A fraudster who stole thousands of pounds from householders under the guise of being a professional builder has been ordered to pay back almost £1million, or have four years added to his prison sentence.
The fraudster and his sons targeted addresses across Lancashire, Manchester and Hertfordshire in their scam. The offered to carry out work on driveways and other parts of victims’ homes for huge amounts of money. The work they did was of poor quality and in some cases, even caused significant damage.
Protect yourself from bogus tradesmen
- Always ask for identification before letting anyone you don't know into your house.
- Check credentials, including a permanent business address and landline telephone number. The mobile phone numbers given on business cards are often pay-as-you-go numbers which are virtually impossible to trace.
- Take control by asking the questions. Ask for references from previous customers or to see examples of their work.
- Don’t sign on the spot – shop around. Get at least three written quotes to make sure you’re not being ripped off.
- If in any doubt, ask the person to leave or call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06. (Consumer Direct works in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities).
- If you’re suspicious, why not ask the salesman if you can take their photograph – on your mobile phone, for example? If the person is legitimate, they probably won’t mind.
If you do decide to buy:
- Always get any agreement you make in writing.
- Beware when filling in forms or when speaking to the salesperson, that you don’t reveal confidential details that a fraudster could use to assume your identity or take control of your finances. This may allow a fraudster to steal money from your account or order goods and services in your name.
- Usually, you have a seven-day cooling off period. So if you decide to cancel the contract, act fast.
- Think very carefully about having any work done or goods delivered during the cooling off period. You may have to pay, even if you change your mind.
- Never pay for work before it has been completed, and only then if you are happy with it.
If you have been a victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud.
Read more about the driveway fraudster’s sentencing on Sussex Police’s website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online reporting tool.