Two rogue traders have been jailed for 2 years at Warwick Crown Court for working together to defraud elderly residents out of £96,200. Their victims will receive a full refund.
Following a joint investigation by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards and Devon Trading Standards, Hughie Fury (aged 33 of Gospel Oak Lane, Pathlow) and Clayton Foster (aged 33 of Pathlow Park, Warwickshire) pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy to defraud.
Fury & Foster were sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on Thursday 30th June 2016.
The Court heard that they systematically conned a Warwickshire householder, at the time in her eighties, over a period of almost four years. They repeatedly visited her home and charged her grossly excessive sums of money for property repair and maintenance work. Some of the work was completely unnecessary and of no value at all and work was charged for which was not done.
Over the four year period Fury and Foster quoted the householder £94,750 for work that was worth less than £14,000.
Fury and Foster had initially offered to wash her tiled roof, but then claimed that the roofing felt had been in the sunshine too long and needed replacing, for which they charged her £20,000. Next they replaced her garage roof, for which she paid them £16,500.
They visited her twice more over an 11 month period, each time applying a product to the new garage roof which they claimed to be a sealant. They charged her £5,050 for these treatments.
On a subsequent visit they charged her £16,000 for boarding the loft and adding structural support to her roof. Expert evidence showed that Fury and Foster’s boarding was of such poor quality that it needed re-doing. Furthermore, there was no defect in the existing roof – the additional “support” would provide absolutely no benefit.
On their next visit the customer paid £6,500 for the replacement of a section of concrete path – work valued at no more than £650.
Warwickshire Trading Standards were called in by a quick-thinking member of staff at her local building society when the customer asked to withdraw £32,000 to pay for replacement guttering, soffits and fascia. This work was subsequently valued at no more than £2,750.
By the time Trading Standards became involved the customer had already paid £62,750. Trading Standards Service took swift action to restrain Fury & Foster’s bank accounts, preventing them from moving any of their ill-gotten gains and ensuring the money was available to pay back their victims.
In Devon a pensioner paid Fury and Foster £1,450 for work to his roof. The Court heard that Fury and Foster presented fraudulent business documents which gave the impression that they had a number of branches, to give the impression of reputation and size.
Following their arrest in Devon the case was transferred to Warwickshire.
Fury and Foster pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Warwickshire customer and dishonestly making a false representation to the Devon customer.
In mitigation Mr Suggatt, defence counsel, stated:
The defendants have been on restrictive bail, and during that time they have no further complaints have been made to the police or Trading Standards.
They have changed the way they conduct their business and lives and found employment elsewhere in a different field which does not involve the risk of reoffending. They are now employed by legitimate businesses.
The Court heard that in 2009 Hughie Fury was sent to jail for six months by Oxford Crown Court after charging a 90 year-old a vastly excessive sum of £2,600 for work he claimed to have done to her drains. Clayton Foster is of previously good character.
Recorder Redgrave QC made the following remarks in sentencing Fury and Foster:
You pleaded guilty to the offence of conspiracy to defraud. You victim was in her late 70s and into her early 80s. In my judgment this was a dishonest and cynical course of conduct directed against a vulnerable old lady. The purpose was simple: to enrich yourselves. And you did! … She certainly trusted you. What did you do? You overcharged her by eye watering amounts.
You were overcharging by a factor of 12. That is worst example. There was an overcharge by several hundred percent in all the work you did. This conduct took place over 3½ years, and you were deceiving her throughout.
Warwickshire County Councillor John Horner, 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.”
Warwickshire County Councillor Philip Johnson, Chair of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee added:
“Rogue traders can be very convincing, but their work will be overpriced and shoddy. Warwickshire Trading Standards strongly urges consumers not to be pressurised into buying from unexpected doorstep traders and instead to seek quotations from reputable traders.”