Two "greedy and unscrupulous" rogue traders have been jailed for targeting and defrauding elderly and vulnerable victims in Burnley of more than £100,000.
Sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment each, brothers Nathan and John King deliberately targeted park home property owners on sites across Burnley, defrauding a recently-widowed 74-year-old Lancashire man of £17,400 and a 65-year-old woman living alone of £9,500 as well as 25 other victims.
Sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Friday, April 28th after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences, Nathan (38) of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and John (34) of Coventry had previously traded together as Guardian Park Homes Ltd.
Paul Noone, head of Lancashire County Council Trading Standards service, said: "This case shows how some are willing to take advantage of our most vulnerable residents for their own gain with no thought for the financial impact and distress they cause.
"That they targeted close-knit communities living on managed park home sites demonstrates that we all need to be alert to the threat posed by rogue traders, no matter where we live," he added. "Fortunately in this case, these men have been brought to justice and the victims compensated in full."
The case against the King brothers included evidence of fraud committed against nine elderly people on sites in Salterforth, Burnley, and Haslingden, with the brothers claiming they could fit external under-floor insulation in park home properties - which are notoriously difficult to keep warm - to prevent heat loss.
They also insisted that jacks supporting the properties needed replacing, frightening victims by telling them their homes could collapse before charging them grossly inflated amounts for poor-quality and unnecessary work.
"We would always advise people not to do business on the doorstep," Paul went on. "If you need work, get a number of quotes and agree a price and the work to be done in writing before going ahead. Our Safe Trader Scheme is a good place to begin if you're looking for trusted tradespeople."
The brother’s foreman, Coventry-born Leon Williams (29) - also known as Falcnor - was also sentenced after pleading guilty to his part in the frauds by leading the gangs of workers, suggesting additional works to properties, completing company paperwork, and taking payment from victims.
Williams was arrested with other workers in March 2015 at the home of an 82-year-old woman living alone in the Skipton area, where attempts had been made to defraud her of £7,000, before the brothers themselves were subsequently detained in August 2015.
The court heard victim impact statements describing their loss of confidence, the impact on their health, the extent of their financial losses, and their loss of faith and trust in engaging traders, with many victims facing further costs for remedial works required to their homes.
Sentencing the men, His Honour Judge Ashurst, told them: "This is in my judgement a bad case of its type. You are brazen, greedy and unscrupulous men."
While Nathan - was also disqualified from being a company director for five years - and John were each sentenced to 30 months’, Leon was given 10 months suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.
An agreement was reached with the defence for £112,930 to be paid from the Kings’ frozen bank accounts to compensate all 27 victims in full immediately, prior to full confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to remove the Kings’ assets.
The Kings were also imprisoned for four months in January 2017 after pleading guilty to contempt of court for breaching Proceeds of Crime Act restraint orders in the case.
The Kings’ brother, William King, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for similar offending at York Crown Court in January 2014, following an investigation by North Yorkshire Police.