TWO Stratford-upon-Avon property maintenance workers cynically defrauded an elderly pensioner out of £64,000 — and would have got away with even more if it had not been for alert bank staff.
When the 82-year-old victim tried to cash in a bond to withdraw a £32,000 lump sum, staff questioned her about it before alerting Warwickshire Trading Standards.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Hugh Fury and Clayton Foster were charging the pensioner that staggering sum just to replace the guttering and fascias of her bungalow.
Fury, 33, of Gospel Oak Lane, Pathlow, Stratford, and Foster, 33, of Pathlow Park, Birmingham Road, Stratford, were both jailed for two years after pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the old lady, and a further offence of fraud.
But the court heard the pensioner from Kenilworth will get all her money back because a restraining order has been taken out on a bank account in which the two men have about £89,000.
Lee Reynolds, prosecuting, said the victim, who was 78 when she first employed the two men in 2010, was subjected to a course of conduct lasting almost four years.
“They repeatedly attended at her home and charged her grossly excessive sums for building work which was unnecessary, and for work which simply was not done.
“They attempted to secure £94,750 from her for work which was worth less than £14,000.In fact they actually received £62,750 because a large sum was not paid, thanks to her bank.”
He said the lady, who is now 83 and lives alone, had trusted the two men, who she described as being like sons.
When Fury and Foster called on her in 2010 claiming her roof tiles needed washing, she agreed for them to do so.
But they then returned, claiming they had noticed her roofing felt must have been left in the sun for too long before it was used, and that as a result it was rotting and needed replacing, with the whole roof also being re-tiled.
A friend who had helped her with odd jobs had died in 2008 and left her some money, so she decided to use that to pay for the work – for which she was charged £20,000.
She paid for the work, which a surveyor later said should have cost no more than £8,000, with two £10,000 cheques, one made out to each man.
The next job they claimed needed doing in May 2010 was the flat roof of her garage, for which £2,500 would have been a reasonable price, but they charged her £16,500.
They returned in February 2012 and charged her £1,250 to put some sealant on the garage roof, and a further £1,250 in January the following year for ‘a new sealant.’
Later that month they charged £16,000 for loft work, which resulted in some remedial work having to be carried out at a cost of £500.
In May 2013 they were supposed to build a ramp to her step, but claimed they had insufficient concrete and instead did some work to the path for which they received £2,600 each.
That November Fury went to her home and said he had some surplus guttering, and because hers was leaking she agreed to have it replaced.
She thought the £32,000 quote was high, and they agreed to cut the price, only for her to be charged the full amount after the work, for which an expert later said £2,750 would have been a reasonable figure, had been carried out by three other men.
But when the pensioner tried to get the money from a bond at her bank, staff questioned her about it and then contacted Trading Standards.
The two men had also made false representations to a man in Devon by making out that H Fury Power Cleaning Services and Property Maintenance had a Plymouth branch to persuade him to use them for some work at his property.
Mr Reynolds added that Fury had a fraud conviction in 2009, but Foster was of previous good character.
Jailing the pair, Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC told them: “Your victim was an elderly lady who trusted you.
“In my judgement this was a dishonest and cynical course of conduct directed against a vulnerable old lady. The purpose was simply to enrich yourselves — and you did.
“The worst example is the guttering for which the charge was to be £32,000, overcharging by a factor of 12, but in relation to each piece of work you did there was an over-charge of several hundred per cent. “You actually received some £62,000 from her, and it was only the vigilance of the bank that meant it did not increase by a further £32,000.”
Cllr John Horner, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for community safety, said: “The activities of rogue traders can have a devastating financial and emotional impact upon the lives of their victims.
“This prosecution has demonstrated our determination to work in partnership with financial institutions and other enforcement agencies to pursue criminals like these through the courts and, wherever possible, to help victims recover the money they have lost.”