Con-artists fined for trying to defraud Wandsworth homeowners

Two professional con-artists have been fined more than £18,000 after trying to swindle Wandsworth homeowners out of thousands of pounds.

James Smith, aged 28, from Cranleigh in Surrey and Timothy Draper-Smith, 52, from Middlesex both pleaded guilty earlier this month to a series of consumer protection offences after an investigation was launched by Wandsworth’s trading standard’s officers. 

They were each fined £5,000 and ordered to pay combined costs of £8,000, with their company also having to £610 in costs and compensation.

Wimbledon Magistrates Court heard that the two had been cold-calling residents in Putney and offering guttering cleaning services. 

WHAT A RIP OFF: A supposedly cleaned gutter

People who agreed were then told by their company, James’ Gutters and Roofing Ltd that significant repairs were needed which would cost thousands of pounds.

In one instance, a homeowner paid £140 for his gutters to be cleared, but then was told his roof needed £48,000 of repairs. 

When the homeowner declined the offer, the bill was quickly lowered to £20,000 on the basis that scaffolding would not be required. 

A few days later, the council’s trading standards team were alerted and found that little or no gutter clearance had been carried out and the work would cost a maximum of £16,000. 

Further investigations revealed their company’s publicity and marking material displayed unauthorised and false logos along with a dishonest claim that the company possessed “full public liability insurance”. 

COSTA DEL CRIME: Companies advertisement board contained dishonest claims of insurance

Wandsworth’s community services spokesperson Cllr Steffi Sutters said: “This was a blatant and despicable attempt to swindle one of our residents out of thousands of pounds.

“People should never feel pressured into agreeing to work and should always obtain more than one written quote.” 

Official government traders can be found on Trustmark, or complaints can be made to the Citizen Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133 if you are going through something similar. 

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