HOUSEHOLDERS conned out of thousands of pounds by a gang of cowboy builders are celebrating after their cash was returned to them.
Frank Tomney Snr, 55, and his 21-year-old twin sons Frank Tomney Jnr and Thomas Tomney were jailed for a total of 15 years after Preston Crown Court heard how they targeted pensioners across Lancashire, Manchester and Hertfordshire.
The Cleveleys-based family offered to carry out work to driveways and other parts of the properties for extortionate amounts of money.
But the work was of a poor standard, and in some cases caused significant damage.
Now 42 of their victims who had £152,094 taken from them by the Tomneys have had the cash paid back to them thanks to money seized through a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) forfeiture hearing.
One of the elderly victims was overjoyed when her life-savings of £31,000 – which she had been duped out of by the Tomneys – was handed back to her.
The 73-year-old from Marton said: “I’d said goodbye to the money. I blamed myself for not being strong enough against them.
“It’s wonderful to have it back. I’ve got a lot of charities which I haven’t been able to donate to since I gave all that money to the Tomneys.
“I’m also going to give a donation to the Police Federation – the police have worked so hard on this for years and I feel I owe them.
“I haven’t really got over getting the money back – it’s really marvellous.”
The Tomney’s criminal activities were exposed by Operation Flycatcher II – a joint investigation of Lancashire Police, Greater Manchester Police, Hertfordshire Police, Lancashire Trading Standards, HMRC and Lancashire Crown Prosecution Service.
Following their sentencing in November, a confiscation order was put in place at an initial POCA hearing at Preston Crown Court, with the Tomneys having to pay back a total of £955,264 or face further time in jail.
A further £369,955 was seized from Thomas and Frank Snr and forfeited to the courts last month.
A lunch was hosted by police in Manchester for victims to meet the officers involved in the case and celebrate having the cash returned to them.
Another victim, a 91-year-old woman from Poulton, said: “It was a lovely afternoon. The police said they are very satisfied by the outcome.
“I lost £1,000 when I got work done on some steps, it’s lovely to have the money back and the steps have been re-done.”
A police spokesman said: “The investigation has now been complete, the victims have got their money back. Today’s lunch provided the victims with an opportunity to meet the investigating team to provide some closure for them.”