Swanage residents are being warned to be vigilant of scam traders following the sentencing of a man who conned the elderly and vulnerable across four counties including Dorset.
On Friday 8th January 2021, 41-year-old Thomas Edward Turner of Oaktree Farm Caravan site, Odstock Road, Salisbury pleaded guilty to an offence under the Fraud Act 2006 at Bournemouth Crown Court.
Highly inflated prices
He admitted to having taken part in a fraudulent business known as ‘All Seasons’ between 1st August 2017 and 8th September 2018, which offered home and garden maintenance jobs at highly inflated prices. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.
The victims included two people in the later stages of dementia and one who was registered blind.
In one incident in Hampshire, Turner told a resident that their whole roof needed replacing, that the chimney was in a dangerous state and that the battens were fastened with string. The victim paid £43,000, and a surveyor later said the work was unnecessary and was worth £2,500 at most.
One of the roofing jobs carried out by the fraudster
The crimes took place across Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and Devon at locations including Ferndown, Christchurch, Exeter, Devises, Andover and Shipton Bellinger. The case was brought by Dorset Council Trading Standards who became involved as a result of other complaints in their area.
The work included roofing, guttering, driveway and path repairs, moss removal, jet washing and garden work. Under investigation from the trading standards officers, instances of excessive charging, unnecessary work and charging for work not done, were found.
Arrest and investigation
Police officers arrested Turner at a victim’s house in Andover, Hampshire in August 2018.
The details of seven other victims were traced through investigation of Turner’s bank accounts. The victims were found to have lost more than £100,000 between them, and Turner later admitted to £70,000.
He pleaded guilty on the basis that he was not in charge. He claimed he was ‘under a degree of duress and threats’ from two brothers – however, he was unable to identify them and officers found no evidence of them.
“Residents need to careful”
Councillor Jill Haynes, portfolio holder for customer, community and regulatory services at Dorset Council said:
“This is a significant case affecting vulnerable consumers in several counties. Our Trading Standards team will continue to give a high priority to tackling instances of unfair and fraudulent trading like this, especially where the victims are more vulnerable. Anyone trading in this manner can expect formal enforcement action to be taken against them.
“Residents need to be careful when arranging work on their homes, remain vigilant and report any concerns they have about property repair work in their neighbourhood.”
In addition to Turner, 22-year-old Aaron Eli Brown of Frome, Somerset was also sentenced as part of the case for two offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on Monday 22nd March 2021, also at Bournemouth Crown Court.
Following a trial, he was found guilty on Friday 8th January 2021 of withdrawing money from a bank account which had been obtained from the fraudulent maintenance work at properties in Ferndown and Devizes.
He was sentenced to 10 months in prison.