Hidden-camera series. When Doreen house-sits for her niece in East London, little does she realise she is being set up for a visit by Roger, who is posing as a rotten rat catcher.
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We're under pressure to make money go further,
so what's worse than something wrong with our homes?
Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on house repairs.
But who can tell for sure that we've not been taken for a ride?
Well, it's 475 in all.
-You're joking, aren't you?
Probably about 7,500.
Thanks to audacious secret filming,
we'll demonstrate how easy it is to be ripped off in your own home.
-I'm afraid you've been ripped off. He's not a real tradesman.
It's a lot of money for ten minutes' work.
-Were we set up as well?
We show the consequences of some truly shocking tradesmen rip-offs.
There's always cowboys in every business. I was unlucky.
Having no roof is horrific, really.
I just couldn't believe it, I was totally devastated.
Coming up on today's show...
Our own dirty rat Roger takes on the rodents of East London.
But will he get away with charging a fortune
to clear their non-existent nests?
Just close the door slightly in case one runs.
They might just run in there if they see the door open.
The shocking story of an elderly Gloucestershire consumer
relentlessly swindled out of thousands of pounds
for shoddy guttering work.
I must admit, he seemed such a nice young lad,
I sort of felt like he could have been a grandson.
And Roger pretends to play almost every trick in the book
on an unsuspecting Hertfordshire barmaid,
determined to con as much as possible.
They've got broken slates here and everything.
These are the dirty tricks of the tradesmen.
Let's be honest, most of us know very little about the trades -
plumbing, electrics, roofing -
so we put our trust in tradesmen and expect them to play fair.
Of course, the vast majority do. It's a small minority who turn rogue
and make life a misery for thousands of us each year.
Today we're meeting people who've been ripped off by the cowboys.
What's more, with your help, we'll show you how just easy it is
to fall for some of the oldest tricks in the tradesmen's books.
People have been setting up friends and relatives
for a visit from our own tradesman.
Why? To show you how to avoid being taken to the cleaners.
This is Roger Bisby.
That youthful face belies four decades of hard experience.
In that time, he's grown to detest rogue builders
and everything they stand for, the rotters!
But we're asking Roger to change tack just for today
and go against his deeply-held beliefs.
He's going to play a dodgy tradesman and show us how not to get conned.
We've arranged some minor household problems.
Roger will be going in to fix them,
as well as playing dirty tricks for our benefit.
It's all being filmed in secret,
and he's working with our cameraman, Luke, who's posing as his apprentice.
We'll find out in just a moment
who's on the receiving end of their first scam.
Limescale is that hard, chalky deposit that turns up in kettles.
But it also can show up in boilers
and in the inside of central-heating systems
if they haven't been maintained.
Roger's got access to a bathroom in Hertfordshire,
and he's about to tell some very tall stories about limescale
and how to get rid of it.
This Hertfordshire pub is run by Jay Franco,
and he's setting up his lodger and barmaid, Hannah.
Hannah thinks we're having a local tradesman in
to fix some plumbing works in the bathroom.
The pub's quite old, there's lots that needs doing,
so it's not too strange for us to have a tradesman in.
So that's what Jay's told Hannah.
As for Roger, his aim is to pull off a limescale con,
but his excuse for gaining entry is to quote for a new bathroom floor
as the existing one is in poor shape.
Of course, once inside, Roger will turn this into a much bigger and costlier job.
The first trick will be to tell Hannah
he needs to check all the plumbing so he can create a problem with it,
probably to do with the limescale,
then he'll overcharge her for solving it,
using whatever tools and gadgets he can find.
Remember, there's nothing wrong with the bathroom at all!
According to Jay,
Hannah loves playing practical jokes on people at the pub,
so I wonder how she'll respond to Roger and Luke's dirty tricks.
It's around 9:30am when they arrive.
Shall we try the back? Let's try the back door.
Hello? Hiya, sorry.
Sorry if we're late. Are we late? You don't know, you don't care, do you?
You're going to show me... the loo upstairs, I think.
Hannah's not saying much.
Like many of Roger's clients,
she's quite trusting and hasn't checked his ID.
-It won't give her much comeback if anything goes wrong later.
Do you want the light on, Rog?
-It's a bit up and down, isn't it? Can you see?
It's here, there and everywhere.
Right, that's... that's interesting.
-Does this work, this loo?
It defies gravity, it's great.
Going on a major charm offensive,
Roger does all he can to put Hannah at her ease.
He's probably trying to lull her into a false sense of security.
I'd have to take all this out to... to do the floor.
I think I'll leave the bath in
and take the basin out, all this out.
I'll try and level it a bit.
It's a bumpy old floor, and no mistake.
Genuinely, as we find quite a lot,
there is quite a bit of work to do in there,
but I'm not going to do it.
The floor's a bit bouncy, it could do with reinforcing.
It's also dropped in the middle,
so if I was to put a new floor in, I would level that through.
The plumbing is a bit old.
That could do with renewing before we put the floor down.
So all in all, what I'm saying there is not exactly a lie,
but I'm trying to get a deposit out of her.
I'm trying to get a bit of money for now,
and I'll probably never come back.
You'd be surprised how often conmen will play the old deposit trick,
pitching a plausible job, taking a few hundred upfront
and then doing a moonlight flit.
You've been warned, folks.
Roger soon sets to work
on gathering measurements to quote for the new floor.
Right, what are we going to do this by? What shall we do?
-Shall we use a metric system or the...
-..or the imperial?
2,470, as we say in the trade.
2,470. Let's open that window, give ourselves a bit of...
Oh... Oh, dear, sash cords. You need some new sash cords here.
New sash cords, eh? You don't miss a trick, do you, Roger?
Hang on, let's do that,
otherwise you get the old French Revolution bit.
Oh, look, they've got broken slates here and everything.
Looking for opportunities to big up the workload
in order to charge more money
is another popular trick with con artists.
Loads of work!
OK, he's got all the room measured for his floor quote.
Time to start working around to the dirty tricks.
The plumbing is a real mess under there.
If we just put the floor down on top of it,
which is what I initially thought it was,
then there's going to be loads of other problems coming up with it.
So we're going to have to take this out,
so what I'm going to do is I'm going put in a price
for rationalising the plumbing and making it a bit better.
If you get a problem, you have to get from underneath,
or you have to take the floor up again.
What an awful lot of flannel, Roger! Hannah wasn't expecting that before breakfast.
What concerns me a little bit is this.
You've got very little pressure on that cold water.
-This is the hot, is it?
-Yeah, that's the hot.
-On the left?
That one's the hot. Why has that got such a lot of pressure?
Do you know where your hot water is? I'm asking like you're a plumber.
Our barmaid probably knows how to change over a barrel,
but I expect the finer points of central heating are beyond her.
They're beyond most of us.
Let's see what Hannah makes of your dirty tricks, Roger.
What I was going to say to you, what goes on in that hall out there?
-The back hall there.
-Oh, it's a function room.
-Is it? Music?
-Music, parties, private parties.
-There's a few slates missing off the roof, did you see that?
And the gutter's dropped down, so there must be a bit of vibration.
I think it's having an effect on this plumbing.
This plumbing...is really in quite a bad state.
It's got...a bit of scale on it.
So what happens, if you get vibration,
like you could get a resonance through the pipes from the music,
and it shakes the scale off.
The scale sticks to the inside of the pipe,
and then if you get vibrations, traffic noise, music noise,
you get clogging up of the thing.
You're suggesting that the bands who play in the function room
are making the pipes vibrate and clog up with limescale?
That is ridiculous! Surely Hannah won't fall for that.
So what I would suggest,
I put in an electronic scale-management device, which I can put in very quickly,
and that will protect against that to a certain extent.
We're going to have to re-plumb all this, because it's horrible.
You're the only horrible thing in here, Roger.
It's your penchant for pulling people's legs.
Later, Hannah's on the receiving end of yet more fraudulent fast-talking.
Either one of those for a knockdown price.
So do you want me to leave you these samples?
-You can do.
-You couldn't care less, could you, really?
How will she react when she realises she's been conned?
How do you feel about that?
Roger's antics sometimes seem hard to believe,
but they're not as devious as the tricks played by real rogue tradesmen.
It's bad enough if a stranger cold-calls at your door
and tries to rip you off.
But imagine being ripped off by someone you've known for years.
But that's just what happened to 83-year-old Christine Roberts.
The knock on her door came from one of the Evans family.
She'd known them locally for ten years.
When they started coming back for more,
that's when I really got caught out.
Various members of the Evans family targeted elderly victims
all over Gloucestershire with large savings.
They'd turn up many times in their quest for cash.
The work that these men would carry out on people's properties
tended to be roofing, guttering, or fascia work.
The type of work that would be very difficult to be checked
by someone of limited mobility.
When they called at Christine's door in August 2008,
offering a gutter clear-out, she was delighted.
They were like old friends.
I've known these people for quite a few years,
in fact must have been ten... Ten years or more.
And they used to come and do odd jobs and...
Well, we got on quite well with them, really, to that extent.
Over the next two months, the family exploited this shared past
as a way of scamming Christine.
When they came, they said would I like the guttering cleaned out?
I said, "Yes, fair enough, that would be a good thing done."
I had to take them at their word,
cos I didn't know whether there was anything wrong up there or not.
Cleaning out a blocked gutter shouldn't cost more than £50 to £80.
But the Evans' had far higher sums in mind for the bill.
Gross overcharging was their first dirty trick.
To charge Mrs Roberts £1,000 for an hour's work on some guttering
clearly isn't a fair price in anyone's eyes.
Unfortunately Mrs Roberts is a trusting person and she did pay that.
£1,000 for an hour's work to clean some gutters - that's outrageous!
Unfortunately, for Christine, the rogues were soon back
and brought a very different dirty trick with them.
Well, about a week later, they came back and said they hadn't charged me
for VAT and that I had to pay them a couple of thousand, I think, then.
VAT, my foot!
Claiming not to have charged VAT
and then returning to collect it is a classic conman trick.
The Evans' gang first charged Christine £1,000 for cleaning the gutters.
Now they were charging her an extra 2,000 on top,
saying it was all for VAT.
So let's be clear - in their warped world, the rate of VAT is 200%?!
But from now on they used the VAT man in a very different way
and took their scam on to a totally different financial level.
Mrs Roberts was visited several times during a two-month period.
Each time, Shannon Evans would claim more money was owed for VAT
and that he needed her assistance in order to pay that money off.
He assured her that he would pay the money back
and Mrs Roberts trusted and believed that he would.
As Christine had known Shannon
since he was ten years old, you can see why she would.
But each time he visited, the charming Shannon was taking away
cheques for hundreds, even thousands of pounds.
I must admit, he seemed such a nice young lad
that you couldn't... In a way, you couldn't doubt him.
You sort of felt like he could have been like a grandson
coming in to see you, that's how I felt at the time.
But hopefully a grandson wouldn't have done what he was doing.
Shannon Evans was a charming character. He was well-spoken.
He came across as a likeable person.
It's understandable that he would ingratiate himself with people.
But by October 2008, Christine was growing worried about the money
she was paying to Evans.
When she told a friend about what was happening, they smelt a rat
and contacted the police.
It's quite usual that these sort of offences
are reported by third parties.
Unfortunately, the victims of this type of crime may be in denial
about what's happening to them, or they may not recognise
that they're being victimised in this way.
Thankfully, the police were able to take swift measures
to round up the rogues, using a variety of methods.
We identified the gang through telephone numbers
and other forensic means, fingerprints.
But identification procedures were also used in Mrs Roberts' case
and she picked out the suspect, Shannon, and Buddy Evans.
The police now had enough evidence to arrest Shannon Evans
in November 2008.
It was only then the shocking scale of the gang's crimes came to light.
The police linked them to eleven elderly victims,
who had paid for unnecessary, or shoddy, work between 2003 and 2008.
They scammed a 94-year-old widow out of £68,000.
They defrauded £39,700 from an 88-year-old.
From Christine, they took a total of £25,000.
In the region of around £200,000 was taken from the victims.
As for where the money went after it was taken,
I believe it funded a lifestyle for the suspects.
Rather than doing work, as most people normally would,
this was their livelihood.
In September 2010, the gang all admitted conspiracy to defraud
at Bristol Crown Court and received a total of 19 years in prison.
The head of the crime family, David Evans,
received six years and four months, whilst his son, Shannon,
was locked away for three years and seven months.
Since the sentencing and that, and they've been put in jail,
I sort of feel now that I am more relieved
and I can let things go on now and I must carry on with life.
It's no good keep looking back and saying what I should have done
and what I shouldn't have done.
It's just learning from my mistakes.
My advice to anyone considering home improvements would be
not to deal with anyone calling door-to-door.
If you need to have work done,
there are many accredited, registered tradespeople,
who can be contacted via Age Concern or through relevant trade bodies.
Shocking stuff. And we've another extraordinary story later,
as rogues target hundreds of consumers in Yorkshire
and leave one retired couple with a collapsing conservatory.
I looked at the conservatory and saw the roof was sliding off.
Plus, in our quest to show you how NOT to be ripped off,
Roger plays more devious tricks on a consumer in East London.
Honestly, I have been into houses where they've had them
come up through the U-bend.
But first, time to catch up with Hannah Maloney,
a barmaid at a Hertfordshire pub.
Her landlord, Jay, set her up
and Roger came to quote for a new bathroom floor.
Roger's trying to make her think the bathroom pipes are choked
with limescale, shaken loose by vibrations from the function room downstairs.
Scale sticks to the inside of the pipe
and then you get vibrations, traffic noise,
music noise and it breaks up, so you get clogging up of the thing.
He is telling Hannah he can fix a specialist gadget to clear all
the limescale problem.
In due course, he'll probably charge her way over the odds for it.
But first thing's first,
there is the new floor on the uneven boards to consider.
This floor, when you watch a fat boy walk over it here, look,
watch him go over there, you can see it move.
It's bouncing. Don't bounce too much, Luke.
I don't want the ceiling to come down.
-You can see it flexing there.
-I know it moves.
-That's over the bump.
Does it move when you walk across it, cos you're very light?
I shouldn't imagine it does.
But he is like, he's the equivalent of two people, really, isn't he?
He's a nice person to work for(!)
Yeah, not a lot of bromance going on here!
Hannah wants to hear is your quote for the new floorboard,
so cut to the chase, guys.
What I have got here is a couple of samples of flooring, yeah?
We can do this either one of those, or that one, for a knockdown price.
So do you want me to leave you these samples?
-You can do.
-You don't mind. Couldn't care less, could you, really?
Offering something too good to be true at a knockdown price,
as long as you agree to get it done today,
is a classic conman's line. Don't fall for it, Hannah.
That gadget, I've really got to put that electronic scale device on there now.
If we charge you just to put that scale device on now,
250 quid for that, yeah? And we fit that now.
And then we come back and give you a quote to do the bigger job,
because it's more than I thought.
Hannah barely has a chance to get two words out
before Roger collects his limescale-busting gadget from the van.
He must think he can just bulldoze her into accepting it.
Reincarnation of Oliver Cromwell!
Yes, even Luke's shocked by Roger's ruthless behaviour.
What I'm doing here, eleven times around the pipe, yeah?
-That's it, eleven times, OK? No more, no less.
And what it does, when I plug it in to the electrics, yeah,
it sends a signal, a radio signal around the pipes.
Now, there are gadgets on the market to treat limescale.
The con here is that there is no limescale!
Roger's taking the truth about a process
and mashing it up with lies about the location.
Right, couple of cable ties, my little friend.
I call you my little friend, even though you're quite big!
I'm not big.
No, you're not. I didn't say you were big, I said you were QUITE big.
I'm sure Luke doesn't deserve this, Roger.
He's doing his best.
I hope this isn't the end of a beautiful friendship.
Isn't it about time you showed Hannah your treatment for fake limescale?
OK, so there it is.
Yeah? Magic device.
Electronics, going through the mains pipe here,
and it's got a little wrap around the wire
-and that just puts electrical signal through the pipe.
-Did he say magic?
I can't tell if Hannah's falling for this or not.
She just looks stunned. And he's not finished yet.
There's a really, really tall story heading her way.
You know when you've got snowflakes,
if you see a snowflake under a magnifying glass,
they're all different shapes, aren't they?
What they do, snowflakes, is they all knit together, yeah,
and that's what 'scale's like.
What this thing does, it puts an electronic signal through them
and it makes the snowflakes go like needles.
Are you keeping up with all this, Hannah(?)
They go straight through the system and out.
And as they go through, they reduce the 'scale on the pipes,
so in about two or three years' time,
all the scale on the pipework goes, and also on the boiler,
which is important, cos otherwise you might have to have a new boiler.
Ladies and gentlemen,
that was from the Bumper Book Of Tradesman's Codswallop.
Poor Hannah wasn't expecting a fairytale,
she was just expecting you to report back on the bathroom floor.
We'll give you a quote for this. Can I interest you in this flooring?
-You want a bit of this?
-Not my decision.
All right, I'll leave that with you,
and we'll just charge you for the scale device today, yeah?
Then we'll come back and do the rest of it.
Today, Hannah Maloney's let a fraudulent flooring contractor
into her boss's bathroom.
Roger has measured up, to deliver a quote,
but, having gained access, he's invented unnecessary extra work
and installed gadgets to tackle problems which don't exist,
all under her very nose.
So will she pay Roger for his work today?
Right, so that's 250 quid, plus the call-out of £75, yeah? All right?
-Can you do that? Can you add that up? You're a barmaid, you must be able to.
I can tell you what it is, £325 for wrapping some plastic cable
around a pipe in the airing cupboard. You must be joking!
No wonder you've got that smile on your face.
Have you given me that money in a brown envelope? Fantastic.
I love that. I love the old brown envelope bit.
Oh, Hannah! £325 handed over without seeing a written quote
or even the tradesman's ID.
Not that I don't trust you, Hannah, but I'm just going to check it, cos that protects everyone.
Brilliant. That's lovely. Thank you very much indeed.
I'll leave those samples with you, all right?
Roger's now about to disappear with the boss's cash
and leave Hannah to face the music.
With Roger out of sight,
it's time for our producer to let her know the truth
behind his dirty tricks.
Hello, sorry to bother you.
We're from the BBC. I wondered if I could ask you a couple of questions?
It's about builders, plumbers, electricians.
I've had some work done this morning.
What did you have done, do you mind telling me?
He installed some sort of, I'm not sure exactly what it was.
Um, I think it's to, um...
There was, um, limescale in the pipes
and this little electronic device that, sort of, sorts it out.
-Did he charge you for the job he did?
Do you mind me asking how much?
£250 and a £75 call-out fee.
I'm afraid to tell you that I think you've paid £250
-and £75 for not much work at all.
-How do you feel about that?
Well, she's taking it very calmly,
so it's time for Roger to return the cash with Hannah's boss Jay
and his friend Colin on hand to help.
I'm afraid to tell you you've been set up.
You've been set up by your boss.
All right? That bit for Luke.
Always a little drink for Luke.
Hannah was a terrific sport there, but what should she have done
and what should you do in a similar situation?
First, keep a close eye on any tradesmen who visit your home
or business, so they can't plot any dirty tricks.
Second, always get three written quotes before accepting any work.
Don't allow yourself to be talked into jobs on the spot.
Finally, if you suspect anything fishy, call for help.
You can also try contacting Trading Standards for advice.
Sadly, the days when most local authorities provided a rodent control service for free
seem to be a thing of the past,
so more and more consumers are relying on private pest controllers.
Of course, most of them are legitimate and hard-working,
but, as in many trades, there are some dirty tricksters out there -
and there's Roger.
Mum-of-two Claire Steele lives in East London.
Her aunt Doreen is a feisty lady and Claire's asking her to house-sit
while our tricky tradesman pays a visit.
My Auntie Doreen, she's outgoing, she's funny and...
she's just hilarious, she just makes everybody laugh.
Claire's telling Doreen that there's a rat problem in her flat and garden.
If you and I suspected problem rodents,
we could contact our local environmental health team
for advice on the best way forward.
But Doreen's due a visit from rat-catchers Roger and Luke.
Today is all about Roger Attempting Tricks, or RAT, for short.
First, he'll check for genuine signs of rodents,
and once he's sure the coast is clear,
he'll fake a rats' nest, using twigs.
Then he'll pretend to get rid of the nest,
and to be sure they stay away, he'll sell Doreen a sonic rat repellent.
And, of course, he'll massively overcharge.
To be honest, the only rat in Doreen's manor today is Roger himself.
Pest controllers can charge £50 to £75 for call-outs,
but Roger's aiming to pocket at least £200.
That's a hefty profit on the going rate.
It's just before 10am when our boys arrive.
Hello. Good morning.
-You come for the rats?
-We've come for the rats! We are the rats! Ha-ha!
-Are we late?
-No, you're all right.
-I didn't know if we were late.
-No, you're all right.
-It's horrible out there.
Doreen may be expecting them, but they could still be anybody.
She ought to have rat-ified their identity,
instead of letting them in unchecked.
-Can I have a little tour? Is that all right?
-I just want to know my way around.
-Go ahead, Roger. Make yourself at home!
-I'm just looking for points of entry, that's my point. Doreen?
What's going on with this loo at the back?
It looks to me like it's been damaged at some point here.
-It's all got cellophane around it.
-Is that where they're coming...?
They will always go for light. They will never swim underwater
-unless they can see daylight.
If they can see daylight, they'll go underwater.
Because it's clear, the rats in the drain can see daylight.
Is he making this up,
or is he putting the frighteners on poor Aunt Doreen?
-Watch your step, Roger.
-Honestly, I've been into houses
where they've had them come up through the U-bend.
Luke, what does that look like to you?
Does that look irregular around there, like a bit of chewing?
Hmm, it looks like he's convinced Doreen the downstairs loo may have had a rat visit in the past.
I'm just going to open this lid. Hang on. Let's have a quick look.
-I've been on the toilet today!
-No, we're all right. There's nothing there.
Well, what a jolly lady she is.
We've had a look round. We've already found some good evidence of rats,
so all we've got to do is plant a few further bits of evidence
and then we can show her,
and hopefully, she'll believe that there are rats there.
Roger needs to strengthen his case
by planting that fake evidence in the back garden.
He's got a bag full of paper, twigs and fur,
which will come in very handy.
Now I've got to carry that in without being seen.
Well done, Roger.
Where's the best place for you to put that fake rats' nest?
This is where they love it, through here.
Look at that.
Looks like he's found the perfect spot.
See down there?
With the location chosen for the fake nest,
the next job is to raid his bag of twigs and newspaper
to dress the nest and give it a lived-in look.
That's the sort of thing you get in rats.
HE COUGHS It's horrible.
The stench coming from in there.
So, will Aunt Doreen fall for his first dirty trick?
Do you want to come out and find this big rats' nest that we've found?
Do you want to come out and look at this big rats' nest?
Understandably, Doreen isn't keen to step too far outside.
Well, would you step into a garden that was supposedly full of rats?
-Come and have a look. Can you see out the back window?
-I'm not coming out.
All right. If you can see out the window,
I'll show you where it is. And you can see it.
-It's actually a big hollow under there,
and we've found where they come in and out.
Looks like she might have fallen for the first trick without him even needing to fake the nest.
With so many tricks still to play,
will Doreen fall for Roger's outrageous rip-off?
-How much is it?
-£215. The meter's ticking.
And how will she react when finds out she's been conned?
Oh, I'm going to kill you!
If there really were dirty rats in that garden,
they'd still look angelic compared to Roger.
He's doing a great job of showing us how cunning the rogues can be,
which is just the word I'd use
to describe the tricky pair in our next story.
But thankfully, they got their just desserts.
From afar, this may seem like just another conservatory. But it's not.
Take a closer look.
It was coming away from the walls,
and there was water coming through the conservatory.
What's more, the roof's falling off.
It wasn't worth three halfpence, never mind thousands of pounds.
This shocking work cost £5,700.
This is the story of how this conservatory was built,
why it fell apart and the two rogues who were behind it,
Dennis Price and John Smith.
In the summer of 2008,
300,000 homes throughout South Yorkshire received leaflets.
Sent by Price and Smith, the leaflets used various company names
and offered a variety of home improvements.
They promised the Earth, but in the end, they delivered only misery.
In some cases, they didn't do the work at all.
In other cases, the work was of poor quality.
The elderly customers in our story wish to remain anonymous,
so we'll call them Mary and Bill.
After they received a leaflet, they had some guttering work done.
It's one of the oldest tricks in the book for a rogue
to do a small job, gain some trust
and slam you for thousands on the next job.
This is exactly what happened here. Happy with the guttering,
Mary said she'd be interested in a new conservatory.
It affected their life immensely
because the lady was partially blind, she wanted a conservatory
to sit in the garden, to relax with her partner,
and it just didn't happen.
Price and Smith told the couple they'd be eligible for a special
government grant, enabling them to claim back
up to 40% of the build.
It was to draw in consumers into a scam,
and that's exactly what it was - a scam.
There was no government grants.
Unfortunately for Mary and Bill, they'd been sucked into
the rogues' tall tales and agreed to the job they'd been quoted,
which would cost £5,700.
When it was finished, all seemed well, so they paid up
and went on holiday.
But when they returned, they were in for a shock.
They looked at the conservatory and they saw the roof was sliding off.
They were absolutely horrified and contacted Smith and Price,
but they got no response whatsoever.
We all know conmen will go AWOL once they've got your dosh,
and that's what happened here. But Mary wouldn't give up.
She called South Yorkshire Trading Standards,
who sent their own surveyor to look at the job.
I was asked to say what was wrong
and honestly, it was difficult to find anything that was right.
There were gaps everywhere and the wind was just whistling in.
The work was so poor that the trim was put up with
It was just in poor condition, it was just bad quality workmanship.
My conclusion was it was one of the worst conservatories I'd ever seen.
It was put up by idiots. It needed pulling down and starting again.
And that's what happened.
A new conservatory cost Bill and Mary another £12,000.
The surveyor's evidence helped build the case against Price and Smith.
More details came from the financial paper trail they left behind.
They used to cash the cheques in the cheque shops
around the South Yorkshire area, and in total, they cashed over £100,000.
I find it hard to believe how so-called builders can be
so ruthless in taking thousands and thousands of pounds off people
for a job that doesn't cost them
anything except a bit of time and a few quid in materials.
You're not wrong, Keith.
Thankfully, though, Sue's net was closing in on the rogues.
We obtained the cheques from the cheque shops
and then we linked them back to Smith and Price.
And they had photographic evidence
of Price that confirmed that that was him.
They had identified their men and Price and Smith were arrested.
In September 2010, they pleaded guilty to fraud.
They were ordered do 150 hours' unpaid work
and pay £2,060 in compensation.
For Mary and Bill, the whole sorry experience
has had repercussions to this very day.
They've been really affected by it, really distressed,
won't open the door to anybody. And not trusting to anyone.
Thankfully, there are easy steps to take
to make sure you don't fall foul of fraudsters.
I would recommend to anybody that's going to install a conservatory
or any other home improvements to get three quotes.
Also, look to see if those traders are a member of any association
and get three references, and even go and look at their work.
Excellent advice there.
It's also best to use a written contract with tradesmen,
as it will offer you protection if anything does go wrong
and it'll give a paper trail
for organisations like Trading Standards to follow up.
Now, what about Doreen in East London?
Roger's played one trick already - convincing her she's got rats.
I've been to houses where they've had them come up through the U-bend.
And created a fake nest to prove it.
That's the sort of thing you get in rats.
Now, he's about to rid Doreen of her rodents by destroying the lair.
And he's got some sonic rat repellents to overcharge for, too.
He is looking to make £300 today, for virtually nothing.
See under there?
That's a big hollow.
That hole at the back there, that's where they come in and out.
All this area under here, if we dug that up,
we'd probably unleash loads of them.
Poor Doreen. A conman's tall stories can be very convincing.
Just close the door slightly, to keep... in case one runs.
They're all going to run
and they might run in there if they see the door open. All right? OK.
By scaring her back into the house where she can't see what he's up to,
he's made it easy to complete trick two.
Of course, that isn't the right way to get rid of a rat's nest.
But that doesn't worry this dodgy tradesman. Why?
Because there are no rats.
Did you see that? Yeah, there it is. Got it.
It's a good job she's not watching you, Roger.
Imaginary rats banished, it's time to sell Doreen
that sonic repellent to keep them away for good.
What we'll do, all we'll do now is I have an electronic device
and we plug it in inside and what it does
is it sends an ultrasonic signal around the wiring in your house
and the rats don't like it.
When they hear that signal, they'll go.
The reason I'll give you that... Well, I'll not GIVE it to you,
I'll to sell it to you for a lot of money!
The reason is we've made them homeless...
So they've got to go somewhere.
So what I don't want them to do is go in your house.
God, she'll go mad!
The thoughts of rats running around inside the house
is too much for Doreen.
-So that does what?
-That sends out an ultrasonic sound.
It also puts a signal through the wiring,
all the way around the house, all right?
So wherever that wiring goes, that's sending a little signal through that wiring.
-We won't get no rats?
-It'll just scare them off.
Roger's playing up these scare tactics
about rats running around the house.
But it all helps.
We're about to introduce that subject of money.
I know from experience, this is when it all turns nasty.
Well, Roger, considering you've done nothing
but plant some bits of debris into her niece's garden
and poke about in a hole,
Doreen shouldn't be charged anything at all.
So we'll flog you that, OK?
-Yeah. How much is that?
-That's 35 quid for that.
But that sonic charger only cost you 13 quid.
I can't wait to see what Roger charges for clearing the nest.
£180 for that.
Bringing the total to?
-215. Hold on.
Good, Doreen, take your time here.
Are you about to question Roger's rampant overcharging?
-How much is it?
It's going up by the second. The meter's ticking!
So, Doreen still let a rapscallion rat-catcher into her niece's home.
Roger planted a fake nest
and is now overcharging four times the going rate for the treatment.
What, er...a rat!
So will Doreen pay up or read him the riot act?
-You said 215.
-I've got 20.
I'll tell you what I'm going to have to do.
-I'll have to just take the 200.
-Right, so that's 200?
Doreen completely fell for Roger's tall stories,
paying him four times more than she ought to have done.
Nice to meet you. You're a lovely lady.
Yes, she is, too nice for you.
It's time for our con artist to leave faster
than you can say "pied piper".
With Roger out of sight up the street, our producer must reveal
the truth about his dirty tricks to Auntie Doreen.
Hello, there. Hi, we're from the BBC.
We're doing some investigations into the area
and we're looking at various tradesmen
and asking if anyone's been unhappy with any of the work they've done lately.
I don't know, I've just had someone in.
I'm in my niece's house. I just had someone in to kill the rats.
I was just going to follow them cos they didn't give me a receipt.
-Did you pay a lot of cash?
-200. 215 but they took 200.
It's a lot of money for ten minutes' work.
Well, Doreen, it's not your niece, Cathy, who's been done,
but she was the one who set you up.
-Oh, I'm going to kill you!
I'm going to kill you! Stay out there!
I thought it a bit weird at first.
I believe she was taken in by Roger, definitely was taken in by him.
They scammed her.
Oh, my God! I'm going to kill you.
I was watching through the blinds, they were in the van,
and I thought, "They're taking a bit of time."
Here's your money back. I've got to do this.
-You were such good entertainment.
-Thank you. Thank you.
Don't be taken in.
Don't - even if they've got smiles and they're nice, blah, blah, blah,
don't get taken in, cos it's a lot of money, £200.
My advice to people would be to know...
who it is you're getting in to come and do work in your house
and to preferably get recommendations from someone
instead of going online or getting someone out of a newspaper.
And to definitely ask for a receipt.
Doreen, you were an absolute star!
You can rely on the majority of tradesmen being honest
and hard-working, it's only a very few who let the side down
and play dirty tricks.
Remember, if in doubt, keep them out.
Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.
If you'd like to help us reveal how easy it is to fall for the cons of the rogue tradesmen
by sending our trickster to visit your unsuspecting friends or family,
you'll find all the details at...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
When Doreen Steele house-sits for her niece in East London, little does she realise she is being set up for a visit by Roger Bisby, who is posing as a rotten rat catcher. He plans to fake a nest in the back garden and overcharge for repelling the non-existent rodents with sonic deterrents. When he produces his bill, will Doreen regret not ratifying his credentials?
Meanwhile a Hertfordshire barmaid is set up by her landlord, and Roger tries to con her into thinking that the bathroom pipes are clogged with limescale. Will she pay his extortionate bill to remove it?
Also, the victim of a gang of Gloucestershire gutter cleaners reveals how she paid them more than 25,000 pounds after falling for their dirty tricks. They were sentenced to a total of 19 years in prison.