A Sheffield man who scammed a retired Sheffield couple out of £2,400 in a roofing scam has been found guilty of fraud.
William Collins, aged 49, of Meadowhead Avenue, Sheffield was prosecuted by Sheffield Trading Standards and found guilty of offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
His co-accused, Patrick Martin Collins, aged 16, of Meadowhead Avenue, Sheffield and Mark Hepworth, age 35, of Orchard Lane, Doncaster were both acquitted of similar charges.
The jury at Sheffield Crown Court returned a unanimous verdict after a five-day trial which ended last week.
Whilst trading as Roofix, Mr Collins made a false representation about the need for emergency repair work on the roof of a Sheffield couple’s property and then intimidated, harassed and coerced them into agreeing to pay him cash to carry out the fictitious work.
A representative of Roofix made a cold call at the home of the couple who agreed to pay around £50 to have a missing roof slate repaired. Mr Collins subsequently ‘upsold’ the contract from £50 to £3,400 by telling the victims that further extensive emergency repair work was required and that scaffolding was needed. He intimidated the victims into believing their roof was in a dangerous state of repair and this work was urgent. The couple felt they had no option other than to agree to have it done. Luckily, they became concerned about Mr Collins’ behaviour and reported the matter to Sheffield Trading Standards before paying the bill in full.
During the investigation, Sheffield Trading Standards commissioned an expert assessment by an independent Building Surveyor who concluded that the work did not need to be carried out immediately and the victim’s roof presented no immediate danger.
When questioned by Trading Standards officers, Mr Collins chose not to answer any questions and denied any wrongdoing during the hearing. He is due to be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on Friday, May 18.
Ian Ashmore, Head of Environmental Regulation at Sheffield City Council, said: “This is another successful prosecution by the council’s Not Born Yesterday campaign, led by Trading Standards and adult safeguarding services, with support from the police, Age UK and the fire service. This is delivering increased awareness and reporting of doorstep criminal activity and scams which has enabled the council to prosecute more of these despicable individuals who ruthlessly target residents, including the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Whilst some criminals target victims at their home and trick them into having unnecessary and overpriced property maintenance or building work done, financial abuse can take many forms. Although the elderly and vulnerable are more at risk, everyone should be aware of the danger signs. Some victims may receive lots of ‘junk mail’ from lottery or prize draw scams or mail order goods or they might be pestered by unwanted telephone calls from scammers.”