Cowboy traders who pressure vulnerable people into unnecessary and poor work at their homes will be targeted in a week long operation to thwart doorstep rogues.
Operation Rogue Trader, which will run across Lancashire, will see various organisations join forces including the police, Lancashire’s Trading Standards, HM Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA) alongside a national campaign.
We hope that this operation will catch those responsible and raise awareness of the dangers of rogue traders
Raids will be carried out on suspects’ properties and vulnerable people believed to be at risk of falling victim and given advice and support.
It is hoped such operations will prevent residents falling victim to rogues like the Tomneys, in which four members of the same Fylde family were jailed for defrauding elderly and vulnerable people out of thousands of pounds.
They offered to carry out work on the properties of the victims, charged extortionate amounts of money and carried out shoddy work, in some cases caused damage to the victims’ properties, and then carried out poor repairs for an exorbitant charge.
In one case a pensioner was made to hand over £31,000 for work the Tomneys claimed that they had done at her Blackpool home. In another, the group poured milk onto a victim’s driveway, claiming it was sealant, and forced him to pay £800.
Francis Tomney Jnr was jailed for five years for conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation and cheating the public revenue. His father Francis Tomney Snr was jailed for five and a half years for conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation and two charges of cheating the public revenue and handling stolen passports. Thomas Tomney was jailed for four and a half years for conspiracy to commit fraud by misrepresentation and Brian Tomney was jailed for 12 months for cheating the public revenue and fraud.
A confiscation order for £955,000 was put in place to compensate victims.
Previous victims and those at a potential risk of being defrauded will be visited and given advice on how to avoid being affected, as part of Operation Rogue Trader.
Roadside checkpoints have been set up throughout the county, crime prevention presentations will also be hosted at community venues and leaflets will be handed out at building merchants to share safety messages.
Ch Insp Mike Adamson, said: “Rogue traders are criminals who take advantage of householders by using high-pressure, forceful sales techniques.
“The work is often expensive, sub-standard and not required at all.
“This kind of criminality is often linked to distraction burglaries, carried out by an offender gaining access to a property by distracting the householder to steal valuables. “During 2014 there were 55 domestic distraction burglaries, and of these 23 involved the cover story of being a workman or builder.
“We hope that this operation will catch those responsible and raise awareness of the dangers of rogue traders.”