COWBOY electrician Peter Gold conned people out of money and left one home on the brink of burning down.
He had no qualifications as an electrician and would ‘test’ items like washing machines and fridges just by opening and shutting the door.
The 65-year-old, who advertised offering special rates for pensioners, would then tell his victims their goods were beyond repair and charge them a hidden call-out fee.
He targeted homes despite being previously convicted for similar offences.
At Phillippa Arnell’s flat in St Andrew’s Road, Southsea, Gold failed to fix a fault that could have sparked a blaze and charged her £90 for the call-out.
The 40-year-old teacher said: ‘He said it would cost hundreds and take hours and he could do it later in the week.
‘I got another electrician round and he said it was hours away from a house fire. If it hadn’t been done the flat could have gone up in smoke.’
Gold had turned up at her flat with no tools apart from a small screwdriver.
‘I dread to think what could have happened,’ she said.
‘I had a lucky escape. Thankfully the next electrician was brilliant and he was horrified by the work Gold had done.’
The qualified electrician fixed the problem socket, which had burnt the back of the skirting board, and charged £30.
Often the items Gold said were beyond repair only had minor problems that could have easily been repaired by a proper electrician.
In all Gold, who traded under the name Aardvark Electrics and is also known as Robert Pegley, cheated 15 people in Portsmouth, Portchester, Gosport, Havant and Waterlooville out of just under £500 in 2008 and 2009.
If his customers argued that the call-out fee was too high he would haggle to get what he could.
Prosecutor Ethu Crorie will apply for an antisocial behaviour order (Asbo) when Gold is sentenced next month. That would ban him from advertising as an electrician or carrying out any work on other people’s homes.
Releasing him on bail until his sentencing Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘Don’t assume because you have got bail that a non-custodial sentence is automatic. All options will be considered.’
Gold, of Bursledon Road, Purbrook, was due to stand trial at Portsmouth Crown Court but confessed at the last minute.
He admitted running a fraudulent business, money laundering, two counts of carrying out unfair commercial practices, six of making misleading omissions and three of carrying out misleading actions.
In March 2005, he was given a two-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to three counts of giving a false trade description. On that occasion he told a woman in Emsworth her fridge was broken when in fact it was just switched off.