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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Let's be honest. There's nothing more frustrating
than when something goes wrong in your house.
Last year, we spent a staggering £15 billion on house repairs.
But how can we tell if we've got a good deal
or if we've been taken to the cleaner's?
Do you want to go for 225?
Just for today, 500 quid. If it's cash.
Probably about seven and a half grand.
We've been secretly filming up and down the UK
and we reveal how shockingly easy it could be for you - yes, you - to be duped.
-I'm afraid you've been ripped off. He's not a bona fide tradesman.
Have I been done?
So yeah, I've been done, maybe.
And this is the bit I love.
We expose the UK's most outrageous tradesmen rip-offs.
It was one of the worst conservatories I'd ever seen.
It needed pulling down.
The house was a death trap.
There's no other word for it. Conned.
Our tricky tradesman Roger tries to pocket hundreds of pounds
while posing as a gas man in London.
I'm pretending this is a piece of pipe I've taken out of his house.
The heartless rogue in North Yorkshire whose rotten roofing trick
bagged him thousands of pounds while putting consumers' lives at risk.
We noticed a large bulge in the ceiling and water dripping down.
It's really unsafe, dripping around the electrics.
And sparks fly in Middlesex when Roger shocks a consumer
about the state of his kitchen wiring.
BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP
-Has that come straight from the socket?
-No using that for a while.
Stand by for Dirty Tricks of the Tradesmen.
Hello. I don't know about you, but I don't know a lot about trades like roofing or plumbing.
That's why we rely on tradesmen. The vast majority of them are professional and hard-working,
but a small minority give tradesmen a bad name with their dirty tricks.
Today we're meeting people who've been ripped off by the cowboys.
What's more, with your help, we'll show you just how easy it is
to fall for some of the oldest tricks in the tradesmen's books.
People have set up friends and relatives for a visit from our tradesman. Why?
To show you how to avoid being taken to the cleaners.
This is Roger Bisby.
After 40 years' experience, there's not much he doesn't know about the building game.
If there's one thing he doesn't like, it's con men
cashing in on their dirty tricks.
But we're asking Roger to turn tricky.
To become a bad apple, one of the dodgiest tradesmen you could meet.
Why? To show you how not to get conned.
We'll set up small property problems
and send Roger round to show how easy it is
to be scammed.
Filming with hidden cameras,
Roger will be working with his cameraman and "apprentice" Luke.
Very soon, we'll discover where they're setting their first trap.
According to Gas Safe, one in three of us trust a tradesman
to do gas and boiler work on the recommendation of a friend or neighbour
without checking their registration first.
That can be dangerous, not only for the wallet but also for the safety of our homes and families.
Roger's on his way to find out whether one south London man
is as smart a consumer as he thinks he is.
Retired teacher Kathy Dixon wants to set up her lighting engineer husband Kevin
because she thinks he pays too little attention
to jobs that need doing.
I call my husband a "gonna" because he's always gonna call somebody in
and he's always gonna do it himself, but he never gets round to it.
Cathy and Kevin had their cooker serviced recently.
A Gas Safe engineer gave it the all-clear.
But she's been telling Kevin she can sometimes smell the odd whiff of gas.
She wants it checked out and has called in a friend of a friend repair man.
And the man with a nose for the job is Roger.
So to help me sniff it out I've got my assistant, cameraman-cum-gas-engineer Luke,
and you've got a few props.
I've got the best prop we've ever had. A stink bomb!
What we're going to do with these stink bombs is just enhance the smell of gas.
Then, when we've done that, because we're total cowboys,
we're not going to repair it. We'll just wrap some tape round it!
The proper thing to do if you smell gas is to contact the national grid
or, if you suspect a leak on a boiler,
you should contact Gas Safe.
They both offer free telephone advice.
They'll put you to a local qualified engineer
who should be registered with Gas Safe and should have an ID card to prove it.
Anyone without Gas Safe ID may well lack the qualifications
needed to make repairs safely.
In our little scenario,
Roger's stink bomb will make Kevin believe
there really is a gas leak.
Roger will make a mountain out of a mole hill in terms of repairs that need to be done.
Roger's got a roll of sticky tape to use as a repair
but this is a really dirty trick.
As it wouldn't be safe and it won't be worth the massive charge.
Gas Safe engineers have told us that the call-out to investigate and repair a leak
shouldn't cost more than 70 to £80.
Roger's looking to collect around three times that much,
at least £200. What a rascal!
Our tricky two-some arrive at just after 9.30.
Oh, is that where we're coming? Gas?
-Is it you?
Sorry, mate. Didn't realise.
-You're with him, are you?
-Yeah, that's it.
Sorry, we'll just come and look at your gas leak.
-Have you locked it, Roger?
-Yeah, it's fine.
It's an honest area round here, isn't it?
It may be an honest area,
but when repair men call, always check who they are.
Kevin has failed to do this. He's fallen at the first hurdle
by not asking to see the old ID. In this case,
it ought to be Gas Safe ID.
To be fair, he is expecting a friend of a friend
but he's taking a serious risk when it comes to gas.
I'm not sure where it's coming from.
-I got the cooker out. There's nothing there.
I had a gas fitter in to put a new pipe in from the cellar down to here.
-But I can never smell it. My wife says she can smell it.
As well as his nose, Roger has brought along his specialist gas detection equipment.
Did they do this when they came before, put the gauge on?
-They did on the thing, but he was only checking the regulator.
First thing is to get fresh air.
Roger is using a proper gas detector. It should convince Kevin he's here for a professional job.
It's having trouble calibrating that.
Of course, it won't detect any of Roger's hot air!
OK. Let's give it a go.
He's checked the boiler, the meter and the cooker,
giving his all to earn Kevin's confidence.
Let's have a look under here.
Having crawled his way into the downstairs cellar,
Roger continues to check for gas leaks.
DETECTOR ALARM BEEPS
Oh, look at that.
Straight on it.
But surely Roger is faking this?
-See that, Luke?
That's where it's leaking.
Oh, I see. Roger has a genuine leak to fix, not something he's created himself.
See that bubble? That's the leak.
-And there's the kink in the pipe. Do you see?
That's been badly mullered in the past, hasn't it?
Ah. So a damaged pipe is the cause of the gas leak.
As Luke explains to Kevin.
It's quite clear. The pipe's there and it's probably like that.
Like that. So it's obviously affecting it.
Remember, wife Kathy always calls him a "gonna".
I wonder if Kevin's "gonna" mull this one over?
It was pretty easy to find, actually.
It's a steady little leak under the floor.
Somebody's damaged the pipe in the past. Given it a whack.
Probably when they were chucking suitcases down there.
Wow. A genuine but minor leak. Let's put the tricks on hold.
First things first. Roger will make it safe.
In we go. Wish us luck!
Roger will later ensure that the leak is made safe on a permanent basis.
But Kevin doesn't seem to care. He's upstairs leaving our "dodgy" gas men all alone.
Roger's going to charge through the nose for his work.
So he needs a bigger gas leak. Remember the stink bomb?
Time for dirty trick number one.
-I think we'll let another one of those go, don't you?
Steady on, Roger. That'll do!
-That's enough. That's enough to really...
It's one of those smells that grows on you!
I think the only thing growing is Kevin's bill.
So, what a stinker. With the smell working its way round the house
and Roger faking props in the street,
will Kevin ever step out of his office?
I'll muller this.
Sniffing an opportunity, Roger bends all the rules with yet another trick.
What's he playing at?
Statistics show the highest number of trade complaints
tend to be about dodgy roofing jobs.
In fact, in 2009 more than 1,500 reported complaints.
Our next story is a shocking one.
But Trading Standards were soon able to bring the conman to justice.
In two millennia, the city of York has seen rapscallions.
Among them, the invading Romans and the marauding Vikings.
Our story concerns a whole other kind of rogue
who terrorised North Yorkshire for several years.
As local Trading Standards officer Ruth Andrews reveals.
Mr Glyn is a very aggressive man.
He used that to enable him to get more cash out of his victims.
They were frightened, desperate about their properties,
wanting to have the work done and get rid of Mr Glyn as soon as possible.
Darrell Glyn was one of the county's most deceitful and aggressive rogue tradesmen.
He pocketed just under £55,000 from his victims here
and didn't care who he ripped off.
He'd agree a price up front and in a schedule of when payments would be made by the consumer.
But as soon as he actually started,
he would make demands for cash up front. Large sums of cash repeatedly.
In some cases, the damage he caused was worse than the job he was fixing.
He often threatened violence to get more cash.
Mr Glyn was aggressive with the majority of his victims.
Threats were made to specific victims on certain occasions
when he wanted more money and they were refusing to pay.
One of his victims was 29-year-old IT director Stephen Porritt.
Looking to have his roof re-tiled, he did what you and I might do.
Checked the phone book.
I saw the advert. It was a large ad so I thought it was a well-funded company
that's done a lot of good business.
It had a freephone number so I thought it wouldn't hurt to call.
Unfortunately, anyone can print an advert, lying about credentials.
An advert on its own is never a guarantee of quality.
When their roofer came out originally, we stood here,
looked at the roof.
He said he could see some damage from here, which I'm not sure about.
Anyway, he put his ladders up, said there's some broken tiles causing the leaking
and the lead flashing was worn.
So he said the whole roof needs re-doing.
Glyn posed as a member of Trust Mark,
a Government-approved traders' scheme, and a member of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors
in order to persuade his victims of his credentials.
In fact, he was lying on both counts.
He said he'd re-tile the whole roof, renew all the fascia boards,
give me new soffits, replace the guttering.
He said he'd remove any waste materials, strip off the old roof, clear the site.
For the whole works, he quoted £2,000, which I was quite happy about.
Stephen didn't realise he was literally making a deal
with the rogue trading devil.
The first day of work, they set up some scaffolding and stripped down the back side of the roof.
They took all the tiles off and put some sheeting over the top, plastic sheeting,
so the water couldn't get in. They said they'd come next day to do the front of the roof.
And the following two days to re-tile the roof and do the gutters and stuff.
It would all be done in a week.
After stripping all the tiles from Stephen's back roof,
Darrell Glyn was ready to spring his scam.
I gave the roofer £700 deposit.
He said he needed money up front to buy the tiles and do the work.
I was happy at the end of the first day that everything was underway.
I just thought, business as usual. Tomorrow they'll come round and stick the tiles on.
But this couldn't be further from the truth.
A nightmare situation was about to ensue.
The work was initially started in about September, October time, 2006.
And after stripping away the tiles from the back half of the roof and putting the scaffolding up,
the builder didn't actually turn up again till January.
Stephen was left without a roof for four months, during the coldest part of the year.
No matter how he tried, he couldn't get Darrell Glyn to return and finish the job.
I'd made maybe about two or three phone calls a week.
Most of the time when I'd call the roofer, I either didn't get through to him
or got through to his answerphone.
It was a bit horrific, really.
It was during the winter months especially
so the house was freezing.
Eventually, Stephen did the only thing he could do.
I'd got in touch with Trading Standards by this point.
I think that's what gave him a kick up the backside to hurry him along.
Then he came back in January to continue the work.
When Glyn came back, he carried out the tiling on Stephen's back roof.
But he didn't care if Trading Standards were on to him or not.
He just wanted more and more money.
Every time he came round to do a bit more work,
or even one time he came round and didn't do any work,
he'd show up and ask for more money because he wanted payment in instalments.
So it would be two or three hundred pounds every time he showed up.
It was only after four more months of badgering and heartache
that the work was finished.
By which time Glyn had trousered well over £2,500.
Stephen might have thought his troubles were over at last,
but worse was still to come.
One evening we were sat in the living room
and we noticed a large bulge in the ceiling
and some water dripping down.
The water was coming in around the lighting fixture.
So obviously it was really unsafe with it dripping round the electrics.
I called the roofer. I think it was about seven in the evening.
I said, "There's water coming in from my roof repair you've just done."
At this point he said there'd be a call-out charge. I wasn't going to pay that
but I insisted he come and fix it immediately.
Glyn repaired the leak, preventing an electrocution disaster
but Stephen was left to clear up the mess of roofing materials left in his front garden.
A lot of the victims in this case were devastated by what had happened.
Not only because of the money they'd spent,
but they had to spend further money to pay legitimate traders to put the house in order.
In all, Darrell Glyn extorted £55,000 in less than two years
from seven victims around North Yorkshire.
He attempted to scam a further £23,000.
Ruth's team at Trading Standards pursued him for months
and finally secured his conviction in February 2010.
Mr Glyn did plead guilty to multiple counts of fraud. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.
We proved he was fraudulent and took the money knowing he'd never do the work.
Stephen's brush with Darrell Glyn left him with rather mixed feelings.
I'm really disappointed that I got him to do the work.
Since then, I've had other work done on the house.
Other workers I've found have been absolutely fine.
I'm just really disappointed that I went with this roofer.
Later, the extraordinary story of a rogue tradesman
banged up in London for his dirty tricks on a pensioner's driveway.
He said he wanted another £10,000.
Plus Roger uses literally the most shocking tricks...
..to fake a fuse box meltdown that will cost hundreds to put right.
I haven't had one like that for a while!
But first, time to discover whether south London engineer Kevin
swallows Roger's tall stories about the size of his gas leak.
Remember, there was a faint smell.
Ooh, look at that.
Roger was expecting to fake a leak, but he found a real one.
He's played his latest trick, letting off a stink bomb to make it smell worse than it is
to crank up his eventual bill.
A Gas Safety engineer would usually cost 70 to £80 to repair a simple leak.
But Roger wants at least three times that.
What a terrible whiff! It's usually you who gets the blame!
Even with total strangers in his cellar,
Kevin's still showing no interest. In fact, he's working upstairs.
The boys have been here for 40 minutes and have free rein to do as they please,
with only the family dog supervising.
There's the pipe. It goes up there. You can see where it comes under the floor.
So we need a bit of copper pipe.
Kevin's still nowhere in sight and I sense trick two is on its way.
Roger has grabbed an old piece of pipe from his tool bag.
I'll muller this up and pretend it's a piece of pipe I've taken out of his house.
Sounds like Roger's coming up with an extra dirty trick.
What I want to do is replace that pipe.
Except I don't want to replace it cos it's too much hassle.
So I'm just going to take an old bit of pipe that I've bent up
and I'm going to shove that into the guy's hand and say this is what I've replaced.
And we'll leave the other bit. But if I wrap that in tape, he'll never know that's not the good pipe.
Hopefully, with a sleight of hand, and because he's not watching me,
and he can't get under there, I should succeed.
You mean you're going to make Kevin think you've replaced the whole pipe.
That should big up the bill. And with Kevin still in a different room,
Roger's right that this should be an easy trick to pull off.
Oh, dear, are you all right, doggie?
And so begins their latest dirty trick.
Unbelievable! He's busy making repair sounds
but not actually doing any work!
Householder Kevin is still not paying any attention.
If only he was keeping an eye on them, he'd realise that a catalogue of dirty tricks
is being played right under his feet!
As for Roger, he has only one thing on his mind.
# Money, money, money. #
At long last, Kevin returns.
It's Roger's cue to flannel him with extraordinary stories
of how he's repaired this tricky leak.
He claims it was the fault of a previous tradesman.
What he did is he pulled it under and just went, "Ooom".
He yanked it up and thought, "Oh, I've kinked it."
It wasn't good.
Kevin really is a man of few words.
I wonder what he'll say when Roger presents him with a bill?
He's going to have to stump up big money.
I'll turn the gas back on.
Make sure it's all nice and safe.
Today, Kevin Dixon let a real stinker of a tradesman into his house.
Roger fixed a real gas leak but then played dirty tricks.
Creating smells and substituting pipes, now he's ready to spring his last trick -
overcharging with a massive repair bill.
So how will Kevin react?
How much do I owe you?
Um... Including the call out...
-Are you paying cash, by the way?
-Is it cash?
It's 270 quid, please.
Hmm. Not impressed.
Sorry it's so much, but we have to take all these courses, now!
Qualifications aside, £270 isn't bad for 40 minutes work
and handing over a piece of bent pipe.
But Kevin's really taking his time.
I'm just cleaning my hands up now.
Giving him a chance to get the dosh.
Amazingly, it takes ten minutes for Kevin to find the cash.
Sorry, mate. Are you there?
What did you do, print it?
Careful, Roger. You've got quite a nerve.
£270 handed over for a job that should have only cost around £70.
A £200 profit.
For less than an hour's work.
Thanks very much. You'll have no trouble from that. Cheers.
With Roger out of the picture,
it's time for our producer to break the news that Kevin's been conned
and that he needs a proper gas safety check.
We're from the BBC. We're doing some investigations in the area.
We've been chatting to your neighbours
and asking if they've had any experiences with painters or plumbers
who've done jobs that you're not too happy with.
No, I can't say I have. I've just had a plumber here.
Do you mind me asking what he did?
He had to replace a gas pipe.
I thought the bill was rather expensive.
We've had reports that they've been going into people's houses and doing various jobs
-and not actually doing very much. Trying to scam them.
OK. Well, I've just been scammed, then!
I was expecting someone from the gas company to come.
Time for Kevin's wife Kathy to reveal her part in setting him up.
It's a wind up!
Kevin isn't "gonna" let her forget this in a hurry.
We gave her a hard hat in case you hit her on the head!
It's all hot and sweaty, let me tell you!
'Roger was very convincing.'
He had the right patter. He's obviously been trained in that business.
So, yeah, he was good.
You were quite a happy man until we charged you the money!
-Then I saw your face go a little bit...
'Ask to always check credentials.'
Check the people you've got coming to your house are who they say they are.
Would you be happier if I gave you the money back?
-I'm happy anyway cos...
-Give me the money back!
Be with them all the time. Don't go and sit in another room.
Be in the same room to see they're doing what they say they are.
Truth revealed, money returned. But Roger, what about that genuine gas leak?
What I've got to tell you now, seriously, is contact the National Gas Safety Helpline.
They will recommend a Gas Safe engineer.
Not me, because I'm frankly just a cowboy! All right?
You can rest assured Kevin and Kathy had a Gas Safe registered engineer
around the next day to deal with their leak.
But what should you do in that situation to avoid a con?
Obviously only use Gas Safe registered engineers. And check their ID.
If you suspect a gas man working illegally
report it to Gas Safe. They will investigate.
Finally, if in doubt, keep them out!
There were nearly 2,000 accidental house fires in 2008
which were the result of dodgy wiring.
A genuine statistic like that is the kind of scare tactic
that a rogue electrician might use to con you into unnecessary fuse box repairs.
That's just what Roger has in mind as he visits his next consumer.
Miles Buckridge from Middlesex is a travel agent who's asking Roger to pay a visit
to his little brother.
Drew is a manager in a call centre.
He's a nice guy. He's pretty grumpy at times.
He has an innate distrust of tradesmen as well.
He likes to think he's not that gullible
but if someone's good enough they can pull one over on him.
The brothers have been left in charge of the family home
while the parents are away.
Miles is pretending the kitchen appliances are giving off electric shocks
so Drew needs to wait in for an electrician.
There's nothing wrong with their electrics, but Roger has plenty of tricks lined up
to persuade him that there is and take him for as much cash as possible.
-What have you got there?
-I've got earth cable
and a safety electrical connector that goes on the end of the cable.
Those are earthing tags which you can buy for about ten for £3.00.
And a bit of cable like this, not too much money.
So our investment in this is very low. Except for one thing.
Out of the magic shop, for about five quid,
I've got this little device.
Now, when I touch the sockets...
Ooh, that frightened me. That's going to let that little spark.
So Roger will fake a problem with the electrics using the gadget from a magic shop.
He'll use whatever he can find on his van to fake up a solution.
Once he's done that, don't be surprised if he tries one of the oldest tricks in the book -
The typical cost to diagnose and fix a simple electrical fault
should be no more than around £200.
But our trickster is planning to more than double this,
conjuring up a magical £500 bill.
Roger and Luke arrive at the boys' house just before 6.30pm.
-Electrics, my friend.
Yeah. I don't know much about it.
His brother was right. Drew is a nice guy.
Very trusting. He hasn't asked for any ID. He's just let them straight into the house.
That's in here.
There's been a couple of shocks elsewhere in the house.
Probably because you've got so much juice in it!
Orange juice in the meter. Very funny, Roger.
How about the job at hand, Drew?
I'd better not touch it too much before I...
I'll just go and get a meter.
Roger needs to do a few safety checks so he needs his wattage meter,
a gadget which measures the power supply and can help diagnose any problems.
Let's get some tests run on it.
Roger's more than ready for his first trick, his magic sparking device.
It's hidden in his right hand.
Let's just have a look at this. What's this device?
That's the doorbell thing.
Oh. All right.
Don't think it's on.
Pay close attention to Roger's right hand.
Stand back and watch an Oscar-winning performance!
I'm not going to touch it. I'll turn it off.
Haven't had one like that for a while!
-Let me just give it a little test.
He's good, isn't he? That was quite a trick.
His dirty tricks seem to be going very well so far.
That should have gone off, that RCD, when that happened.
OK, that worked absolutely perfectly.
He was standing next to me when I did it with the magic ring.
The spark came out and he saw it and jumped back as well.
That was fantastic.
Now, our trickster hasn't come here just to put on a light show.
He's here to create some jobs for himself so he can earn some money.
That fuse box looks like a good place to start.
When it sparks, it's supposed to trip that RCD straightaway.
So if there's a fault, the RCD is supposed to do its job.
And it wasn't doing its job.
Hang on. There's nothing wrong with the RCD.
That's the trip switch in the fuse box to the likes of you and I.
It didn't switch off because there isn't a problem.
But Roger's fixing it anyway!
Lovely. Yeah. That's good. That's good.
Right. Can we go and look at the gas meter?
Uh-oh. That sounds expensive!
Later in the show,
will Roger persuade Drew into agreeing to even more unnecessary work?
That gas pipe should be earthed. There's no earth on it.
And how will our stunned consumer react when he finds out he's been scammed?
That's what it was!
A cheap toy.
Now, fuse box scams are common. But they're beaten by tarmac-ing tricks.
In 2009, there were more than 1,200 reported complaints
about dodgy driveways.
Our next story concerns a ruthless rogue
who was only brought to justice
after a nationwide search.
It just goes to show that crime doesn't pay.
This is Felix Joseph Rooney, a serial conman
who used cold calling, overcharging and intimidating behaviour
to swindle his victims out of tens of thousands of pounds.
He would knock on the doors of residents offering to do work
for a really good price. Once the work had started, he'd inflate the price.
In 2008, Rooney was plying his trade in the London Borough of Enfield.
His victims were so distressed, only one would appear on camera
providing her name and identity is disguised.
So we'll call her Bess.
When Rooney called, she was thinking of redoing her driveway.
So his sudden appearance seemed like a stroke of good fortune.
I was in the front garden and he stopped and started talking to me.
He showed me a brochure showing the grey and yellow bricks
which I liked.
I agreed to have the garden done.
He then gave me an invoice for £2,900.
Ouch! For that amount of money, you'd expect work of the very highest standard
on both the drive and the garden.
Instead, Rooney's men littered Bess's land with hardcore waste.
I had wanted to have a flower bed
and that rubble made that impossible.
It was full of glass, stones and broken slabs of concrete.
And I was very upset.
Ignoring her concerns, Rooney and his motley crew pressed on.
They cleared the mess and finished the driveway using the grey and yellow bricks she wanted.
Job done, Rooney asked for payment.
Not for the original amount quoted
but for £2,100 on top of that,
making a grand total of £5,000.
I said, "That's impossible."
He said that I had chosen the best quality bricks
and they are dearer.
I said, "You didn't tell me that at the time."
He insisted that that was the price he wanted
because he had to pay his men.
It's often the case that they will come up with some reason, some excuse, for the price increase.
It's absolutely unacceptable.
Despicable, if you ask me. And £5,000 in cash?
It's not exactly easy to come by.
Bess's bank told her it would take time for it to be arranged.
Meanwhile, Rooney was growing impatient.
Because it took more than 24 hours really
for them to give me permission to draw that amount of money,
he kept phoning me and wanting to know when he could come and collect it.
I felt very intimidated.
With £5,000 of Bess's precious savings now in his pocket,
Rooney was off, swindling other people using similar tricks.
Meanwhile, Bess could have been forgiven for thinking she'd seen the back of him.
Once you've been targeted by these traders, they often come back again. They identify you as a target.
So it's important you report these people as soon as possible.
Trading Standards can stop it happening.
So it's no surprise that six months later,
Rooney called at Bess's a second time,
determined to eke out every penny from this vulnerable pensioner.
Even though she'd been ripped off once before,
Bess felt intimidated into hiring Rooney again.
I have a retaining wall.
Every three or four years,
if we have very bad winters, that wall cracks.
So I asked him if his men could dismantle it
and rebuild it.
Bess was far from impressed with Rooney's work.
This time the cheater told her the job would cost £4,000.
Incredibly, even this amount would soon feel like small change.
He said he wanted another £10,000.
And I said no.
I said, "Your work isn't worth it
"and besides, I don't have that kind of money."
He told me to go to the bank, he told me to get a loan,
he told me what I should do.
The intimidation wasn't limited to Bess.
This and his persistent overcharging had brought him to the attention of Trading Standards and the police.
We managed to see paperwork from a vehicle that was on site
and once that was examined by the police,
we found fingerprints on it which were matched to our suspect.
We then had to start a nationwide manhunt to track him down.
Felix Rooney proved to be a slippery customer to catch.
But after two identity parades and the involvement of a private investigator,
he was eventually apprehended.
In February 2011 at London's Wood Green Crown Court,
he was sentenced to 17 months behind bars for ripping off Bess
and another victim to the tune of £7,700. Shocking.
I was so upset I wasn't well
for some time.
It really did affect my health.
There are real lessons to be learned from this case.
It highlights the importance of not dealing with traders on the doorstep.
If you need work doing to your property, then make sure you shop around
get at least three quotes from different traders and then decide.
Make sure that you go to a reputable firm.
The only thing that was true on the invoice
was the mobile phone number.
I find the whole episode extremely embarrassing.
Trading Standards respects your confidentiality in all investigations.
There's nothing to fear by reporting rogue activity.
You could stop another consumer from becoming a victim.
Now, what about that sparking fuse box in Middlesex?
Drew Buckridge was set up by his brother Miles
who told him their kitchen appliances were giving him electric shocks.
When Roger arrived, he used a simple gadget to persuade Drew
the problem is real and serious.
Building on his award-winning performance,
Roger's plan has been to fix the earth on the electrical fuse box.
That's good. That's good.
Now he's trying to persuade Drew there's a problem with the gas meter too.
I ought to check the earth on it just to make sure it's OK.
The gas meter is in the garage.
I don't want you to take loads of stuff out.
I think they're going to have to, Roger.
The meter's right at the back.
I just want to get to the corner.
It's very unusual. That gas pipe should be earthed. There's no earth on there.
They're normally on the meter there.
Roger, you know full well that the gas meter is already earthed.
Just as it should be.
The work is completely unnecessary!
I'm just going to whack one on it, Luke, just to make sure.
I don't expect it will be too long before Roger works out
another dirty trick he can play.
To be fair to Drew, there aren't many consumers who'd recognise an earthing wire on their meter
so our trickster's on pretty safe ground.
Ignorance is bliss to every good con man.
I've put the earth wires on there.
Connected them up. None of that needed doing,
but it all looks good. It's taken less than an hour.
Now I'm not going to put the electrics back on until he's paid me.
So when he pays me, I'll flick the switch.
If he doesn't want to pay me, we'll drive away and he won't have any electrics.
See how that goes.
While Luke helps Drew put the garage back together,
Roger calculates the bill.
And how much can he get away with?
It's 475 in all.
Four hundred and seventy-five pounds?!
Now that's magic.
-OK with a cheque?
-Have you got any cash?
I don't know how much cash we've got.
Today, Drew Buckridge let a rogue electrician into his home.
He fell for Roger's spark trick
and gave him free rein to solve the problem.
Roger pretended to fix both the fuse box and the gas meter.
Two totally unnecessary jobs.
Drew didn't question the work and now he faces a shocking bill
for work which never actually happened.
I'll have to write you a cheque.
OK, I don't mind a bit of cheque, bit of cash.
It's nice to have a bit of cash.
-I've got 160 in cash.
Drew doesn't seem to be questioning the bill at all.
He's even going out of his way to help the conman
by finding as much of the payment in hard cash as he can.
And there it is.
£475 for a quick magic show
and less than an hour's work.
Drew's made our trickster's day.
But at least he's doing the right thing here.
Can I use your back?
He's getting a signed invoice as proof of payment.
Well done. Although, knowing Roger, it probably isn't worth the paper it's written on!
I'll just go and do your fuse box.
Happy with the result, Roger can now switch the electricity back on.
That's all up and running now.
Before making a very quick getaway.
Thank you. Cheers.
With the dodgy double-act off the scene,
it's time for our producer to reveal the truth to Drew.
-Sorry to disturb you. We're from the BBC.
-We've been doing some investigations in the area.
Into people who've had experiences with various plumbers, electricians...
You mean the guys who were just here?
They were here to fix some faulty electrician work from before.
But it's all fixed.
-Did you pay much for it?
-Did you give them any cash?
-Did you get a receipt?
-Yeah. An invoice, yeah.
One of them... We didn't have a lot of cash on us. But he wanted part cash, part cheque.
He got a cheque for most of it but cash was involved as well.
It's likely he didn't do what he said he'd do. It's likely he didn't do much at all.
Right. First impressions were that it was obviously expensive.
-But I don't know.
-There they are!
Time to let Drew off the hook!
And reveal that he's been set up with the help of his brother Miles.
You gave me the funniest look when you plugged the plug in.
When you got the shock. You went like that.
I was like, "He did that purposely. What's going on?"
-When I went like that?
-That's what it was!
A cheap toy!
Roger was very convincing in what he did.
The spark kind of threw us and showed us what we thought the problem was.
So, yeah, very good.
I'm quite impressed you actually gave him the money.
-But you said you got a shock off the plug last week!
You've had me going for about three weeks!
When it dawned on me I might have been scammed, my heart was racing.
I didn't know what to think. Did I follow them round the house, or leave them alone?
Did we have anything out on the side like wallets or laptops at all?
Drew learned not to be so trusting today.
But what else has he taken away from Roger's antics?
When I got the invoice, it was pricey for what they were here for.
That's a waste of a cheque!
The fact he asked for mainly cash rather than a cheque.
That was a bit of an alarm bell.
We don't tend to carry cash around the house at all ever.
I should have demanded that he be paid solely with a cheque.
Thanks for taking it so well, Drew.
Remember, the vast majority of tradesmen are honest and hard-working.
It's only a very few who play dirty tricks.
The crucial thing is, remember, if in doubt, keep them out!
Thanks for watching. See you next time.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
An audacious hidden-camera series with Chris Hollins. An acting rogue tradesman tries to rip people off in their own homes using well-known con tricks to show us all how easy it can be to be taken in.
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.