Judge Jeremy Jenkins commended Powys County Council yesterday at Merthyr Crown Court for prosecuting a rogue trader who targeted vulnerable males in Powys and South Wales and other parts of the UK in a ‘leather jacket’ scam.
Luca Ferroine, of Naples Italy pleaded guilty on day one of a three-week trial to an indictment covering fraudulent trading over two years in a case brought by Powys County Council Trading Standards after a two-year investigation which involved criminality over all of South Wales.
Ferroine was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months because of the early guilty plea and a Criminal Behaviour order lasting 10 years which prevented him from selling product anywhere across the United Kingdom. Judge Jenkins warned Ferroine that he had been warned in the past about his behaviour but had ignored those warnings and stated to him that he viewed these offences very seriously with the way that he slowly scouted around car parks targeting potentially vulnerable males and the aggravating feature that he had been warned about his behaviour previously from both Police and Trading Standards. He was told that if he breached this order or sentence he had reserved the case and Ferroine would face sentencing in front of him and would go to prison for a long time.
All jackets and monies seized off Ferroine were forfeited to Powys Council and it was agreed a sum of £940 would go back to victims and then the remaining would be a contribution towards Powys County Councils costs.
The court heard from prosecuting barrister Lee Reynolds of Apex Chambers that Luca Ferroine from Naples travelled to the UK for up to 200 days a year and set himself up in bed and breakfast accommodation around the UK and arranged for cheap synthetic jackets to be delivered to this accommodation. Jackets were wrapped in plastic with an unknown brand name “AC” marked “made in Italy”. He then used hire vehicles and set about crawling around car parks to target males between 68-86 years old ,approaching them getting them to jump in his passenger seat using a false story about initially being lost and needing to get back to the M4 and saying he was going back to Italy the next day and needed to give away or sell leather/Armani jackets as he could not take them back.
The court was told Ferroine put immense pressure on the males to pay money for jackets falsely claimed to be worth “£1000”and often took victims to the banks when they did not have sufficient money. What they got were cheap synthetic jackets -often children sizes and worth little. Some victims he just took money off. A number of victims were left deeply affected by these crimes – one male being a recluse since it happened.
The investigation began for Powys Trading Standards in February 2017 when it was reported that Ferroine was staying in Abercrave in Powys and a complaint came in from an 86 year old Powys victim but soon expanded to cover other parts of South wales as it was clear that Ferroine had no respect for boundaries when it came to his rogue trading. After detailed enquiries a warrant was executed on an address in Powys that Ferroine was staying at and jackets and cash seized. Ferroine was arrested but denied any
Ferroine was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and a 10-year criminal behaviour order preventing him selling anything in the United Kingdom. The Judge indicated that if breached the order he would come before him again as he reserved the case.
Cllr James Evans, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said:
“We cannot give in to these rogue traders and must be seen to investigate them and take positive action to ensure that our vulnerable in our communities are protected. I particularly appreciate the comments of the Judge in this case and congratulate the service involved for their work in achieving this result.”
Clive Jones, Powys County Council’s Professional Lead for Trading Standards, Community Safety and Emergency Planning, said:
“Can I thank the officers in this case which involved superb investigative skills to once again deliver a regional case as criminality was detected across South Wales and catch this rogue trader, who clearly targeted the vulnerable in our communities and where previous actions against him failed to stop his criminality. It also shows the value and the benefit and threat of POCA with cash seizure.
“Officers have updated victims and they are extremely pleased with our action and the result. This is in fact a worldwide scam again stopped by Powys Trading Standards with partners such as Dyfed Powys Police and GAIN/Regional organised Crime Unit.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair, National Trading Standards, said:
“The perpetrator deliberately targeted people in vulnerable situations and preyed on their good nature to line his own pockets. I would like to thank the victims for coming forward and am particularly pleased to see that monies seized off Mr Ferrione will be returned.
“If you suspect any similar cases of criminal trading, we urge you to report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.”
The case was supported by National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Wales.