Episode 7 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 7

Hidden-camera series. Essex taxi-driver Kevin gets a visit from phoney electrician Roger, who tries to turn a routine fuse box inspection into a full-scale pest control job.


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Transcript


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It's frustrating when something goes wrong in your house.

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

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How can we tell if we've got a good deal or if we've been taken to the cleaners?

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Do you want to go for 225?

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Just for today, 500 quid, cash.

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Probably about seven and a half grand.

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We've been secretly filming up and down the UK

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and we reveal how shockingly easy it could be for YOU to be duped.

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

-He's not?

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Have I been done?

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Yeah, been done, maybe.

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This is the bit I love. We expose outrageous tradesmen rip-offs.

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He didn't give a jot about his victims.

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I didn't think he'd do such a dirty trick.

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He put my kids in danger. He ripped me off. I could kill him.

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Coming up, our roguish Roger makes an Essex taxi driver

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think his home is under attack from ferocious rodents.

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It could cost a fortune.

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Have a look here. That's a bit of rodent damage, I think.

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A ghastly glazier brings misery to consumers in Dorset,

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charging hefty deposits and going AWOL without finishing the windows.

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In some cases, he took over £1,000, but whatever the amount,

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he wasn't prepared to do the work that went with it.

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And, ooh, it was agony, Ivy,

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for a consumer near Buckingham

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when Roger talks up the power of the local plant life.

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We've got fibrous roots.

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They're like the Trojan horse of root. They form a root ball inside.

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Then they grow and they blow the drain apart.

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Hello. Let's be honest,

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most of us know very little about the trades -

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plumbing, electrics, roofing.

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So we put our trust in tradesmen and expect them to play fair.

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And the vast majority do that.

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It's a small minority who turn rogue

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and make life a misery for thousands of us each year.

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We're meeting people who've been ripped off by dodgy tradesmen,

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plus we reveal how easy it is to fall for typical tradesmens' tricks.

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Our viewers have set up friends and relatives to receive a visit from our own tradesman. Why?

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To show you how to avoid being taken for a ride.

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Meet Roger Bisby - after 40 years' experience,

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

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If there's one thing he doesn't like

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it's conmen cashing in on their dirty tricks.

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To show you how not to get conned,

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we've asked Roger to go against everything he believes in

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to become a rip-off merchant.

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We'll set up small property problems and send Roger around

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to show us how easy it is to be scammed.

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Filming with hidden cameras, Roger will be working with his pretend apprentice, Luke.

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Soon, we'll discover where they're setting their first trap.

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There are around 15 species of ivy.

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It can grow up to 30 metres off the ground, up trees and houses.

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If the mortar and brickwork is weak, the ivy can break up the walls.

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You have to keep it under control.

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Roger's got a dirty trick for a man living in an old country house

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which is prone to invasive ivy.

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Chris Walkey from Buckinghamshire is setting up his flatmate,

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34-year-old guitarist and food lover, Chris Plum.

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Chris is a humble guy.

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He wears a pouch on the side of his trousers, and his cooking tools are quite craftsman like.

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They're kind of made out of iron, rather than non-stick recent stuff.

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He's very creative in his mind.

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But is he creative enough to see through our deception?

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He's been told that someone is coming to inspect the ivy

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that's creeping into the house and growing through the floorboards.

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Roger and Luke have a bag of rotten tricks, and they're not afraid to use them.

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I have got some spray that's going to kill the ivy.

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-We're going to use water because we don't want to harm anything.

-Yeah.

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This one, I don't really understand.

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-I've got a smoke grenade.

-This ivy is growing through the air bricks.

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I put in smoke bombs to prove that the air is going straight through.

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Something else I want to do

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is to show him pictures of the ivy underneath his floor.

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If I poke this camera in and pretend that we've taken some pictures,

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we'll alarm him into thinking his underfloor is festering with ivy.

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So, Roger's first trick is to string out the job.

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The longer he can do that, the bigger his bill.

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He can boost it further by using expensive equipment

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and blinding Chris with science.

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We can expect plenty of over-charging for basic services, too.

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A simple root check and treatment

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should cost around:

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Roger's adding time and equipment, planning to reap a whopping £300.

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That's five times as much.

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Roger and Luke arrive.

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Which one is it?

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It's a confusing property, and easy to get lost.

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What one's this?

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Wrong again. Warming up for your time-wasting antics later, fellas?

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Our scammers are rescued by Chris, who takes them to the ivy

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at the point where it might be entering the house.

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-Through there.

-Ah! OK.

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-In through that one and one down there.

-Got you. Fine.

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Find some interesting creatures living down here, maybe. Maybe not.

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Chris seems very trusting.

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He's not checked their ID. They could be anyone.

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It's going to do a lot of damage.

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Looks like Chris has had enough of the great outdoors and heads inside,

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leaving Roger and Luke to conduct their investigations alone.

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He might regret that later, if he doesn't watch them closely.

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Luke, can you shine that through?

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Roger uses an endoscopic camera, poking it through the air vents

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to see what's happening under the boys' floorboards.

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Oh, it looks like ivy.

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I tell you what I think's happened here, Luke.

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-I think ivy's grown in through these air bricks.

-Really?

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And it's got everywhere inside.

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It gets into the old brick courses here

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and starts to push them apart.

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You wouldn't think that ivy could lift a house, would you?

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Time-consuming investigation over, Roger's creative mind is on the go.

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He was going to pump smoke under the floorboards,

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but he's having second thoughts.

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Change of plan. This underfloor area goes through the entire house.

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There's three flats, so I don't want to start blowing smoke under there

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just for a scam, in case they all run out screaming.

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I'm going to put the vacuum cleaner on it and suck out the old rubbish.

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VACUUM WHIRRS

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Nice of you to be so considerate(!)

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He's still found a way to string out the job, like many conmen do.

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Enough of that, then.

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Suspecting there's an opportunity to eat up more time looking for a bigger problem,

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Roger delves a little deeper.

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# Ta-da! #

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-Ooh, dear!

-There's roots down the side!

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That's completely blocked the drain up.

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Ooh! What we got there, we've got roots, fibrous roots.

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They're like the Trojan horse of root.

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Trojan horse? Sounds like Roger's up to one of his tricks here!

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They form a root ball inside the drain.

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Then they grow and they blow the drain apart.

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He's actually right about the blocked drains.

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That'll cause expensive damage. Do you like that word "expensive"?

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We know you do, Roger. And you look like a man with a plan.

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-Give it a quick old spray down there, yeah?

-Yeah, yeah.

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Found roots going under the house. We don't think they're ivy now,

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but small trees like sycamores, taking root under the house.

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Going to give it a quick spray.

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Has the pressure dropped, Luke?

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This time, he's spraying them with water instead of weedkiller.

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Anything that keeps outlay down

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means more profit from his dirty tricks.

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We just dug all this out from the drains.

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What we got down here is...

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It's just finding its way here,

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through the brickwork, so we're giving it a spray.

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I don't think he's too interested, Roger.

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I dug down to see where it was going

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and I think it's growing up the other side.

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Unfortunately for Chris, he's an ideal customer for a dodgy tradesman.

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He's got other things on his mind and he's back inside.

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Let's hope it doesn't cost him.

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When will Roger spring his next dirty trick?

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And how will Chris react when he realises he's been conned?

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That's not the kind of thing you'd do, is it?

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Roger's dirty tricks are based on reality, where scams are no laughing matter.

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Two conmen made lives a misery for dozens of consumers in Surrey.

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Fortunately, as we'll see, crime doesn't pay.

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If you'd retired to a sleepy corner of Surrey,

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you'd have every right to expect a quiet life.

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That's what Mavis and Alan Horne had until 2007,

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when they were scammed for gardening work by fraudster Hughie Smith

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and his accomplice, Christopher Allinson-Fell.

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He made you feel that he knew exactly what he was talking about.

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They did a small amount of work, say money for materials was needed,

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obtain the money from these people then, effectively, leg it.

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The trick that Smith was to play on Mavis and Alan was small-scale,

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but it proved to be a much bigger fraud case.

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He was such a slippery customer that he often played tricks on vulnerable consumers in one county

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whilst on caution and sometimes even on bail in other counties.

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In 2007, I had absolutely no idea

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how big this investigation was going to become.

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Quite often, we deal with these people once, perhaps twice.

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Over the next few years,

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these two scallywags came up time and time again.

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Both Surrey and Kent Trading Standards had cautioned Hughie Smith

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about his cold-calling

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as far back as 2006, but by 2007, he was still at it.

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Mavis and Alan sent him packing when he tried cold-calling them.

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I think I saw this chap walk up and he spoke to Alan.

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And Alan said, "No, thank you. I don't want anything done."

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Of course, they have to leave if you say that to them.

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A simple "no, thank you" is never sufficient

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with a determined rogue like Hughie Smith.

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A year later, he'd been convicted of fraud in Middlesex and was on bail.

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He came back to the Hornes with some persuasive tricks up his sleeve.

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We were out here in the garden and he came round the side.

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So he was already IN the garden then, which made it a lot harder

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when, really, the things he was saying,

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we would have liked to have had done.

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So, what was Smith saying?

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He hadn't brought a brochure or any references.

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He offered the couple an amazing garden makeover

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for a price which sounded quite reasonable to Mavis.

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The work they said would be to trim the trees here.

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Definitely that big one there,

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bring it down and cut it.

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And then have raised beds so that we could grow the peas,

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the vegetables and that.

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And it would, really, have looked lovely.

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I thought they knew what they were talking about.

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You might wonder what tricks Smith had in mind.

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Having promised the Earth,

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he told them he needed £200 for tool hire to get the job in motion.

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Leaving Christopher Allinson-Fell to draft a quote with her husband,

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Hughie Smith accompanied Mavis to the bank.

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I took him with me to get the money.

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Alan had agreed on £200, but on the way there,

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he said, "Could you make it a little more?" And said, "250?"

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Any complaint made to us where it becomes clear,

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from speaking with the victim,

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they've been taken to the bank by the unsolicited caller,

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immediately rings our bells, that's not how business is done.

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That's where I was stupid.

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And then I came back.

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I thought he was going to come in and he said, "Oh, no."

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I handed him the money

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and he said that the young man was doing all the paperwork.

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Inside the house,

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Allinson-Fell was working on his quote - all for show.

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Because with Mavis's £250 in Smith's hands,

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the rogues quickly fled the scene, taking the paperwork with them,

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and without giving the Hornes details of their cancellation rights.

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When it was clear they weren't about to return, Mavis called Surrey Trading Standards.

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She wasn't the only one.

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The complaints were now coming in from all across the Home Counties.

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We had complaints from Kent and obviously in Surrey.

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So it was an ideal opportunity to visit Hughie Smith's home and enter the premises.

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In the months that followed, Smith and Allinson-Fell had stung

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several other consumers in Surrey and Kent for various amounts.

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For instance, a 70-year-old woman paid a £200 deposit

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for them to reseal her drive.

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A 62-year-old man paid them a total of £5,890 for driveway works.

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So what did the Surrey Trading Standards investigation turn up?

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The officers found a paying-in book

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relating to one of Mr Smith's children.

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From that piece of information I was able to identify that there were a number of accounts

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held by Mr Smith's children.

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The common denominator was that his wife was a signatory on all the accounts

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Hughie Smith and his wife had ten bank accounts,

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some in the names of their children.

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An extraordinary discovery.

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The investigation then span off

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and identified that over £186,000 in cash

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had passed through these accounts over a six-year period.

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£186,000 over just six years!

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For some people, that's the best part of a life-time's earnings.

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It was a standard of living that wouldn't necessarily be enjoyed by somebody who didn't have work.

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There was a significant amount of substantial new white goods

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that indicated that Hughie Smith was earning money somewhere.

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Certainly, in the living room there was a fairly big television

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that we'd all want to enjoy.

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Smith wasn't destined to appreciate his ill-gotten goods for long.

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The numerous cautions, convictions and bails finally caught up with him

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in September 2010.

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Mr Smith pleaded guilty at Guildford Crown Court

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to money laundering offences,

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accepting that at least £100,000 was from the proceeds of crime.

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Smith was sentenced to three years in prison for money laundering,

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fraud and threatening behaviour.

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His accomplice, Christopher Allinson-Fell,

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had been dealt with a year earlier.

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In September 2009, at Woking Magistrates Court,

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he pleaded guilty to fraud.

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He was given a suspended sentence, unpaid community service, costs

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and had to pay compensation.

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In a bizarre postscript to the scam,

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Allinson-Fell went back to see the Hornes, filled with remorse.

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He said he couldn't have this on his conscience,

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so he came and handed Alan £200.

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I wasn't here, otherwise I would have said, "Actually, it was 250."

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Despite being £50 down on the deal, life for the Hornes has returned

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to something near normality.

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Mavis still smarts from her experience with the dirty tricks of the tradesmen.

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We've got to the age, now, when we SHOULD have learnt our lesson

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and hope that we're not going to be caught again.

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But it's awfully hard now

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to know where to go and who is going to be trustworthy.

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We've another shocking story on the way, as a double glazing salesman

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does a vanishing act, taking thousands of pounds with him.

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I was ringing up every day and all I got was answerphone.

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I realised then that I'd been had over.

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Plus, in our quest to show you how not to be ripped off,

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Roger uses tall tales to try to con an Essex taxi driver out of hundreds of pounds.

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That's 200 for the wiring, 75 for the mouse technology thing.

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So it's £325, if you've got it...

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First, how will Chris in Buckinghamshire handle Roger's dirty tricks?

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He had ivy growing through his wall.

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Our rogue got to the root of the problem using science, technology

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and one of the dodgy tradesmen's favourite tricks - time-wasting.

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Enough of that, then.

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His latest trick is to claim he's using a powerful herbicide.

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But it's water - a lot cheaper and, as we all know,

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it'll make the ivy grow quicker!

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The boys have been there about an hour but want to stretch the job out

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just a little longer

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-Excuse me. Excuse me.

-Yes?

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-It might be cheeky, is it possible to get a cup of tea?

-Yeah, yeah.

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Ah! The old favourite!

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-Have you got coffee?

-Er...

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While Luke keeps Chris distracted with a drinks order,

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Roger makes himself look busy.

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Cuppa in hand, Roger waxes lyrically about what a big job it's been.

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We've done all we can. I'm going to write a report about it.

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That drain there, between there and there, there's fibrous roots.

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But Chris still doesn't seem too interested.

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I've just given it a quick spray.

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We've cleared the ivy out that we can from the air bricks.

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He might be shocked when he gets the bill.

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It's time to get down to business and for some creative accounting.

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Let me see, "Wasting time with some expensive gadgets, £140.

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"Wasting time sipping coffee, £80.

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"Cost of water, mmm, £100?"

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So, what about this bill, then?

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Chris thinks it might be down to the landlord to pay the bill.

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That's no good to Roger.

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He has to think on his feet if he's going home with hard cash today.

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They said, if you pay, send the bill to them and they'll reimburse you.

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-All right.

-That was easy!

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If you do it for cash, then it's just 320.

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£320 for 90 minutes' work and a nice cup of coffee?

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Not bad.

0:20:580:21:01

Laid-back Chris let Roger string out an unnecessary gardening job.

0:21:010:21:06

He vacuumed an air vent, poked around with his endoscope

0:21:060:21:10

and sprayed ivy and tree roots with water, pretending it was herbicide.

0:21:100:21:15

Chris has been too distracted to keep a close eye on him, but will he pay the £320 Roger is asking?

0:21:150:21:24

I've got 300 there.

0:21:240:21:26

-That's all you've got, 300?

-Yeah.

-All right. I'll do you a discount.

0:21:260:21:31

You are too generous, Roger.

0:21:310:21:33

Seem like a nice fella and you made a lovely cup of coffee. Cheers.

0:21:330:21:38

£300 for spraying a bit of water and rummaging in the drains?

0:21:380:21:43

Unbelievable!

0:21:430:21:45

20, 40, 60...

0:21:460:21:48

Pleased with today's haul, it's time to make a quick getaway.

0:21:480:21:53

-..That's lovely. OK, mate. Thank you.

-Nice to meet you.

-Cheers.

0:21:530:21:57

Once they're out of the picture, our producer

0:22:020:22:05

reveals to Chris that he's been scammed.

0:22:050:22:08

We're filming with the BBC. We've been chatting to your neighbours.

0:22:080:22:12

We're doing a programme about people who've had experiences

0:22:120:22:16

with painters, electricians, plumbers,

0:22:160:22:19

and they haven't been happy with what they've done.

0:22:190:22:22

-Have you had any experiences?

-Afraid not.

-Nothing at all?

-Always been satisfactory.

0:22:220:22:29

Have you had any work done recently?

0:22:290:22:32

Only just a bit round the corner to sort out those bits of ivy that are growing through the wall.

0:22:320:22:39

You've missed them by a few minutes.

0:22:390:22:41

-Were there two guys?

-Yeah. One in a black van, one in a silver van.

0:22:410:22:46

-Did you pay cash?

-Er, yeah.

0:22:460:22:48

-And did you get a receipt?

-Yup.

0:22:480:22:51

I think you've actually just been scammed.

0:22:510:22:54

It's time to come clean and for Chris's housemate to face the music for his part in the set-up.

0:22:540:23:01

That's not the kind of thing you'd do, is it?

0:23:010:23:04

I saw Roger through the window trying to find the one.

0:23:040:23:07

He seemed like somebody in a rush doing the last job of the day.

0:23:070:23:12

This always hurts me, more than you'll know!

0:23:120:23:16

-Thank you very much for the loan.

-Thanks for being a good sport.

0:23:160:23:20

I'll give this all back to THIS Chris.

0:23:200:23:24

Chris slipped up by not checking Roger's credentials.

0:23:240:23:28

He also has another regret.

0:23:280:23:31

I wasn't with Roger all the time. I heard the noise but I was indoors.

0:23:310:23:35

If this were to happen again, I'd pay more attention

0:23:350:23:39

and keep more of an eye on what's happening.

0:23:390:23:42

Thanks very much, Chris, but what should you or I do to avoid being a victim of a con like that?

0:23:420:23:49

For a start, never let any tradesmen out of your sight.

0:23:490:23:53

Always get a written quote or contract up front. It offers protection if anything goes wrong.

0:23:530:23:59

Most important of all, if in doubt, keep them out.

0:23:590:24:04

In the past, many Local Authorities provided a rodent control service.

0:24:070:24:11

More of them are either stopping the service or charging for it.

0:24:110:24:16

That means consumers are trying out private pest control companies.

0:24:160:24:20

The majority are legitimate and hard working but, as in many trades,

0:24:200:24:24

there are still dirty tricks, and Roger's going to try some on a consumer in Essex.

0:24:240:24:30

Taxi driver Bill Plaidal is setting up his taxi-driver son, Kevin.

0:24:320:24:37

He's been told the fuse box is a bit dodgy.

0:24:370:24:40

Apparently, this will be an easy job for Roger.

0:24:400:24:44

He's so gullible. He'll fall for anything.

0:24:440:24:47

Basically, he deserves it.

0:24:470:24:49

Whether he deserves it or not, Roger's got plans to convince Kevin

0:24:490:24:53

they've got more than an electrical problem.

0:24:530:24:57

It's an infestation problem!

0:24:570:24:59

To help me in this enterprise, I've got my own furry friend, Luke.

0:24:590:25:04

Luke is a cameraman.

0:25:040:25:06

He's posing today as a professional electrician of some sort.

0:25:060:25:11

What have you got there, Luke?

0:25:110:25:12

I've got a pest repellent, a device that sends an ultrasonic sound out

0:25:120:25:17

and drives rodents and pests away from the property.

0:25:170:25:22

Also, I've got live capture mouse traps.

0:25:220:25:25

It's a humane way of catching mice.

0:25:250:25:28

-Then you can let them free...

-..into your neighbour's property!

0:25:280:25:32

Another thing I've got

0:25:320:25:34

that might persuade him of evidence of furry friends is mouse droppings.

0:25:340:25:39

If I sprinkle these around, hopefully, that will persuade him.

0:25:390:25:43

Roger's also hoping to dazzle Kevin with the appliance of science

0:25:430:25:47

and sell him a sonic mouse repellent, over-charging, of course.

0:25:470:25:52

He'll also try to sell him a mouse trap to contain the infestation.

0:25:520:25:56

These mouse deterrents cost Roger no more than £30,

0:25:560:25:59

but he's looking to inflate the bill to ten times that much.

0:25:590:26:03

It's just past ten when our electricians arrive.

0:26:030:26:07

Will Kevin fall for what Roger's calling his "mousetrap" con?

0:26:070:26:12

-In the kitchen, is it?

-The fuse box.

-Where's the fuse box?

0:26:120:26:16

-In here.

-Oh, lovely. Nice and handy.

0:26:160:26:18

Kevin's failed at the first hurdle

0:26:180:26:21

and not asked for ID from our tradesmen.

0:26:210:26:24

They could be anyone.

0:26:240:26:26

To call out an electrician usually costs £30 to £50 for the first hour.

0:26:260:26:30

I've a feeling our trickster has his sights set much higher.

0:26:300:26:35

Let's have a look at this, then. That one goes to there...

0:26:350:26:40

240 volts, yeah?

0:26:400:26:42

Roger's using an ammeter to check the current. Not that he needs to.

0:26:420:26:47

He knows there isn't a problem, but he likes to look convincing.

0:26:470:26:50

Howling gale coming through where the cables run down the cavity.

0:26:500:26:55

Roger's next dodgy trick will involve that hole in the wall.

0:26:550:27:01

Now it's time to set the mouse trap.

0:27:020:27:05

I've got to get in there with a bit of cable and make it look chewed.

0:27:050:27:09

I'll have to get my furry friend Luke to have a chew of it, make some realistic looking teeth marks.

0:27:090:27:16

-..Cockles and stuff.

-Yeah. Mussels and oysters...

0:27:160:27:20

It sounds like Luke has his hands full talking to taxi driver Kevin.

0:27:200:27:25

You'll have to rough up that bit of wire yourself, Roger,

0:27:250:27:28

in three quick and easy steps.

0:27:280:27:30

Step one, he scrapes it on the wall.

0:27:300:27:33

Step two, he rubs it on the ground.

0:27:330:27:35

Step three, he gives it a good...chew.

0:27:350:27:38

Outrageous!

0:27:380:27:40

Let's get it back in there.

0:27:400:27:42

Poor Roger. It looks like he's locked out.

0:27:420:27:45

-..I had a border collie.

-Was that the door?

0:27:450:27:48

That might be him cos I shut it.

0:27:480:27:51

-KNOCKING ON DOOR

-I think the door bell's gone.

0:27:510:27:55

-It's that thing. You have to take it off and put it back on.

-I'll fix it.

0:27:550:27:59

I'd better get on with this first.

0:27:590:28:02

Roger, you don't miss a trick.

0:28:020:28:04

That's another job you're angling for.

0:28:040:28:07

Roger's putting his dummy cable into position, and fake mouse droppings.

0:28:100:28:16

Everything in place, it's now time to put his scare tactics into play.

0:28:190:28:26

There's a bit of little mouse dropping type things here.

0:28:260:28:30

Will Kevin prove as gullible as his dad fears?

0:28:300:28:33

Have a look in here.

0:28:330:28:35

There's a bit of rodent damage. Can you see in here?

0:28:350:28:40

They could even be rat droppings.

0:28:400:28:42

-Really?

-Can you see 'em in the top?

0:28:420:28:45

It looks like there's a bit of chewed-up wiring.

0:28:450:28:49

-Have you noticed any rodents anywhere?

-No.

-None at all?

0:28:490:28:54

Of course he hasn't. There aren't any. You made it up.

0:28:540:28:58

But those two dirty tricks may convince him.

0:28:580:29:01

What else do you have up your sleeve?

0:29:010:29:04

What I could do is stick a couple of... Have you ever seen these ultrasonic devices?

0:29:040:29:10

They send a signal out and the mice feel uncomfortable with it.

0:29:100:29:15

Like a noise?

0:29:150:29:17

Yeah. You can't hear it and the dog can't hear it.

0:29:170:29:21

We get this quite a lot, this old rodent damage.

0:29:210:29:24

I bet you get it all the time, Roger.

0:29:240:29:27

So, can Roger convince Kevin he needs a sonic mouse repellent?

0:29:290:29:33

If the dog leaves home, we'll have to put a less powerful one in!

0:29:330:29:38

What will Kevin do when presented with one massive repair bill?

0:29:380:29:42

-He's left you 75 quid?

-That's how much you said it was going to be.

0:29:420:29:48

Kevin really could do with paying more attention to our rogue.

0:29:520:29:56

You have to be on your guard when there are strangers in your home,

0:29:560:30:00

no matter how polite or convincing they may seem.

0:30:000:30:04

The double glazing industry is worth nearly £4 billion a year.

0:30:060:30:10

It's also notorious for tens of thousands of complaints

0:30:100:30:14

that pour into Trading Standards.

0:30:140:30:17

Double glazing is one of the biggest areas we get complaints about,

0:30:170:30:22

when we're talking about work people have done for their homes.

0:30:220:30:26

Double glazing costs a lot of money. That's why people take it seriously.

0:30:260:30:30

It's no wonder the industry attracts rogues

0:30:300:30:33

like bears around a honey pot.

0:30:330:30:36

This is the story of one such rip-off merchant, Troy Goddard.

0:30:360:30:41

He operated around the Bournemouth area

0:30:410:30:43

where he scammed people like 84-year-old Peter Watmough.

0:30:430:30:48

You don't like telling people you've been ripped off.

0:30:480:30:53

But with Troy Goddard, I thought he's got to be exposed

0:30:530:30:57

and hopefully get his just desserts.

0:30:570:30:59

In April 2009, Trading Standards started receiving complaints

0:30:590:31:04

about Troy Goddard and his firm Quick Glass -

0:31:040:31:08

not, of course, to be confused with companies with similar names.

0:31:080:31:14

One of the things that he used to do to add weight to his business

0:31:140:31:19

was to give it a business name.

0:31:190:31:21

He wasn't Troy Goddard, trading on his own.

0:31:210:31:25

He called himself Quick Glass. He had business cards in that name.

0:31:250:31:29

Goddard's modus operandi seemed to consist of one really dirty trick -

0:31:290:31:34

quoting for work, taking a modest deposit off the consumer,

0:31:340:31:38

then disappearing off the face of the Earth.

0:31:380:31:42

If people had £150, he'd ask for that.

0:31:420:31:45

In some cases, he took over £1,000 from people but whatever the amount,

0:31:450:31:49

he wasn't prepared to do the work that went with it.

0:31:490:31:53

To make matters worse,

0:31:530:31:55

Goddard also had a cunning way of securing new customers.

0:31:550:31:59

Our findings suggested that Troy Goddard was getting information

0:31:590:32:03

from one of his associates, possibly a girlfriend,

0:32:030:32:06

who'd worked in the double glazing business and was handing him tips

0:32:060:32:11

towards people who may want work done.

0:32:110:32:13

One such customer was Peter.

0:32:130:32:16

He'd had two windows fitted by another firm but couldn't afford a third.

0:32:160:32:21

Then he received phone calls from one of Goddard's associates.

0:32:210:32:26

The girl rang me and said

0:32:260:32:29

one of their installers had set up on his own

0:32:290:32:34

and could possibly supply me with a cheaper window.

0:32:340:32:39

So I said OK, and the installer came round.

0:32:390:32:43

This so-called "installer", unfortunately for Peter,

0:32:430:32:46

was Troy Goddard, who seemed every inch the consummate window expert.

0:32:460:32:51

He seemed very proficient and measured up properly,

0:32:510:32:54

took every precaution, which I've seen other people do,

0:32:540:32:58

so I thought that he's a genuine person.

0:32:580:33:02

It was, of course, all a front.

0:33:020:33:04

Having set the scene, Goddard was ready to bring his dirty trick into play.

0:33:040:33:10

He gave me a quote, which I accepted,

0:33:100:33:13

and I gave him a cheque for £150.

0:33:130:33:16

He said the window would take about three weeks

0:33:160:33:20

before it would be delivered.

0:33:200:33:23

Peter's money was a deposit, for which Goddard didn't give a receipt.

0:33:230:33:27

£150 doesn't sound much,

0:33:270:33:29

but if you're scamming that every day, it's over a grand a week,

0:33:290:33:34

over £52,000 a year!

0:33:340:33:37

Three weeks later, when there was no sign of the window,

0:33:370:33:40

Peter called the number on Goddard's business card - again and again.

0:33:400:33:45

Like many fraudsters, Goddard had suddenly gone AWOL.

0:33:450:33:51

I was ringing up every day and all I got was answerphone.

0:33:510:33:55

I realised then that I'd been had over.

0:33:550:33:58

I went to the local police station.

0:34:000:34:03

They suggested that I sent a registered letter

0:34:030:34:07

stating that if the window wasn't fitted within a fortnight,

0:34:070:34:11

I would report it to the Office of Fair Trading.

0:34:110:34:15

Goddard did ignore the letter, so Trading Standards got involved.

0:34:150:34:20

Their enquiries uncovered a series of cons Goddard had directed

0:34:200:34:24

at mostly elderly residents around Bournemouth.

0:34:240:34:27

We find we get rogue trader complaints almost every day.

0:34:270:34:31

Once in a while, we come across real rogues who are out for nothing but to scam people for their money.

0:34:310:34:38

Nevertheless, in 2009, Trading Standards offered Goddard

0:34:380:34:42

a chance to redeem himself and escape court.

0:34:420:34:46

We spent time with him, offering him an opportunity

0:34:460:34:49

to go back to the people whose money he'd taken and either do the work

0:34:490:34:54

or simply give them the money back.

0:34:540:34:56

In the end, we found that he wasn't willing to do any of that.

0:34:560:35:00

Nothing was getting done.

0:35:000:35:02

We gave him a final warning and drew up our plans to take him to court.

0:35:020:35:07

While the wheels of justice turned, Goddard proved as slippery as ever.

0:35:070:35:11

He failed to appear for his first court appearance but, in June 2011,

0:35:110:35:15

he was found guilty under the Fraud Act

0:35:150:35:19

and ordered to pay compensation of £2,160 to his seven victims.

0:35:190:35:25

It's good to know there's been some reparation for Goddard's victims.

0:35:250:35:29

It's proof that crime really doesn't pay, to the great relief

0:35:290:35:33

of people like Peter.

0:35:330:35:35

It teaches us what to do for the future.

0:35:350:35:38

Besides windows or anything, you've got to be extra cautious

0:35:380:35:43

and mustn't take the look of the salesman -

0:35:430:35:47

no matter how honest he looks.

0:35:470:35:49

There are going to be cowboys.

0:35:490:35:51

You've just got to be careful that you don't pick one of them.

0:35:510:35:55

I was unlucky. I picked the wrong one.

0:35:550:35:58

Absolutely, Peter, and speaking of extra caution,

0:36:020:36:06

I wonder if Kevin is going to start paying attention to our own rogue.

0:36:060:36:10

If not, he won't realise he's on the receiving end of a shocking con.

0:36:100:36:15

You've got to go to the fuse box.

0:36:150:36:17

Roger is checking the fuse box at the home of Kevin's dad, Bill.

0:36:170:36:21

Kevin just isn't paying attention,

0:36:210:36:24

allowing our rogue to plant fake chewed wiring and mouse droppings...

0:36:240:36:29

-Could even be rat droppings.

-Really?

-Can you see 'em?

0:36:290:36:33

..Leaving Kevin in no doubt that his dad's house has a mouse problem.

0:36:330:36:38

He's bought that.

0:36:400:36:42

He thinks that's mouse droppings, even though it's a load of seeds.

0:36:420:36:46

And he thinks it's a chewed-up wire. We did a pretty realistic job.

0:36:460:36:50

So we're going to sell him the mouse deterrent.

0:36:500:36:53

We're also going to sell him a few mouse traps.

0:36:530:36:56

We're going to charge him a call-out fee and for replacing that bit of wiring.

0:36:560:37:02

It's only taken us a few minutes.

0:37:020:37:05

Roger wants maximum cash for selling Kevin a mouse trap

0:37:050:37:08

and a sonic rodent repellent.

0:37:080:37:11

He's hoping for around £300.

0:37:110:37:13

This sonic repellent, Roger. Is it safe for the family dog?

0:37:130:37:17

..And cats. Just mice.

0:37:210:37:24

Let's see what happens. Watch the dog.

0:37:240:37:28

FLICKS THE SWITCH

0:37:280:37:32

Kevin seems to be taking this in very good humour.

0:37:320:37:35

His dad did say he was gullible.

0:37:350:37:37

If the dog leaves home, we'll have to put a less powerful one in, OK?

0:37:370:37:42

Roger, I didn't realise you were such an animal lover.

0:37:420:37:46

Live capture. They're great these, cos no mice are harmed.

0:37:460:37:50

If they're around, they're going to go in there.

0:37:500:37:53

Sometimes it takes a couple of days because the mice that are here,

0:37:530:37:57

they think it's a temporary thing and put up with it.

0:37:570:38:00

Give it a rest, Roger. I don't think Kevin's listening, anyway.

0:38:000:38:05

-I'm just going to do you a bill. Want to pay cash?

-How much is it?

0:38:050:38:10

Mm, yeah! Kevin's listening now.

0:38:100:38:13

200 for the wiring. 75 for the mouse technology thing.

0:38:130:38:19

So it's £325, we've got it to.

0:38:190:38:23

Cash.

0:38:230:38:25

£325 for a non-existent fault! Roger, you do have a cheek.

0:38:260:38:33

Today, Roger has piled on the tricks to over-charge Kevin

0:38:360:38:40

for work that wasn't necessary.

0:38:400:38:42

And Roger's had the gall to tell him they have a mouse problem.

0:38:420:38:46

Also, he can sell Kevin high-tech and some low-tech solutions.

0:38:460:38:51

But will Kevin part with the cash easily?

0:38:510:38:54

I'm waiting for him to phone me back. He hasn't left me that much.

0:38:540:39:00

-He hasn't left you that much?

-No.

0:39:000:39:02

-Has he left you any money at all?

-75 quid.

-He's left you 75 quid?

0:39:040:39:10

That's how much you said it was roughly going to be.

0:39:100:39:14

Sure it wasn't 275, what he said?

0:39:140:39:17

Do you get that in taxis? People say "You said it's going to be £50!"

0:39:170:39:21

Oh, yeah. Well, we give prices up front now.

0:39:210:39:25

Prices up front? That's not something Roger's likely to do.

0:39:250:39:29

It's amazing how many times we find people haven't got the money.

0:39:290:39:33

He's telling us he's only got £75 in the house. We want 325.

0:39:330:39:38

He's calling his dad. I don't want to hang around. I want that money.

0:39:380:39:42

But Kevin's stalling and talking things through with his dad, Bill.

0:39:420:39:47

Of course, it's Bill who's helping us spring the trick.

0:39:470:39:51

He's given me a bill here for 325 quid.

0:39:510:39:55

-If you reckon it's worth what he's done, pay him, and I'll...

-Right.

0:39:550:40:01

-All right?

-All right.

-Ta-da.

0:40:010:40:04

Dad reassures Kevin that Roger is bona fide.

0:40:040:40:07

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

0:40:090:40:12

There it is. Kevin hasn't asked for a quote.

0:40:140:40:17

He's completely fallen for Roger's story

0:40:170:40:19

and he's handing over £325 for nothing.

0:40:190:40:25

-Do you want me to sign that?

-Yeah.

0:40:250:40:28

Kevin may have collected a receipt but, knowing Roger,

0:40:280:40:31

it's bound to be a fake, not worth the paper it's written on.

0:40:310:40:35

Cheers, mate. Thanks a lot. Bye.

0:40:350:40:38

Our dodgy tradesmen seem happy with their afternoon's work,

0:40:380:40:42

or should that be lack of work?

0:40:420:40:44

It's time for our producer to break the news to Kevin

0:40:440:40:48

that he's just been conned.

0:40:480:40:51

Hello, there.

0:40:510:40:54

We're from the BBC.

0:40:540:40:56

We've been doing some investigations about people

0:40:560:40:59

who've had not very good experiences with plasterers, plumbers...

0:40:590:41:03

What? Two people? Yeah.

0:41:030:41:05

They've been doing jobs where they've not been doing much work.

0:41:050:41:10

That's exactly what's happened today.

0:41:100:41:13

-Were you happy with the work he did?

-Not for the bill he's given me. No.

0:41:130:41:17

-You may well have been scammed.

-Yeah. For what he's done.

0:41:170:41:21

He basically said there was something to do with the wiring.

0:41:210:41:25

It's been gnawed by a rodent

0:41:250:41:28

and he's put in some things to get rid of them.

0:41:280:41:32

What did he put in?

0:41:320:41:34

Um... Something that he's actually plugged in.

0:41:340:41:37

Um... And a mouse trap.

0:41:390:41:42

Dad Bill did warn us that Kevin would be gullible.

0:41:420:41:46

So it's time to reveal the part Dad played.

0:41:460:41:49

Your dad's responsible for setting you up.

0:41:490:41:52

-Hello, mate. How you doing?

-Didn't suss nothing?

0:41:520:41:55

-What? That he was dear?

-He was dear. Nothing else?

0:41:550:41:59

That he was in a rush to get away.

0:41:590:42:02

Don't bother counting it. It's all there.

0:42:040:42:08

-There you are, my friend.

-Cheers, mate.

0:42:080:42:10

When he's given me the bill for 325, I was a bit shocked

0:42:100:42:15

for the work that he'd done.

0:42:150:42:18

I was really horrified when he paid out the £325

0:42:180:42:21

without even blinking an eyelid

0:42:210:42:24

and saying, "I don't think that's worth that sort of money."

0:42:240:42:28

-I paid him to get rid of him!

-LAUGHTER

0:42:280:42:31

Very good!

0:42:310:42:33

My advice to everybody is, unless you get a proper estimate

0:42:330:42:37

and they stick to it, don't pay 'em.

0:42:370:42:40

Don't let these rogue tradesmen into your house.

0:42:400:42:44

Thanks to Kevin and Bill for being such good sports.

0:42:440:42:47

The vast majority of tradesmen are hard-working and trustworthy.

0:42:470:42:52

It's a small minority who let the side down and play dirty tricks.

0:42:520:42:55

All you need to remember is, if in doubt, keep them out. I'll see you next time.

0:42:550:43:01

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:060:43:08

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:080:43:11

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.

Essex taxi-driver Kevin is set up by his dad for a visit from our phoney electrician. Roger tries to turn a routine fuse box inspection into a full-scale pest control job, planting chewed wires and fake droppings to convince Kevin that he has mice gnawing their way into the stair cupboard.

Roger also tries to con Chris from Buckinghamshire into paying for an expensive weed-killer treatment.

Plus the story of a Trading Standards operation in Surrey that ended the fraudulent career of two garden scammers whose bag of tricks enabled them to con almost 186,000 pounds out of their victims.