Chelmsford: Joint investigation with Trading Standards results in sentencing
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Two ‘rogue traders’ who exploited vulnerable people have been sentenced, following an investigation by our Economic Crime Team.
Jack Fredrick Harbour, 31 of Wellstye Green, Basildon and William Eastwood, 31 of Chelmsford Road, Wickford targeted vulnerable, elderly people charging them thousands for substandard building work.
The investigation into Harbour and Eastwood began in 2019 by Havering Trading Standards and then bought to the attention of the police, after it appeared four victims had been conned out of tens of thousands of pounds.
In some cases victims were conveyed to their banks in order to make payments to these defendants. A Trading Standards Assessor reviewed the property and concluded that the building work was no where near worth the value these victims had paid.
Harbour was arrested on suspicion of fraud and Eastwood attended the station for a voluntary interview.
At this point, it was estimated that they had overcharged the victims by over £60,000. One victim had even been targeted twice, losing thousands of pounds.
When interviewed, both men claimed that they weren’t forcing the victims to pay anything and claimed that they had always quoted fair prices.
Both men were swiftly charged with four counts each of fraud by false representation.
After entering a guilty plea, both men appeared at Southend Crown Court on Monday, 20 March. Eastwood was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.
Harbour received a 14 month suspended sentence. He was ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and will be subject to an electronic curfew.
Detective Sergeant Rachel Barrett from our Economic Crime Unit said “This is a fantastic result and removing one rogue trader from the community and having stringent conditions placed on another has undoubtedly prevented further vulnerable people from people scammed.
“Fraudsters and con artists such as these manipulate and persuade victims into doing something and can target absolutely anyone.”
Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said:
“This is further evidence of the outstanding results our Trading Standards team continue to achieve, working closely with the Police.
“Our aim is keep our residents safe and informed. The Buy With Confidence scheme helps Havering residents find trading standards approved traders and local businesses and hopefully, reduce the opportunities for criminals like this to target our elderly and vulnerable.”