Episode 8 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 8

Hidden-camera series. A rogue roofer tries to con Paula from North Wales into a clean-up and roof repair worth several thousand pounds.


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Transcript


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These days, our money must work even harder for us and one of our biggest expenditures is on our property.

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Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on repairs to our homes,

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but how can any of us be certain we've not been taken for a ride?

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-How much will it cost?

-It's hard to say, but I reckon 325.

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300 quid for doing that... 1,500 quid to take that out.

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With audacious, secret filming, we'll reveal just how easy it could be for you to be duped.

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-I'm afraid you've been ripped off. He's not a bona fide tradesman.

-He's not?

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I knew something was suspicious.

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BLEEP-BLEEP

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We lift the lid on some of the UK's most shocking tradesmen rip-offs.

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An awful leak came right through the bedroom. I was absolutely livid.

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-The house was a death trap.

-We didn't know if he would get violent.

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On today's show...

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the jaw-dropping seven-grand bill for this North Wales housewife

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when our rogue Roger tries to charge her for a new roof which she doesn't need.

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A completely new roof there. Probably about seven and a half grand.

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Rotten rogue gardeners and burglars in Yorkshire brought to justice through video surveillance

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after repeated attacks on the elderly.

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Through the unlocked door, suspect comes in. Wearing black gloves. He doesn't want to leave fingerprints.

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And prepare for a truly criminal scam

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when a prison officer from Kent falls for every trick in the book.

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The little printed circuit board needs replacing.

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-Right.

-We can replace that. That's going to be 300.

-Really?

-Yeah.

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Stand by for Dirty Tricks Of The Tradesmen.

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Hello. I don't know about you, but I don't know a huge amount

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about trades like roofing or plumbing.

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That's why we rely on tradesmen and we expect them to be professional and to do a good job.

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The vast majority of them are professional and hard-working.

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It's only a small majority who give tradesmen a bad name with their dirty tricks.

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Today, we're meeting people who have been ripped off by the cowboys.

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With your help, we'll show you just how easy it is

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to fall for some of the oldest tricks in the tradesmen's books.

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People have been setting up their friends and relatives for a visit from our own tradesmen

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to show you how to avoid being taken to the cleaners.

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This is Roger Bisby. He has over 40 years' experience under his builder's belt.

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There's nothing he hates more than a dirty trickster out there to make a fast buck.

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But we're asking Roger to become a rogue just for today. Why?

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Well, because if he shows us what the tricky tradesmen do,

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he can show us how not to get conned.

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We'll create minor household problems and send in Roger to show us how easy it is to be ripped off.

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It's all being filmed in secret and Roger will work with our cameraman Luke who is posing as an apprentice.

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We'll find out in just a moment where they're springing their first scam.

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According to Gas Safe, one in three of us trust a tradesman to do gas and boiler work

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on the recommendation of a friend or neighbour without checking their registration or qualifications.

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This can be so dangerous not only for the wallet, but also for the safety of our homes and families.

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Roger's on his way to Kent now to find out whether a prison officer is sharp enough to spot a rogue

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when he meets one during a simple boiler repair.

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Jeweller Jackie Kitney works and lives in Kent with daughter Lucy and husband Gary.

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Gary works in the prison service. She tells us he's a wind-up merchant

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which is why she wants Roger to pay him a visit.

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We do a lot of practical jokes. My husband's always doing them on me because I'm quite nervous.

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In 14 years, I've never actually paid him back,

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so if I can have a bit of help to do it, I'll do it.

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Gary is wary of anything to do with plumbing.

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What's more, their boiler has a history of being unreliable.

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It's been repaired five times. Jackie is turning off a valve to stop hot water reaching the shower.

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Roger has been called and he's boiling over with ideas for how to trick her husband.

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Apparently, they woke up this morning and had a cold shower. My heart bleeds for them.

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Fixing the hot water problem will take us a few minutes. We've got to make it into something much bigger.

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-I've got a little prop for you which I got from an old laptop.

-It's a printed circuit board.

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Printed circuit boards cost a lot of money,

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so if I can persuade him that it's gone, we can up the game and charge him a couple of hundred quid.

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Roger's such a con man.

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The idea is to trick Gary into thinking the water won't heat up as the circuit board needs replacing.

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Then he'll offer an expensive boiler replacement worth several thousand pounds,

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knowing Gary will probably accept the cheaper circuit board job for £300.

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Either way, Roger wins. The prop circuit board is just a convincer.

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Since the boiler in this house is working fine, all Roger needs to do is turn that valve back on.

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The cost of this should only be the call-out charge for a plumber,

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around £40, but Roger is banking on taking home far more than that.

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To avoid suspicion, Jackie is spending the day at home with Gary, but she'll keep out of Roger's way.

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He shows up just after three o'clock.

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-Hello. Mr Kitney?

-Hello, mate.

-I'm the plumber.

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-Oh, yeah.

-Is that all right?

-Yeah. Do you want to take your boots off?

-Yeah, definitely.

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Gary thinks his house-proud wife Jackie booked Roger.

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Even so, anyone working with gas-fired central heating should be registered with Gas Safe.

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Gary should insist on seeing Roger's Gas Safe ID card

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and because he hasn't, he's already fallen at the first hurdle.

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When you say you've got no hot water in the shower, you've got no water in the shower or no...?

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-I've got water coming out, but it's coming out cold.

-OK.

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I don't know what she's done.

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-Do you want a brew or something?

-That would be great.

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While their refreshments are sorted, Roger decides to take a look at the boiler downstairs.

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I'll have a look at your boiler.

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-Hello.

-Hiya. Are you all right?

-Yeah.

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Good acting, Jackie.

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-This one?

-Yeah, that's the one.

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-Blimey, it's a small one, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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-Watch Roger go.

-Had any trouble with it?

-At first, but it's all right now.

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These were not great. They weren't the best boiler they ever made.

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As this boiler has been repaired five times, Roger can lay it on thick about it being unreliable.

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They replaced it with the same circuit board over and over again,

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then they twigged that these circuit boards are rubbish, then got a circuit board made by somebody else.

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If that goes wrong again, don't throw any more money at it because they're rubbish.

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So with a seed of doubt planted in Gary's mind,

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Roger checks the thermostat, or at least pretends to. He knows there's nothing wrong with it.

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It all helps as he prepares to spring that first trick. Watch him go for it.

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-OK...

-What's the damage?

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The little printed circuit board on the upstairs controller

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-that controls the hot water and the rest of it...

-Yeah.

-It needs replacing, basically.

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-Right.

-That's going to be 300 to replace that.

-Really?

-Yeah.

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You think that's bad, Gary. Watch out because Roger is about to hit you with another dirty truck.

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If I do the boiler, then you won't need that, basically, if we put a new boiler in.

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Blimey, Roger! Two dirty tricks in the same breath?

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Still to come, Roger has Gary on the ropes with his lies.

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In the end, that boiler will let you down.

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-But will Roger be caught red-handed as he takes a huge risk in Gary's house?

-Can you open that window?

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There's nothing like the smell of burnt circuit boards in the morning,

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but seriously, Roger is doing us all a great service, revealing some of the sneaky tricks that rogues play.

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They come in all shapes and sizes and ages, as we'll see in our next story,

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but even the youngest rogues discover that the law soon catches up with them.

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The North London borough of Enfield has seen its fair share of rip-off roofing and dodgy driveways,

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but no-one here was prepared for the teenage cowboy who for legal reasons we'll call David Jones.

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At an age when most men might be studying at college, this 17-year-old had pocketed thousands

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and subjected local residents like Alan and Patricia Christopher to the most audacious tricks available.

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If I said, "I'm not going to pay you that amount," I thought he could turn.

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We didn't know if he would get violent.

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These kind of tricks are usually carried out by older people,

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usually in their 20s and 30s,

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but he was well practised even by the age of 17.

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David Jones had plenty of tricks up his sleeves, including a novel way of striking up new business.

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He'd just stroll up to total strangers on the street, people like 72-year-old Alan Christopher

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who had only left the house to buy a newspaper.

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This boy said, "How are you doing?"

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And I looked up and I thought, "I don't recognise him."

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I said, "Do I know you?"

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He said, "I see you walking up and down this street a lot." Irish, he was.

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"I clean out gutters." I thought to myself, "That's handy."

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"Could you do mine?" He said, "Yes, £20."

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£20 to clean out the gutters sounds like a bargain to me, but Jones had Alan hooked

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and that offer of a good deal was his key to pulling his next trick and staging a much bigger problem

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as Alan and wife Patricia recall.

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The next day, he came round. He went up the ladder.

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He said the guttering's OK, but he said, "You've got problems at that end of the gutter."

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He had a handful of wood chippings. He said, "Look, all the wood is rotten!"

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He said, "You need a whole lot of new wood along there."

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He said, "I'll do you a good job."

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I thought, "If he's only going to charge £20, £25 to clean the gutter which was good,

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"he won't charge an exorbitant price."

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Having fed the Christophers a load of nonsense about the state of their roof,

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David Jones was about to bag himself a pot of gold.

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I said, "Well, how much is that going to cost then?"

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He said, "Seventeen-fifty." The way he said it, it didn't sound a lot.

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Then he said it was 1,750 and I thought, "He already took the guttering down

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"and we've got to have it done," so I had to go along with the price.

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By now the couple suspected they'd been trapped in a roofing swindle.

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Amazingly, their first concern was not to call for help,

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but how to avoid a confrontation if they didn't agree.

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You can't suddenly say to him, "That's too much money."

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We didn't know if he would get violent. Who knows? He was quite a sturdy fella. We were a bit worried.

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Alan and Patricia coughed up £500 as a deposit, but did not demand a receipt.

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They hoped they'd seen the last of David Jones, but the audacious roofer had pound signs in his eyes.

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He was determined not to let them off lightly and he wanted more cash.

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He knocked at my door. I said, "Have you come for your money?" He said, "Yes." I knew how much we agreed on.

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I had it all ready. I thought, "This is a lot. He must be charging me about £500 an hour."

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Fearing violence, Alan handed over the remaining £1,250.

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But this time, he was successful in securing a receipt from Jones

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who signed it under his false name.

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Jones and two accomplices finished the job, but the Christophers knew they'd been overcharged.

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When they complained to Trading Standards, it turned out officer Tom Howorth was looking for evidence

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to prosecute the teenage trickster who had been conning the whole neighbourhood

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and Alan had just what he needed.

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They said, "Have you got a receipt?" I said, "Well, only on a bit of scrap paper."

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They said, "Don't touch it. It's got his fingerprints on it."

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We looked for fingerprints and the handwriting was compared with a sample of handwriting that we had.

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When those were tied together, we knew that we had the right man.

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In the end, it was forensic science which identified Jones.

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On four counts of fraud, he was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

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He was also given an Anti-Social Behaviour Order to prevent him or others under his instruction

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from cold-calling homes to carry out building work for two years.

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He was ordered to pay full compensation plus costs to the Christophers. If he fails to pay up,

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he could end up behind bars.

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It's important that people look out for this man.

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If he comes offering work to you, we'd like to hear about it.

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The Christophers learnt an important lesson.

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Only hire tradesmen once you've checked their credentials.

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It's also made them ultra-wary of people cold-calling at their door

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and nice, friendly teenagers chatting to them in the street.

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We know that it could happen again to us and we're trying to forget it.

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-Who will we trust in future?

-That's right.

-If someone comes knocking at the door, we say, "No, thank you."

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Coming up, the tale of rogue tradesmen banged up in Yorkshire

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after a complicated surveillance operation.

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They have T-shirts with different trading names on, magnetic signs that they could apply to the vehicle.

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They could change their identity and carry on offending.

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Plus, a woman in North Wales is pushed to sign up for unnecessary roof repairs

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in Roger's most conniving con trick yet.

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Look at all this in the gutter! No wonder they were blocked and overflowing.

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Hello. Mr Kitney? I'm the plumber.

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First, time to discover if prison officer Gary Kitney swallows Roger's lies about the boiler packing up.

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There's no hot water in the shower because Gary's wife Jackie, who set him up,

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turned off the valve to help us spring the trick.

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Roger knows it, but he's busy flannelling Gary about the failure of a circuit board.

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-The little printed circuit board needs replacing. That's 300.

-Really?

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Roger is looking for bigger earnings from this job

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and reckons things will work out cheaper for Gary if he buys a new boiler.

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If I do the boiler, then you won't need that, basically, if we put the new boiler in.

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-BLEEP

-So, you know, that's one way to sort of look at it long-term.

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If you just want it done now, I'll just go and get the new circuit board and shove that in,

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but in the end, that boiler will let you down, so, you know...

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Roger, give the man time to think! Mind you, he's following classic cowboy behaviour,

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bombarding him with science and not giving him time to change his mind.

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I don't want to put you under pressure. I'll just phone to check I can get that board.

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Right, I've given him the ultimatum.

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In a way, I hope he goes for the 300 quid because that's an easier job for us.

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The other way, we've got to change the boiler and although we'll make more money in the end, it's work.

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By giving Gary a choice of a job costing two grand and one costing £300,

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the cheaper one doesn't seem that bad in comparison, even if it's still a rip-off.

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This trick is frequently used by con men in all kinds of building scenarios.

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-Is that 300 quid all in, like?

-Yeah, for that circuit board.

-Fitting and all that?

-Yeah.

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-That's got call-out on it an' all?

-Yeah, everything.

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-Can I do a bit by cash and a bit by cheque?

-Yeah, I'll get it now.

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All right, OK, I won't be long. I'll be back.

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So Roger's plan has worked.

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Gary's gone for the cheaper option which will be a doddle for our trickster.

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Roger just has to appear to drive off and buy a new circuit board. That's the easy bit.

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The tricky bit will be convincing Gary he's removed the old one.

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We've got the circuit board which we pretended to go and buy. I just ripped it out of an old computer.

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I'll pretend that's the part we're putting in. He'll want to see the old part, so I'll slip this one in,

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pull it out again, pretend it's the old one, burn it up with a match

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and hopefully he'll go for that if I make it smell horrible.

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After wasting time round the corner, the guys head back to the house.

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Roger will be taking a real risk here.

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Let's hope that blackening the circuit board will convince any doubt in Gary's mind.

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-Just in the nick of time.

-You found it?

-He was just closing.

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They were all ready by the door to go home and they looked at us like they didn't want us back in there.

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Nightmare, isn't it?

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If Gary were to come upstairs now, who knows what this prison officer would do to our dirty trickster?

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There he goes with the matches. What a rotter!

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That's why you must keep a close eye on what tradesmen get up to.

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Can you open that window?

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He's done it. The prop is prepped.

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He's done absolutely nothing to that thermostat, except remove the cover.

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-All he has to do now is replace it and turn the water back on.

-Right...

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-It's all good. Lovely.

-Well done, Roge.

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-Nice.

-Another satisfied customer.

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Let's just check we've got the...

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SHOWER WATER RUNNING

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Oh... Lovely.

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-Are you all right?

-Yeah, all done.

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-All done.

-And it's beautiful.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Roger, and from here it looks like a pretty dirty trick.

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If you ever think of replacing that boiler...

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Do you want the old unit?

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There goes the old circuit board, accessorised with a match flame.

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-He's checking it.

-He's checking the hot water's going?

-Yeah.

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It should be all right. It's all guaranteed work.

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It'll be fine.

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Well, today, Gary Kitney let a perfidious plumber into his house without checking for Gas Safe ID.

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Roger lied about the state of his boiler and charged him for a new circuit board which he didn't buy.

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Gary was bamboozled into a job that never needed doing.

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Now Roger is going in for the kill.

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-OK, my friend?

-All right.

-You've got the...?

-I've got the receipt.

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-I've got the bill for you.

-Let me see that.

-Of course.

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-150...

-And 150 there.

-OK, that's brilliant.

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And there goes 300 quid for nothing.

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Have you a cheque guarantee card, so I can put it on the back? Sorry.

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Of course you're not sorry. Cheque guarantee cards are no longer needed

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and an unscrupulous workman could take down all the details necessary to carry out a fraud,

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but Gary doesn't question it and hands over the card.

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-Brilliant. OK, lovely.

-Thanks for coming out.

-Cheers. Thanks for...

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Two, four, five, six, seven... That's it, got it. Lovely.

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All right, lovely. Thanks a lot, mate. Cheers.

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Gary has just handed over £300 for absolutely nothing.

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Roger has taken his card details and left Gary with an old circuit board he took out of his old computer.

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Remember, Gary never asked for ID at any time and he was pushed into a job he didn't need.

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With Roger out of sight, it's time for our producer to call on Gary and reveal the truth of the scam.

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Hello. Hi there. We're from the BBC.

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We're investigating people who do plumbing work, electricity work.

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-Right.

-Have you or any of your neighbours had any weird experiences?

-Is this a wind-up?

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Yeah...

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-We had somebody this afternoon fixing something.

-What did they do?

-The shower wouldn't work.

0:21:170:21:23

-Did you end up paying a lot of money?

-I thought it was a lot, yeah.

0:21:230:21:27

I'm a bit suspicious, but it was a lot of money.

0:21:270:21:30

-How much did you pay?

-300 quid.

0:21:300:21:33

-We've been following Roger for a while.

-Is that what you're doing here?

-Yeah.

0:21:330:21:39

-Were you following him?

-Yeah.

-Come on, Jackie! Tell him the truth!

0:21:390:21:43

BLEEP! BLEEP!

0:21:430:21:46

It's a lot of money, isn't it?

0:21:460:21:48

This is BLEEP!

0:21:480:21:51

-It's like a bad dream.

-Courtesy of your wife.

0:21:520:21:57

Come here!

0:21:570:21:59

'He was fairly plausible, yeah.'

0:21:590:22:02

Would I trust my wife again? That's debatable.

0:22:020:22:06

Ah, no. He looks like he's gonna punch me.

0:22:060:22:09

I'm still getting over it. I've got it back now, but I'm more bruised and battered.

0:22:090:22:15

I could have been up to two grand lighter if I took the second option and took the boiler.

0:22:150:22:23

I've been ripped right off. 'I'll be more cautious.'

0:22:230:22:26

I'll probably use more information and a little bit more research, rather than doing things off the cuff

0:22:260:22:32

and thinking, "That's convenient," and letting anybody into your home and trusting them.

0:22:320:22:39

Maybe I'll do more research.

0:22:390:22:41

Gary was a great sport there, but what should you and I do to avoid being the victim of a con?

0:22:410:22:48

First, never let tradesmen out of your sight. You don't want them planting faked props.

0:22:480:22:54

Second, ensure you check their credentials, maybe asking Trading Standards for advice.

0:22:540:23:00

Finally, always seek three written quotes before agreeing to any work.

0:23:000:23:06

According to government figures, there are just over 25 million households in the UK,

0:23:100:23:15

which means around 25 million rooftops. That may explain why roofing clocks up

0:23:150:23:21

the biggest number of scams reported to Trading Standards - almost 30%.

0:23:210:23:25

Roger's keen to see if he can trick an intelligent lady into thinking she needs a new roof.

0:23:250:23:31

Kerry Ann Pritchard from North Wales has called us in to set up her sister, Paula Duncan.

0:23:340:23:39

Friendly sibling rivalry, by the looks of it.

0:23:390:23:44

It's really important to me to get one over on my sister. She used to play tricks on me.

0:23:440:23:50

To get one over on Paula, she will spring the trick with help from her sister's husband, Steve.

0:23:500:23:56

She'll hesitate and maybe call Steve or text Steve or something. She'll need to hear what he has to say.

0:23:560:24:04

Roger has seen pictures of Paula's house and noticed a few tiles missing.

0:24:040:24:09

What dirty tricks can he play using this information?

0:24:090:24:13

The roof has been losing bits and pieces, bits of tiles. That's something you can't ignore.

0:24:130:24:19

I've got my assistant, Luke. What have you got for me?

0:24:190:24:23

I've got some roof tiles, which is fairly self-explanatory. And fancy a game of tennis?

0:24:230:24:29

I haven't got time, but we can play an entirely different game with these to block up the down pipes

0:24:290:24:35

-from the gutters.

-That's a popular trick with the con men.

0:24:350:24:40

Roger's also got a bag of mud, which he plans to use as gutter gunk.

0:24:400:24:45

I think he's ready for action. So the missing tiles give Roger the excuse to get up onto the roof.

0:24:450:24:52

Once he's repaired them, his first trick will be to use the bag of mud and tennis balls

0:24:520:24:58

as proof of a blockage he's cleared.

0:24:580:25:01

It seems far-fetched, but it's been done before.

0:25:010:25:05

Then he'll lie to Paula about the state of her roof.

0:25:050:25:09

That could mean £300-woth of repairs and the chance to sign her up for several thousand pounds more

0:25:090:25:15

for a whole new roof. That's his third trick.

0:25:150:25:19

It usually costs £50 to replace a roof tile and from £25-£75

0:25:190:25:24

to clean out gutters, depending on the house.

0:25:240:25:28

If he persuades Paula to sign up for a three-grand repair,

0:25:280:25:32

that's a mark-up of around 6,000 per cent.

0:25:320:25:36

Roger arrives at Paula's home at around 4pm.

0:25:360:25:40

-Hello!

-Hiya.

-I've come to look at your roof. Is that all right?

-Yeah. It's me.

0:25:540:26:00

-It's you?

-Yeah, it's me.

0:26:000:26:03

-Em, there's a couple of tiles on the roof. You spoke to my husband?

-Yeah.

0:26:030:26:08

I noticed them and I worry about things like that. We had a bit of bad weather recently.

0:26:080:26:14

He's making himself at home! Checking how little he can get away with.

0:26:140:26:19

I can see a couple at the front missing. And some round the side.

0:26:190:26:24

All right. I'll get the ladders out.

0:26:250:26:28

-Brew?

-Yeah, I'd love one.

-Sugar?

-Not for me.

-Tea, no sugar.

-Thank you.

-Coffee, one.

0:26:280:26:35

Well, she's a lot of fun. There's a few tiles missing. It could do with some repair

0:26:390:26:45

so we'll go up and have a look and see what we can make of it.

0:26:450:26:50

Do I look good?

0:26:500:26:52

You look so sexy I could eat you!

0:26:520:26:55

Yeah, enough of the bromance, boys. Let's get on with the task in hand.

0:26:550:27:01

-It's all right, Lukey?

-Yeah.

0:27:010:27:03

Gonna have a look...

0:27:070:27:09

Make sure they can still get BBC1!

0:27:100:27:12

Recce over, just how ropey is Paula's roof?

0:27:180:27:21

Actually, it's not in the best condition. It's a very exposed area.

0:27:210:27:26

So it really could do with quite a bit of extensive work on it. Am I the man to do it or not?

0:27:260:27:32

Should she get a few quotes or trust me to go ahead with it? See what she says.

0:27:320:27:38

Is that a trick question, Roger? Clearly Paula should ask for quotes from at least two other roofers

0:27:380:27:44

and hearing what they all have to say. She should also challenge Roger to give her a quote now

0:27:440:27:50

-rather than let him make repairs first, otherwise he can charge whatever he sees fit.

-Very windy!

0:27:500:27:57

-Better than hot air, Roger.

-OK, first one out.

-Paula, where are you?

0:27:570:28:02

I know it's a rough day, but you should watch him like a hawk.

0:28:020:28:07

Carelessly throwing tiles is classic cowboy behaviour. A reputable roofer would place them in a bucket

0:28:090:28:15

and lower them safely to the ground.

0:28:150:28:18

-OK, clear!

-Want it down?

-Yeah.

0:28:180:28:20

It's all about getting off the roof and pocketing the cash

0:28:220:28:25

as quickly as possible. A quick trip to the van for a tube of mastic sealant means

0:28:250:28:31

he can seal his tile repairs against the elements,

0:28:310:28:35

but it's also his excuse to smuggle the bag of gunk onto the roof.

0:28:350:28:39

I think he's about to spring his first dirty trick.

0:28:390:28:43

Look at that, mate. That can just block the gutter.

0:28:460:28:50

Look what else I found. Look at all this in the gutter.

0:28:500:28:55

-No wonder they were blocked and overflowing. Yeah?

-Paula's not looking happy.

0:28:550:29:00

But it's a classic trick so she can see the evidence of damage,

0:29:000:29:04

but will she be suspicious of this bag of muck?

0:29:040:29:09

It doesn't look like it yet.

0:29:090:29:12

Hello. Sorry. Come and have a look and see what I've done out here.

0:29:140:29:18

Let's see how Roger proceeds. Will he flannel her about her gutter being blocked, which it isn't?

0:29:180:29:25

-Or will he lie about the state of her roof?

-I've done all those over there.

0:29:250:29:31

The flashing was out. It's loose on top by the lead.

0:29:310:29:35

-Oh, yeah.

-So I've put that back in. See where all those chips are out of the hip?

-They were on the roof?

0:29:350:29:41

Yeah, those are the bits. The round tiles are called the hips.

0:29:410:29:45

All those need to be taken off, checked. Some are frost-damaged.

0:29:450:29:50

I might as well do new ones.

0:29:510:29:54

That sounds like an expensive lie. So you're really going for it?

0:29:540:29:59

You can have a new roof, yeah? A completely new roof there.

0:29:590:30:03

-Probably about seven-and-a-half grand. Yeah?

-How much?!

0:30:030:30:07

Still to come: as Paula digests that figure, will she buy Roger's lie about the blocked gutter?

0:30:100:30:16

-Oh, you're joking. That's all from...

-The gutter, yeah.

0:30:160:30:20

Will Roger get away with one of his dirtiest tricks or will Paula have the last word?

0:30:200:30:26

-Can I not wait for Steve for that?

-OK.

-I trust you, but...

-Oh, yeah.

0:30:260:30:30

He's a pretty persistent fellow. Remember, you don't meet rogue tradesmen very often.

0:30:350:30:41

They are in the minority, but once in a while a bunch hit the headlines with their audacious tricks.

0:30:410:30:47

It took determined efforts from police and Trading Standards to bring these villains to justice

0:30:470:30:53

and some extraordinary surveillance work.

0:30:530:30:56

This amazing CCTV footage is the moment a pair of conmen

0:30:580:31:02

are caught in the act of a distraction burglary.

0:31:020:31:07

We had an elderly victim who had been targeted on two previous occasions

0:31:070:31:11

by these heartless conmen.

0:31:110:31:14

What makes it all the more shocking is that the victim is a partially-sighted

0:31:140:31:19

-and hard-of-hearing 99-year-old pensioner.

-We put cameras in for her own protection

0:31:190:31:25

and also, as we know, these sort of criminals do tend to target victims on more than one occasion.

0:31:250:31:32

They'll go back, having been successful, and try it again.

0:31:320:31:36

A distraction burglary is the term used when a team of rogue tradesmen cold call at a home.

0:31:360:31:42

One person distracts the occupier in one room whilst an accomplice enters to look for valuables elsewhere.

0:31:420:31:49

The distraction burglary West Yorkshire Police caught on tape took place on November 16th, 2010.

0:31:520:31:58

You can see as she comes in she goes up to the door

0:31:590:32:03

and she peeks through and she just jumped in shock.

0:32:040:32:08

She's then going to unlock the door to let the person in.

0:32:080:32:12

He bows down and she leans in towards him. She's quite hard of hearing.

0:32:130:32:18

And he points there towards the front living room,

0:32:180:32:22

with a glove on his hand - he doesn't want to leave any fingerprints.

0:32:220:32:27

Not just that, but look carefully at what he does as he leaves the door.

0:32:300:32:34

He only pretends to lock the door, so his accomplice is free to enter the victim's house.

0:32:340:32:41

The second suspect, wearing gloves, comes in, has a quick look and goes into the rear bedroom.

0:32:410:32:47

Straight to the wardrobe where her handbag is kept. He looks for money.

0:32:470:32:52

On the previous occasion, there was £500 stolen from that handbag, the victim's pension money.

0:32:520:32:58

Unluckily for our burglars, they've now been caught on camera,

0:32:580:33:02

but would the CCTV footage be enough to bang these dirty tricksters to rights?

0:33:020:33:08

We couldn't identify this male ourselves, so we passed it out to external agencies and the press

0:33:080:33:13

with the hope that someone might identify him for us.

0:33:130:33:17

So who was the man at the door?

0:33:170:33:20

Working in collaboration with Trading Standards, he was identified

0:33:220:33:27

as 26-year-old James Cunningham from Castleford.

0:33:270:33:30

He was already on bail awaiting a court date after being charged with money laundering

0:33:300:33:36

and conspiracy to defraud by Trading Standards.

0:33:360:33:40

I was absolutely shocked that despite numerous times we'd dealt with him

0:33:400:33:44

and his previous convictions,

0:33:440:33:47

shortly after charging him, he'd carry out such a disgraceful offence.

0:33:470:33:52

It turned out Cunningham was linked to a notorious gang, the Price family.

0:33:520:33:57

Ruth's team had been investigating them with covert filming

0:33:570:34:02

after a string of gardening, roofing and other scams between 2006 and 2010.

0:34:020:34:08

This gang would use a number of different methods to get work from consumers.

0:34:080:34:13

They would claim neighbours had complained about overhanging trees,

0:34:130:34:17

they'd make claims about a price and then drastically increase it.

0:34:170:34:22

The gang pressurised one 85-year-old woman

0:34:220:34:26

to part with £52,000.

0:34:260:34:29

Another 80-year-old was defrauded out of £23,000 for gardening work.

0:34:290:34:33

The Prices and Cunningham conducted cons across the country,

0:34:330:34:38

but after 18 months of investigation Trading Standards obtained a warrant to search the Prices' house.

0:34:380:34:44

What we found were multiple items of clothing in different business names

0:34:440:34:50

and also magnetic signs they used on vehicles that allowed them to change business names

0:34:500:34:56

and trade as one company on one day and the next be completely different.

0:34:560:35:00

Anyone would think that after being charged with his part in the scams and money laundering,

0:35:000:35:06

Cunningham would hold off from his criminal activities.

0:35:060:35:10

What the police footage showed was that only a spell behind bars would stop him offending.

0:35:100:35:16

In July, 2011, at Teesside Crown Court, the CCTV footage helped

0:35:160:35:21

put James Cunningham away for a total of five years and four months for conspiracy to defraud,

0:35:210:35:27

money laundering and the distraction burglary.

0:35:270:35:31

There were victims who were absolutely devastated,

0:35:310:35:34

completely shocked and destroyed by the fact that they'd been misled and defrauded in this way.

0:35:340:35:41

The gang are all now behind bars, but sadly there will still be other dirty tricksters out there.

0:35:410:35:48

If someone comes to your door and you're not familiar with them, just don't answer the door.

0:35:480:35:56

We would encourage everybody to come forward and report to ourselves

0:35:560:36:00

to enable us to target these offenders and stop them.

0:36:000:36:04

Too right. And Trading Standards respects your confidentiality in all investigations,

0:36:070:36:12

so there's nothing to fear by reporting rogue activity.

0:36:120:36:16

You could be stopping another consumer from becoming a victim.

0:36:160:36:20

Now what about Paula Duncan? Our rogue tradesman is pushing her with some heavy duty tricks.

0:36:200:36:26

Hi. I've come to look at your roof.

0:36:260:36:29

Roger's doing his best to con Paula out of a small fortune for roof repairs.

0:36:290:36:34

He's replaced some missing tiles and planned two dirty tricks -

0:36:340:36:38

to pretend her gutter is blocked with manky tennis balls,

0:36:380:36:41

then to lie about her roof being unstable and liable to collapse.

0:36:410:36:46

He's already dropped a bombshell about the cost.

0:36:460:36:50

Probably about seven and a half grand. Yeah?

0:36:500:36:53

A nasty surprise. Who has that sort of money lying around?

0:36:530:36:57

While she's swallowing that one, he still has his gutter trick.

0:36:570:37:01

-He's after hard cash today.

-We've just cleared the gutters out.

0:37:010:37:07

-There was loads of rubbish in there.

-Really?

-We got it all out.

0:37:070:37:11

-Oh, you are joking. That's from there?

-The gutter, yeah.

0:37:110:37:15

-I'll show you.

-Oh, my God.

-Kids have chucked the balls up, years ago, probably.

0:37:150:37:21

That's the second trick paid off, so now it's time to go in for the money. Here goes.

0:37:210:37:27

-If we say for the tiles, replacing the tiles, 250 quid for that. Yeah?

-OK.

0:37:270:37:34

And then for the gutter... another oner.

0:37:340:37:38

-Say 350 for that.

-That's for today?

-Yeah.

0:37:380:37:43

-You've gone a bit pale!

-No. Steve's left me a little bit of money.

0:37:430:37:48

What did he leave you? Not enough. Obviously. It's never enough.

0:37:480:37:53

All I've got is 200.

0:37:530:37:55

Considering Paula's roof is fine, she doesn't deserve this.

0:37:550:37:59

She's being put on the spot here. She failed to get a written quote and has been rushed,

0:37:590:38:05

so where is she going to find the £350 Roger's demanding?

0:38:050:38:10

-Steve will be here about quarter to seven. He finishes work at six.

-Do you want us to take a cheque?

0:38:100:38:17

I like a bit of cash, obviously.

0:38:170:38:19

-I'll just text Steve...

-Yeah.

-It may seem unkind of him to keep pushing her,

0:38:190:38:25

but he's behaving just like a real, intimidating rogue tradesman.

0:38:250:38:29

Like all con artists, he won't leave without cash

0:38:290:38:32

and, ideally, a signature, on a contract for work in future.

0:38:320:38:37

350 for this today.

0:38:370:38:42

But being a roguish Roger receipt, it won't be worth anything.

0:38:420:38:46

I'll fill you one out in a sec.

0:38:460:38:49

This is it.

0:38:490:38:52

Lovely.

0:38:530:38:55

And there it is - £200 in cash with a cheque for £150

0:38:550:38:59

for a job that didn't need doing!

0:38:590:39:03

Storm damage...frost damage... hip tiles...

0:39:030:39:08

But Roger's not finished yet. His second trick, about the state of the roof, is still to pay off.

0:39:080:39:14

Will Paula sign up for a whopping £3,000 of roofing repairs in future?

0:39:140:39:20

If you want us to do that work and just give us a signature, we'll do it for £3,500.

0:39:200:39:26

We've given you a discount because we've done the first bit.

0:39:260:39:31

I can't believe he's going for it. £3,500?! It's getting higher and higher.

0:39:310:39:37

Today Paula Duncan waited in for a tradesman to check a handful of missing tiles.

0:39:380:39:43

He made her think her gutters were blocked and her roof about to collapse.

0:39:430:39:48

He stung her for £350 and he's pushing her to sign up for £3,500 more.

0:39:480:39:55

Will Paula fall for it?

0:39:550:39:57

-So if you want to sign that for us...

-Can I not wait for Steve?

-That's up to you.

0:39:570:40:03

If I commit and we've no money...

0:40:030:40:06

-I wouldn't want to pressure you.

-I trust you, but...

-Oh, yeah, absolutely.

0:40:060:40:11

Well done, Paula. By checking back with her husband she's saved herself from a 6,000% rip-off.

0:40:110:40:18

Even so, the simple repairs were worth no more than £80-£100

0:40:180:40:22

so Roger has still ripped her off to the tune of at least £270. He's happy, but is Paula?

0:40:220:40:29

With Roger off the premises, it's time for our producer to step in and take the burden off Paula.

0:40:300:40:37

-Hi there.

-Hi.

-We're in the area doing some filming for the BBC.

0:40:370:40:42

-Oh, right.

-Have you had any experiences in the past few weeks of builders,

0:40:420:40:48

-plumbers, painters who you've not been happy with?

-Just now.

0:40:480:40:52

-When did you get here?

-Just now? What happened?

0:40:520:40:56

They've just done the roof. Sorry, I'm a bit confused.

0:40:560:41:00

They've just put a few tiles on the roof for us and taken 200 cash and 150 cheque.

0:41:000:41:06

I've just got an invoice. I feel sick. Oh, God...

0:41:070:41:11

We've been doing some investigating into the guy who came round.

0:41:110:41:16

I'm afraid to tell you he's not a bona fide tradesman.

0:41:160:41:20

He's not?!

0:41:200:41:22

Oh, my God.

0:41:230:41:25

Come on, guys. It's time to bring in sister Kerry Ann

0:41:260:41:30

-who set this up as a sibling prank.

-Oh, my God! That's him!

0:41:300:41:34

What are YOU doing here?!

0:41:340:41:36

I feel sick! I'm shaking!

0:41:360:41:39

'I've been panicking about the missing roof tiles for a while.'

0:41:410:41:45

He's just got carried away with that, hasn't he? I fed him

0:41:450:41:50

and he's taken it all. Yeah, that's what it is!

0:41:500:41:53

-What is this?

-I'll give you the cheque back.

-Give me the lot, you horrible man!

0:41:530:41:59

I didn't doubt him for a second. He had the harnesses, this orange helmet with headphone things.

0:41:590:42:05

Looked all official.

0:42:050:42:07

It was just a bad dream and now it's all...and...

0:42:070:42:12

-and I have fixed some of your roof.

-You really have?

-Proper job.

0:42:120:42:17

'In future, I would...'

0:42:170:42:20

Normally people ask for a quote.

0:42:200:42:22

And I didn't get that chance cos they'd started the work.

0:42:220:42:27

And then I started to panic, to be honest.

0:42:270:42:30

They got me. They really did get me.

0:42:300:42:33

Yeah...

0:42:330:42:34

Funny, though.

0:42:340:42:36

Thanks for taking it so well, Paula. Remember, Roger's acting for us. He's not a rogue in reality.

0:42:410:42:47

And you can rely on the majority of tradesmen being honest and hard-working.

0:42:470:42:53

Only a very few play dirty tricks.

0:42:530:42:55

The crucial thing to remember is if in doubt, keep them out.

0:42:550:42:59

Thanks for watching. See you next time.

0:42:590:43:02

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:43:120:43:16

Email [email protected]

0:43:190:43:21

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.

Paula from North Wales has no idea that our rogue roofer is trying to con her. Roger plants muddy tennis balls in her gutters to convince her to sign up to his costly clean-up and roof repair worth several thousand pounds. Will she sign his contract?

Meanwhile Gary from Kent is set up by his wife, who calls in Roger to fix their erratic boiler. Using matches to char an old computer part, our bogus gas fitter tries to convince Gary that a replacement circuit board is needed. Will he fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book?

Police and Trading Standards officers in Yorkshire explain how hidden-camera technology helped them to crack down on so-called 'distraction burglaries' carried out by an infamous local fraudster.