Two brothers from Minety and a third man from Aldermaston have today (13 April), been given prison sentences, following a successful prosecution by Wiltshire Council supported by the National Trading Standards South West Regional Investigation Team.
On 24 June 2022, Matty Rossiter, aged 18 and James Rossiter, aged 24 from Sambourne Park, Minety pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business and fraud by false representation. A third man, Dean Smith, aged 21 from Paices Hill, Aldermaston pleaded guilty on 25 July 2022 to participating in a fraudulent business.
The charges relate to unnecessary and overpriced work carried out at 18 properties, with customers aged between 44 and 90, defrauded out of approximately £45,000, with many also having to pay out more to have the work put right. The biggest losses were £9,000, £8,500 and £5,000. During the investigation many more consumers were interviewed who had also been defrauded but did not want to provide a witness statement. Some were cold called but many had engaged the men through Facebook and professional looking websites.
The three men traded under several business names: Southern Homecare, Chippenham Roofing, Skyline Roofing, Wiltshire Roofing, Yate Roofing, Tree Wise, RM Building & Landscapes and Enterprise Roofing.
The offences were committed in Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire and Bristol between October 2020 and March 2021.
The standard of the work carried out was described by one chartered surveyor engaged to assess the work as "abysmal", "carried out with no attendant skill or competence" and "probably without the use of appropriate hand tools".
Matty Rossiter was sentenced to two years and three months in prison, James Rossiter was sentenced to three years and four months in prison and Dean Smith was sentenced to three years in prison. Sentencing was held at Swindon Crown Court.
Cllr Nick Holder, Cabinet Member for Public Protection said;
Owing to the size and extent of this investigation we worked with the National Trading Standards South West Regional Investigation Team who assisted in gathering the evidence to bring this successful prosecution and we thank them for their help in bringing the activities of these individuals to an end.
We are also grateful to those who were willing to provide statements and prepared to appear in court if required. We appreciate the prospect of appearing in court to give evidence can be daunting but without this vital evidence we are unable to bring rogue traders to justice.
Lord Bichard, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
These men were calculated in the way they targeted victims, whether through cold-calling and falsely claiming they'd spotted a problem, or misleading people looking for home improvement services. They pressured their victims, many of whom were vulnerable, into paying huge amounts upfront for work that afterwards was deemed to be worthless, or worse, had actually caused damage. I am grateful to everyone involved in bringing these criminals to justice.
Rogue builders aren't always easy to spot and are very good at duping homeowners. Residents are urged to be extremely cautious of anyone who turns up on their doorstep offering to do work - that perhaps they didn't even think they needed, at 'too good to be true' prices. Always get at least three quotes and ensure you are provided with full details in writing including the trader's name, address and the total price before any work takes place.
Be aware that photos used on websites and social media may not be the trader's own work. We would advise not to pay large deposits in advance and if the contract is high value, make staged payments.
Ask friends and relatives for recommendations of traders they have used or find a trader who is part of an approval scheme such as Buy With Confidence.
If you believe you have been the victim of a rogue trader, call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues.