TWO fraudsters have been jailed for conning a pensioner out of thousands of pounds after doing unnecessary work on his home.
The pair first told a Gosport man his home in Sedgeley Grove needed cosmetic repairs to its front facade, which they said they would do for free in exchange for putting up an advertising sign.
But once they got their feet in the door Ruben Reed and Brian Millward told the pensioner the house needed more and more work, which they started, leaving the house badly damaged, before presenting a final bill for £43,000.
The pensioner had given the men £17,000 for the work, and repairs after the scam was revealed cost another £10,710.
But the men paid almost all of the money back after they were arrested.
When the pensioner became suspicious about the work he contacted Trading Standards, and a surveyor later said the actual cost of the repair job needed was just £1,500.
The pensioner, 67, spoke to The News on the condition that he not be named. He said the experience was ‘horrible’ and left him in fear of his safety.
He said: ‘I used to go to bed at night thinking “is my ceiling going to fall in?” Embarrassed isn’t the right word, but you feel like a bit of an idiot to be taken in like that.
‘But Trading Standards assured me that those guys are experts. They don’t give you time to think and before you know it you are being taken in.’
The pensioner now counts himself lucky that he got his money back and he was able to find builders to fix the dodgy work.
But he said he thought construction fraud was more common than people realised and urged anyone who suspected they might be victims to contact Trading Standards.
Both Reed, 33, and Millward, 49, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Judge Sarah Munro sentenced Reed, of Fairlands Farm, Reading, to 16 months’ jail and Millward, of Birdhill Avenue, Reading, to 12 months for the crime, which happened in September last year.
In giving the sentence, Judge Munro said the fraud had not only cost the victim financially, but had brought him to the verge of a nervous breakdown.
She said: ‘You set about overestimating the extending and the cost of works required to his home.’