Hidden-camera series. Pretend rogue plumber Roger tries to fool a nineteen-year-old caught up in his games console, and invents a gadget in order to con a consumer in Kent.
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What could be worse than when something goes wrong with our homes?
Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on house repairs.
Who can tell for sure that we've not been taken for a ride?
Do you want to go for 225?
Today, 500 quid, if it's cash.
Probably about seven and a half grand.
Thanks to audacious secret filming, we'll demonstrate how easy it is
to be ripped off in your own home.
-You've been ripped off. He's not a bona-fide tradesman.
Have I been done?
So, yeah, been done, maybe.
Plus, we show the consequences of some shocking tradesman rip-offs.
One of the worst conservatories I've seen. It needed pulling down.
The house was a death trap.
There's no other word for it. Conned.
Coming up on today's show,
'our rogue Roger dives into his dirtiest trick yet,
'as he cons the owner of this swimming pool.'
In three years, you'd get the money back.
'The truly shocking story of rogue roofers in Oxfordshire
'who pocketed almost £500,000 from their elderly victims.'
This gentleman wasn't aware
that they'd taken that much because it was in dribs and drabs.
'And Roger turns a dripping tap into a bucketful of tall tales
'to trick this house-sitting teen in Buckinghamshire.'
Let's scarper, Luke.
These are the dirty tricks of the tradesmen.
I confess I know little about the workings of boilers, fuse boxes
and central heating systems.
Who does? The specialists do, and the majority do a terrific job.
There is a small minority whose only interest is in making money at our expense.
People from all over the country are telling us shocking stories of being ripped off by the cowboys.
Many are helping us blow the secrets of the most commonly used tricks
by setting up friends and family for a visit from our own tradesman.
It's all to show you how to avoid being taken for a ride.
So who is our tradesman?
'Meet Roger Bisby.
'With 40 years' experience,
'there's little he doesn't know about the building game.
'There's also one thing he really can't stand - conmen
'who cash in using dirty tricks.'
We asked Roger to change tack and go against his deeply held beliefs.
He's going to play at being a dodgy tradesman and show us how not to get conned.
'So we're setting up small property problems and sending Roger round
'to show us how easy it is to be tricked into unnecessary work.
'It's being filmed in secret, and he's working with our cameraman Luke
'who's pretending to be Roger's apprentice.
'We'll discover the location of their first sting in just a moment.'
Now, there are around 25 million households in the UK,
which could mean as many as 50 million sinks
and therefore 100 million taps - 200 million if you include the bath.
There's nothing worse than a dripping tap.
Roger's about to turn a small issue like that into a much larger con,
using nothing more than a charabanc full of tall stories.
'Patricia Greco lives in Buckinghamshire
'with her beloved parallette Sweet.'
'Ah! And Salvatore, her 19-year-old son.
'Apparently, he could do with having his eyes opened to the ways of rogue tradesmen.'
Salvie, whatever you tell him, he believes you.
No matter what. He's very gullible.
He did a plumbing course in college for a year.
He doesn't know a lot about the DIY but he knows a little.
'Let's hope Salvie is switched-on enough to see through Roger,
'who's got tricks up his sleeves regarding their dripping tap.'
It's more than dripping. It's turning the wrong way and it's spluttering.
We can fix those problems with a simple service and a new washer.
But we're going to make it into something else.
I've got all sorts of different sized washers.
What we want to do is stretch this out a bit.
We'll do a bit of time wasting,
convince him we're doing more than we are,
and hopefully get out with £150.
Roger will probably repair the tap in ten minutes flat.
His main trick will be to make a mountain out of a molehill, using whatever props he can find.
We can expect him to flannel Salvatore
and overcharge him at least £150 for a job that's only worth about £50.
Three times the price! The scoundrel!
'It's around 11 o'clock when Roger and Luke rock up.
'Salvie had better watch out.
'They seem to be in fine and fraudulent fettle.'
Hiya. All right? The plumber.
-Do you know anything about it?
The amount of houses we go to where people go, "I don't know what's going on!
"Help yourself. Do what you like."
'I don't think anyone we've met on this series has asked to see your identification,
'so Salvie has fallen at the first hurdle.
'I'm sure he'll keep an eye on you.
'No. Salvie may be too interested in video gaming to pay attention.
'Let's hope that doesn't cost him dear.'
-Hot or cold?
-That DOES turn on the opposite way!
That's weird, isn't it?
I know why. I know what's in there.
Ceramic disc, hot cartridge.
'The taps turn in the opposite direction to the way yours or mine turn.
'The water washers are back to front. Roger will put this right before playing any dirty tricks.'
What I'm going to do is swap the cartridges back over,
the way they should be, then tell him I've got to nip out for a part.
I just need to go upstairs, mate, just to turn the hot water off.
'Swapping the cartridges should take a few moments.
'After that, Roger can start his money-making, time-wasting tricks.'
Need a plug to put in the sink.
If you don't have a plug in and you drop a screw, it's in the U-bend.
-What colour's that?
Well done, mate.
-Let's see what colour this is going to be.
# Bum-ba-bum! #
Right, this one's knackered. This one's had it.
'I don't believe you, Roger. I bet it's fine.
'You're stringing this out now, admit it.'
-I'm going to nip down to get a new cartridge, all right?
This one's not in... not in pristine condition.
'Salvatore, busy playing with his joystick, hasn't even noticed.
'He should be watching Roger like a hawk.'
Ha. It was even easier than I thought.
The taps were just on the wrong way round so I've swapped the cartridges
and that would fix the problem.
What we're going to do is pretend we're going to get a new part.
We've got the old part here.
In order to make that look new, it's a bit of old brass,
verdigris round the top, all we need is a bit of mild acid,
something like lemon juice or vinegar, maybe even a cola drink.
We'll pour that over and that will bring it up as good as new.
'Roger fixed the tap in just under ten minutes.
'Not only is he misleading Salvatore over his whereabouts,
'he'll simply clean up the existing part and overcharge for it.
'Where are you heading now? A DIY store?
'That's what I call playing for time. Pick me up cod and chips, Rog!
'There we go, acetic acid, alias chip shop vinegar,
'strong enough to strip the beard off Dave Lee Travis
'and put a shine on Salvatore's tarnished tap cartridge.'
Chip shop style vinegar, the best stuff you can get.
'Is there no end to Roger's tricks?
'With the old cartridge smuggled in, will he pull a fast one with the boy's money?'
Let's scarper, Luke.
'How will Salvatore react when he realises he's been conned?'
Chip shop vinegar, eh? Stranger things have happened.
No matter how outlandish their cons, you can rest assured
that the law usually catches up with the rogues and crime doesn't pay.
But what are the most common dirty tricks they play?
'It mostly relates to cold calling, where a trader touts for work.'
It's very difficult to find the difference between a cowboy builder
and a decent reputable trader.
That is a real problem for any of us thinking about updating our house.
'Cold calling is as common as muck, as one consumer survey showed.
'In 2009, a hefty 5,300 complaints were received about traders
'who offered work on the doorstep.'
It's vastly under-reported.
Out of every 20 people that get ripped off,
only one person will contact Trading Standards to let us know.
'It's estimated that cowboy builders cost the economy
'a purse-destroying £5 billion each year.
'So with only one in 20 consumers complaining,
'the real figure of those conned is probably around 106,000.
'Knowing the rogues' tricks can help to keep them at bay.
'Here's our guide to the top five cold-calling scams.
'Creeping in at Number Five, the glamorous world of guttering!
'Rogues love truffling about in your mucky gutters,
'as it's tricky to check their work.
'83-year-old Christine Roberts from Gloucestershire was scammed exactly this way.'
He seemed such a nice young lad that, in a way, you couldn't doubt him.
You sort of felt like he could have been a grandson coming to see you.
'Christine forked out £25,000 to the conman
'who, like many rogues, seemed to have a sixth sense.'
They're very good at knowing how much money you've got in the bank.
Their soul aim is to bleed that account dry till every last penny's gone.
'To prevent that from happening,
'you should never hand over your bank account details unnecessarily.
'Also, make sure you seek a written agreement
'of any work due to take place.'
Get a written contract before you accept to have building work done.
'Getting dirty at Four,
'it's general building work, like plastering and gardening.
'Any little job can soon mount up to massive overcharging.
'That's what rogues Michael Williams and Anthony Field did
'to Bill Neale from Norfolk.
'For shoddy work to his garden, the rogues took a shocking...
'Bill's daughter-in-law Susan wouldn't want anyone to go through the same experience.'
For anyone with elderly parents, just check on them,
make sure what people they are having round their house,
because you just really don't know.
'Thankfully, both rogues responsible felt the full force of the law
'and were given lengthy stints in prison.
'Number Three, earning more than enough to keep a con artist warm,
'In one case in Yorkshire, 300,000 homes
'received leaflets promising government discounts
'on energy-saving home improvements.
'But they'd been posted by conmen.
'One couple took up the offer and paid cash up-front
'to have a new conservatory built.
'It wasn't destined to win the Best Conservatory of the Year Award.'
They looked at the conservatory and saw the roof was sliding off.
They were absolutely horrified.
'The rogues behind the scam told each customer they'd receive a large percentage of their money back.
'But it was a massive con.
'If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.'
I would recommend to anybody that's going to install a conservatory
or any other home improvements, to get three quotes.
'At Two, with 23% of complaints, it's tarmac and paving.
'Conmen like to offer slick and smooth driveways at bargain prices.
'Sadly, they're also likely to deliver
'a collection of potholes, cracks and weeds.
'Thanks to cold callers in Lancashire,
'that's exactly what happened to Jean and Jeff Cummings.'
He started breaking it up. They were carrying great chunks of concrete.
They'd dug it out, and at six o'clock, they left -
and left me the weekend like that.
'The fraudsters used a Freephone number to look the part.
'Please don't be fooled by Freephone numbers or any telephone trickery the tradesman may try.'
One warning sign is if you've only got a mobile number.
Phone up that builder, make sure you get a landline from them,
not just a mobile.
'And at Number One, with a whopping 28% of all complaints,
'at the top, it's roofing.'
Cold calls, they're not a good idea.
If someone knocks on your door saying your roof needs doing, make sure you vet them, check them out.
'72-year-old Ray Wood from Merseyside
'probably wishes he'd done that.
'When two con artists called, they scampered on top of Ray's roof
'quicker than a pair of crooked monkeys.'
They started to throw the ridge tiles down.
I was getting a bit worried.
'Paul and Roberta Dixon from Dorset
'also fell victim to roof-top scammers
'whose shoddy work left their property exposed to the elements.'
We'd seen all the mess.
Also, to have this awful leak that came right through the bedroom
down into the lounge - I was livid!
'Thankfully, in both these cases, the law caught up with the conmen,
'proving crime really doesn't pay.
'They are the top five cold-calling scams.
'Remember, it's not illegal for tradesmen to tout for work.
'Even so, simple steps can help keep conmen away from your wallet.'
Get someone recommended by friends and family.
Someone's had work carried out by a trader, they've done a good job, that's the best recommendation.
Use your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable with a builder,
don't be afraid to say, "I'm going to get someone else."
If you're handing over thousands of pounds,
you want to make sure that person's doing the best job possible.
'We've an extraordinary and gripping story still to come,
'when two Oxfordshire rogues play such dirty tricks
'that they make off with nearly half a million pounds.'
He believed that what they were telling him was legitimate.
'Plus, our Roger talks a consumer into letting him fix
'the heating pump on her swimming pool, when it isn't even broken.'
I reckon, in three years you'd get your money back.
Hiya. All right?
'Time to catch up with Salvatore Greco, a young chap from Buckinghamshire
'whose mum asked him to house-sit while Roger repaired their tap.
'The teenager is so loathe to leave the comfort of his game console
'that Roger's walking all over him.'
I'm going to nip down to get a new cartridge.
'Roger had the job done in ten minutes,
'but they're stringing out a £40 repair into a £150 one.
'Roger's latest trick has been to collect a bottle of vinegar to spruce up the old tap cartridge.
'It looks brand new and, of course, he can overcharge for that.'
Chip shop style vinegar. That's the best stuff you can get.
I've put loads in there.
-It's brightening up nicely, isn't it?
-A little bit.
-Give it a few minutes.
-I've got all the time in the world, mate!
'It's almost an hour since they got here,
'stretching a tap repair beyond credibility.
'Surely, Salvatore smells a rat."
-Needs a toothbrush.
-It's not bad.
Just going to give it a bit of abrasive.
'Come on, Salvie! He's still engrossed!
'With Roger aiming for a massive mark-up,
'it could soon be game over.'
I'll clean off the verdigris, make that look shiny new.
That's looking like a thing you'd buy out of a shop.
These, you can pay about 40 quid for these.
It's a no-brainer, isn't it?
'Yes, if you're a rogue, Roger.
'For something that cost you 80p, you'll probably overcharge.'
Hot on the left, cold on the right.
What you into? Boxing or cage fighting?
-Both of them, really.
'Salvatore recently took a plumbing course.
'This could have been his chance to catch Roger out.
'Instead, his eyes are glued to his game, allowing Roger to pass off
'the old tap part as new without needing evidence of the purchase.'
-All working nicely now.
-That works the way it should.
The thing is, now you have to get used to it.
Your brain's kind of conditioned to doing it the other way.
'He has one last trick, to overcharge for a tap repair.
'It should have cost around £40 and taken ten minutes.
'This job has been stretched over an hour. Roger's ready with the bill.
'So, video kid, stop playing games and come into the real world.'
-OK. That's good.
Including the part, if I'm doing it for cash,
I'll do it for 150, all right?
'So, Salvatore Greco let a perfidious plumber into his home.
'Roger fixed a dripping tap in minutes,
'but stretched it out to make more money.
'He passed off an old part as new,
'using vinegar from the chippy.
'Now he's inflating the bill by 200%.
'That's your mummy's money, mate. Don't give it to our conman.
'Even Sweet the parallette looks disappointed.'
-There's 60 there.
-Right, you need change. OK.
'Come on, aren't you going to ask for a receipt?
'This guy could be anyone.'
Have you got a tenner?
-I'll get it in from the van.
'There's time for one last dirty trick.
'Roger owes £10 change,
'but Salvie won't be seeing it any time soon. Or a receipt.'
Nick his tenner.
'He doesn't even know Roger's name, let alone his contact details.
'I bet our trickster can't believe he's got away with so much.'
Let's scarper, Luke. We're not going to give him the change.
'Now the conman has disappeared over the horizon,
'it's time for our producer to reveal the truth to Salvatore,
'who's probably none the wiser that Roger has even gone.'
-Hiya. We're from the BBC.
We've been asking your neighbours if they've had any experiences with tradesmen.
We've had a plumber here today.
-What did he do?
-Changed the tap. It was the wrong way round.
-Did you get a receipt?
I think you've been scammed, unfortunately.
I gave him £160, he was going to come back with a tenner change.
'He doesn't look happy about losing £160
'of his mum Patricia's hard-earned cash.
'Maybe she'll give him a piece of her mind!'
Roger charged me 150. I gave him £160 and he didn't come back with my change!
Would you like your cash back?
Wouldn't mind it.
It's always handy. Here you are, mate. Count it, won't you?
If that happened to me again, I'd advise everyone
to ask people for their business cards and what they actually do,
and their number or their boss's number or something like that.
I think that's yours.
-It wasn't mine.
-No, it's not yours.
'Patricia, leave your parallette in charge next time. Sweet.
Thanks, Salvatore and Mum for helping us out there.
But what should he have done to avoid the con?
Obviously, he should have checked the stranger's ID.
Again obviously, he should have paid attention.
Insisting on written quotes and receipts would have given him a leg to stand on to pursue the rogues.
As it was, he had no evidence Roger had even been there.
There are around 2,500 swimming pools built each year in the UK.
A large number are for domestic use.
They don't look after themselves. They need regular maintenance.
Roger's off to see a family in Kent whose swimming pool is in good nick,
to see if he can con them for a repair they don't actually need.
'Natalie Stern lives with her parents Carol and Paul
'in a smart detached house in a beautiful garden.'
We've got a swimming pool in the garden.
We have it closed for six months, then every summer we open it back up.
I want to teach Mum a lesson. If anyone comes to the pool she leaves them to get on with it.
'Hoping to teach her mum to pay more attention,
'Natalie's asked the maintenance man to pretend there's a problem with the heating system.
'That's Roger and Luke's cue to pay Carol a visit.
'Roger brings along a brick-in-a-box gadget.
'He plans to persuade Carol that it's something she needs installing. How's he going to do it?'
-What we've got, we're going to use this, a digital thermometer.
I'm going to tell them it's not heating the pool up as it should.
What it needs is a special bit of equipment, which I've fabricated.
-It's heavy. There must be a lot of technology in there.
-A house brick!
We're going to seal it and say, "If you open this, the warranty's invalidated."
They won't go snooping to find my house brick.
I like the Japanese writing.
That's a special message for the customer, if they translate that.
-Where are you going to put that?
-We'll just stuff it in anywhere!
'By the way, that label translates as "This box is a fake"!
'Let's hope Carol's Japanese is a bit rusty.'
He'll use his digital thermometer,
which he'll probably manipulate to show false readings.
Then he'll flannel Carol with waffle, mainly about that gadget
and how it'll save money on their electricity bills.
Stand by for Roger on true trickster form.
'Carol's heat pump is working fine.
'But a maintenance visit shouldn't cost more than
'£40 to £50 per hour, excluding parts.
'Roger's hoping for over £300 for the job - six times as much.
'Roger arrives just after nine, closely followed by Luke,
'pretending to arrive from another job.
'He's driving our hidden cameras into position to view that pump.'
-Did you get lost?
-Finding the house is the thing.
-I'll leave you to it.
-Thanks very much.
'Just as Natalie predicted, she leaves our tricksters to it.
'She hasn't asked for any ID either.
'They could be anyone rummaging around the pumping system.'
What are we looking at, Rog?
Oh, steady, Luke, steady. That's all live, mate.
I'm not happy.
'Not happy? I can't wait to see what Roger's found in there.
'But he's not sharing his thoughts just yet.'
21 going out.
And it's 20 going in. It's only raising it by one degree.
Which, if you think about it, all that water...
-It's working incredibly inefficiently, really.
-'What a stroke of luck!
'Remember, there's nothing wrong with the pump.'
I'm going to isolate it, then I'm going to call Carol out.
'Roger's trick of faking those temperatures looks like it'll be easier than he thought.'
-You've shut that down now?
'The temperature trick is up and running.
'But what is troubling Roger?'
I know you don't know about these, but I just want to show you.
Look, all this stuff that's on here.
Can you see it's full of water?
-That should be dry?
-Yeah. That should be bone dry.
What's happening with that, imagine in the winter, it's freezing up.
It's just not good.
'He's discovered water in the works that shouldn't be there,
'unable to drain away because the outlet is blocked.
'He'll want to clean it up and maybe even earn some extra cash.'
You've got electronics. It's not good that it's inside the unit.
-I'll put that drain on there and run it out. Just a bit of hosepipe.
'Before he sorts out the real problem,
'he's already fooling Carol into thinking her pool pump needs work.'
The other thing is, it needs optimising.
'He's going for the sell with all the techno-flannel he can muster.'
What it's adding to your water, on a day like today, is one degree.
It's probably losing heat as fast as it's bringing in.
I can fit an optimiser to it.
It basically just learns. It's like a computer, you know, programmer.
'Now that does sound very clever indeed.'
It goes into the controls and what it does, it learns what's happening.
-And it measures the input and the output.
Then it just adjusts the unit to work automatically on that.
-Rather working arbitrarily...
-Oh, OK. When it drops a level it kicks in?
It runs it to optimum efficiency.
There are days when it's so hot that it would be taking heat out of the pool and dropping it into there.
'Let me get this right. On hot days, the pump takes heat out of the pool
'and puts it into the pump? Oh, please!'
It'll definitely improve it. I reckon, it's hard to say,
but I reckon in three years you'd get the money back.
'That is amazing. Especially as it's a brick-in-a-box!
'So, will Carol fall for Roger's tricks?
'He wants a lot of money for nothing.'
-What do you want? 200?
-Just to make it clear, I was after 325.
'She really can't believe her ears.'
Does that happen?
We'll be back at Carol's in a moment but first a story from Oxfordshire
that's shocking because of the ruthless way in which the rogues treated their victims
and because of the money they made.
In one case alone, almost half a million pounds.
Even so, crime doesn't pay, and they're now behind bars.
'Reports of conmen preying on Oxfordshire's elderly
'have hit record levels in recent years.
'This is the story of how two rogues,
'Mark Shepherd and Scott Jackson,
'swindled one victim out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.'
I don't think we could believe it until we'd seen the bank details.
'Over the course of 2004 and 2005,
'Shepherd and Jackson scammed an 85-year-old person with dementia
'out of more than £350,000.
'Their work was worth just £30,000,
'but this was to prove a rehearsal for a much bigger crime.'
They'd go round parts of Oxfordshire
with a high proportion of vulnerable people.
They'd start with a cold call, then start with a small job.
They would suggest extra work, then while they were doing the work they would befriend those people.
'In September 2005, they knocked at the door of a retired 81-year-old,
'who we'll call Mr Robbins.'
It started with some tiles on the roof.
Then they suggested that the roof was rotten.
The gentleman could not go and see the work and he trusted them.
He believed what they were telling him was legitimate.
'All this was a pack of lies.
'When a surveyor assessed the roofing work,
'it was worth about £10,000.
'Mr Robbins paid the rogues a whopping four times that amount.'
It's a classic case where they gain the confidence
of the vulnerable victim, escalate more and more work,
and then take more and more money off the victim.
'The list of jobs the pair undertook on the property is mind-boggling.
'The sheer number of them was part of the scam to confuse Mr Robbins,
'week after week, month after month.'
More work was recommended, like gutterings, soffits, fascias,
fencing, and then they set about dangerous asbestos on the garage.
This, obviously, caused fear within the gentleman
and he felt he had to have that work carried out.
'Not only did they scare him,
'the asbestos work probably didn't need doing in the first place.'
The rogues used asbestos cos it's very expensive to get rid of.
Often, the home owner is willing to pay that price to make sure it's got rid of properly.
Quite often, those rogues are not licensed.
They do not do the job properly and they cut corners.
'After the staggering amount of jobs they'd done,
'it's hard to believe there was anything to do on Mr Robbins' house.
'Shepherd and Jackson weren't finished.
'However, their days of making dodgy money were numbered,
'thanks to their past roguery
'and a sharp-eyed Trading Standards officer.'
Jackson's been dealt with before by Trading Standards.
Because we were aware of him, we kept an eye on him
and he was seen leaving the property of the victim.
That's when one of our officers and a police officer
visited the victim, and that's when it all came to light.
'The investigation assessed Mr Robbins' bank records.
'He'd paid out a shocking amount of money to Shepherd and Jackson.'
A statement was taken from the victim about what had happened
and the work that was supposed to have been done.
A surveyor was brought in to check what work had been carried out
and what had been done to what value.
'And what the surveyor's report said was truly shocking.
'The real value of the work Shepherd and Jackson had done
'Bank records showed Mr Robbins had paid out a heart-breaking £500,000
'over three years.
'It's one of the biggest domestic scams ever carried out in the UK.'
The victim wasn't aware at the time that they'd taken that much
because it was in dribs and drabs.
I think the reality of the amount of money he had lost
of half a million hit home.
'Despite the deep shock he felt, Mr Robbins could take comfort
'in the sentences handed out to Mark Shepherd and Scott Jackson
'in May 2010.'
Both Shepherd and Jackson received a sentence of seven years between them
and it sends a message out to these rogues
that Trading Standards and the police work closely together
to get these people before the courts.
'An upsetting story but, please, bear these facts in mind
'before agreeing to any trade work.'
We always advise people, if you get a cold call,
don't just go with the first quote, get other people in,
get quotes from other companies
and contact your local Trading Standards cos they've got schemes -
in Oxfordshire it's Buy With Confidence -
where they can give you reputable businesses
and give you a list of those people.
Top advice there.
If you are thinking of using a particular tradesman, always use a written contract.
It offers you protection if anything goes wrong.
Now, what about our consumer in Kent?
'Remember Carol? There's nothing wrong with her pool heating pump.
'Roger has found water inside the pump.
'That's a little problem, so Roger's looking for devious ways to make some real cash.
'He's got a gadget.'
It needs optimising.
'It's an old brick in a plastic box.
'He's done a lot of flannelling, but will she fall for his tricks?'
It's hard to say. I reckon in three years you'd get your money back.
And how much would it cost, all in all, you doing it and...?
50 quid to do the bits and pieces.
Say it's 250 for the unit.
-You're looking at 325.
-I'll have a chat with Paul.
-See what he says.
'So Carol's off to check with husband Paul
'that it's OK to pay Roger 325 quid.
'Even though there's nothing wrong with her pump,
'apart from some spare water lying in its belly.'
I'm going to get a sponge in there and get some of that water out.
-You know that cup of tea you offered?
-Have you got a coffee?
Thank you so much.
'Roger's really pushing his luck.
'He's had the cheek to ask for £325, and then a cup of coffee!'
Sponge. We need sponges.
That's not a sponge. Are you making it up?
If I put these in that pool, it would be empty!
'So, while Roger waits for Carol's decision,
'he and Luke clear out that water.
'It's a good job they switched off the power first.'
Look! That's ridiculous! This is inside the electrics.
-That is so bad.
-Look how much water's come out there.
I thought you were telling me porky pies, but it does the job.
The great thing is you don't have to tell too many lies,
just have to embellish the truth slightly.
'It's one of the oldest tricks going -
'glossing up ridiculous claims with a veneer of truth
'to make them much more believable.'
-Where's the hole, Luke?
-It's down there.
-Just below the fan.
-That's the baby.
-So what are we going to do?
-Going to get a spirit level.
'The pump is leaning, blocking the outlet.
'Stand it upright and the water will wash out. Bingo! More money!
'Here's Carol with Roger's coffee and a decision about the cash.'
-He doesn't really want to cos we're saving up for a holiday.
But when I said that you said that it will work more efficiently
and you'll get your money back over the next three years,
he said, "Oh, OK, then."
'Bang go Carol's savings to Roger,
'who's done nothing expect sponge up some water.'
-Where were you going on holiday?
Oh, you wouldn't enjoy it.
Spend your money on your pool pump and stay at home.
'I wonder if she'll spend £325,
'or has she got a few tricks of her own?'
So what do you want, then? 200, wasn't it?
'I like your style, Carol.
'Carol Stern has let a bogus repairman tamper with her pool heating pump.
'Roger's taken its temperature, flushed out some excess water
'and has told her all the benefits of his fake money-saving gadget.
'But will Carol agree to the work and the money Roger's charging?'
-Just to make it clear, I was after 325 for the whole job.
Yeah? 325 in all.
-Is that all right?
-I'm sorry about your holiday.
I'd love to do something about it but I need one too.
'There it is. Carol's fallen for all Roger's tricks and agreed to his price.'
She's going to go for the 325, so that's nice.
We get that, stick that little box in there and be gone.
'Roger has elevated dirty tricks to a high art.
'Within 20 minutes, he has the pool pump drained, standing level
'and then it's time to fit his heat pump optimiser, which is literally
'a brick in a box with a wire hanging off it.'
-It's fully waterproof.
-That's a good job.
Are you looking for a tarmac drive? I know a guy who can do that!
-He's always got a bit left over.
-No! Don't touch 'em!
-I've heard some horror stories about those guys.
'I bet you have!
'Roger's charmed her out of £325 for practically nothing.
'Our cowboys really cleaned up with this trick. Time to make a quick getaway.'
-All right. Thank you very much indeed.
-See you later.
'With Roger off the premises,
'it's time for our producer to pay Carol a visit and reveal the truth about the scam.'
-Sorry to bother you.
-Oh! Am I on the telly?
We're from the BBC.
-I believe a guy called Roger came today to fix your pool.
-Has he done any work for you?
-No, he just, um...
fitted the condenser and stuff.
-It's very likely that you've probably been scammed by him.
-Have you paid him much?
-Yeah. A couple of hundred.
-It's likely that he's sort of, um...done nothing.
-Have you seen him go?
-Yeah. He's got a silver van.
-We've been following his number plate.
'It's time to put Carol's mind at rest and reveal how daughter Natalie set her up.'
I said to her, "Don't do it!"
-You've been scammed!
-It's not a nice thing to do to your mother.
'It did sound plausible.'
You put yourself in their hands.
We added an optimiser box, which is a plastic box with a brick in it.
-Then charged you a bit of money for it.
-But God! Does that happen?
Don't know how I feel, really. I don't think I've got over it yet.
The good news is
that you're not £325 poorer.
And we have fixed the little problem with your heat pump.
I think I would ask for ID now,
'and just check that they're from a reputable company.
'It will make me more aware in future.'
Thanks for taking it so well, Carol.
The vast majority of tradesmen provide a reliable service that you can rely on.
It's only a small minority who try to con you.
If in doubt, keep them out.
I'll see you next time.
'If you'd like to help us reveal how easy it is to fall for rogue tradesmen
'by sending our trickster to friends or family,
'you'll find all the details at:'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Patricia Greco of Buckinghamshire is proud of her son Salvatore, who recently completed a plumbing course. She hopes he is switched-on enough to spot Roger's tricks when he calls to fix their dripping tap. But the nineteen-year-old is too caught up with his games console. Could it be "game over" for Salvatore's chances of making a smart consumer?
Roger also tries his luck as a swimming pool maintenance man, inventing a gadget in order to con a consumer in Kent. Will she pay him the 325 pounds he is determined to charge?
Police and Trading Standards officers in Oxfordshire explain how two rogues pocketed nearly half a million pounds from their elderly victims.