Hidden-camera series. College lecturer Gillian from Berkshire sets up her lodger Desmond for a visit from a pretend rogue roofer, and a Hertfordshire man sets up his girlfriend.
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There's nothing more frustrating than when something goes wrong in your house.
Last year, we spent £15 billion on house repairs,
but how can we tell if we've got a good deal or if we've been taken to the cleaners?
225? Do you want to go for 225?
Just today, 500 quid if it's cash.
Probably about seven and a half grand.
We've been secretly filming up and down the UK
and we reveal how shockingly easy it could be for you, yes, you, to be duped.
-I'm afraid you've been ripped off. He's not a bona fide tradesman.
Have I been done?
Yeah, I've been done maybe.
This is the bit I love. We expose the UK's most outrageous tradesmen rip-offs.
-He didn't give a jot about his victims.
-It was such a dirty trick.
He put my kids in danger. He ripped me off. I could kill him.
Coming up - our rogue Roger plays dirty in Berkshire and tries to convince a no-nonsense lecturer
to pay hundreds of pounds for a cheap gadget he doesn't even need.
No, there is no phone number at all, no.
The shocking story of a pensioner subjected to a horrible roofing rip-off,
rescued at the last minute with the help of, would you believe it, his local bank.
Something didn't seem quite right. We needed to call the police.
I cannot believe that people will treat pensioners in this way.
And a Hertfordshire woman gets tough with Roger's burglar alarm con,
-but will she pay up?
-I can't afford it.
Stand by for Dirty Tricks Of The Tradesmen.
Hello. I don't know about you,
but I don't know a huge amount about trades like roofing or plumbing.
That's why we rely on tradesmen.
The vast majority of them are professional and hard-working,
but a small minority give tradesmen a bad name with their dirty tricks.
Today, we're meeting people who have been ripped off by the cowboys.
What's more, we'll show you how 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 very own tradesmen. Why?
To show you how to avoid being taken to the cleaners.
Meet Roger Bisby. With 40 years' experience,
there's little he doesn't know about the building game.
If there's one thing he doesn't like, it's con men cashing in using dirty tricks.
But we're asking Roger to turn tricky, to become a bad apple,
one of the dodgiest tradesmen you could ever meet. Why?
To show you how not to get conned.
We're setting up small property problems and sending Roger round
to show us how easy it is to be tricked into unnecessary work.
It's being filmed in secret and he'll work with our cameraman Luke, pretending to be his apprentice.
We'll discover the location of their first sting in just a moment.
Now, it's been estimated that in the UK, a home is burgled every 37 seconds.
And it's statistics like these that rogues can use
to persuade unwary consumers into buying costly burglar alarms.
Roger's going to try this trick on a smart young woman in Hertfordshire.
It's at the invitation of her boyfriend Matt Birchmore.
His 20-year-old partner is Abby Finester, a beauty therapist.
Abby's quite outgoing, a very bubbly person.
I don't think she's got a great idea about DIY.
Well, the basics, I suppose, but obviously, she'll know that she's being conned.
Will she really? Matt and Abby's flat has a broken glass panel on the front door.
It needs replacing, so Abby is staying in because someone is coming round to fix it - Roger and Luke.
So the strategy is all to do with overcharging.
Roger will fix that window for real, but he'll aim to squeeze as much cash out of Abby as possible.
His next trick will be to play on the couple's fears about break-ins.
He'll try to sell Abby some basic alarms for seven times what they'd cost her in the shops.
Hopefully, her own alarm bells will start ringing.
It's just a small door panel that's broken.
A local glazing firm would typically charge £90 to £100 to replace it.
Today, Roger wants to charge her at least double that. His target - £200.
With the burglar alarms on top, it could make him a cool £300.
It's getting late when our tricky twosome rock up.
-Sorry we're so late.
-That's not a problem.
Do you know why? Cos we work constantly. We never stop.
-Tea or anything?
-You're speaking my language!
-One for me, please.
-Sugar for him, none for me, thanks.
I'll just get a measurement here.
It never ceases to amaze me that people let Roger in without checking his ID. He could be anyone.
That's going to be 600 millimetres...
600 by 475. I'll go and call the glazier.
With the door assessed, Roger orders a new window panel from a local glazier,
but they have to collect it.
Don't forget your tea!
-Take them with us? We'll bring the cups back.
-We'll just take the teas with us.
-Make sure they return those cups, Abby.
-Let's go get this glass.
Hot teas in hand, our cowboys pick up the replacement glass and are back with Abby in no time at all.
Take the cups back in, Luke.
We've got the glass, we're back in now. We're going to fit that as quickly as we possibly can.
Thank you so much for that.
Well, at least they brought the cups back!
-It's laminated, this glass.
-Do you know what that means...? Don't you?
-Didn't you pay attention at school during the laminated glass lesson?
-I didn't pay attention at school.
-What it is... You can't smash it. It's the sort of thing they use on security vans.
-Look at this. There's two sheets of glass there.
-It's got a little, thin film inside it.
-If you tried to kick it in, you wouldn't do it.
Hmm, toughened glass. Abby hasn't asked for a quote yet.
I tell you what - you can't rush a craftsman, can you?
Yeah, especially not one who charges by the hour, eh, Roger?
Now, this job seems to be going very smoothly.
No sign of dirty tricks yet, but you can be sure Roger isn't going soft.
To make laminated glass work properly, it needs to be securely held, the sides held.
If that was loose and you kicked it in the middle, it would bend slightly.
Abby seems quite relaxed with our cowboys.
Unfortunately, she's about to break one of the golden rules.
-Will you guys still be here if I nip to the shop quickly?
No matter how friendly our tradesmen may seem, you should never leave strangers alone in your house.
You've not seen their ID. They could do anything while you're out.
-That's great. She's left us in the house.
-All on our own.
-That made me jump. You do it.
Ask who she is, Luke. Don't just let any stranger in.
Ask for her ID!
Now, you're just going to have to spend the night out on the balcony. We've got to let this adhesive set.
Here you are, come on. I'm only kidding you. Come in.
Mind how you tread. I've got all this muck over here.
-She's on the phone.
-I'll have to do something with it.
I'll go and get something to clean this lot up with.
That's very good of you, Roger. More time on the clock and if she thinks you're doing a good job,
she's much more likely to go for your next trick.
-I'll do that.
-I've got to hoover anyway. The floor's terrible.
Are you sure? I've got a portable vacuum. OK, I'll be back in a sec.
Right, it's getting very dark in here.
We've finished the job, we've done a great job there
and now I just want to charge her for a couple of security devices.
That'll up the ante for us.
So by the time Abby pays him, in theory, that's £180 in Roger's pocket.
So it's time to spring a really dirty trick.
He's brought some domestic burglar alarms which cost £10 in the shops.
He'll try to talk Abby into paying the extortionate sum of £75 for them.
Sadly, this kind of scam is all too common.
Now, these... It's a little alarm.
-If you stick that on the door, it senses vibration.
It also senses intruders.
-If anybody tries to get in your door, it's vibration and movement...
-Where do you put it? Just up there?
-We can fit it for you if you want. No, it goes on the inside.
It'll just pick up any vibration on the frame, so if anybody tries to get in your door and in there...
It's up to you. We just keep a few of these devices on the van.
They're 75 quid.
-It's up to you entirely.
I just thought we'd offer you that as a bit of extra security.
Yes, Roger, secure in the knowledge that you picked them up for a tenner down the shops!
-Let me just slice this up.
-Do you want to go in with Abby?
-Just try and sweet-talk her into buying something, Luke.
I bet you've got your fingers crossed, you rascal!
So, I wonder if Abby will fall for Roger's overcharging?
-I'm going to go and sell one to your neighbour.
-I'll charge her 200 quid.
-What will she make of his bill for the window, worth a week's wages?
-I didn't think it'd be that much.
Hmm, overcharging for burglar alarms.
It may sound an unlikely dirty trick, but it really happened to some consumers in the north-east.
The story of what this con man did and what happened to him is proof yet again that crime does not pay.
Take a good look at Derek Hepple whose tricks and cons brought misery to a consumer in the Durham area
and whose history of fraud dates back to 2001.
He had a horrendous previous conviction
where he conned an elderly mother and son
out of over £30,000.
After serving four years at Her Majesty's pleasure,
Hepple's appetite for swindling the elderly remained undiminished
as recently widowed Elizabeth Wright would discover.
Hepple's first trick was to make friends with his potential victim.
He was absolutely charming.
He was very friendly, he was very well dressed.
He was mannerly, polite
and became a friend.
At this point in 2007, Hepple ran a legitimate security alarm business
in Tyne and Wear called Night And Day, not to be confused with any other companies of similar name.
Though his operation was largely above board, Hepple found a way to trick a handful of his clients.
Hepple targeted the elderly or vulnerable in his customer base
and oversold and mis-sold products to them.
In some instances, the products that Hepple was selling were 20 times over the value that you'd expect.
Having gained Elizabeth's trust, he first saw the opportunity to rip her off
when she mentioned her need of a stair-lift.
He started saying, "Are you really sure you need this stair-lift?
"Perhaps you could be better off without your stair-lift and instead have a new alarm system
"because a new alarm system is going to be far safer for you than any stair-lift."
Of course, it wasn't a small or cheap system.
Hepple's men fitted burglar, carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.
You and I can buy a couple of smoke alarms in the shops for a tenner,
but Hepple inflated these charges to a whopping £1,500.
Not content with leaving things there, Hepple continued to sell products to Elizabeth,
using his whole box of treacherous tricks.
Hepple would use jargon to sell his products.
He made great play on a change in EU legislation, frequency changes.
He would bamboozle his customers and tell them that their systems were breaching EU law.
This was, in fact, a lie.
Hepple would make his victims think they needed to take out extra insurance in the form of warranties.
They were totally unnecessary.
He tried to sell me a warranty for £654 or something.
And that would be a five-year warranty.
Then a short time later,
I got a phone call to say he would sell me a lifetime guarantee for about twice the amount of money.
Over the three years
from September 2006 to October 2009,
Derek Hepple made ten different charges to Elizabeth,
either directly by invoice or withdrawn from her account without her knowledge.
The grand total came to £14,996.15.
In all, nearly 15 grand for three alarms and a couple of bits of paper.
Hepple may have thought he was on the gravy train, but by 2009, his days were numbered.
Another elderly victim had noticed a large hole in her bank account and contacted the police.
She'd noticed over £15,000 had been taken electronically without her knowledge or her authorisation.
It was clear from the transactions the monies had gone into an account in the name of Night And Day.
Financial enquiries showed that this was an account owned and run by Derek William Hepple.
In all, the police tracked down 15 victims.
Many of them, like Elizabeth, hadn't even realised they'd been conned.
The grand total that Hepple extorted from them came to £121,000.
When the police told me what Hepple had been doing, I just couldn't believe it.
I was totally devastated.
I had trusted him all the time and to think that over three years,
he had actually taken £15,000
of my hard-earned, 40 years' working life out of my account
and many times without me knowing,
I just felt that he had betrayed my trust altogether!
Following a positive ID at an identity parade, Hepple was arrested.
And close examination of his business affairs revealed victims
as far afield as Birmingham to the north of Scotland.
Finally, to prove the case against Hepple, we engaged an industry expert on the matter
who took an overview of the statements,
invoices were recovered from either the victims or the search of the business premises,
and essentially, this expert concluded that, in his opinion,
the victims represented the worst case of exploitation he'd seen in 32 years
and that Hepple was a disgrace to the intruder alarm industry.
In May 2011, Hepple pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud 15 victims.
His sentence was four years and eight months.
A proceeds of crime case is attempting to recover his ill-gotten gains.
Hepple was a callous and calculating man.
He was able to gain the trust of his victims and betray that trust and massively overcharge them.
Elizabeth is now getting on with her life.
The dirty tricks played on her were devastating, but perhaps there are lessons for us all.
Take advice before you purchase anything. Get additional quotes, an idea of what something is worth.
Where possible, work off a recommendation.
Check up on your bank balance and make sure you get a receipt for absolutely everything.
Check that that's the only thing that has come out of your account,
but do be careful because there are so many very charming rogues that come to visit.
Later on, we have another extraordinary story
as a Liverpool pensioner's roof is actually vandalised by tradesmen
who then try to charge thousands of pounds for its repair.
I wasn't to tell any neighbours, just keep it a secret between ourselves.
Plus, our Roger tries to convince a college lecturer in Berkshire to let him fix his central heating,
but it isn't even broken.
-20, 40, 60, 80, one ton, yeah?
-One ton, yeah.
First, let's see if Abby Finester from Hertfordshire falls for our rogue glazier and his dirty tricks.
Her boyfriend Matt is on it and Roger has been trying to distract her with his builder's banter.
You'll have to spend the night out on the balcony.
All the while planning to charge double the going rate for replacing the broken glass in her front door.
It gets worse. The normal price for a burglar alarm is about £10.
He's going to ask for seven times that, but will she fall for it?
It's just a little extra we can do while we're here if you want,
if you want the security, the extra safety.
-You don't want this?
-Not at the moment.
-He failed miserably.
-I can't afford it.
It's good to see Abby side-stepping a really nasty con - a £10 alarm sold for £75.
That would have been a £65 profit for Roger.
-I'm going to go and sell one to your neighbour.
-I'll charge her 200 quid.
So no extra cash there. Back to the original job.
Can he make her pay through the nose for that window pane he fitted?
It should cost £90 to £100, but he's aiming for double.
How much do I owe you?
For the glass and that, it's 175 quid if it's cash.
A hundred and seventy-five quid?! I bet Abby didn't see that coming.
All right. Do you want your light as well?
Yeah, we'll take the light. Let there be light!
Abby Finester has let a cheating glazier into her home without checking his ID.
She left him alone while she popped out.
He's tried and failed to sell her a cheap burglar alarm with a massive mark-up.
Now he's trying to charge her double for his window repair because Abby didn't get a quote up front.
So will she stand firm or pay up?
I've only got 20-notes, so have you got any change?
-What was it? 20, 40, 60, 80... 175 you said?
-He's got change.
-Have I? I've got nothing. I spent it on fish and chips.
-Have you got 180?
-We'll get you a fiver. Don't worry. We'll take this stuff down and find a fiver.
-Have you got any change, Luke?
-I've got three.
See if we can get away with that - giving her three, telling her that's all we've got.
Looks like Roger may not be finished yet. Even at this late hour,
will he twist a few more pounds out of Abby's rapidly emptying purse?
-We're struggling to find £5.
-175, you want five. We've got three plus a bit of shrapnel.
Or we've got a tenner. We'll have to give you a discount or you'll have to give Luke a tip.
-Which do you want to do?
-I didn't think it would be that much.
-All right, I'm giving you a discount.
-Cos I like you.
-Thank you very much.
-You're a nice person. You'll be secure now.
Nobody can kick your door in now. Have a nice evening.
-Thanks a lot, Abby. Cheers. See you, bye!
We gave her a discount. What am I?
With Roger out of sight, our producer knocks on the newly repaired door
to break the news about our trickster's work.
KNOCKS ON DOOR
-Sorry to bother you.
-That's all right.
We're from the BBC and we've had a few reports in the area
-about various tradesmen who are trying to scam people in the neighbourhood.
Have you had any experiences lately of that kind of thing, any plumbers, painters...?
I've literally just had my door done and that cost £175.
And I thought... My boyfriend's just gone out. He gave me 40 quid cos he didn't think it would be much more.
But it just cost £175.
I thought that was expensive, but I didn't know if it was because I'm a girl that they thought,
"Her boyfriend's not here, let's..." I don't know.
-We have had some reports and they're actually a couple of scammers basically.
Oh, my word! Seriously?
How do you feel about that?
Well, that was my wages.
So... Oh, dear.
Luckily for Abby, Roger and boyfriend Matt are about to return with her wages.
-You have been a victim of a scam, I'm afraid.
-You thought you would never see us again.
-Is that a joke?
-We've come back to haunt you.
-Are you joking? Oh, my God!
You're such an idiot!
Oh, my word!
-There's your money back. You didn't give us a tip!
When they first came in, they were both very welcoming, really chatty.
I didn't think anything funny about it. They were really nice. I made them a cup of tea.
-That's for you.
-And you've also got your window fixed.
Yeah, thank you very much.
When I handed over the cash, I was absolutely...well, gutted because it's a lot of money.
If anyone else was in the same situation as me, I'd just say ask for some identification first.
Make sure you ask for a receipt as well and don't leave the house
because next time, I don't know, something could be taken.
Thanks very much, Abby, for helping us out. You were terrific.
But what should you do to avoid being the victim of a con like that?
For starters, leaving her home unattended was a big problem. Never do that.
Always think, "Why am I being offered a deal that's too good to be true?" It rarely is.
And never let a tradesman tackle any job without getting a written quotation.
Your local Trading Standards will also offer advice.
According to the Office of Fair Trading,
there were 1,000 complaints about the solar panel industry in 2009,
mainly to do with unfair sales tactics.
It's also worth thinking about the tricks rogues can play when it comes to keeping solar panels maintained.
Talking of which, what's Roger up to?
English lecturer Gillian Tunley enjoys a bohemian house share
with her Scottish lodger Desmond Dawson, a fellow teacher and a former RAF engineer.
We have a very easy-going relationship based on humour and, um...
We both hold the same sort of values, I guess.
We're both teachers, so we sing from a similar hymn sheet.
She hopes Desmond's engineering background won't make him too suspicious of Roger's tricks.
She suggested a con involving the solar panels on her roof.
They provide heating during the day while a range cooker heats the house at night.
There's a small issue with the panels and sometimes they offer no heating during the day,
so Roger has a perfect reason to call by.
-You've been shopping for something. What is it?
-I've got a cheap alarm clock.
It's not just an ordinary alarm clock.
It picks up a signal from the Meteorological Office and tells you what the weather's going to be.
We're going to incorporate this into the solar panel
and fool the householder into thinking this is telling his solar panel
if it's needed or not every day.
-How much are you hoping to get for this?
-That's cost us about 20 quid.
So I reckon somewhere around £200, that sort of money. Let's see what he'll go for.
So Roger will play two tricks today.
First, flannel Desmond with nonsense about the lack of hot water,
then try and persuade him that a special gadget is needed
to make sure the solar panels work better, even though it's just a cheap alarm clock costing 20 quid.
Gillian is at work, so Desmond is on his own at the house when Roger arrives
just after 11 o'clock.
Hello. I've come to look at the solar panels.
If you're just a friend, you're doing yourself a disservice there. I'm sorry.
Which roof is the panel on?
Oh, it's on the front. It's south-facing. It would be because that's where the cylinder is.
-Is that all right if I just go upstairs?
Desmond seems laid-back, so laid-back that he doesn't even ask to see Roger's credentials.
But our man can't relax.
Talking to someone with engineering knowledge from the RAF, will trick number one pass muster?
What we've got here is the flow temperature coming down from the panel.
That's the return temperature.
If you look at them, they're the same.
What the problem is here, I think, is that...
..and that solar are basically doing the same job.
Basically, what should be happening is that should be switching off
when, um... when the solar's doing the job.
There should be a differential between that flow and return to make that work.
These need to talk to each other, so that knows that the solar is doing the job.
It's almost like it's taking heat and dumping it out on the roof.
Where do you get this nonsense, Roger? Still, Desmond's not batted an eyelid.
So what we need to do really is to fit a weather compensator on it
and it picks up a signal from the Met Office.
Basically, it says, "It's going to be a good day today. Don't worry.
-"This will take care of it." Yeah?
It'll pay for itself in no time because once that's done the job, it can't undo the job.
Seven o'clock in the morning, it's done the job,
then the solar panel's going, "What am I here for? I've nothing to do."
It seems the first dirty trick is working and Desmond is falling for the flannel.
I'll just go and get a price for that. I'll make a call and see what we can do.
That is definitely the way to solve it.
The key to the house? OK, cheers.
Did you hear that? You won't believe this, but Desmond's given them the house keys,
so they can come and go more easily. It's a nightmare. They've only just met!
He's gone for it. It seems that he understands there's a problem with the panel
and the way that it's hooked up to that boiler and now I'm going to introduce a bit of technology.
I've got this clock. It cost £15.
It receives a signal from the Met Office to tell you what the weather is.
It won't do anything, but I think we'll make some money on this one.
Time for the alarm clock or weather compensator, as Roger calls it.
Has anyone got any idea about how much this is going to cost?
What's it looking like, Roge?
It's got 65 on the cylinder.
Lads, I'll need to leave you. Believe it or not, I'm teaching at the minute on the internet.
Uh-oh! Not only has Desmond not asked for a quote,
he's leaving Roger to it while he starts an online English class.
The poor man is asking to be ripped off.
So will Desmond ever take an interest in these dodgy tradesmen?
-The fluid goes a bit like toffee.
-I've got to go.
-That's all right.
How will he react when he realises he's been conned?
There is no phone number at all, no.
We'll be back at Desmond's in just a moment, but first, a shocking story from the north-west.
It's only a tiny minority of tradesmen who misbehave,
but when they do, they can create havoc and heartache, but watch how the crooks got their just deserts.
In January 2011, 72-year-old Ray Wood was at home in Merseyside when there was a knock at his door.
Two swindlers, Amos Price and Craig Dearden, were cold-calling
and were about to attempt a daring and heartless fraud.
Rogue traders like Price and Dearden will visit areas like this.
They will drive up and down
and try and identify where people live alone.
I'd say the elderly are the most vulnerable.
When I opened the door, there was this man that I'd never seen before.
He said they'd done some work on the neighbour's roof and he thought
that my roof was in a state of bowing,
so could he go up and have a look?
And before you could say like Jack Robinson, he scrambled up.
It's true that bowing or sagging can occur when timbers supporting the roof have weakened.
This will cause the roof to dip in the middle and the tiles to slip.
Without giving Ray a chance to question what they were doing,
Price and Dearden had set their scam in motion.
From up on the roof, they just started to throw the ridge tiles down.
They were going quite near to the car. I was getting a bit worried.
Not taking any precautions or anything, just throwing them down ad-lib.
Starting a job without someone's consent
is one dirty trick of the fraudster all too familiar to the police.
There was no reason why they should have been doing this. They hadn't asked Mr Wood's permission
and before Mr Wood has time to think about it, Price is in his house trying to agree a price with him.
So after damaging Ray's roof and littering the road and garden with tiles,
the two scammers entered his house to discuss the cost of remedying the problem.
He said that his initial offer was £8,000,
but he could do a good deal, only for that day, at £6,000.
It was such a good deal that I wasn't to tell any of the neighbours or anything,
just to keep it a secret between ourselves.
It's a classic con man trick.
By law, we're allowed a seven-day cooling-off period for goods or services sold to us in our homes,
but these guys were really turning up the heat.
They put Mr Wood under an immense amount of pressure.
Price was in his house within seconds of calling at the door, saying that work needed doing now.
At that time, we were having a lot of snow, it was extremely cold.
This is an elderly gentleman living on his own.
They were forcing him into giving them that money,
even with the cheek of giving a discounted price of two grand.
I thought we had gone beyond the point of no return.
I was in such a situation that the roof had to be repaired.
He said that he wanted his money right away and he didn't take cheques or anything. He wanted cash.
Whilst the rogues waited at his house in their van, they made Ray drive to the bank.
It had been a dizzying train of events. Two men had called cold, thrown tiles from his roof
and they pressured him to go and get six grand to fix it.
Thankfully, Ray encountered someone who genuinely had his interests at heart.
An elderly gentleman called in
and asked to draw a large sum of money out of his account.
I asked him some questions and he just seemed a little bit nervous.
Something just didn't seem quite right.
When I asked him a few more questions, I realised we needed to call the police.
What a star - trusting her instincts and leaping to Ray's help at his moment of need!
Kathie, your quick thinking saved Ray from losing a fortune
and also helped him to see the ugly truth.
I thought to myself that I'd been conned. There was no other word for it.
The way the cashier responded was absolutely excellent.
If it wasn't for them, we couldn't have responded so quickly to take Price and Dearden off the street.
When the police arrived at Ray's house, Price and Dearden tried to flee, but were caught and arrested.
It wasn't long before the police discovered why they tried to leave the scene of the crime so quickly.
The van they were sitting in and had been using that day was later searched.
There was no evidence of any tools, tiles or work equipment in the back.
They had no intention of doing any work to Mr Wood's roof.
Proof then that these two bad apples planned to take Ray's £6,000 and then scarper without doing the work.
An investigation showed the fraudsters had lied from the start in their quest for Ray's cash.
The chartered surveyor's report revealed that the work didn't need doing.
The damage they had caused cost Mr Wood £350 to repair.
The chartered surveyor was able to estimate that it should have cost no more than a few hundred pounds
to replace some tiles. Definitely not the £6,000 that Price quoted to Mr Wood.
According to the surveyor, Ray's roof needed a few hundred pounds' worth of work on it at most.
What these two con merchants did was to wreck his roof, then try and take Ray to the cleaners
to the tune of £6,000.
It almost defies belief.
But in April 2011 at Liverpool Crown Court,
Amos Price was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his part in trying to scam Ray.
Craig Dearden received nine months behind bars.
The actions of these two scammers may remain with their victim for much longer than their sentences.
I can't believe that people will treat pensioners in this way
and con them out of their hard-earned savings.
I'm much more cautious in the way I deal with people now,
whether it's by telephone or any other means.
It's good advice and remember to check your tradesman's ID.
DC Cath Haggerty has some other pointers that should help keep out the fraudsters.
My advice to avoid incidents like this, if in doubt, don't open the door.
Reputable companies will not cold-call at your address.
They will not try and sell you work to get it done there and then
because if they're a good company, you'll go to them.
Great advice. If you are thinking of using a particular tradesman,
always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong.
What about that college lecturer in Berkshire? Will he fall for our central heating con?
Remember, Desmond is lodging with Gillian Tunley, his fellow lecturer.
She's left him in charge while Roger repairs a simple problem with the solar-panel heating system.
So far, Desmond has fallen for Roger's first dirty trick - a load of old techno babble.
It's almost like it's taking heat and dumping it out on the roof.
What's more, he's given them keys to come and go as they please.
He's let them start installing an unnecessary gadget without even asking for a quote.
Lads, I need to leave you. I'm teaching at the minute on the internet.
OK. All right, you carry on.
Of course, Roger will be charging over the odds for this alarm clock
which he's calling a weather compensator.
You see this wiring? See that?
-Look at that - multi-skilled!
-It will go up there, OK?
-That's called "plug and play".
We could put a bit of gaff on there, but we don't want to waste any money. That's all wired in now, OK?
That is going to start talking.
Never leave untrustworthy tradesmen to work alone in your home.
It leaves you wide open to them finding ways to increase the scale of the job they can do
and crank up the costs as well.
He's gone for the clock and we've pretended to install that.
Now I'm going to tell him that his fluid needs changing.
The stuff that goes through the panel has coagulated, so we need to pump some new fluid in there.
I'm not going to bother doing it. We'll just pretend to do it.
What a cheek, Roger! Throwing in a bonus trick?
Sounds like more flannel could be heading Desmond's way.
I'll just give this a hook-up.
-What are we showing there, Luke?
When these panels don't work, when they sit there, the fluid goes a bit like toffee.
Because it's been doing no work. We'll pump that round the panels.
Then it'll just clear out any congealed...
-It's a bit like the anti-freeze in your car.
-I've got to go.
-That's all right.
Again Desmond leaves Roger to it and to aid his pretence of pumping,
our tradesman makes some realistic swooshing sounds with a little water.
One more, one more. That's lovely.
-I've just poured it all over...
-Oh, no. Can you get us a cloth, Luke?
We've got a flood on our hands.
Look at that.
-Can you wipe the top of that for me?
-Give it a quick wipe.
How considerate of you, Roger(!) But you're about to wipe the floor with Desmond,
if he's finished teaching English to his students around the world.
Do you want to pay us in yen or in English money?
I can give you some yen. How much is this going to cost?
-250 for the whole...
-..thing. I'll let the fluid go for nothing. We normally charge 60 quid for that.
Gilly's left me with what she thought was 200, but she's only left me 190,
so I can give you 190 cash.
Today, lodger Desmond Dawson let a pair of unknown tradesmen into his friend's home.
He gave them free rein of the house, even the front door keys.
Roger flannelled him with lies and is claiming money for gadgets
and fluid changes that are unnecessary.
-20, 40, 60, 80, one ton. Yeah?
-One ton, yeah.
20, 30, 40, 50,
80, 90... 190 quid.
There it goes - £190 for absolutely nothing.
-We'll sort it out.
-Can you give me a receipt?
-I'll go and get one.
He's right to demand a receipt, but it's a phoney document, not worth the paper it's written on.
But hang on. Is the whole scam about to unravel?
-Final question, mate.
-That wee box, so I can explain to Gilly...
I'll tell her. I'll ring her.
Quick thinking, Roger. Now time to skedaddle.
-Cheers. Take care.
-All the best.
With Roger out of sight, it's time for our producer to call on Desmond and reveal the truth of the scam.
-Hi. What the hell's happening?
We've been doing some investigations for a TV show we're making about painters, electricians...
We just had some today.
It's really strange. It's pretty weird. I just had somebody coming round.
Have you been tracking these guys?
To be honest with you, I'm pretty sure you've been the victim of a scam.
We've been following a couple of guys doing various jobs in the area
and they haven't been doing anything and walking off with hundreds of pounds of cash.
Can I show you the receipt, who they are?
There is no phone number at all, no.
I think it's about time to put Desmond out of his misery.
I don't know if Gilly's going to be happy with that. I really don't.
Here comes Gilly now and these are the two gentlemen. I don't know if you want to interview them?
-You've been set up, I'm afraid.
-Gilly, have I been set up?
Desmond, surely not(!)
Right, I'm going into Scottish mode here!
When I handed the cash over to Roger, he got 190, but he reckoned that he'd done 250's worth.
So he took the 190.
Now, with hindsight, I obviously don't feel happy about that at all.
I should be giving this to charity.
I would say try and get a quotation,
be more attentive to what people are doing when they're in the house and see what they're doing.
You know, and, um...
Although we can't be an expert on that,
it's basically to stay with these people.
Thanks for taking it so well, Desmond.
The vast majority of tradesmen provide a reliable service.
Only a very small minority try to con you. If in doubt, keep them out. See you next time.
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2011
Email [email protected]
College lecturer Gillian from Berkshire sets up her lodger Desmond for a visit from a pretend rogue roofer. Roger persuades him that a problem with their solar panel can only be fixed with the addition of a special meteorological clock, which will cost several hundred pounds. But Desmond has engineering experience from his days in the Air Force. Will he be taken in by Roger's flim-flam?
Plus a Hertfordshire man sets up his girlfriend, who waits in for Roger to fix a broken panel in their front door. Will she pay the fortune he wants to charge for inexpensive burglar alarms?
Meanwhile, a quick-thinking bank clerk in Merseyside saves a consumer from a £6,000 rip-off roof repair. Her emergency call to police ensured that the cowboys were caught in the act and convicted.