Vulnerable homeowners targeted to the value of £7 million.
KPMG’s Fraud Barometer sees another emerging trend in 2018 with a large increase in the value of alleged fraud cases coming to court involving rogue tradesmen.
Historically the vast majority of fraud cases involving fraudulent repairmen, builders and roofers have been below the £100,000 threshold to appear in the Fraud Barometer. But, the value of these types of fraud taking place is growing rapidly as gangs target the vulnerable for as much as they can.
In 2018 there were 18 cases with a value of £7 million, where mostly elderly homeowners were targeted and scammed of their life savings. In one case, a number of cowboy builders, who took turns in defrauding an 83-year-old woman until they had conned her out of her £290,000 home and more than £100,000 in cash, were jailed for total of 14 years. One of the gang defrauded her out of £28,500 for 'underpinning', whilst fake work was done to rafters for £29,000. Eventually one of the conmen convinced her to settle her bill by selling her £290,000 house to him for just £25,000, telling her that she could live in the house for the rest of her life while he took care of it. She had lived alone at the address where she'd resided all her life and had been left the house by her parents.
"Whilst many fraud attacks take place with a perpetrator behind a computer screen who never actually gets to meet a victim, frauds by rogue traders are done very much face-to-face, where the fraudster will often meet or be welcomed into the home of their victims. It is often elderly people who are targeted, many spending their life savings on sub-standard, dangerous work that never gets completed. The personal nature of this fraud often leaves victims feeling very distressed and foolish and many will never recover financially or emotionally from the deceit. There are things people can do to protect themselves and their vulnerable friends and relatives from rogue tradesmen, particularly never parting with money up front, not welcoming uninvited callers into homes (even if they have 'spotted' something that needs fixing), and asking for ID and checking if they are registered tradesman."
James Maycock, Partner, Forensic, KPMG in the UK.