Episode 11 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 11

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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Transcript


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What could be worse than when something goes wrong with our homes?

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Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on house repairs.

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Who can tell for sure that we've not been taken for a ride?

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Do you want to go for 225?

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Today, 500 quid, if it's cash.

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Probably about seven and a half grand.

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Thanks to audacious secret filming, we'll demonstrate how easy it is

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to be ripped off in your own home.

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

-He's not?

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Have I been done?

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So, yeah, been done, maybe.

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Plus, we show the consequences of some shocking tradesman rip-offs.

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One of the worst conservatories I've seen. It needed pulling down.

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The house was a death trap.

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There's no other word for it. Conned.

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Coming up on today's show,

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'our rogue Roger dives into his dirtiest trick yet,

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'as he cons the owner of this swimming pool.'

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In three years, you'd get the money back.

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'The truly shocking story of rogue roofers in Oxfordshire

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'who pocketed almost £500,000 from their elderly victims.'

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This gentleman wasn't aware

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that they'd taken that much because it was in dribs and drabs.

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'And Roger turns a dripping tap into a bucketful of tall tales

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'to trick this house-sitting teen in Buckinghamshire.'

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Let's scarper, Luke.

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These are the dirty tricks of the tradesmen.

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I confess I know little about the workings of boilers, fuse boxes

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and central heating systems.

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Who does? The specialists do, and the majority do a terrific job.

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There is a small minority whose only interest is in making money at our expense.

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People from all over the country are telling us shocking stories of being ripped off by the cowboys.

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Many are helping us blow the secrets of the most commonly used tricks

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by setting up friends and family for a visit from our own tradesman.

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It's all to show you how to avoid being taken for a ride.

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So who is our tradesman?

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'Meet Roger Bisby.

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'With 40 years' experience,

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'there's little he doesn't know about the building game.

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'There's also one thing he really can't stand - conmen

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'who cash in using dirty tricks.'

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We asked Roger to change tack and go against his deeply held beliefs.

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He's going to play at being a dodgy tradesman and show us how not to get conned.

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'So we're setting up small property problems and sending Roger round

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'to show us how easy it is to be tricked into unnecessary work.

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'It's being filmed in secret, and he's working with our cameraman Luke

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'who's pretending to be Roger's apprentice.

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'We'll discover the location of their first sting in just a moment.'

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Now, there are around 25 million households in the UK,

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which could mean as many as 50 million sinks

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and therefore 100 million taps - 200 million if you include the bath.

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There's nothing worse than a dripping tap.

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Roger's about to turn a small issue like that into a much larger con,

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using nothing more than a charabanc full of tall stories.

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'Patricia Greco lives in Buckinghamshire

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'with her beloved parallette Sweet.'

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Kisses.

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'Ah! And Salvatore, her 19-year-old son.

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'Apparently, he could do with having his eyes opened to the ways of rogue tradesmen.'

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Salvie, whatever you tell him, he believes you.

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No matter what. He's very gullible.

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He did a plumbing course in college for a year.

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He doesn't know a lot about the DIY but he knows a little.

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'Let's hope Salvie is switched-on enough to see through Roger,

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'who's got tricks up his sleeves regarding their dripping tap.'

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It's more than dripping. It's turning the wrong way and it's spluttering.

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We can fix those problems with a simple service and a new washer.

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But we're going to make it into something else.

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I've got all sorts of different sized washers.

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What we want to do is stretch this out a bit.

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We'll do a bit of time wasting,

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convince him we're doing more than we are,

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and hopefully get out with £150.

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Roger will probably repair the tap in ten minutes flat.

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His main trick will be to make a mountain out of a molehill, using whatever props he can find.

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We can expect him to flannel Salvatore

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and overcharge him at least £150 for a job that's only worth about £50.

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Three times the price! The scoundrel!

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'It's around 11 o'clock when Roger and Luke rock up.

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'Salvie had better watch out.

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'They seem to be in fine and fraudulent fettle.'

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Hiya. All right? The plumber.

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-Do you know anything about it?

-No.

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The amount of houses we go to where people go, "I don't know what's going on!

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"Help yourself. Do what you like."

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'I don't think anyone we've met on this series has asked to see your identification,

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'so Salvie has fallen at the first hurdle.

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'I'm sure he'll keep an eye on you.

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'No. Salvie may be too interested in video gaming to pay attention.

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'Let's hope that doesn't cost him dear.'

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-Hot or cold?

-RUNS TAP

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-That DOES turn on the opposite way!

-CHUCKLES

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That's weird, isn't it?

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I know why. I know what's in there.

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Ceramic disc, hot cartridge.

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'The taps turn in the opposite direction to the way yours or mine turn.

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'The water washers are back to front. Roger will put this right before playing any dirty tricks.'

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What I'm going to do is swap the cartridges back over,

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the way they should be, then tell him I've got to nip out for a part.

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I just need to go upstairs, mate, just to turn the hot water off.

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'Swapping the cartridges should take a few moments.

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'After that, Roger can start his money-making, time-wasting tricks.'

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Need a plug to put in the sink.

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If you don't have a plug in and you drop a screw, it's in the U-bend.

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-See that?

-Yeah.

-What colour's that?

-Red.

-Right.

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Well done, mate.

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-Let's see what colour this is going to be.

-Blue.

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-You reckon?

-Definitely. Yeah.

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# Bum-ba-bum! #

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Right, this one's knackered. This one's had it.

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'I don't believe you, Roger. I bet it's fine.

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'You're stringing this out now, admit it.'

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-I'm going to nip down to get a new cartridge, all right?

-Yeah.

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This one's not in... not in pristine condition.

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'Salvatore, busy playing with his joystick, hasn't even noticed.

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'He should be watching Roger like a hawk.'

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Ha. It was even easier than I thought.

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The taps were just on the wrong way round so I've swapped the cartridges

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and that would fix the problem.

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What we're going to do is pretend we're going to get a new part.

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We've got the old part here.

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In order to make that look new, it's a bit of old brass,

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verdigris round the top, all we need is a bit of mild acid,

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something like lemon juice or vinegar, maybe even a cola drink.

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We'll pour that over and that will bring it up as good as new.

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'Roger fixed the tap in just under ten minutes.

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'Not only is he misleading Salvatore over his whereabouts,

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'he'll simply clean up the existing part and overcharge for it.

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'Where are you heading now? A DIY store?

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'That's what I call playing for time. Pick me up cod and chips, Rog!

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'There we go, acetic acid, alias chip shop vinegar,

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'strong enough to strip the beard off Dave Lee Travis

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'and put a shine on Salvatore's tarnished tap cartridge.'

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Chip shop style vinegar, the best stuff you can get.

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'Is there no end to Roger's tricks?

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'With the old cartridge smuggled in, will he pull a fast one with the boy's money?'

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Let's scarper, Luke.

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'How will Salvatore react when he realises he's been conned?'

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BLEEP

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Yeah.

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Chip shop vinegar, eh? Stranger things have happened.

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No matter how outlandish their cons, you can rest assured

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that the law usually catches up with the rogues and crime doesn't pay.

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But what are the most common dirty tricks they play?

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'It mostly relates to cold calling, where a trader touts for work.'

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It's very difficult to find the difference between a cowboy builder

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and a decent reputable trader.

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That is a real problem for any of us thinking about updating our house.

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'Cold calling is as common as muck, as one consumer survey showed.

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'In 2009, a hefty 5,300 complaints were received about traders

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'who offered work on the doorstep.'

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It's vastly under-reported.

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Out of every 20 people that get ripped off,

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only one person will contact Trading Standards to let us know.

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'It's estimated that cowboy builders cost the economy

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'a purse-destroying £5 billion each year.

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'So with only one in 20 consumers complaining,

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'the real figure of those conned is probably around 106,000.

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'Knowing the rogues' tricks can help to keep them at bay.

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'Here's our guide to the top five cold-calling scams.

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'Creeping in at Number Five, the glamorous world of guttering!

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'Rogues love truffling about in your mucky gutters,

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'as it's tricky to check their work.

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'83-year-old Christine Roberts from Gloucestershire was scammed exactly this way.'

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He seemed such a nice young lad that, in a way, you couldn't doubt him.

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You sort of felt like he could have been a grandson coming to see you.

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'Christine forked out £25,000 to the conman

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'who, like many rogues, seemed to have a sixth sense.'

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They're very good at knowing how much money you've got in the bank.

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Their soul aim is to bleed that account dry till every last penny's gone.

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'To prevent that from happening,

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'you should never hand over your bank account details unnecessarily.

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'Also, make sure you seek a written agreement

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'of any work due to take place.'

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Get a written contract before you accept to have building work done.

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'Getting dirty at Four,

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'it's general building work, like plastering and gardening.

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'Any little job can soon mount up to massive overcharging.

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'That's what rogues Michael Williams and Anthony Field did

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'to Bill Neale from Norfolk.

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'For shoddy work to his garden, the rogues took a shocking...

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'Bill's daughter-in-law Susan wouldn't want anyone to go through the same experience.'

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For anyone with elderly parents, just check on them,

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make sure what people they are having round their house,

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because you just really don't know.

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'Thankfully, both rogues responsible felt the full force of the law

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'and were given lengthy stints in prison.

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'Number Three, earning more than enough to keep a con artist warm,

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'it's insulation!

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'In one case in Yorkshire, 300,000 homes

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'received leaflets promising government discounts

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'on energy-saving home improvements.

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'But they'd been posted by conmen.

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'One couple took up the offer and paid cash up-front

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'to have a new conservatory built.

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'It wasn't destined to win the Best Conservatory of the Year Award.'

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They looked at the conservatory and saw the roof was sliding off.

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They were absolutely horrified.

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'The rogues behind the scam told each customer they'd receive a large percentage of their money back.

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'But it was a massive con.

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'If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.'

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I would recommend to anybody that's going to install a conservatory

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or any other home improvements, to get three quotes.

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'At Two, with 23% of complaints, it's tarmac and paving.

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'Conmen like to offer slick and smooth driveways at bargain prices.

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'Sadly, they're also likely to deliver

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'a collection of potholes, cracks and weeds.

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'Thanks to cold callers in Lancashire,

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'that's exactly what happened to Jean and Jeff Cummings.'

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He started breaking it up. They were carrying great chunks of concrete.

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They'd dug it out, and at six o'clock, they left -

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and left me the weekend like that.

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'The fraudsters used a Freephone number to look the part.

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'Please don't be fooled by Freephone numbers or any telephone trickery the tradesman may try.'

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One warning sign is if you've only got a mobile number.

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Phone up that builder, make sure you get a landline from them,

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not just a mobile.

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'And at Number One, with a whopping 28% of all complaints,

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'at the top, it's roofing.'

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Cold calls, they're not a good idea.

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If someone knocks on your door saying your roof needs doing, make sure you vet them, check them out.

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'72-year-old Ray Wood from Merseyside

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'probably wishes he'd done that.

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'When two con artists called, they scampered on top of Ray's roof

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'quicker than a pair of crooked monkeys.'

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They started to throw the ridge tiles down.

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I was getting a bit worried.

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'Paul and Roberta Dixon from Dorset

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'also fell victim to roof-top scammers

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'whose shoddy work left their property exposed to the elements.'

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We'd seen all the mess.

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Also, to have this awful leak that came right through the bedroom

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down into the lounge - I was livid!

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'Thankfully, in both these cases, the law caught up with the conmen,

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'proving crime really doesn't pay.

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'They are the top five cold-calling scams.

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'Remember, it's not illegal for tradesmen to tout for work.

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'Even so, simple steps can help keep conmen away from your wallet.'

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Get someone recommended by friends and family.

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Someone's had work carried out by a trader, they've done a good job, that's the best recommendation.

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Use your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable with a builder,

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don't be afraid to say, "I'm going to get someone else."

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If you're handing over thousands of pounds,

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you want to make sure that person's doing the best job possible.

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'We've an extraordinary and gripping story still to come,

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'when two Oxfordshire rogues play such dirty tricks

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'that they make off with nearly half a million pounds.'

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He believed that what they were telling him was legitimate.

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'Plus, our Roger talks a consumer into letting him fix

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'the heating pump on her swimming pool, when it isn't even broken.'

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I reckon, in three years you'd get your money back.

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Hiya. All right?

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'Time to catch up with Salvatore Greco, a young chap from Buckinghamshire

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'whose mum asked him to house-sit while Roger repaired their tap.

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'The teenager is so loathe to leave the comfort of his game console

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'that Roger's walking all over him.'

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I'm going to nip down to get a new cartridge.

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'Roger had the job done in ten minutes,

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'but they're stringing out a £40 repair into a £150 one.

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'Roger's latest trick has been to collect a bottle of vinegar to spruce up the old tap cartridge.

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'It looks brand new and, of course, he can overcharge for that.'

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Chip shop style vinegar. That's the best stuff you can get.

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I've put loads in there.

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-It's brightening up nicely, isn't it?

-A little bit.

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-Give it a few minutes.

-I've got all the time in the world, mate!

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'It's almost an hour since they got here,

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'stretching a tap repair beyond credibility.

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'Surely, Salvatore smells a rat."

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-Needs a toothbrush.

-It's not bad.

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Just going to give it a bit of abrasive.

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'Come on, Salvie! He's still engrossed!

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'With Roger aiming for a massive mark-up,

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'it could soon be game over.'

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I'll clean off the verdigris, make that look shiny new.

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That's looking like a thing you'd buy out of a shop.

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These, you can pay about 40 quid for these.

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Vinegar, 80p.

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It's a no-brainer, isn't it?

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'Yes, if you're a rogue, Roger.

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'For something that cost you 80p, you'll probably overcharge.'

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-Hello, mate.

-Hiya.

-Success.

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Hot on the left, cold on the right.

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What you into? Boxing or cage fighting?

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-Both of them, really.

-PHONE RINGS

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Hello?

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'Salvatore recently took a plumbing course.

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'This could have been his chance to catch Roger out.

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'Instead, his eyes are glued to his game, allowing Roger to pass off

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'the old tap part as new without needing evidence of the purchase.'

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-All working nicely now.

-That's fine.

-That works the way it should.

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The thing is, now you have to get used to it.

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Your brain's kind of conditioned to doing it the other way.

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'He has one last trick, to overcharge for a tap repair.

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'It should have cost around £40 and taken ten minutes.

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'This job has been stretched over an hour. Roger's ready with the bill.

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'So, video kid, stop playing games and come into the real world.'

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-OK. That's good.

-Yeah?

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Including the part, if I'm doing it for cash,

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I'll do it for 150, all right?

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'So, Salvatore Greco let a perfidious plumber into his home.

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'Roger fixed a dripping tap in minutes,

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'but stretched it out to make more money.

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'He passed off an old part as new,

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'using vinegar from the chippy.

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'Now he's inflating the bill by 200%.

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'That's your mummy's money, mate. Don't give it to our conman.

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'Even Sweet the parallette looks disappointed.'

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-There's 60 there.

-Right, you need change. OK.

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'Come on, aren't you going to ask for a receipt?

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'This guy could be anyone.'

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Have you got a tenner?

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-I'll get it in from the van.

-Yeah.

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'There's time for one last dirty trick.

0:20:380:20:41

'Roger owes £10 change,

0:20:410:20:43

'but Salvie won't be seeing it any time soon. Or a receipt.'

0:20:430:20:47

Nick his tenner.

0:20:470:20:49

'He doesn't even know Roger's name, let alone his contact details.

0:20:490:20:53

'I bet our trickster can't believe he's got away with so much.'

0:20:530:20:57

Let's scarper, Luke. We're not going to give him the change.

0:20:570:21:02

'Now the conman has disappeared over the horizon,

0:21:020:21:05

'it's time for our producer to reveal the truth to Salvatore,

0:21:050:21:09

'who's probably none the wiser that Roger has even gone.'

0:21:090:21:12

-Hello.

-All right?

-Hiya. We're from the BBC.

0:21:120:21:16

We've been asking your neighbours if they've had any experiences with tradesmen.

0:21:160:21:22

We've had a plumber here today.

0:21:220:21:24

-What did he do?

-Changed the tap. It was the wrong way round.

0:21:240:21:28

-Did you get a receipt?

-No.

0:21:280:21:30

I think you've been scammed, unfortunately.

0:21:310:21:34

I gave him £160, he was going to come back with a tenner change.

0:21:350:21:40

Yeah.

0:21:400:21:42

'He doesn't look happy about losing £160

0:21:420:21:45

'of his mum Patricia's hard-earned cash.

0:21:450:21:48

'Maybe she'll give him a piece of her mind!'

0:21:480:21:52

Oh, God!

0:21:520:21:54

Roger charged me 150. I gave him £160 and he didn't come back with my change!

0:21:540:22:00

Would you like your cash back?

0:22:000:22:02

Wouldn't mind it.

0:22:020:22:04

It's always handy. Here you are, mate. Count it, won't you?

0:22:060:22:10

If that happened to me again, I'd advise everyone

0:22:100:22:13

to ask people for their business cards and what they actually do,

0:22:130:22:17

and their number or their boss's number or something like that.

0:22:170:22:22

I think that's yours.

0:22:220:22:24

-It wasn't mine.

-No, it's not yours.

0:22:240:22:27

'Patricia, leave your parallette in charge next time. Sweet.

0:22:270:22:32

Thanks, Salvatore and Mum for helping us out there.

0:22:320:22:36

But what should he have done to avoid the con?

0:22:360:22:39

Obviously, he should have checked the stranger's ID.

0:22:400:22:44

Again obviously, he should have paid attention.

0:22:440:22:47

Insisting on written quotes and receipts would have given him a leg to stand on to pursue the rogues.

0:22:470:22:53

As it was, he had no evidence Roger had even been there.

0:22:530:22:58

There are around 2,500 swimming pools built each year in the UK.

0:23:010:23:06

A large number are for domestic use.

0:23:060:23:08

They don't look after themselves. They need regular maintenance.

0:23:080:23:12

Roger's off to see a family in Kent whose swimming pool is in good nick,

0:23:120:23:16

to see if he can con them for a repair they don't actually need.

0:23:160:23:21

'Natalie Stern lives with her parents Carol and Paul

0:23:220:23:26

'in a smart detached house in a beautiful garden.'

0:23:260:23:30

We've got a swimming pool in the garden.

0:23:310:23:34

We have it closed for six months, then every summer we open it back up.

0:23:340:23:39

I want to teach Mum a lesson. If anyone comes to the pool she leaves them to get on with it.

0:23:390:23:45

'Hoping to teach her mum to pay more attention,

0:23:460:23:49

'Natalie's asked the maintenance man to pretend there's a problem with the heating system.

0:23:490:23:55

'That's Roger and Luke's cue to pay Carol a visit.

0:23:550:23:59

'Roger brings along a brick-in-a-box gadget.

0:23:590:24:03

'He plans to persuade Carol that it's something she needs installing. How's he going to do it?'

0:24:030:24:09

-What we've got, we're going to use this, a digital thermometer.

-OK.

0:24:090:24:15

I'm going to tell them it's not heating the pool up as it should.

0:24:150:24:18

What it needs is a special bit of equipment, which I've fabricated.

0:24:180:24:23

-It's heavy. There must be a lot of technology in there.

-A house brick!

0:24:230:24:28

We're going to seal it and say, "If you open this, the warranty's invalidated."

0:24:280:24:34

They won't go snooping to find my house brick.

0:24:340:24:37

I like the Japanese writing.

0:24:370:24:39

That's a special message for the customer, if they translate that.

0:24:390:24:44

-Where are you going to put that?

-We'll just stuff it in anywhere!

0:24:440:24:48

'By the way, that label translates as "This box is a fake"!

0:24:480:24:54

'Let's hope Carol's Japanese is a bit rusty.'

0:24:540:24:57

He'll use his digital thermometer,

0:24:570:24:59

which he'll probably manipulate to show false readings.

0:24:590:25:03

Then he'll flannel Carol with waffle, mainly about that gadget

0:25:030:25:07

and how it'll save money on their electricity bills.

0:25:070:25:11

Stand by for Roger on true trickster form.

0:25:110:25:14

'Carol's heat pump is working fine.

0:25:140:25:16

'But a maintenance visit shouldn't cost more than

0:25:160:25:20

'£40 to £50 per hour, excluding parts.

0:25:200:25:24

'Roger's hoping for over £300 for the job - six times as much.

0:25:240:25:29

'Roger arrives just after nine, closely followed by Luke,

0:25:290:25:33

'pretending to arrive from another job.

0:25:330:25:36

'He's driving our hidden cameras into position to view that pump.'

0:25:360:25:40

-Did you get lost?

-Yeah.

-Finding the house is the thing.

0:25:400:25:46

-I'll leave you to it.

-Thank you.

-Thanks very much.

0:25:460:25:50

'Just as Natalie predicted, she leaves our tricksters to it.

0:25:500:25:56

'She hasn't asked for any ID either.

0:25:560:25:59

'They could be anyone rummaging around the pumping system.'

0:25:590:26:03

What are we looking at, Rog?

0:26:030:26:05

Oh, steady, Luke, steady. That's all live, mate.

0:26:050:26:09

I'm not happy.

0:26:110:26:13

'Not happy? I can't wait to see what Roger's found in there.

0:26:130:26:18

'But he's not sharing his thoughts just yet.'

0:26:180:26:22

21 going out.

0:26:240:26:26

And it's 20 going in. It's only raising it by one degree.

0:26:280:26:33

Which, if you think about it, all that water...

0:26:330:26:36

-It's working incredibly inefficiently, really.

-Yeah.

0:26:360:26:40

-Costing money!

-'What a stroke of luck!

0:26:420:26:45

'Remember, there's nothing wrong with the pump.'

0:26:450:26:49

I'm going to isolate it, then I'm going to call Carol out.

0:26:490:26:53

'Roger's trick of faking those temperatures looks like it'll be easier than he thought.'

0:26:530:27:00

-You've shut that down now?

-Electricity's off.

-Good.

0:27:000:27:05

'The temperature trick is up and running.

0:27:050:27:08

'But what is troubling Roger?'

0:27:080:27:10

I know you don't know about these, but I just want to show you.

0:27:100:27:14

Look, all this stuff that's on here.

0:27:140:27:17

Can you see it's full of water?

0:27:170:27:20

-That should be dry?

-Yeah. That should be bone dry.

0:27:200:27:23

What's happening with that, imagine in the winter, it's freezing up.

0:27:230:27:27

It's just not good.

0:27:270:27:29

'He's discovered water in the works that shouldn't be there,

0:27:290:27:34

'unable to drain away because the outlet is blocked.

0:27:340:27:38

'He'll want to clean it up and maybe even earn some extra cash.'

0:27:380:27:42

You've got electronics. It's not good that it's inside the unit.

0:27:420:27:47

-I'll put that drain on there and run it out. Just a bit of hosepipe.

-OK.

0:27:470:27:52

'Before he sorts out the real problem,

0:27:520:27:55

'he's already fooling Carol into thinking her pool pump needs work.'

0:27:550:27:59

The other thing is, it needs optimising.

0:27:590:28:03

'He's going for the sell with all the techno-flannel he can muster.'

0:28:050:28:10

What it's adding to your water, on a day like today, is one degree.

0:28:100:28:14

It's probably losing heat as fast as it's bringing in.

0:28:140:28:17

I can fit an optimiser to it.

0:28:170:28:20

It basically just learns. It's like a computer, you know, programmer.

0:28:200:28:26

'Now that does sound very clever indeed.'

0:28:260:28:29

It goes into the controls and what it does, it learns what's happening.

0:28:290:28:33

-Right.

-And it measures the input and the output.

0:28:330:28:37

Then it just adjusts the unit to work automatically on that.

0:28:370:28:42

-Rather working arbitrarily...

-Oh, OK. When it drops a level it kicks in?

-Yeah.

0:28:420:28:48

It runs it to optimum efficiency.

0:28:480:28:50

There are days when it's so hot that it would be taking heat out of the pool and dropping it into there.

0:28:500:28:57

'Let me get this right. On hot days, the pump takes heat out of the pool

0:28:570:29:03

'and puts it into the pump? Oh, please!'

0:29:030:29:06

It'll definitely improve it. I reckon, it's hard to say,

0:29:060:29:10

but I reckon in three years you'd get the money back.

0:29:100:29:14

'That is amazing. Especially as it's a brick-in-a-box!

0:29:140:29:19

'So, will Carol fall for Roger's tricks?

0:29:190:29:22

'He wants a lot of money for nothing.'

0:29:220:29:24

-What do you want? 200?

-Just to make it clear, I was after 325.

0:29:240:29:29

'She really can't believe her ears.'

0:29:290:29:32

Does that happen?

0:29:320:29:34

We'll be back at Carol's in a moment but first a story from Oxfordshire

0:29:380:29:42

that's shocking because of the ruthless way in which the rogues treated their victims

0:29:420:29:48

and because of the money they made.

0:29:480:29:50

In one case alone, almost half a million pounds.

0:29:500:29:54

Even so, crime doesn't pay, and they're now behind bars.

0:29:540:29:58

'Reports of conmen preying on Oxfordshire's elderly

0:29:590:30:03

'have hit record levels in recent years.

0:30:030:30:07

'This is the story of how two rogues,

0:30:070:30:09

'Mark Shepherd and Scott Jackson,

0:30:090:30:12

'swindled one victim out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.'

0:30:120:30:16

I don't think we could believe it until we'd seen the bank details.

0:30:160:30:20

'Over the course of 2004 and 2005,

0:30:200:30:23

'Shepherd and Jackson scammed an 85-year-old person with dementia

0:30:230:30:27

'out of more than £350,000.

0:30:270:30:31

'Their work was worth just £30,000,

0:30:310:30:34

'but this was to prove a rehearsal for a much bigger crime.'

0:30:340:30:39

They'd go round parts of Oxfordshire

0:30:390:30:41

with a high proportion of vulnerable people.

0:30:410:30:45

They'd start with a cold call, then start with a small job.

0:30:450:30:48

They would suggest extra work, then while they were doing the work they would befriend those people.

0:30:480:30:54

'In September 2005, they knocked at the door of a retired 81-year-old,

0:30:540:30:59

'who we'll call Mr Robbins.'

0:30:590:31:02

It started with some tiles on the roof.

0:31:020:31:06

Then they suggested that the roof was rotten.

0:31:060:31:09

The gentleman could not go and see the work and he trusted them.

0:31:090:31:14

He believed what they were telling him was legitimate.

0:31:140:31:19

'All this was a pack of lies.

0:31:190:31:21

'When a surveyor assessed the roofing work,

0:31:210:31:24

'it was worth about £10,000.

0:31:240:31:26

'Mr Robbins paid the rogues a whopping four times that amount.'

0:31:260:31:30

It's a classic case where they gain the confidence

0:31:300:31:34

of the vulnerable victim, escalate more and more work,

0:31:340:31:39

and then take more and more money off the victim.

0:31:390:31:43

'The list of jobs the pair undertook on the property is mind-boggling.

0:31:460:31:50

'The sheer number of them was part of the scam to confuse Mr Robbins,

0:31:500:31:57

'week after week, month after month.'

0:31:570:32:01

More work was recommended, like gutterings, soffits, fascias,

0:32:010:32:05

fencing, and then they set about dangerous asbestos on the garage.

0:32:050:32:10

This, obviously, caused fear within the gentleman

0:32:100:32:15

and he felt he had to have that work carried out.

0:32:150:32:18

'Not only did they scare him,

0:32:180:32:20

'the asbestos work probably didn't need doing in the first place.'

0:32:200:32:26

The rogues used asbestos cos it's very expensive to get rid of.

0:32:260:32:30

Often, the home owner is willing to pay that price to make sure it's got rid of properly.

0:32:300:32:36

Quite often, those rogues are not licensed.

0:32:360:32:39

They do not do the job properly and they cut corners.

0:32:390:32:43

'After the staggering amount of jobs they'd done,

0:32:430:32:48

'it's hard to believe there was anything to do on Mr Robbins' house.

0:32:480:32:52

'Shepherd and Jackson weren't finished.

0:32:520:32:55

'However, their days of making dodgy money were numbered,

0:32:550:32:59

'thanks to their past roguery

0:32:590:33:01

'and a sharp-eyed Trading Standards officer.'

0:33:010:33:04

Jackson's been dealt with before by Trading Standards.

0:33:040:33:08

Because we were aware of him, we kept an eye on him

0:33:080:33:12

and he was seen leaving the property of the victim.

0:33:120:33:16

That's when one of our officers and a police officer

0:33:160:33:19

visited the victim, and that's when it all came to light.

0:33:190:33:24

'The investigation assessed Mr Robbins' bank records.

0:33:240:33:27

'He'd paid out a shocking amount of money to Shepherd and Jackson.'

0:33:270:33:32

A statement was taken from the victim about what had happened

0:33:320:33:36

and the work that was supposed to have been done.

0:33:360:33:39

A surveyor was brought in to check what work had been carried out

0:33:390:33:44

and what had been done to what value.

0:33:440:33:47

'And what the surveyor's report said was truly shocking.

0:33:470:33:51

'The real value of the work Shepherd and Jackson had done

0:33:510:33:55

'was £55,000.

0:33:550:33:57

'Bank records showed Mr Robbins had paid out a heart-breaking £500,000

0:33:570:34:02

'over three years.

0:34:020:34:04

'It's one of the biggest domestic scams ever carried out in the UK.'

0:34:040:34:09

The victim wasn't aware at the time that they'd taken that much

0:34:090:34:14

because it was in dribs and drabs.

0:34:140:34:17

I think the reality of the amount of money he had lost

0:34:170:34:21

of half a million hit home.

0:34:210:34:24

'Despite the deep shock he felt, Mr Robbins could take comfort

0:34:240:34:27

'in the sentences handed out to Mark Shepherd and Scott Jackson

0:34:270:34:31

'in May 2010.'

0:34:310:34:34

Both Shepherd and Jackson received a sentence of seven years between them

0:34:340:34:39

and it sends a message out to these rogues

0:34:390:34:41

that Trading Standards and the police work closely together

0:34:410:34:45

to get these people before the courts.

0:34:450:34:48

'An upsetting story but, please, bear these facts in mind

0:34:480:34:52

'before agreeing to any trade work.'

0:34:520:34:55

We always advise people, if you get a cold call,

0:34:550:34:58

don't just go with the first quote, get other people in,

0:34:580:35:03

get quotes from other companies

0:35:030:35:05

and contact your local Trading Standards cos they've got schemes -

0:35:050:35:09

in Oxfordshire it's Buy With Confidence -

0:35:090:35:12

where they can give you reputable businesses

0:35:120:35:15

and give you a list of those people.

0:35:150:35:18

Top advice there.

0:35:180:35:20

If you are thinking of using a particular tradesman, always use a written contract.

0:35:200:35:26

It offers you protection if anything goes wrong.

0:35:260:35:29

Now, what about our consumer in Kent?

0:35:290:35:32

'Remember Carol? There's nothing wrong with her pool heating pump.

0:35:320:35:36

'Roger has found water inside the pump.

0:35:360:35:40

'That's a little problem, so Roger's looking for devious ways to make some real cash.

0:35:400:35:45

'He's got a gadget.'

0:35:450:35:47

It needs optimising.

0:35:470:35:50

'It's an old brick in a plastic box.

0:35:500:35:53

'He's done a lot of flannelling, but will she fall for his tricks?'

0:35:530:35:59

It's hard to say. I reckon in three years you'd get your money back.

0:35:590:36:04

And how much would it cost, all in all, you doing it and...?

0:36:040:36:09

50 quid to do the bits and pieces.

0:36:090:36:11

Say it's 250 for the unit.

0:36:110:36:15

-You're looking at 325.

-I'll have a chat with Paul.

-See what he says.

0:36:160:36:21

'So Carol's off to check with husband Paul

0:36:210:36:24

'that it's OK to pay Roger 325 quid.

0:36:240:36:27

'Even though there's nothing wrong with her pump,

0:36:270:36:31

'apart from some spare water lying in its belly.'

0:36:310:36:34

I'm going to get a sponge in there and get some of that water out.

0:36:340:36:39

-You know that cup of tea you offered?

-Yeah.

-Have you got a coffee?

0:36:390:36:44

Thank you so much.

0:36:440:36:46

'Roger's really pushing his luck.

0:36:460:36:49

'He's had the cheek to ask for £325, and then a cup of coffee!'

0:36:490:36:54

Sponge. We need sponges.

0:36:540:36:56

That's not a sponge. Are you making it up?

0:36:560:36:59

If I put these in that pool, it would be empty!

0:36:590:37:03

'So, while Roger waits for Carol's decision,

0:37:030:37:06

'he and Luke clear out that water.

0:37:060:37:08

'It's a good job they switched off the power first.'

0:37:080:37:11

Look! That's ridiculous! This is inside the electrics.

0:37:110:37:16

-That is so bad.

-Look how much water's come out there.

0:37:160:37:20

I thought you were telling me porky pies, but it does the job.

0:37:200:37:24

The great thing is you don't have to tell too many lies,

0:37:240:37:28

just have to embellish the truth slightly.

0:37:280:37:31

'It's one of the oldest tricks going -

0:37:310:37:34

'glossing up ridiculous claims with a veneer of truth

0:37:340:37:38

'to make them much more believable.'

0:37:380:37:41

-Where's the hole, Luke?

-It's down there.

0:37:410:37:44

-Just below the fan.

-That's the baby.

0:37:440:37:48

-So what are we going to do?

-Going to get a spirit level.

0:37:480:37:52

'The pump is leaning, blocking the outlet.

0:37:520:37:55

'Stand it upright and the water will wash out. Bingo! More money!

0:37:550:38:00

'Here's Carol with Roger's coffee and a decision about the cash.'

0:38:000:38:04

-He doesn't really want to cos we're saving up for a holiday.

-OK.

0:38:040:38:08

But when I said that you said that it will work more efficiently

0:38:080:38:12

and you'll get your money back over the next three years,

0:38:120:38:17

he said, "Oh, OK, then."

0:38:170:38:19

'Bang go Carol's savings to Roger,

0:38:190:38:22

'who's done nothing expect sponge up some water.'

0:38:220:38:26

-Where were you going on holiday?

-Turkey.

0:38:260:38:29

Oh, you wouldn't enjoy it.

0:38:290:38:32

Spend your money on your pool pump and stay at home.

0:38:320:38:36

'I wonder if she'll spend £325,

0:38:360:38:38

'or has she got a few tricks of her own?'

0:38:380:38:41

So what do you want, then? 200, wasn't it?

0:38:410:38:44

'I like your style, Carol.

0:38:440:38:47

'Carol Stern has let a bogus repairman tamper with her pool heating pump.

0:38:470:38:53

'Roger's taken its temperature, flushed out some excess water

0:38:530:38:57

'and has told her all the benefits of his fake money-saving gadget.

0:38:570:39:01

'But will Carol agree to the work and the money Roger's charging?'

0:39:010:39:05

-Just to make it clear, I was after 325 for the whole job.

-Yeah.

0:39:050:39:09

Yeah? 325 in all.

0:39:090:39:12

-Is that all right?

-Yeah.

-I'm sorry about your holiday.

0:39:120:39:16

I'd love to do something about it but I need one too.

0:39:160:39:20

'There it is. Carol's fallen for all Roger's tricks and agreed to his price.'

0:39:200:39:26

She's going to go for the 325, so that's nice.

0:39:260:39:29

We get that, stick that little box in there and be gone.

0:39:290:39:33

'Roger has elevated dirty tricks to a high art.

0:39:340:39:38

'Within 20 minutes, he has the pool pump drained, standing level

0:39:380:39:43

'and then it's time to fit his heat pump optimiser, which is literally

0:39:430:39:47

'a brick in a box with a wire hanging off it.'

0:39:470:39:50

-It's fully waterproof.

-That's a good job.

0:39:500:39:55

All done.

0:39:550:39:57

OK!

0:39:590:40:00

Are you looking for a tarmac drive? I know a guy who can do that!

0:40:000:40:06

-He's always got a bit left over.

-Has he?

-No! Don't touch 'em!

0:40:060:40:10

-Don't worry.

-I've heard some horror stories about those guys.

0:40:100:40:15

'I bet you have!

0:40:150:40:17

'Roger's charmed her out of £325 for practically nothing.

0:40:170:40:21

'Our cowboys really cleaned up with this trick. Time to make a quick getaway.'

0:40:210:40:27

-All right. Thank you very much indeed.

-See you later.

0:40:270:40:31

'With Roger off the premises,

0:40:370:40:41

'it's time for our producer to pay Carol a visit and reveal the truth about the scam.'

0:40:410:40:47

-Hello. Hi.

-Sorry to bother you.

-Oh! Am I on the telly?

0:40:510:40:55

We're from the BBC.

0:40:550:40:57

-I believe a guy called Roger came today to fix your pool.

-He did.

0:40:570:41:03

-Has he done any work for you?

-No, he just, um...

0:41:030:41:07

fitted the condenser and stuff.

0:41:070:41:10

-It's very likely that you've probably been scammed by him.

-Right.

0:41:100:41:15

-Have you paid him much?

-Yeah. A couple of hundred.

0:41:150:41:18

-It's likely that he's sort of, um...done nothing.

-Really?

-Yeah.

0:41:180:41:23

-Have you seen him go?

-Yeah. He's got a silver van.

0:41:230:41:27

-We've been following his number plate.

-Right.

0:41:270:41:29

'It's time to put Carol's mind at rest and reveal how daughter Natalie set her up.'

0:41:290:41:35

I said to her, "Don't do it!"

0:41:350:41:38

-You've been scammed!

-It's not a nice thing to do to your mother.

0:41:380:41:42

'It did sound plausible.'

0:41:420:41:44

You put yourself in their hands.

0:41:440:41:47

We added an optimiser box, which is a plastic box with a brick in it.

0:41:470:41:53

-Then charged you a bit of money for it.

-But God! Does that happen?

0:41:530:41:58

Don't know how I feel, really. I don't think I've got over it yet.

0:41:580:42:03

The good news is

0:42:030:42:05

that you're not £325 poorer.

0:42:050:42:08

And we have fixed the little problem with your heat pump.

0:42:080:42:12

I think I would ask for ID now,

0:42:120:42:14

'and just check that they're from a reputable company.

0:42:140:42:19

'It will make me more aware in future.'

0:42:190:42:23

Thanks for taking it so well, Carol.

0:42:240:42:26

The vast majority of tradesmen provide a reliable service that you can rely on.

0:42:260:42:32

It's only a small minority who try to con you.

0:42:320:42:35

If in doubt, keep them out.

0:42:350:42:37

I'll see you next time.

0:42:370:42:39

'If you'd like to help us reveal how easy it is to fall for rogue tradesmen

0:42:390:42:44

'by sending our trickster to friends or family,

0:42:440:42:48

'you'll find all the details at:'

0:42:480:42:53

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:42:570:43:00

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:000:43:02

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.