Fraud network sentenced under Croydon-led nationwide case

Six people involved in duping vulnerable homeowners out of £400,700 for bogus roof repairs have been sentenced in a Croydon Council prosecution working with National Trading Standards.

Between March 2016 and June 2017 fraudsters visited 19 victims aged 60 to 92, from Croydon and Greenwich to Hertfordshire and Southampton, and pressured them into expensive roof repairs that were either completely unnecessary, done badly or not done at all.

A common tactic involved telling the victim they had noticed roof damage while doing work for a neighbour. After the money was paid by cash, cheque or electronic transfer, the fraudsters then used a network of contacts to launder the money via different bank accounts.

One victim in his seventies, from Lee in south-east London, paid £12,250 on 7 March 2016 for roof and windows work that an expert witness later found was worth £28.

In July 2016, a couple in their seventies from South Norwood in Croydon were persuaded to agree to roof and guttering work for £14,200 – the actual value was later found to be £1,324. A neighbour of theirs in his eighties ultimately paid £39,560 for a roof job worth £650. Other victims included a Stevenage man in his nineties who paid £20,250, and a Southampton victim who paid £26,350 for work that a chartered surveyor later found had no value.

The investigation began when a Croydon Council trading standards officer discovered the South Norwood doorstep frauds. He then found a Greenwich woman paid £22,000 to a company he was investigating. This led to police arrests and trading standards officers examining mobiles and bank records.

At Croydon Crown Court on Thursday 10 September, six people were either jailed, given suspended sentences, ordered to pay financial penalties or given community orders after convictions at earlier hearings. These were:

  • Ashlie Davis, aged 31, of Chippenham Road, Romford, Essex, was jailed for five years and four months after being convicted of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert and/or transfer criminal property. He was also given a Criminal Behaviour Order to prevent money laundering and given a 20-month concurrent sentence for a similar crime.
  • Cody Wright, aged 27, of Bower Close, Collier Row, Romford, Essex, was jailed for two years and four months for the same offence. He was also ordered to pay a £3,255 confiscation order to compensate two victims.
  • For the same offence, Jake Hemsworth, aged 30, of Hilldene Avenue in Romford, Essex, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work and pay £450 compensation to a victim.
  • Terence Davis, aged 31, of Cannington Road, Dagenham, Essex, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, for four counts of knowingly receiving the proceeds of crime into a bank account. He was also ordered to do 180 hours’ unpaid work.
  • For the same kind of offence as Terence Davis carried out, Katie Amos, aged 39, formerly of North Hill Drive, Romford, Essex, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. She was also sentenced to be electronically tagged and placed on a three-month overnight curfew.
  • Cindy Mary Lappin, aged 46, of High Street, Romford, Essex, was given an 18-month Community Order with 180 hours’ unpaid work for acquiring or using proceeds of crime.

Four more people are due to be sentenced at a later date.

Councillor Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “These were sickening crimes that preyed on the elderly and vulnerable and left them thousands of pounds out of pocket. Thanks to a superb investigation led by our trading standards team alongside national colleagues, these criminals have been stopped from defrauding even more people.”

Lord Toby Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards, which supported the council on the case, said: “Doorstep criminals are continuing to operate in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. I hope these sentences send a strong signal that crime does not pay.”

National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised crime.

Anyone with information on suspected doorstep frauds should contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.