Hidden camera series where an an acting rogue tradesman tries to rip people off in their own homes using well-known con tricks to show us all how easy it can be to be taken in.
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Nothing's more frustrating than something going wrong in your house.
Last year, we spent a staggering £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 for 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.
You've been ripped off, he's not a bona fide tradesman.
Have I been done?
So yeah, I've been done, maybe.
And this is the bit I love.
We expose the UK's most outrageous tradesmen rip-offs.
One of the worst conservatories I'd ever seen - it needed pulling down.
The house was basically a death trap.
There was no other word for it, conned.
Our rogue tradesman, Roger, tries to con a Hertfordshire woman
with shower repairs that are totally unnecessary.
I can turn that into a better shower.
I can put a little solar panel on it, and it will boost it no end.
The Lancashire couple ripped off by driveway merchants
who turned their garden into a disaster area.
He came right up to me in a rather threatening way
and said, "Don't you dare go down that road."
I really was quite frightened.
As Roger makes mountains out of molehills in Derbyshire,
the price of a range-cooker removal is tripled.
I just kind of hate being ripped off.
Stand by for Dirty Tricks Of The Tradesmen.
Hello. Let's be honest, most of us know very little
about trades like plumbing, electrics or roofing.
We put our trust in tradesmen and expect them to play fair.
Of course, the vast majority are fair.
It's a small minority who play dirty,
and they can make our lives a misery.
We're meeting people who have been ripped off by dodgy tradesmen,
plus, with your help, we reveal how easy it is
to fall for a typical set of tradesmen's tricks.
Our viewers have set up their friends and relatives
to receive a visit from our very own tradesman.
Why? Well, to show you how to avoid being taken for a ride.
This is Roger Bisby. After 40 years' experience,
there's not much he doesn't know about the building game.
If there's one thing he doesn't like,
it's conmen cashing in on their dirty tricks.
But in order to show you how not to get conned,
we've asked Roger to go against everything he believes in,
to become a rip-off merchant.
We'll set up small property problems
and send Roger round to show us how easy it is to be scammed.
-Filming with hidden cameras,
Roger will be working with cameraman and pretend apprentice Luke.
We'll find out where they're springing their first trick in just a moment.
Did you know 85% of our homes have showers?
They need regular maintenance,
and that's when the con-artist can strike if you're not careful,
so Roger's on his way to meet a streetwise young woman
to see if she'll be taken in by his tactics.
Geraldine keeps a comfortable home in Hertfordshire
and has invited us to play our tricks
on her daughter, Joanna, who lives nearby.
She's a bubbly person, she likes a laugh.
Is she gullible? Very gullible, I'm afraid!
because her mum's supposedly keeping a hospital appointment.
A plumber's been called to fix a small but real shower problem,
and - gullible or not - Joanna will want to keep an eye on things.
So she will have to go up and make sure it's good,
or she won't hand over the money.
I wonder how Roger will turn that minor wiring problem
to his advantage.
One idea we've got is to put in a solar panel,
which is a totally fictitious thing. To help me with this, I've got Luke.
-Have you got that solar panel?
-Yep, got it here.
This is really a low-powered unit - it won't do anything to the shower,
but if we put it on the windowsill facing the sun,
it's got a little flashing light,
which will persuade them that it's kicking electricity into that shower.
-You've got something else as well.
-Yeah, something called an RCD.
It's an essential bit of safety kit with an electric shower.
Water and electrics don't mix, so it's a really good thing to have.
So our perfidious plumber is looking to blind Joanna
with science about the state of the wiring.
Now, that should give him an excuse to fit the RCD unit.
He's also trying to sell her a solar panel, too,
if she believes his tall story about low power.
You know what I think about Roger? I think he's an absolute shower.
Including labour, this job shouldn't cost more than £75.
In fact, it might be less costly for the family to buy a new shower.
But Roger has his heart set on making at least three times that.
They arrive on time, just before one o'clock.
-Full charm offensive, Luke.
-I can't do that.
Hello! All right with shoes, or shall I take them off?
Yeah, no, it's fine.
I've noticed that no-one ever asks Roger for his ID,
and Joanna is no exception.
She's no idea who this plumber is or where he's come from.
Let's hope she keeps an eye on him.
-Tea or coffee?
-Can I have a black coffee, please?
Er, no, she's off downstairs to sort refreshments,
giving Roger and Luke plenty of time to wreak havoc in the bathroom.
-Do you see the shower, Luke?
-It's hard to miss, isn't it?
Some would miss it, those not trained in the art of shower recognition.
Nice sense of irony there, Roger.
The question is, can you fix the genuine problem with the shower?
Fuse box, fuse box, fuse box. Where's the fuse box? Under the...
-I bet you don't know, do you?
-I don't, no, it's my mum's house.
I need to get to the electrics to turn it off.
-Under the stairs?
-I'll look, don't worry.
-What's the fixation with witches?
-My mum, she's a witch.
-Is she a witch, seriously? A real witch?
-She's a proper witch?
-She's a white witch.
-Just as well she's in on the tricks.
If Roger tried to pull a fast one on Geraldine,
I bet she'd send some bad vibes in his general direction.
I'm just going to get some tools in.
She seems a very pleasant young lady, very trusting.
She's offered us a cup of tea within the first two minutes,
which, in Luke's book, is the perfect woman.
Now we've got to find the fuse box, we're having difficulty locating it,
and then I can move on to the shower.
Fortunately, the power switch doesn't take too long to find,
so Roger's soon ready to get to work on the shower.
-That's the electric side of it.
-I'm just going to test the shower.
-Can I borrow a towel?
When I go underneath to test it, sometimes I get soaking wet,
so I decided the best way of playing around with showers
is I actually get in a shower and I work on it while I'm in it.
So that's the easiest way, because I got soaked so many times.
I have to go home, overalls soaking.
Any old towel. It could be a dog towel for all you like.
Hmm, I reckon a dog towel would be appropriate for you, Roger.
You're supposed to be blinding Joanna with science,
not freaking her out.
So you two talk amongst yourselves, all right? OK?
# And did those feet
# In ancient times... #
-Are you all right there, Roger?
-I'll be all right, you carry on.
-I'm just... I'm working, Luke.
-You're tone-deaf, mate.
Roger is actually repairing the genuine wiring issue
while Luke keeps Joanna busy.
Joanne has been lulled into a false sense of security.
She let Roger start work without asking him for a quote.
He'll probably use this to do more work than is necessary,
because it'll soon be too late for her to stop him.
-Did you like my singing, by the way?
-No, it was dreadful.
Right, I think we're rocking and rolling, Luke.
Simple, job done, shower apparently now in perfect working order,
a job that usually costs around £75,
but Roger's ready to start playing his tricks at any minute.
What I think about that shower... I've fixed it.
-Are you ready for it?
-I just put in a new RCD in there.
Now, I can turn that into a better shower.
We can give it a bit of a boost.
I can put a little solar panel on it,
and that will take a bit of electricity out of the sun
-and it'll boost it no end, yeah?
-You sneaky devil!
Two tricks thrown in, in less time than it takes to rinse your roots.
I can do it now or do it later. It'd be better if I did it now.
Surely Joanna won't let Roger walk all over her.
I'm almost inclined to fit that solar panel for you.
How quickly will the penny drop that he's a rotter?
I can do it now or do it later. It'd be better if I did it now.
Plumbing scams are common, but they're beaten by tarmacking tricks.
In 2009, there were more than 1,200 reported complaints
about dodgy driveways.
The con-artists used every trick in the book to seem convincing.
They even impersonate trusted brand names.
The BBC's garden makeover series Ground Force
ran for eight years until 2005.
Unfortunately for consumers in Lancashire,
tricksters traded on its name.
Their audacious attempt to lend credibility
to a fly-by-night tarmacking scheme is not to be confused
with other reputable companies of the same name.
This gang operated only in Preston,
specialised only in driveways and vanished when they were rumbled.
Fly-by-night cowboys are the trickiest to bring to justice,
as local trading standards officer Tony Haslam explains.
The most difficult aspect of solving a driveway scam such as this
is usually the identification of the trader
once they've gone with the money.
If I'm honest about it, from the enforcement aspect,
it is very difficult for us once we've reached that point.
There's very little trail that's left by these guys.
Retired businessman Geoff Cummings and his wife Jean
were among the victims taken in by the trader's choice of company name.
In September 2009,
a company called Ground Force knocked on the front door.
To be honest, I thought it were t'BBC programme,
which was named Ground Force,
so I thought it was a legitimate firm.
And they... they offered to do my drive.
Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in a number of ways.
One primary way that they do it is by livering their vehicles
with company names, telephone numbers.
They may even have hazard warning lights on the top of their vehicle
to make them look like they are a legitimate set-up.
And it was exactly this trick that Jean and Geoff fell for.
Lulled into a false sense of security,
they entrusted him with the job of replacing their old concrete drive,
which Geoff himself had built with his friends back in 1964.
It was higgledy-piggledy, and it had cracked a lot.
The drive had cracked across, it had cracked,
it had lifted, part of the original path had lifted.
And it was not very good,
and, in fact, we'd talked about it for years to get it done,
but it was money, money.
That's why they picked us, because it wasn't very good, to be honest.
I really thought he was from Ground Force,
because he had his clipboard, he was well organised,
plus the fact his van was parked at the end of the drive
with Ground Force written on it, freephone number, mobile number,
just like any other businessman, like, you know.
He seemed quite a genuine bloke.
He was very quiet, really, and he was on about, er...
"We'll give you an estimate," and things like that.
Hoodwinked by the familiar sounding name of the company
and the professional-looking vans, Jeff agreed to pay £1,500
to have the old drive removed
and a new tarmac drive blocked and installed.
We walked down the drive together, I said, "I want it digging out,
"and I want you to put blocks round, round the edges."
We wanted it blocking round the edge.
I want some little stones so it wouldn't look exactly black.
And he said he would do all this, he said he would do it for £1,500.
And he said, "You'll only need to pay me by cheque."
The salesman urged the couple to let the work start the next day.
He was so convincing, they agreed without checking quotes from other suppliers.
Two workmen turned up the next day,
and while work was underway on transforming their drive,
the couple's initial relief soon turned to alarm.
The way that they started, erm... digging up the drive,
they didn't seem to have the proper tools.
They didn't look as though they knew what they were doing properly.
Just messed about, doing nothing in particular,
and spent most of their time in my garage, sat there,
and then I began to wonder, "Oh, dear me, what have I done?"
The next day, things went from bad to worse.
A rigid wagon came, a flat-back, and it was like rent-a-mob.
I've never seen anything like it, literally rent-a-mob.
There must have been 15 men came, jumped off this wagon,
and they came with... I don't know what you call them,
and started breaking up, they started breaking up, right?
Come down here with me now.
They started breaking it up,
and they were carrying big chunks of concrete out, all these guys.
They were carrying it out and putting it on the flat of the wagon,
and they dug it out to here, right?
So now the rest of my drive is concreted, where I'd done,
and all down here, they'd dug it out.
And at six o'clock, they left and left me at t'weekend like that.
And by this time, we were in...
me and the wife were very upset about it.
We knew by this time what we'd done,
we realised what fools we'd been, if that's the right word to say,
and we were both upset, we were...
We couldn't sleep at night, we talked about nothing else,
and we wondered how could we get out of it.
The Cummings were trapped with half of their old driveway,
half a strip of broken earth and no means of putting their car away.
Committed to the work,
they were hostages to the traders' increasing demands.
Two of them came knocking on the door,
he said, "We'll block it for you for £4,400."
I said, "Don't even go there." I said, "Don't go there."
I said, "You're not blocking it, I can't afford that,
"you're not blocking it."
So, then they want cash, they were annoyed at that.
Then they asked me... they wanted cash.
So then I had to phone up the bank
and make arrangements to go and pick this £1,500 up.
So much for paying by cheque.
After Jeff was escorted to his bank to collect the cash payment,
the tradesmen finished their rough work
on the Cummings' driveway with nightmarish results.
For their next trick they weren't even going to use the right materials.
Another van, a wagon, a flat wagon turned up, right,
with not tarmac but this pitch stuff that they fill road holes with.
You know, the stuff that they fill holes in the road with? It was that.
They just shovelled it in off the back of the wagon.
He just said to the guy, "Just dump that there."
And then they started up there and they just walked up
and it was about quarter of an inch thick all the way down.
They did it in an hour, an hour and a half.
When they'd gone, I went up to the garage door
and I couldn't close the garage door.
Jean Cummings felt the work was so shoddy
she stood up to the rogues but was quickly put down.
I said, "I don't think we should give you the full amount of money."
And he came right up to me in a rather threatening way
and said, "Don't you dare go down that road."
And I was, I really was quite frightened.
Ripped off and very scared, the couple had no option
but to contact trading standards, who sent Tony Haslam to investigate.
When I arrived at the premises and looked at the driveway,
it was clear the quality and standard of work was pretty appalling.
There were foot imprints on the tarmac
where obviously people had walked while the tarmac wasn't solid enough.
And Tony had more bad news for the couple.
In relation to the Cummings' case,
we obviously made as many enquiries as we could
in relation to the information that they were able to give us
but it became quite obvious early on
that those avenues of investigation were going to lead nowhere
in terms of investigating and bringing somebody to boot.
The traders had vanished, taking the Cummings' £1,500 with them.
On top of that, the couple paid another company £3,800
to install a proper driveway.
Preston Trading Standards are aware of at least a dozen other victims
of that Ground Force Driveways gang in Lancashire,
who between them lost a total of £10,000 in three months.
Jean and Geoff hope others won't repeat their mistake.
Nobody will ever sell me anything from the front door.
They will not get through to me at all,
they will not succeed in anything now.
I've learnt my lesson, as old as I am.
-Well, both of us have, haven't we?
-Both of us have.
It goes for me, too.
We tried to track down the Preston Ground Force Driveway traders to give them the right to reply,
but they appear to have vanished into a big black hole.
We've another shocking case study later,
when a West Midlands family are threatened by a tradesman who's damaged their uncle's roof.
It was totally unnecessary, my uncle
didn't give them permission to do so,
they just went up there and then demanded payment.
And in our quest to show how not to be ripped off,
Roger's tricks get the better of a family man from Derby.
Eugh, they give you the creeps, don't they?
First, time to find out whether Joanna from Hertfordshire
falls for our cowboy's dirty tricks.
Roger's turned up to repair a genuine problem
with the wiring on her mother's shower.
Joanna's house-sitting while her mum supposedly has a hospital appointment.
She hasn't checked Roger's ID or asked for a quote upfront.
His plan was to sell her unnecessary gadgets at inflated prices
and because she left him unsupervised,
he's saying he's already fitted one without her knowledge.
Just put in a new RCD in there.
That would normally cost only £20-30.
But adding on labour costs he's planning to hike up
the charge to more than £200. He's also baffling her with science
about the shower needing a solar panel to give it a power boost.
Still, no mention of money, so when is he planning to drop that bombshell?
I can do it now or you can do it later. It'd be better if I do it now.
Probably better to speak to Mum
cos I don't want to agree without her say so.
Right, I've fixed the shower, it was just a loose wire
so that only took a few minutes to fix.
I've also put the neon light back in for them so they'll know
when it's on and off, which is all good.
There's a bit more work to do there, but I just told them
I'd put a new RCD in and I'm going to charge them
about £200 for that, hopefully come back and do some more work.
Now, I want to introduce the solar panel option to them.
That solar panel is normally £100.
But, if I fit it today while I'm here,
I'll waive the call out charge so, basically,
the call out charge is 65 quid.
So, it would only end up costing her 35 quid
if she wants the solar panel. Yeah? If I do it today.
It's up to you, I don't mind either way.
I don't want to make any...
No, no. Do you want to give her a ring or what?
-I can't, she's actually in the hospital.
-Is she all right?
-I don't know what she's gone up there for,
-but she'll have her phone off.
-OK, fair enough.
Otherwise I'd say to you I'll ring her.
-But I'll tell her.
If I come back, I'll have to charge call out, but anyway, that's OK.
-Just a bit of a bargain.
Just to up the game for me, that's all.
OK, well, in that case, just the RCD
and the, um...
I'll just go and work it out. All right?
Talk about stringing her along, Roger.
You know the cost perfectly well.
In fact, I know you know the cost of absolutely everything.
Good old Joanna, she's been astute enough
to dodge your solar panel trick.
I bet there's a big bill though coming her way from the RCD.
If you can't contact your mum...
I'll tell her about it.
-I'll just leave you with this. So...
-This is for today?
This is for today. The whole thing.
226, it is. That's for cash.
226 quid! Not bad for just over an hour's work.
Remember, the cash-hungry Cowboys
shouldn't be charging more than £75 for this job.
And the RCD, that normally costs around £30.
As they pack and restore the house to the way they found it,
it's time for Joanna to pay up or fight back.
Do you want me to write that out in full,
residual current device, or not?
No, that's fine.
Today, Joanna let a rogue plumber into her mum's house
without asking for a quote or checking his ID.
She dismissed Roger's solar panel scam,
but he's saying he installed another unnecessary gadget without telling her.
Now he plans to charge her over the odds for it.
She seems pretty trusting, will she pay up?
-That's brilliant. You need some change.
-I do, please.
-How much? There's 226 on the paper.
226. That's not bad going.
I did want to sell that solar panel, but I was starting to discount it,
I was being a fool to myself really. We live to fight another day.
We'll take that solar panel somewhere else.
Yes, and no doubt try your dirty tricks on some other consumers.
But what about Joanna's £14 change, Roger?
Or don't you carry that sort of money?
I haven't got change, what are we going to do?
I'll have to give you discount, sorry.
-I do apologise for doing that. Nice to meet you.
You are the nicest person we've met all day. Lovely, nice to see you.
Roger, you creep.
And he still got £220 for a job
that's really only worth about £75, the little rascal!
Quick, let's go.
She didn't like that bill, she was looking at it going, "What exactly have you done."
With our Cowboys parked out of sight,
our producer breaks the bad news that Joanna has been ripped off.
Hello there, hi, we're from the BBC.
We're looking into people who've had experiences with plumbers,
painters, whether they've had any strange experiences
in the past couple of weeks.
They've just left here, doing my mum's shower.
They did a switch and an RC something.
Quite expensive, I did question them
and they explained to me what it was for.
I did find it a bit strange when he asked for a towel.
It's time for mum Geraldine to come and confess her part
in bringing our dirty trickster onto the premises.
I looked at Roger's invoice and questioned it
because I believed that the prices for the switches were quite high.
And the charging for an assistant and the mileage,
I didn't think it was right.
I let her off 16 quid.
-I hadn't got change.
-No-one had change.
Oh well, there you go.
-You win some, you lose some.
Thank you very much indeed.
-It's a pleasure to do business with you.
I'm so going to get you back.
'I think next time I have tradesmen in my house
'I would probably ask for ID
'and make more of a point of seeing what they are actually doing.'
Well, Joanna, thank you so much for being so good-humoured,
but how should YOU avoid being the victim of a con like that?
First, always get at least three quotes for trade work.
Second, ensure you take a reference for any tradesman you employ.
And finally, never leave them alone.
If Joanna had kept her eyes peeled,
Roger wouldn't have got away with so much.
One of the frequent complaints made about rogue tradesmen
is their tendency to take a small job
and turn it into something much bigger than it needs to be,
often by telling whopping lies and planting props to support them.
Now, Roger's about to try that on a family man in Derbyshire.
Lottie Carey, here on the left,
lives with her mum Amanda in Derbyshire.
Today she wants to set up her stepfather, Graham,
for his own good, of course.
He's so gullible.
He's just going to let people walk all over him.
My little brother and sister, who are nine and ten,
I'm sure they've got more upstairs than him
and today I am going to prove it to him.
The family have a range cooker that's been causing them nothing but grief.
Mum Amanda has had enough so she is helping Lottie spring this trick.
My mum has told my dad that she's met someone who is going to give
a price to get it removed.
Unfortunately for Graham, that someone is Roger,
and he's not just looking for a cooker removal.
We are going to find something else.
Lurking behind that cooker are cockroaches.
How did they get there?
I think it's got something to do with my assistant Luke.
What we are going to do with these is plant them behind the cooker
and then discover them, surprise surprise.
Got to remove them with our magic spray
which is really nothing more than water
so we can charge about £100 to do that.
So £100 for now. A few thousand pounds later on.
That's the aim.
So, Roger will waltz into Graham's house
and quote an extortionate price for the cooker removal.
Now, to be sure of walking out with a few quid today,
he'll plant dead cockroaches behind the cooker
and charge over the odds for a pest control job.
It's his cockroach cooker con.
It's a good idea to get a qualified specialist
to provide a quote for cooker removals.
They should cost around £300-£400.
But when Roger arrives at 3:30pm,
he plans to take away a hefty deposit
and a contract for future work.
Hello, good afternoon.
-You're a bit late, aren't you? 3:30pm.
-I do apologise.
Hmm, not a great start in gaining his trust, Roger.
But fortunately, Graham's keen to get his cooker sorted.
He hasn't checked Roger's ID, though.
This has not been used for God knows how long.
Quite honestly, what do you want to do with it? There's quite a lot of options you can go for.
Get it to work, basically.
The thing is, the thing is...
What are you running all the rads off at the moment?
You're never going to heat the central heating with it.
We've had that many people around saying, "I can fix that for you."
When they come round to have a look at it...
The guy, when he fitted the lining, he knocked my chimney pot off.
-As you drive past the house, you can probably see the chimney.
I'll tell you what, if we take the Aga out,
-we'll do the chimney as well.
Put the chimney back on for you.
Roger's been called round
to give a quote but already he is setting himself up for a potentially costly chimney repair,
so how much will he charge for removing the cooker?
If we take this out, we want about 1,500 quid to take that out.
£1,500 is more than three times the usual price
for removing a range cooker.
Throw in the chimney repair, and Roger's looking to make a small fortune.
Oh, that's awful, isn't it?
Who did that?
The builder panicked and the whole thing came through.
Oh, no. OK. All right.
I'm just going to get a torch.
OK, he's got a chimney which definitely needs doing and a roof that definitely needs doing.
So what I really need to do now
is to give him a nice package deal, really for the whole thing.
Really, I need to get a deposit from him now today to go ahead with it.
And, to top it off, it's time for him to unleash his dirtiest trick
and bring out his creepy-crawlies.
-This is a beautiful computer.
-Yeah, it's all right.
With Luke distracting Graham in the living room,
Roger plants his responsibly sourced and very dead cockroaches in the nooks and crannies
around the cooker.
Right, mate, OK, so are we going to remove this one? Is this what we're going for?
Yeah. Yeah, just give us a quote and we'll get back to you when we see what the damage is.
Dismantling the pipe-work. Just let me have a look at this.
It's a bit ugly down there. What do you want to do about that bit?
All this horrible bit of...
-Yes, we can always re-tile it.
-What, same ones?
-Same ones, yeah.
-There's three massive beetles here.
-They're not beetles, they're cockroaches.
-Have you got a stick from a kebab...
-Urgh! They are cockroaches?
-Yes, I think they are.
I'll see. Have you got a polythene bag there?
Eugh! It's enough to put you off your tea, isn't it?
Oh, look at them! Look at them!
Eugh! That was...
So Roger's roach trick is sprung. Will Graham fall for it?
-I'll get some spray and spray around it.
-I'll get some stuff tomorrow.
And if he does, how will he react to Roger's filthy con?
Just kind of hate being ripped off.
Don't we all, Graham?
Now, Roger's always mind-mannered when he deals with his customers,
but the bad news is even rogue traders can be polite when they're committing crimes.
The good news is crime doesn't pay.
Susan, from the West Midlands,
has had the painful experience of seeing her beloved uncle fall victim to a rotten roofer.
She's agreed to step out and talk to us
only if we disguise their identities because what happened to Uncle Barry has shocked their family.
He is an independent man and wanted to take care of his own affairs,
so I was not keen to interfere too much, but, on the other hand, I did feel very protective towards him.
Rightly so, because the story Susan uncovered when she came for her regular weekly visit
gave her a nasty shock.
He wasn't in.
I waited till 11.30, getting really, really anxious and when he arrived he arrived in a taxi
and said that he'd been to the bank
and wouldn't tell me what it was about but that he'd sorted it all out.
Later, he rang me and said his head was upside-down,
people were trying to take money out of his account
and could I come over and help him?
And that's when it all started to emerge -
I found a chequebook with several cheques all crossed out
addressed to Davia Gibbons and Tradeside for varying amounts,
Davia Gibbons was unknown to Trading Standards at this point
as was his company Tradeside Home Improvements,
not to be confused with legitimate companies of the same name.
It was this case which brought him onto their radar.
The gentleman had cancelled a couple of cheques.
His niece was concerned
about the number of cheques he seemed to be writing.
She got involved with Gibbons and then complained to us,
saying she believed her uncle had been ripped off.
Barry's health has declined since Gibbons tackled his roof
and his memories of what happened
have been difficult for Susan to unpick,
but she believes that he cold-called her uncle with a leaflet for his company, Tradeside,
and that he started work without Barry's consent -
a classic crooked tradesman's trick.
He came to the front window and found a ladder across his window.
Went outside and two men were on his roof,
and they'd slopped mortar right across the ridge tiles.
It is totally unnecessary.
My uncle didn't give them permission to do so, they just went up there,
and then demanded payment.
£500 was the asking price, Susan thinks her uncle
wanted to get rid of Gibbons and felt under duress.
She found evidence of several attempts at writing cheques.
On the dining room table was a cheque to Gibbons
for £500 plus VAT.
It was very badly written and the signature was all strange.
Gibbons made him write out the cheques.
In fact, Barry had written two cheques, one of which he cancelled,
the other was cancelled with Susan's help.
Aware of her uncle's distress Susan contacted Gibbons
to find out what had been going on.
That's when the threats started.
He told me husband that unless he got paid in seven days
he would go and he would take everything off the roof.
My husband said, "Is that a threat?"
And he said, "No, that's a promise."
Trading Standards advised Susan to demand an invoice from Gibbons,
with an invoice there would be a paper trail to follow.
But when it turned up she was surprised to see a bill for £550,
when Gibbons had previously demanded cheques for £500.
It looked like another dirty trick.
I asked him what if was for, this £50, and he said it was for scaffolding.
I went to my uncle's neighbours and they said there hadn't been any scaffolding at all.
So already he was trying to escalate what he was trying to get out of my uncle.
He wanted cash, but Susan wasn't paying,
because she's raised the alarm quickly
she'd stopped her uncle from being ripped off.
And it made me angry because
he felt vulnerable from that moment on.
With help from Trading Standards a case was built against Davia Gibbons.
As Peter Calvert and his team travelled the county
investigating him they discovered two more victims.
We had great difficulty contacting him cos he was quite evasive.
Eventually we charged him based on the evidence we've got.
We had the documents examined by a handwriting expert
and all the handwriting was the same.
What a slippery customer.
Gibbons got no cash from Susan's uncle
but he was paid £630 by another of his victims.
And Peter Calvert threw the book at him.
Gibbons was given a fair sentence with an opportunity to make amends.
The result with Davia Gibbons was a 12-month prison sentence
suspended for 18 months.
And a requirement to have probation supervision
and also 100 hours community service.
We hope that this may force him to be more honest in future.
And he's going to pay my uncle for a day's work
for someone to come and put the roof right,
which is absolutely great.
Susan's tip for other families with elderly relatives
is to encourage them to call for help
the moment any suspicious tradesmen show up.
She found that it's possible to stop vulnerable relatives
from being ripped off if you act fast.
I went into the bank with my uncle
and they said, "I'm very sorry but the cheque has gone into his account."
And then she said, "No, wait a minute, let me see
"if I can work a bit of magic," and she managed to retrieve the cheque
and so, in fact, the money never got into his account.
A very good point, and what's more, if you suspect that your friends or family being ripped off,
it does no harm to check with your local Trading Standards for advice.
Now what about our family in Derbyshire?
Hello, good afternoon, You all right?
Now, remember, Roger's been called out for a quote
to remove a country-style cooker.
He's already angling to charge a piping-hot price.
What about 1,500 quid to take that out?
And he's moved the goalposts too,
suggesting he could also fix Graham's wonky chimney.
Now things are getting dirty. Roger's placed dead cockroaches around the cooker
and is hoping Graham will think he has a roach infestation on his hands.
-They give you the creeps, don't they?
Can you smell them, they stink? It's amazing.
I tell you what, I'll just get you some spray
and spray around there if you want.
-I'll get some stuff tomorrow, don't worry about that.
Oh, dear! Graham doesn't think he needs your cockroach-killing chemicals.
Is this trick about to be squashed underfoot?
We've got a bit of woodworm fluid, if you want that, but that's all.
-Yeah. That kills everything, doesn't it?
That kills dry rot, woodworm, all sorts,
so it's bound to kill those things. I'll get that woodworm fluid.
That'll do it.
That's it, Roger, don't take no for an answer.
You go get your squirty bottle of water,
I mean, woodworm killing stuff.
Oh, that's lovely.
So Roger gives the cooker a liberal dousing of tap water.
Now Graham may not have rumbled him, but their dog definitely has.
Look at that expression.
Right, we've given the non-existent cockroaches a spray,
I've told him it's a special spray we've used for woodworm and so on
but actually it's just water in there, nothing harmful at all.
So we just sprayed that round the back.
At least it'll dampen the dust down a bit,
and let's see how we get on when I try and get some money from him.
I hope I've got this all totted up all right.
I've got £3,200, including all that. Here you are.
£3,200 for the work on the chimney and the oven.
How much does he want for the removal of the cockroaches?
If you can give us... Can you give us £175 for today? Is that all right?
I'll have to e-mail all the bank details.
Have you got internet banking?
Oh, I like cash, I love cash.
I haven't got cash on me, I'm afraid.
But I can sort something out for you.
Hmm, Graham's not playing ball.
He may not be as gullible as his daughter said.
If he's got money on him, he's not giving any of it to Roger.
He contacts his partner to reassure himself that Roger is bona fide.
He wants a call-out for £175.
Today, Graham Griffiths was expecting to receive a quote
to take away the family's cooker.
Instead, Roger's angled for additional work,
planted dead cockroaches in the kitchen
and has sprayed the infected area with...water.
He's quoted a staggering £3,200 for future work
and has asked £175 for today's visit.
But will Graham pay up?
OK, see you in a bit. Bye.
Erm, £100, Rog, is that going to be OK, mate?
-Yeah, if that's all you've got. You're a hard taskmaster.
100 quid, that's £75 less than Roger wanted,
but it's still £100 for nothing.
-Here you are, Rog.
-You're bankrupting me there, mate.
All right, see you later. Nice to meet you.
With Roger safely packed out of sight,
it's time for our producer to reveal the truth about his dirty tricks.
Hello there. Hi, I wonder if you can help us.
-We're working with the BBC.
-For a consumer affairs show.
I just had a conman round five minutes earlier.
He was here for about an hour and he said,
"Oh, it'll be £175 for the call-out."
I'm furious at the moment. I just kind of hate being ripped off.
It's time to put Graham out of his misery.
I'm afraid to tell you you've been the victim of a set-up.
It wouldn't be the first time. Can I get my money back, then?
You want the money back?!
You didn't give me any money. You only gave me half!
Oh, my God. I am fuming.
I tell you what, you were a hard nut to crack.
Yeah, they were quite convincing to a certain degree. Obviously, I fell for it.
There's a bit of a distance between us, wasn't there?
Do you think it was the cockroaches that did it or what?
-Were they set up as well?
'Very convincing, and I'm still now, half an hour later,'
I still can't believe I gave any money to him.
I can't believe it. I swear.
'I would have said to him, "Well,'
"you know, give us your call-out charges before you come to see me."
I should have asked him that, really, from the outset.
You can get to your room now.
Well, thanks for taking it so well, Graham.
Now, 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.
If there's one thing to remember,
if in doubt, keep them out. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.
An audacious hidden camera series with Chris Hollins. An acting rogue tradesman tries to rip people off in their own homes using well-known con tricks to show us all how easy it can be to be taken in.
A medium from Hertfordshire asks her streetwise daughter Joanna to house sit, and our rogue Roger calls to mend the shower. Will she see through his pricey solar panel con, which he claims will boost the power? Meanwhile, at Graham's house in Derbyshire, Roger 'discovers' cockroaches behind a range cooker. Will the consumer pay for a pricey pest control job that doesn't need doing?
Plus the story of the Lancashire driveway installers who conned more than 10,000 pounds from their victims.