Episode 9 Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen


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Episode 9

Hidden-camera series. Acting rogue electrician Roger uses a joke-shop gadget to spark a client into thinking his plug sockets pose a health and safety risk.


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Transcript


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Let's be honest. There's nothing more frustrating

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than 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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But how can we tell if we've got a good deal

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or if we've been taken to the cleaner's?

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Do you want to go for 225?

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Just for today, 500 quid. If it's 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 - yes, 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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Have I been done?

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So yeah, I've been done, maybe.

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And this is the bit I love.

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We expose the UK's most outrageous tradesmen rip-offs.

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It was one of the worst conservatories I'd ever seen.

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It needed pulling down.

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The house was a death trap.

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There's no other word for it. Conned.

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Coming up:

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Our tricky tradesman Roger tries to pocket hundreds of pounds

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while posing as a gas man in London.

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I'm pretending this is a piece of pipe I've taken out of his house.

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The heartless rogue in North Yorkshire whose rotten roofing trick

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bagged him thousands of pounds while putting consumers' lives at risk.

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We noticed a large bulge in the ceiling and water dripping down.

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It's really unsafe, dripping around the electrics.

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And sparks fly in Middlesex when Roger shocks a consumer

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about the state of his kitchen wiring.

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Aghh!

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BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP

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-Has that come straight from the socket?

-No using that for a while.

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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 lot about trades like roofing or plumbing.

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That's why we rely on tradesmen. The vast majority of them are professional and hard-working,

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but a small minority give tradesmen a bad name with their dirty tricks.

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

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What's more, 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 set up friends and relatives for a visit from our tradesman. Why?

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

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This is Roger Bisby.

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After 40 years' experience, 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, it's con men

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cashing in on their dirty tricks.

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But we're asking Roger to turn tricky.

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To become a bad apple, one of the dodgiest tradesmen you could meet.

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Why? To show you how not to get conned.

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We'll set up small property problems

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and send Roger round to show how easy it is

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to be scammed.

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Filming with hidden cameras,

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Roger will be working with his cameraman and "apprentice" Luke.

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

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According to Gas Safe, one in three of us trust a tradesman

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to do gas and boiler work on the recommendation of a friend or neighbour

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without checking their registration first.

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That can be 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 find out whether one south London man

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is as smart a consumer as he thinks he is.

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Retired teacher Kathy Dixon wants to set up her lighting engineer husband Kevin

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because she thinks he pays too little attention

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to jobs that need doing.

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I call my husband a "gonna" because he's always gonna call somebody in

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and he's always gonna do it himself, but he never gets round to it.

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Cathy and Kevin had their cooker serviced recently.

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A Gas Safe engineer gave it the all-clear.

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But she's been telling Kevin she can sometimes smell the odd whiff of gas.

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She wants it checked out and has called in a friend of a friend repair man.

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And the man with a nose for the job is Roger.

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So to help me sniff it out I've got my assistant, cameraman-cum-gas-engineer Luke,

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and you've got a few props.

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I've got the best prop we've ever had. A stink bomb!

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What we're going to do with these stink bombs is just enhance the smell of gas.

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Then, when we've done that, because we're total cowboys,

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we're not going to repair it. We'll just wrap some tape round it!

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The proper thing to do if you smell gas is to contact the national grid

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or, if you suspect a leak on a boiler,

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you should contact Gas Safe.

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They both offer free telephone advice.

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They'll put you to a local qualified engineer

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who should be registered with Gas Safe and should have an ID card to prove it.

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Anyone without Gas Safe ID may well lack the qualifications

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needed to make repairs safely.

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In our little scenario,

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Roger's stink bomb will make Kevin believe

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there really is a gas leak.

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Roger will make a mountain out of a mole hill in terms of repairs that need to be done.

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Roger's got a roll of sticky tape to use as a repair

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but this is a really dirty trick.

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As it wouldn't be safe and it won't be worth the massive charge.

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Gas Safe engineers have told us that the call-out to investigate and repair a leak

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shouldn't cost more than 70 to £80.

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Roger's looking to collect around three times that much,

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at least £200. What a rascal!

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Our tricky two-some arrive at just after 9.30.

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Oh, is that where we're coming? Gas?

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-Is it you?

-Yeah.

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Sorry, mate. Didn't realise.

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-You're with him, are you?

-Yeah, that's it.

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Sorry, we'll just come and look at your gas leak.

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-Have you locked it, Roger?

-Yeah, it's fine.

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It's an honest area round here, isn't it?

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It may be an honest area,

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but when repair men call, always check who they are.

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Kevin has failed to do this. He's fallen at the first hurdle

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by not asking to see the old ID. In this case,

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it ought to be Gas Safe ID.

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To be fair, he is expecting a friend of a friend

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but he's taking a serious risk when it comes to gas.

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I'm not sure where it's coming from.

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-I got the cooker out. There's nothing there.

-OK.

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I had a gas fitter in to put a new pipe in from the cellar down to here.

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-Yeah.

-But I can never smell it. My wife says she can smell it.

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As well as his nose, Roger has brought along his specialist gas detection equipment.

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Did they do this when they came before, put the gauge on?

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-They did on the thing, but he was only checking the regulator.

-Yeah.

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First thing is to get fresh air.

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Roger is using a proper gas detector. It should convince Kevin he's here for a professional job.

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It's having trouble calibrating that.

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Of course, it won't detect any of Roger's hot air!

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OK. Let's give it a go.

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He's checked the boiler, the meter and the cooker,

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giving his all to earn Kevin's confidence.

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Let's have a look under here.

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Having crawled his way into the downstairs cellar,

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Roger continues to check for gas leaks.

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DETECTOR ALARM BEEPS

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Oh, look at that.

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Straight on it.

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But surely Roger is faking this?

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-See that, Luke?

-Yep.

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That's where it's leaking.

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Oh, I see. Roger has a genuine leak to fix, not something he's created himself.

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See that bubble? That's the leak.

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-And there's the kink in the pipe. Do you see?

-Yeah.

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That's been badly mullered in the past, hasn't it?

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Ah. So a damaged pipe is the cause of the gas leak.

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As Luke explains to Kevin.

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It's quite clear. The pipe's there and it's probably like that.

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Like that. So it's obviously affecting it.

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Remember, wife Kathy always calls him a "gonna".

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I wonder if Kevin's "gonna" mull this one over?

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It was pretty easy to find, actually.

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It's a steady little leak under the floor.

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Somebody's damaged the pipe in the past. Given it a whack.

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Probably when they were chucking suitcases down there.

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Wow. A genuine but minor leak. Let's put the tricks on hold.

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First things first. Roger will make it safe.

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In we go. Wish us luck!

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Roger will later ensure that the leak is made safe on a permanent basis.

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But Kevin doesn't seem to care. He's upstairs leaving our "dodgy" gas men all alone.

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Roger's going to charge through the nose for his work.

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So he needs a bigger gas leak. Remember the stink bomb?

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Time for dirty trick number one.

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Ooh!

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-I think we'll let another one of those go, don't you?

-No!

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Steady on, Roger. That'll do!

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-No.

-That's enough. That's enough to really...

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It's one of those smells that grows on you!

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I think the only thing growing is Kevin's bill.

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So, what a stinker. With the smell working its way round the house

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and Roger faking props in the street,

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will Kevin ever step out of his office?

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I'll muller this.

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Sniffing an opportunity, Roger bends all the rules with yet another trick.

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What's he playing at?

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Statistics show the highest number of trade complaints

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tend to be about dodgy roofing jobs.

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In fact, in 2009 more than 1,500 reported complaints.

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Our next story is a shocking one.

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But Trading Standards were soon able to bring the conman to justice.

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In two millennia, the city of York has seen rapscallions.

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Among them, the invading Romans and the marauding Vikings.

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Our story concerns a whole other kind of rogue

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who terrorised North Yorkshire for several years.

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As local Trading Standards officer Ruth Andrews reveals.

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Mr Glyn is a very aggressive man.

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He used that to enable him to get more cash out of his victims.

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They were frightened, desperate about their properties,

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wanting to have the work done and get rid of Mr Glyn as soon as possible.

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Darrell Glyn was one of the county's most deceitful and aggressive rogue tradesmen.

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He pocketed just under £55,000 from his victims here

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and didn't care who he ripped off.

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He'd agree a price up front and in a schedule of when payments would be made by the consumer.

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But as soon as he actually started,

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he would make demands for cash up front. Large sums of cash repeatedly.

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In some cases, the damage he caused was worse than the job he was fixing.

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He often threatened violence to get more cash.

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Mr Glyn was aggressive with the majority of his victims.

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Threats were made to specific victims on certain occasions

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when he wanted more money and they were refusing to pay.

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One of his victims was 29-year-old IT director Stephen Porritt.

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Looking to have his roof re-tiled, he did what you and I might do.

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Checked the phone book.

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I saw the advert. It was a large ad so I thought it was a well-funded company

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that's done a lot of good business.

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It had a freephone number so I thought it wouldn't hurt to call.

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Unfortunately, anyone can print an advert, lying about credentials.

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An advert on its own is never a guarantee of quality.

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When their roofer came out originally, we stood here,

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looked at the roof.

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He said he could see some damage from here, which I'm not sure about.

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Anyway, he put his ladders up, said there's some broken tiles causing the leaking

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and the lead flashing was worn.

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So he said the whole roof needs re-doing.

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Glyn posed as a member of Trust Mark,

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a Government-approved traders' scheme, and a member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors

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in order to persuade his victims of his credentials.

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In fact, he was lying on both counts.

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He said he'd re-tile the whole roof, renew all the fascia boards,

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give me new soffits, replace the guttering.

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He said he'd remove any waste materials, strip off the old roof, clear the site.

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For the whole works, he quoted £2,000, which I was quite happy about.

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Stephen didn't realise he was literally making a deal

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with the rogue trading devil.

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The first day of work, they set up some scaffolding and stripped down the back side of the roof.

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They took all the tiles off and put some sheeting over the top, plastic sheeting,

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so the water couldn't get in. They said they'd come next day to do the front of the roof.

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And the following two days to re-tile the roof and do the gutters and stuff.

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It would all be done in a week.

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After stripping all the tiles from Stephen's back roof,

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Darrell Glyn was ready to spring his scam.

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I gave the roofer £700 deposit.

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He said he needed money up front to buy the tiles and do the work.

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I was happy at the end of the first day that everything was underway.

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I just thought, business as usual. Tomorrow they'll come round and stick the tiles on.

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But this couldn't be further from the truth.

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A nightmare situation was about to ensue.

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The work was initially started in about September, October time, 2006.

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And after stripping away the tiles from the back half of the roof and putting the scaffolding up,

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the builder didn't actually turn up again till January.

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Stephen was left without a roof for four months, during the coldest part of the year.

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No matter how he tried, he couldn't get Darrell Glyn to return and finish the job.

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I'd made maybe about two or three phone calls a week.

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Most of the time when I'd call the roofer, I either didn't get through to him

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or got through to his answerphone.

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It was a bit horrific, really.

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It was during the winter months especially

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so the house was freezing.

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Eventually, Stephen did the only thing he could do.

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I'd got in touch with Trading Standards by this point.

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I think that's what gave him a kick up the backside to hurry him along.

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Then he came back in January to continue the work.

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When Glyn came back, he carried out the tiling on Stephen's back roof.

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But he didn't care if Trading Standards were on to him or not.

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He just wanted more and more money.

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Every time he came round to do a bit more work,

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or even one time he came round and didn't do any work,

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he'd show up and ask for more money because he wanted payment in instalments.

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So it would be two or three hundred pounds every time he showed up.

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It was only after four more months of badgering and heartache

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that the work was finished.

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By which time Glyn had trousered well over £2,500.

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Stephen might have thought his troubles were over at last,

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but worse was still to come.

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One evening we were sat in the living room

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and we noticed a large bulge in the ceiling

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and some water dripping down.

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The water was coming in around the lighting fixture.

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So obviously it was really unsafe with it dripping round the electrics.

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I called the roofer. I think it was about seven in the evening.

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I said, "There's water coming in from my roof repair you've just done."

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At this point he said there'd be a call-out charge. I wasn't going to pay that

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but I insisted he come and fix it immediately.

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Glyn repaired the leak, preventing an electrocution disaster

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but Stephen was left to clear up the mess of roofing materials left in his front garden.

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A lot of the victims in this case were devastated by what had happened.

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Not only because of the money they'd spent,

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but they had to spend further money to pay legitimate traders to put the house in order.

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In all, Darrell Glyn extorted £55,000 in less than two years

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from seven victims around North Yorkshire.

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He attempted to scam a further £23,000.

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Ruth's team at Trading Standards pursued him for months

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and finally secured his conviction in February 2010.

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Mr Glyn did plead guilty to multiple counts of fraud. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

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We proved he was fraudulent and took the money knowing he'd never do the work.

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Stephen's brush with Darrell Glyn left him with rather mixed feelings.

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I'm really disappointed that I got him to do the work.

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Since then, I've had other work done on the house.

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Other workers I've found have been absolutely fine.

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I'm just really disappointed that I went with this roofer.

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Later, the extraordinary story of a rogue tradesman

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banged up in London for his dirty tricks on a pensioner's driveway.

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He said he wanted another £10,000.

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£10,000. Outrageous!

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Plus Roger uses literally the most shocking tricks...

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Aghh!

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..to fake a fuse box meltdown that will cost hundreds to put right.

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I haven't had one like that for a while!

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But first, time to discover whether south London engineer Kevin

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swallows Roger's tall stories about the size of his gas leak.

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Remember, there was a faint smell.

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Ooh, look at that.

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Roger was expecting to fake a leak, but he found a real one.

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He's played his latest trick, letting off a stink bomb to make it smell worse than it is

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to crank up his eventual bill.

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A Gas Safety engineer would usually cost 70 to £80 to repair a simple leak.

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But Roger wants at least three times that.

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What a terrible whiff! It's usually you who gets the blame!

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Even with total strangers in his cellar,

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Kevin's still showing no interest. In fact, he's working upstairs.

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The boys have been here for 40 minutes and have free rein to do as they please,

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with only the family dog supervising.

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There's the pipe. It goes up there. You can see where it comes under the floor.

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So we need a bit of copper pipe.

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Kevin's still nowhere in sight and I sense trick two is on its way.

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Roger has grabbed an old piece of pipe from his tool bag.

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I'll muller this up and pretend it's a piece of pipe I've taken out of his house.

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Sounds like Roger's coming up with an extra dirty trick.

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What I want to do is replace that pipe.

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Except I don't want to replace it cos it's too much hassle.

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So I'm just going to take an old bit of pipe that I've bent up

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and I'm going to shove that into the guy's hand and say this is what I've replaced.

0:19:170:19:23

And we'll leave the other bit. But if I wrap that in tape, he'll never know that's not the good pipe.

0:19:230:19:28

Hopefully, with a sleight of hand, and because he's not watching me,

0:19:280:19:32

and he can't get under there, I should succeed.

0:19:320:19:34

You mean you're going to make Kevin think you've replaced the whole pipe.

0:19:360:19:40

That should big up the bill. And with Kevin still in a different room,

0:19:400:19:44

Roger's right that this should be an easy trick to pull off.

0:19:440:19:48

Oh, dear, are you all right, doggie?

0:19:480:19:51

And so begins their latest dirty trick.

0:19:530:19:56

Unbelievable! He's busy making repair sounds

0:20:050:20:08

but not actually doing any work!

0:20:080:20:10

Householder Kevin is still not paying any attention.

0:20:110:20:15

If only he was keeping an eye on them, he'd realise that a catalogue of dirty tricks

0:20:150:20:19

is being played right under his feet!

0:20:190:20:22

As for Roger, he has only one thing on his mind.

0:20:220:20:25

# Money, money, money. #

0:20:250:20:28

At long last, Kevin returns.

0:20:280:20:30

It's Roger's cue to flannel him with extraordinary stories

0:20:300:20:34

of how he's repaired this tricky leak.

0:20:340:20:36

He claims it was the fault of a previous tradesman.

0:20:360:20:39

What he did is he pulled it under and just went, "Ooom".

0:20:390:20:42

He yanked it up and thought, "Oh, I've kinked it."

0:20:420:20:45

It wasn't good.

0:20:450:20:47

Kevin really is a man of few words.

0:20:470:20:49

I wonder what he'll say when Roger presents him with a bill?

0:20:490:20:52

He's going to have to stump up big money.

0:20:520:20:55

I'll turn the gas back on.

0:20:550:20:57

Make sure it's all nice and safe.

0:20:570:20:59

Today, Kevin Dixon let a real stinker of a tradesman into his house.

0:21:010:21:05

Roger fixed a real gas leak but then played dirty tricks.

0:21:050:21:09

Creating smells and substituting pipes, now he's ready to spring his last trick -

0:21:090:21:14

overcharging with a massive repair bill.

0:21:140:21:17

So how will Kevin react?

0:21:170:21:19

How much do I owe you?

0:21:210:21:23

Um... Including the call out...

0:21:230:21:26

-Are you paying cash, by the way?

-Yeah.

-Is it cash?

-Yeah.

0:21:260:21:29

It's 270 quid, please.

0:21:290:21:31

Hmm. Not impressed.

0:21:310:21:33

Sorry it's so much, but we have to take all these courses, now!

0:21:330:21:36

Qualifications aside, £270 isn't bad for 40 minutes work

0:21:360:21:41

and handing over a piece of bent pipe.

0:21:410:21:43

But Kevin's really taking his time.

0:21:430:21:45

I'm just cleaning my hands up now.

0:21:450:21:48

Giving him a chance to get the dosh.

0:21:480:21:50

Amazingly, it takes ten minutes for Kevin to find the cash.

0:21:500:21:54

Sorry, mate. Are you there?

0:21:540:21:56

Sorry.

0:21:560:21:58

What did you do, print it?

0:21:580:21:59

Careful, Roger. You've got quite a nerve.

0:21:590:22:02

£270 handed over for a job that should have only cost around £70.

0:22:040:22:09

A £200 profit.

0:22:090:22:11

For less than an hour's work.

0:22:110:22:13

Thanks very much. You'll have no trouble from that. Cheers.

0:22:130:22:16

With Roger out of the picture,

0:22:180:22:20

it's time for our producer to break the news that Kevin's been conned

0:22:200:22:23

and that he needs a proper gas safety check.

0:22:230:22:26

-Hello, there.

-Hello.

-Hi.

0:22:290:22:30

We're from the BBC. We're doing some investigations in the area.

0:22:300:22:35

We've been chatting to your neighbours

0:22:350:22:37

and asking if they've had any experiences with painters or plumbers

0:22:370:22:42

who've done jobs that you're not too happy with.

0:22:420:22:45

No, I can't say I have. I've just had a plumber here.

0:22:450:22:49

Do you mind me asking what he did?

0:22:490:22:51

He had to replace a gas pipe.

0:22:510:22:53

I thought the bill was rather expensive.

0:22:530:22:56

We've had reports that they've been going into people's houses and doing various jobs

0:22:560:23:02

-and not actually doing very much. Trying to scam them.

-Right!

0:23:020:23:05

OK. Well, I've just been scammed, then!

0:23:050:23:08

But, er...

0:23:080:23:09

I was expecting someone from the gas company to come.

0:23:090:23:13

Time for Kevin's wife Kathy to reveal her part in setting him up.

0:23:130:23:18

It's a wind up!

0:23:180:23:20

Kevin isn't "gonna" let her forget this in a hurry.

0:23:200:23:22

We gave her a hard hat in case you hit her on the head!

0:23:240:23:27

It's all hot and sweaty, let me tell you!

0:23:270:23:29

'Roger was very convincing.'

0:23:300:23:32

He had the right patter. He's obviously been trained in that business.

0:23:320:23:37

So, yeah, he was good.

0:23:370:23:41

You were quite a happy man until we charged you the money!

0:23:410:23:44

-Then I saw your face go a little bit...

-Yeah.

0:23:440:23:46

'Ask to always check credentials.'

0:23:460:23:49

Check the people you've got coming to your house are who they say they are.

0:23:490:23:54

Would you be happier if I gave you the money back?

0:23:540:23:57

-I'm happy anyway cos...

-Give me the money back!

0:23:570:24:00

Be with them all the time. Don't go and sit in another room.

0:24:000:24:03

Be in the same room to see they're doing what they say they are.

0:24:030:24:07

Truth revealed, money returned. But Roger, what about that genuine gas leak?

0:24:070:24:13

What I've got to tell you now, seriously, is contact the National Gas Safety Helpline.

0:24:130:24:18

They will recommend a Gas Safe engineer.

0:24:180:24:21

Not me, because I'm frankly just a cowboy! All right?

0:24:210:24:25

You can rest assured Kevin and Kathy had a Gas Safe registered engineer

0:24:270:24:32

around the next day to deal with their leak.

0:24:320:24:34

But what should you do in that situation to avoid a con?

0:24:340:24:37

Obviously only use Gas Safe registered engineers. And check their ID.

0:24:380:24:44

If you suspect a gas man working illegally

0:24:440:24:46

report it to Gas Safe. They will investigate.

0:24:460:24:49

Finally, if in doubt, keep them out!

0:24:490:24:52

There were nearly 2,000 accidental house fires in 2008

0:24:560:25:01

which were the result of dodgy wiring.

0:25:010:25:03

A genuine statistic like that is the kind of scare tactic

0:25:030:25:06

that a rogue electrician might use to con you into unnecessary fuse box repairs.

0:25:060:25:11

That's just what Roger has in mind as he visits his next consumer.

0:25:110:25:15

Miles Buckridge from Middlesex is a travel agent who's asking Roger to pay a visit

0:25:170:25:21

to his little brother.

0:25:210:25:23

Drew is a manager in a call centre.

0:25:230:25:26

He's a nice guy. He's pretty grumpy at times.

0:25:260:25:28

He has an innate distrust of tradesmen as well.

0:25:280:25:31

He likes to think he's not that gullible

0:25:310:25:34

but if someone's good enough they can pull one over on him.

0:25:340:25:37

The brothers have been left in charge of the family home

0:25:370:25:40

while the parents are away.

0:25:400:25:42

Miles is pretending the kitchen appliances are giving off electric shocks

0:25:420:25:46

so Drew needs to wait in for an electrician.

0:25:460:25:49

There's nothing wrong with their electrics, but Roger has plenty of tricks lined up

0:25:490:25:54

to persuade him that there is and take him for as much cash as possible.

0:25:540:25:58

-What have you got there?

-I've got earth cable

0:25:590:26:02

and a safety electrical connector that goes on the end of the cable.

0:26:020:26:05

Those are earthing tags which you can buy for about ten for £3.00.

0:26:050:26:10

And a bit of cable like this, not too much money.

0:26:100:26:14

So our investment in this is very low. Except for one thing.

0:26:140:26:17

Out of the magic shop, for about five quid,

0:26:170:26:20

I've got this little device.

0:26:200:26:22

Now, when I touch the sockets...

0:26:220:26:25

Ooh, that frightened me. That's going to let that little spark.

0:26:260:26:30

So Roger will fake a problem with the electrics using the gadget from a magic shop.

0:26:300:26:36

He'll use whatever he can find on his van to fake up a solution.

0:26:360:26:41

Once he's done that, don't be surprised if he tries one of the oldest tricks in the book -

0:26:410:26:45

overcharge.

0:26:450:26:47

The typical cost to diagnose and fix a simple electrical fault

0:26:490:26:53

should be no more than around £200.

0:26:530:26:55

But our trickster is planning to more than double this,

0:26:550:26:58

conjuring up a magical £500 bill.

0:26:580:27:01

Roger and Luke arrive at the boys' house just before 6.30pm.

0:27:010:27:06

-Hello.

-Electrics, my friend.

0:27:080:27:10

Yeah. I don't know much about it.

0:27:100:27:12

His brother was right. Drew is a nice guy.

0:27:120:27:15

Very trusting. He hasn't asked for any ID. He's just let them straight into the house.

0:27:150:27:20

That's in here.

0:27:200:27:22

There's been a couple of shocks elsewhere in the house.

0:27:220:27:27

Probably because you've got so much juice in it!

0:27:270:27:30

Orange juice in the meter. Very funny, Roger.

0:27:300:27:33

How about the job at hand, Drew?

0:27:330:27:36

I'd better not touch it too much before I...

0:27:360:27:39

I'll just go and get a meter.

0:27:390:27:41

Roger needs to do a few safety checks so he needs his wattage meter,

0:27:410:27:45

a gadget which measures the power supply and can help diagnose any problems.

0:27:450:27:49

Let's get some tests run on it.

0:27:510:27:54

Roger's more than ready for his first trick, his magic sparking device.

0:27:540:27:59

It's hidden in his right hand.

0:27:590:28:01

Let's just have a look at this. What's this device?

0:28:010:28:04

That's the doorbell thing.

0:28:040:28:06

Oh. All right.

0:28:060:28:08

Don't think it's on.

0:28:080:28:10

Pay close attention to Roger's right hand.

0:28:100:28:13

Stand back and watch an Oscar-winning performance!

0:28:130:28:17

BLEEP

0:28:210:28:22

I'm not going to touch it. I'll turn it off.

0:28:240:28:27

Haven't had one like that for a while!

0:28:280:28:30

-That's mental.

-Let me just give it a little test.

0:28:300:28:33

Oh, dear!

0:28:340:28:36

He's good, isn't he? That was quite a trick.

0:28:360:28:38

His dirty tricks seem to be going very well so far.

0:28:390:28:43

That should have gone off, that RCD, when that happened.

0:28:430:28:46

OK, that worked absolutely perfectly.

0:28:490:28:51

He was standing next to me when I did it with the magic ring.

0:28:510:28:55

The spark came out and he saw it and jumped back as well.

0:28:550:28:58

That was fantastic.

0:28:580:29:00

Now, our trickster hasn't come here just to put on a light show.

0:29:000:29:04

He's here to create some jobs for himself so he can earn some money.

0:29:040:29:08

That fuse box looks like a good place to start.

0:29:080:29:11

When it sparks, it's supposed to trip that RCD straightaway.

0:29:110:29:16

So if there's a fault, the RCD is supposed to do its job.

0:29:160:29:20

And it wasn't doing its job.

0:29:210:29:22

Hang on. There's nothing wrong with the RCD.

0:29:240:29:26

That's the trip switch in the fuse box to the likes of you and I.

0:29:260:29:30

It didn't switch off because there isn't a problem.

0:29:300:29:33

But Roger's fixing it anyway!

0:29:330:29:35

Lovely. Yeah. That's good. That's good.

0:29:350:29:38

Right. Can we go and look at the gas meter?

0:29:380:29:40

Uh-oh. That sounds expensive!

0:29:400:29:43

Later in the show,

0:29:430:29:45

will Roger persuade Drew into agreeing to even more unnecessary work?

0:29:450:29:49

That gas pipe should be earthed. There's no earth on it.

0:29:490:29:52

And how will our stunned consumer react when he finds out he's been scammed?

0:29:520:29:57

That's what it was!

0:29:580:30:00

A cheap toy.

0:30:000:30:01

Now, fuse box scams are common. But they're beaten by tarmac-ing tricks.

0:30:070:30:11

In 2009, there were more than 1,200 reported complaints

0:30:110:30:16

about dodgy driveways.

0:30:160:30:18

Our next story concerns a ruthless rogue

0:30:180:30:21

who was only brought to justice

0:30:210:30:23

after a nationwide search.

0:30:230:30:24

It just goes to show that crime doesn't pay.

0:30:240:30:27

This is Felix Joseph Rooney, a serial conman

0:30:270:30:32

who used cold calling, overcharging and intimidating behaviour

0:30:320:30:36

to swindle his victims out of tens of thousands of pounds.

0:30:360:30:40

He would knock on the doors of residents offering to do work

0:30:400:30:43

for a really good price. Once the work had started, he'd inflate the price.

0:30:430:30:47

In 2008, Rooney was plying his trade in the London Borough of Enfield.

0:30:470:30:53

His victims were so distressed, only one would appear on camera

0:30:530:30:57

providing her name and identity is disguised.

0:30:570:31:00

So we'll call her Bess.

0:31:000:31:02

When Rooney called, she was thinking of redoing her driveway.

0:31:020:31:05

So his sudden appearance seemed like a stroke of good fortune.

0:31:050:31:09

I was in the front garden and he stopped and started talking to me.

0:31:090:31:14

He showed me a brochure showing the grey and yellow bricks

0:31:140:31:19

which I liked.

0:31:190:31:21

I agreed to have the garden done.

0:31:210:31:25

He then gave me an invoice for £2,900.

0:31:250:31:30

Ouch! For that amount of money, you'd expect work of the very highest standard

0:31:310:31:36

on both the drive and the garden.

0:31:360:31:38

Instead, Rooney's men littered Bess's land with hardcore waste.

0:31:380:31:43

I had wanted to have a flower bed

0:31:430:31:46

and that rubble made that impossible.

0:31:460:31:51

It was full of glass, stones and broken slabs of concrete.

0:31:510:31:57

And I was very upset.

0:31:570:32:00

Ignoring her concerns, Rooney and his motley crew pressed on.

0:32:000:32:05

They cleared the mess and finished the driveway using the grey and yellow bricks she wanted.

0:32:050:32:09

Job done, Rooney asked for payment.

0:32:090:32:12

Not for the original amount quoted

0:32:120:32:14

but for £2,100 on top of that,

0:32:140:32:17

making a grand total of £5,000.

0:32:170:32:21

I said, "That's impossible."

0:32:210:32:23

He said that I had chosen the best quality bricks

0:32:230:32:27

and they are dearer.

0:32:270:32:28

I said, "You didn't tell me that at the time."

0:32:280:32:31

He insisted that that was the price he wanted

0:32:310:32:35

because he had to pay his men.

0:32:350:32:37

It's often the case that they will come up with some reason, some excuse, for the price increase.

0:32:370:32:42

It's absolutely unacceptable.

0:32:420:32:44

Despicable, if you ask me. And £5,000 in cash?

0:32:440:32:48

It's not exactly easy to come by.

0:32:480:32:50

Bess's bank told her it would take time for it to be arranged.

0:32:500:32:54

Meanwhile, Rooney was growing impatient.

0:32:540:32:57

Because it took more than 24 hours really

0:32:570:33:01

for them to give me permission to draw that amount of money,

0:33:010:33:05

he kept phoning me and wanting to know when he could come and collect it.

0:33:050:33:10

I felt very intimidated.

0:33:100:33:13

With £5,000 of Bess's precious savings now in his pocket,

0:33:130:33:17

Rooney was off, swindling other people using similar tricks.

0:33:170:33:21

Meanwhile, Bess could have been forgiven for thinking she'd seen the back of him.

0:33:210:33:26

Couldn't she?

0:33:260:33:27

Once you've been targeted by these traders, they often come back again. They identify you as a target.

0:33:270:33:33

So it's important you report these people as soon as possible.

0:33:330:33:36

Trading Standards can stop it happening.

0:33:360:33:39

So it's no surprise that six months later,

0:33:390:33:41

Rooney called at Bess's a second time,

0:33:410:33:44

determined to eke out every penny from this vulnerable pensioner.

0:33:440:33:48

Even though she'd been ripped off once before,

0:33:480:33:51

Bess felt intimidated into hiring Rooney again.

0:33:510:33:55

I have a retaining wall.

0:33:550:33:57

Every three or four years,

0:33:570:33:59

if we have very bad winters, that wall cracks.

0:33:590:34:03

So I asked him if his men could dismantle it

0:34:030:34:09

and rebuild it.

0:34:090:34:10

Bess was far from impressed with Rooney's work.

0:34:100:34:14

This time the cheater told her the job would cost £4,000.

0:34:140:34:18

Incredibly, even this amount would soon feel like small change.

0:34:180:34:23

He said he wanted another £10,000.

0:34:230:34:27

And I said no.

0:34:300:34:32

I said, "Your work isn't worth it

0:34:320:34:36

"and besides, I don't have that kind of money."

0:34:360:34:39

He told me to go to the bank, he told me to get a loan,

0:34:390:34:44

he told me what I should do.

0:34:440:34:46

The intimidation wasn't limited to Bess.

0:34:460:34:49

This and his persistent overcharging had brought him to the attention of Trading Standards and the police.

0:34:490:34:55

We managed to see paperwork from a vehicle that was on site

0:34:550:34:59

and once that was examined by the police,

0:34:590:35:01

we found fingerprints on it which were matched to our suspect.

0:35:010:35:04

We then had to start a nationwide manhunt to track him down.

0:35:040:35:08

Felix Rooney proved to be a slippery customer to catch.

0:35:080:35:12

But after two identity parades and the involvement of a private investigator,

0:35:120:35:16

he was eventually apprehended.

0:35:160:35:18

In February 2011 at London's Wood Green Crown Court,

0:35:180:35:22

he was sentenced to 17 months behind bars for ripping off Bess

0:35:220:35:26

and another victim to the tune of £7,700. Shocking.

0:35:260:35:32

I was so upset I wasn't well

0:35:340:35:37

for some time.

0:35:370:35:39

It really did affect my health.

0:35:390:35:42

There are real lessons to be learned from this case.

0:35:420:35:45

It highlights the importance of not dealing with traders on the doorstep.

0:35:450:35:49

If you need work doing to your property, then make sure you shop around

0:35:490:35:53

get at least three quotes from different traders and then decide.

0:35:530:35:57

Make sure that you go to a reputable firm.

0:35:570:36:01

The only thing that was true on the invoice

0:36:010:36:07

was the mobile phone number.

0:36:070:36:09

I find the whole episode extremely embarrassing.

0:36:090:36:13

Trading Standards respects your confidentiality in all investigations.

0:36:140:36:18

There's nothing to fear by reporting rogue activity.

0:36:180:36:21

You could stop another consumer from becoming a victim.

0:36:210:36:25

Now, what about that sparking fuse box in Middlesex?

0:36:250:36:28

Right. Electrics.

0:36:280:36:30

Drew Buckridge was set up by his brother Miles

0:36:310:36:34

who told him their kitchen appliances were giving him electric shocks.

0:36:340:36:38

When Roger arrived, he used a simple gadget to persuade Drew

0:36:380:36:41

the problem is real and serious.

0:36:410:36:43

Building on his award-winning performance,

0:36:450:36:49

Roger's plan has been to fix the earth on the electrical fuse box.

0:36:490:36:53

That's good. That's good.

0:36:530:36:55

Now he's trying to persuade Drew there's a problem with the gas meter too.

0:36:550:36:59

I ought to check the earth on it just to make sure it's OK.

0:36:590:37:03

The gas meter is in the garage.

0:37:030:37:05

I don't want you to take loads of stuff out.

0:37:050:37:09

I think they're going to have to, Roger.

0:37:090:37:11

The meter's right at the back.

0:37:110:37:13

I just want to get to the corner.

0:37:130:37:15

It's very unusual. That gas pipe should be earthed. There's no earth on there.

0:37:180:37:22

They're normally on the meter there.

0:37:220:37:25

Roger, you know full well that the gas meter is already earthed.

0:37:250:37:31

Just as it should be.

0:37:310:37:33

The work is completely unnecessary!

0:37:330:37:35

I'm just going to whack one on it, Luke, just to make sure.

0:37:350:37:38

I don't expect it will be too long before Roger works out

0:37:380:37:41

another dirty trick he can play.

0:37:410:37:44

To be fair to Drew, there aren't many consumers who'd recognise an earthing wire on their meter

0:37:440:37:49

so our trickster's on pretty safe ground.

0:37:490:37:52

Ignorance is bliss to every good con man.

0:37:520:37:55

I've put the earth wires on there.

0:38:040:38:06

Connected them up. None of that needed doing,

0:38:060:38:09

but it all looks good. It's taken less than an hour.

0:38:090:38:12

Now I'm not going to put the electrics back on until he's paid me.

0:38:120:38:16

So when he pays me, I'll flick the switch.

0:38:160:38:19

If he doesn't want to pay me, we'll drive away and he won't have any electrics.

0:38:190:38:24

See how that goes.

0:38:240:38:26

While Luke helps Drew put the garage back together,

0:38:260:38:30

Roger calculates the bill.

0:38:300:38:33

And how much can he get away with?

0:38:330:38:36

It's 475 in all.

0:38:360:38:39

Four hundred and seventy-five pounds?!

0:38:390:38:42

Now that's magic.

0:38:420:38:44

-OK with a cheque?

-Have you got any cash?

0:38:440:38:46

I don't know how much cash we've got.

0:38:460:38:48

Today, Drew Buckridge let a rogue electrician into his home.

0:38:510:38:55

He fell for Roger's spark trick

0:38:550:38:57

and gave him free rein to solve the problem.

0:38:570:39:00

Roger pretended to fix both the fuse box and the gas meter.

0:39:000:39:03

Two totally unnecessary jobs.

0:39:030:39:06

Drew didn't question the work and now he faces a shocking bill

0:39:060:39:10

for work which never actually happened.

0:39:100:39:13

I'll have to write you a cheque.

0:39:130:39:15

OK, I don't mind a bit of cheque, bit of cash.

0:39:150:39:19

It's nice to have a bit of cash.

0:39:190:39:21

-I've got 160 in cash.

-OK.

0:39:210:39:23

Unbelievable.

0:39:230:39:25

Drew doesn't seem to be questioning the bill at all.

0:39:250:39:28

He's even going out of his way to help the conman

0:39:280:39:31

by finding as much of the payment in hard cash as he can.

0:39:310:39:35

And there it is.

0:39:350:39:37

£475 for a quick magic show

0:39:370:39:40

and less than an hour's work.

0:39:400:39:42

Drew's made our trickster's day.

0:39:420:39:45

But at least he's doing the right thing here.

0:39:450:39:47

Can I use your back?

0:39:470:39:49

He's getting a signed invoice as proof of payment.

0:39:490:39:53

Well done. Although, knowing Roger, it probably isn't worth the paper it's written on!

0:39:530:39:58

I'll just go and do your fuse box.

0:39:580:40:00

Happy with the result, Roger can now switch the electricity back on.

0:40:000:40:04

That's all up and running now.

0:40:040:40:07

Before making a very quick getaway.

0:40:070:40:10

Thank you. Cheers.

0:40:100:40:12

Bye-bye.

0:40:120:40:14

With the dodgy double-act off the scene,

0:40:180:40:20

it's time for our producer to reveal the truth to Drew.

0:40:200:40:24

Ooh!

0:40:240:40:26

-Hello, there.

-Hi.

-Sorry to disturb you. We're from the BBC.

-Yeah.

0:40:260:40:31

-We've been doing some investigations in the area.

-OK.

0:40:310:40:34

Into people who've had experiences with various plumbers, electricians...

0:40:340:40:39

You mean the guys who were just here?

0:40:390:40:41

They were here to fix some faulty electrician work from before.

0:40:410:40:47

But it's all fixed.

0:40:470:40:48

-Did you pay much for it?

-Yeah.

0:40:480:40:50

-Did you give them any cash?

-Yeah.

0:40:510:40:54

-Did you get a receipt?

-Yeah. An invoice, yeah.

0:40:560:40:58

One of them... We didn't have a lot of cash on us. But he wanted part cash, part cheque.

0:40:580:41:03

He got a cheque for most of it but cash was involved as well.

0:41:030:41:06

It's likely he didn't do what he said he'd do. It's likely he didn't do much at all.

0:41:060:41:12

Right. First impressions were that it was obviously expensive.

0:41:120:41:17

-But I don't know.

-There they are!

0:41:170:41:20

Time to let Drew off the hook!

0:41:210:41:23

What?!

0:41:230:41:24

And reveal that he's been set up with the help of his brother Miles.

0:41:240:41:28

You gave me the funniest look when you plugged the plug in.

0:41:280:41:32

When you got the shock. You went like that.

0:41:320:41:35

I was like, "He did that purposely. What's going on?"

0:41:350:41:39

-When I went like that?

-That's what it was!

0:41:390:41:42

A cheap toy!

0:41:420:41:44

Roger was very convincing in what he did.

0:41:440:41:46

The spark kind of threw us and showed us what we thought the problem was.

0:41:460:41:52

So, yeah, very good.

0:41:520:41:55

I'm quite impressed you actually gave him the money.

0:41:550:41:58

-But you said you got a shock off the plug last week!

-I'm sorry.

0:41:580:42:01

You've had me going for about three weeks!

0:42:010:42:05

When it dawned on me I might have been scammed, my heart was racing.

0:42:050:42:08

I didn't know what to think. Did I follow them round the house, or leave them alone?

0:42:080:42:13

Did we have anything out on the side like wallets or laptops at all?

0:42:130:42:17

Drew learned not to be so trusting today.

0:42:170:42:20

But what else has he taken away from Roger's antics?

0:42:200:42:23

When I got the invoice, it was pricey for what they were here for.

0:42:230:42:27

That's a waste of a cheque!

0:42:270:42:29

The fact he asked for mainly cash rather than a cheque.

0:42:290:42:32

That was a bit of an alarm bell.

0:42:320:42:35

We don't tend to carry cash around the house at all ever.

0:42:350:42:39

I should have demanded that he be paid solely with a cheque.

0:42:390:42:42

Thanks for taking it so well, Drew.

0:42:420:42:45

Remember, the vast majority of tradesmen are honest and hard-working.

0:42:450:42:49

It's only a very few who play dirty tricks.

0:42:490:42:52

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

0:42:520:42:55

Thanks for watching. See you next time.

0:42:550:42:58

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:170:43:20

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.

Call-centre manager Drew is set up by his brother for a visit from our acting rogue electrician. Roger uses a joke-shop gadget to spark him into thinking the plug sockets pose a health and safety risk, which he will fix on the spot for a hefty fee.

Roger also hopes to fool south Londoner Kevin that he has a gas leak in his cellar, with the aid of stink bombs and duct tape. Which of these consumers will be taken in by his con tricks?

Plus a north London pensioner reveals how she stood firm against a dodgy driveway installer who tried to rip her off to the tune of 15,000 pounds.