He gave me a price of £1,800, which was quite reasonable.

0:30:450:30:49

Mr Dickson felt £1,800 to replace fascias, soffits and guttering sounded like a bargain.

0:30:490:30:54

Barnes said this work would take three to four days.

0:30:540:30:58

They came along, it was a very wet day,

0:30:580:31:00

it rained half the day,

0:31:000:31:03

but they carried on, they took all the fascia boards, the soffits off, the guttering all came down.

0:31:030:31:09

An awful lot of trust is put in a business like a roofer

0:31:100:31:15

because it's hard for the individual to judge for themselves

0:31:150:31:19

whether or not roofing work needs doing.

0:31:190:31:21

Barnes was about to severely breach that trust

0:31:210:31:25

and play some really rotten tricks.

0:31:250:31:28

He came to me and said,

0:31:280:31:31

"You've got problems with the timber in the roof.

0:31:310:31:34

"A lot of it's rotten. The verges are all crumbling away."

0:31:340:31:38

Barnes told Paul some of his rafters needed replacing urgently.

0:31:410:31:45

His original quote had been £1,800.

0:31:450:31:48

Now Barnes quoted £7,810,

0:31:480:31:52

a whopping 400 percent increase on his original estimate.

0:31:520:31:57

I felt very trapped because the price had gone up so much - nearly four times the original.

0:31:570:32:03

I felt over a barrel. I couldn't get other builders to give me quotes

0:32:030:32:08

because he said he would leave the job if I didn't carry on.

0:32:080:32:13

As Barnes and his men worked, the Dicksons grew increasingly uneasy.

0:32:130:32:17

Wisely, Mr Dickson decided to keep a photographic record of the work in progress.

0:32:170:32:22

After six days of work, Barnes left and the Dicksons' fears proved well founded.

0:32:220:32:28

Just two days after the work was finished,

0:32:280:32:30

just up there at the end of the gulley,

0:32:300:32:33

water was pouring into our lounge.

0:32:330:32:36

To see all the mess,

0:32:380:32:40

and also to have this awful leak

0:32:400:32:44

that came right through the bedroom down into the lounge,

0:32:440:32:47

I was absolutely livid.

0:32:470:32:50

The Dicksons were uncertain of what to do next. But it was a neighbour who brought things to a head.

0:32:500:32:55

They'd reported Barnes to Trading Standards for cold calling in the area.

0:32:550:32:59

Acting on complaints they'd received about Barnes,

0:32:590:33:02

they sent a surveyor to investigate the Dicksons' new roof in May 2009.

0:33:020:33:08

His findings turned out to be worse than first imagined.

0:33:080:33:13

What our evidence showed

0:33:130:33:15

was that the additional work that took the job up to £7,800

0:33:150:33:20

was totally unnecessary.

0:33:200:33:22

So the escalation of price and the work done

0:33:220:33:25

was actually fraudulent and dishonest.

0:33:250:33:28

With evidence like the surveyor's report,

0:33:280:33:30

Trading Standards now initiated legal proceedings.

0:33:300:33:33

Knowing he was likely to face prosecution,

0:33:330:33:36

Barnes returned to Mr Dickson's house.

0:33:360:33:39

He did try and placate Mr Dickson and put certain things right,

0:33:390:33:45

but he didn't address the main problem,

0:33:450:33:47

and that was that the £6,000 of work

0:33:470:33:52

that was added to the initial bill

0:33:520:33:54

was for work that wasn't necessary.

0:33:540:33:56

At Bournemouth Crown Court, Barnes pleaded guilty to fraud

0:33:560:34:00

and was given 250 hours of community work and a 12-month suspended sentence.

0:34:000:34:06

By March 2011, he was back in court,

0:34:060:34:08

when a financial investigation showed he'd pocketed

0:34:080:34:11

a whopping £50,000 from all that unnecessary work.

0:34:110:34:16

He was ordered to pay, by the court, £17,000

0:34:160:34:20

as a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

0:34:200:34:23

What a result. So two long years after Barnes first called at their house,

0:34:230:34:28

the Dicksons received £6,000 of their money back.

0:34:280:34:31

They've certainly learned from this experience.

0:34:310:34:34

Basically, I never take cold callers knocking on the door any more.

0:34:340:34:39

That's a policy now.

0:34:390:34:42

I check online and get quotes.

0:34:420:34:45

Really go into it in great detail before I make any decisions.

0:34:450:34:50

It's great to see justice being done.

0:34:520:34:54

Now, what about our family in Chelmsford?

0:34:540:34:57

Considering the roofing tricks Roger's been playing there,

0:34:570:35:00

I wonder if David Hanlon will bite back.

0:35:000:35:04

-Hello there.

-Hiya, mate.

-Mr Hanlon?

0:35:040:35:06

The initial plan was to make out that a cracked tile let in so much water

0:35:060:35:11

that David's roof was about to collapse.

0:35:110:35:13

Roger's replaced a tile, a job that normally costs around £50.

0:35:130:35:17

Now he's angling for more than six times that to seal up the roof

0:35:170:35:21

against, of all things, squirrels.

0:35:210:35:23

In fact, there's nothing wrong with the roof.

0:35:230:35:26

If you want me to fill the back where the squirrels are coming in...

0:35:260:35:30

How much is that going to cost?

0:35:300:35:32

With the tile I've already done, say £350 for the lot?

0:35:320:35:36

-£350?!

-Yes.

-You're joking?

0:35:360:35:40

Well, it's going to take us a little while to do it.

0:35:410:35:46

-How much just for the tile?

-Just for that one tile?

0:35:460:35:50

-Well, you can call it £150 cash.

-For one tile?

0:35:500:35:53

£150 just to put one tile on?

0:35:530:35:56

Yeah!

0:35:560:35:58

Do you know how much a gallon of petrol is now?

0:35:580:36:01

I'll ring my missus, because she's the one who organised all this. She should be here in a minute.

0:36:010:36:07

I would've given you a quote. I've done the job now.

0:36:070:36:10

-You let me go up there without -

-Give me ten minutes. I'll try and get hold of her.

-OK.

0:36:100:36:16

Ever resourceful, let's see how the artful Roger

0:36:180:36:21

digs himself out of this little setback.

0:36:210:36:25

He's not biting.

0:36:250:36:27

He's not very happy. I'm only charging £150. I was going to go for 300,

0:36:270:36:31

so it's a bit of a shame that he's baulked on that.

0:36:310:36:34

But what he didn't do, of course, is to ask me for a quote before I went up to do the job.

0:36:340:36:39

He just assumed it would be reasonable.

0:36:390:36:42

We'll see what we can do. Bit of leverage.

0:36:420:36:44

But he's far from happy.

0:36:440:36:47

Mr Hanlon?

0:36:470:36:49

She's on her way.

0:36:490:36:51

What did you think was a reasonable figure for doing that job?

0:36:510:36:56

I'd have given you £40-50. You just put a ladder up and changed a tile.

0:36:560:37:01

-I risked my life to get up there.

-Be real!

0:37:010:37:04

-Seriously.

-We risk our life every day when we drive a motor, don't we?

-Yes.

0:37:040:37:09

-But, you know... I mean, you could've done it.

-Huh?

0:37:090:37:11

-You could've got up there.

-If I had a ladder, I would.

0:37:110:37:14

There you are! So, where do you get a free ladder from?

0:37:140:37:17

-If you hire a ladder -

-I could borrow the neighbour's.

-You didn't, though, did you?

0:37:170:37:23

Roger's following a classic rogue tradesman technique.

0:37:230:37:26

He wants his money, and gradually increases his levels of intimidation.

0:37:260:37:31

How long before he tries driving David to the nearest cashpoint?

0:37:310:37:34

Difficult to say, but if he's not careful, the ex-boxer may hit him

0:37:340:37:38

with more than stiff words.

0:37:380:37:40

We're standing here, arguing the toss, losing money.

0:37:400:37:44

-We're not arguing at all. You're asking questions and I'm telling you.

-OK.

-My missus is coming now.

0:37:440:37:49

Well, time's ticking. As far as we're concerned,

0:37:490:37:51

we're losing dosh standing here talking about it.

0:37:510:37:54

-OK, we'll wait for your wife.

-She'll be here in five minutes.

0:37:540:37:58

That's fair enough. I don't want to cause a ruck with you.

0:37:580:38:02

Try to do an honest job for you and, er...

0:38:020:38:06

There's cowboy builders out there, but there's also cowboy customers.

0:38:060:38:10

We'll see what she says. But the time is ticking.

0:38:100:38:13

It'll be another £25 before... before we've gone.

0:38:130:38:18

Definitely not a happy medium.

0:38:200:38:23

David's wife Pauline is parked around the corner, helping us spring this trick.

0:38:230:38:27

As Roger waits for her decision about his money, Pauline receives over 20 calls from her husband,

0:38:270:38:33

who's getting more and more irate.

0:38:330:38:36

Finally, she picks up.

0:38:360:38:37

-Hi, hun.

-"Paul?"

-Yes?

-Where the

-BLEEP

-are you?

0:38:370:38:42

I'll be home shortly.

0:38:420:38:43

-"Where are you?"

-Just coming off the A12. I should be about five minutes.

0:38:430:38:48

"You'd better be because I ain't paying them."

0:38:480:38:51

-All right. See you in a minute.

-BOTH: Bye.

0:38:510:38:55

Dave sounded like he had the hump!

0:38:580:39:00

For Roger to stand a chance of collecting any money today,

0:39:020:39:06

there's no choice but for Pauline to speed back and help resolve the situation.

0:39:060:39:10

-I've done a lovely job for you!

-Hiya.

-I've put it back.

0:39:100:39:14

-Thank you.

-And now your husband doesn't want to pay me.

0:39:140:39:17

I thought it was quite a reasonable job, you know, £150.

0:39:170:39:22

We had to come out, put diesel in the van. We've got another job to go to.

0:39:220:39:27

DIALOGUE BLEEPED

0:39:270:39:30

Hun, the man's done the job. We've got to give him something.

0:39:300:39:34

Things are not looking great for our cowboy builder.

0:39:340:39:37

Has he come up against a consumer who knows the value of a job

0:39:370:39:41

and won't be led astray by a cowboy?

0:39:410:39:45

What do you want to give me?

0:39:450:39:47

-£40.

-£40?! How about 80?

0:39:470:39:52

-DIALOGUE BLEEPED

-All right, I'll tell you what. Er...

0:39:520:39:56

75, how about that? I'll give you a discount.

0:39:570:40:01

If looks could kill, Roger would be dead on the driveway.

0:40:010:40:06

Today, David Hanlon has let a tricky tradesman onto his roof

0:40:060:40:09

without asking for a quote or checking his ID.

0:40:090:40:13

Roger's replaced a tile and dreamt up several dirty tricks

0:40:130:40:16

to squirrel away £300 of David's money.

0:40:160:40:20

The red mist came down for our homeowner,

0:40:200:40:23

but will he finally pay up?

0:40:230:40:26

If you need another apprentice, I'm your man.

0:40:260:40:29

-Good man! Do you want a receipt?

-No.

-You don't?

-My wife might.

0:40:290:40:34

So upset, he doesn't even want a receipt.

0:40:340:40:36

David took a tough stance against the conman and won a battle for consumer rights.

0:40:360:40:41

It's not looking good for our tricky tradesman.

0:40:410:40:43

£70 is just £20 more than the going rate for a tile repair,

0:40:430:40:48

so it's hardly been worth his while.

0:40:480:40:50

With Roger safely round the corner, it's time for our producer to pay David a visit

0:40:500:40:55

and reveal the truth of the scam.

0:40:550:40:58

We're doing some filming in the area,

0:40:580:41:01

just asking people whether they've had tradesmen calling at all.

0:41:010:41:04

It's funny you should say that, mate. There was one nearly killed on the doorstep a minute ago.

0:41:040:41:10

-Right.

-Yes.

-Right.

-A roofer.

-OK.

0:41:100:41:13

He moved one tile for me and he wanted £150 for doing it.

0:41:130:41:18

-Did he come through you, then, this guy?

-Well, yes.

0:41:190:41:23

Can I have my money back, then, for the one tile he put up?

0:41:230:41:27

He's coming. He's coming. Roger!

0:41:270:41:30

Give us my money back, Roger.

0:41:300:41:32

-How do you get up in the morning?

-I just spent it.

0:41:320:41:36

I'm shocked, actually, but I can see the point of it now, you know, people do get ripped off.

0:41:380:41:44

And if it helps anyone, I'm glad.

0:41:440:41:48

-Sorry to do that to you, mate.

-That's all right. I could be your apprentice!

0:41:480:41:52

-Easy money!

-I could do with you as the muscle.

0:41:520:41:55

If it ever happened again, I would ask for the quote first.

0:41:550:41:59

And if they're pensioners or someone that is physically vulnerable,

0:41:590:42:05

I would make sure I had someone with me to deal with it.

0:42:050:42:10

Because they can obviously be very intimidating, can't they?

0:42:100:42:15

Thanks for taking it so well, David.

0:42:190:42:21

Isn't it terrific to see people trusting their instincts

0:42:210:42:25

and standing their ground?

0:42:250:42:27

You can rely on the majority of tradesmen being honest and hardworking.

0:42:270:42:30

It's only a very few who play dirty tricks.

0:42:300:42:34

If there's one things to remember - if in doubt, keep them out.

0:42:340:42:38

Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.

0:42:380:42:40

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:42:400:42:44

E-mail [email protected]

0:42:440:42:49

An audacious hidden camera series with Chris Hollins. An acting rogue tradesman tries to rip people off in their own homes using well-known con tricks to show us all how easy it can be to be taken in.

Police officer Dean from Hertfordshire sets up his astute father Henry for a visit from our rogue. But how much heat will he take as our tricky tradesman Roger 'fixes' his central heating? Meanwhile, bingo manager Pauline from Essex is worried about a missing tile on her roof. She sets up her husband David, to see if he'll fall for some roofing work with a sky high price.

Plus the extraordinary story of a Surrey rogue, who conned 38 victims out of almost a quarter of a million pounds.