A workman has been jailed for 19 months after “grossly overcharging” people living in the Peterhead and Buckie areas for unnecessary repairs to their homes.
George Flannigan (24) conned numerous victims into believing they needed work carried out at their properties, charging them £1,000s in the process.
Officers arrested Flannigan following the incidents in 2015 and 2016 and he has since been ordered to pay back £11,000 to one of his vulnerable victims. He appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday (Thursday) for sentencing.
DC Frank McDermott, who led the enquiry, said: “Flannigan preyed on people’s good and trusting natures, making them believe he was working in their best interest. The reality is the repairs were never required and Flannigan left numerous victims financially and emotionally devastated.
“I would like to thank all those who contacted Police when they had suspicions about Flannigan’s actions. Targeting someone because they are older or more vulnerable makes this type of behaviour even more deplorable, so it is critical we act quickly to bring bogus workmen like him to justice.
“I hope this conviction encourages people to have belief that these crimes are taken seriously by Police and that we make every effort to bring those responsible to court.”
North East Division is supporting Police Scotland’s national Operation Monarda campaign – an ongoing two-week initiative to raise awareness of bogus callers or rogue traders.
Between April and September 2017 in Scotland, 336 victims of doorstep crime were defrauded out of around £420,000. While most victims were considered vulnerable in some way (54%), or were of pensionable age (79%), a significant proportion were out with these groups which are traditionally targeted by such offenders.
Bogus callers will visit a property claiming to be from perhaps a utility company or a charity in order to gain access and steal from within. Rogue traders offer services typically carried out to a poor standard at over inflated prices, and may use violence or threats to get payment or consent to carry out work – sometimes they will just take the money and do no work whatsoever.
Across the country officers are currently running events and stalls to speak to the public at key locations such as banks, garden centres and supermarkets, as well as events giving advice to partner organisations and their clients such as care providers, groups that support those with dementia, and Citizens Advice Scotland. Operational work such as victim visits and warrants are also being carried out and a series of videos are running on social media with victims telling their real-life stories.
Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, of Police Scotland Safer Communities, added: “The more vulnerable in our society do continue to be the main target for these fraudsters and I would urge people to please look out for their elderly or otherwise vulnerable friends, relatives and neighbours. But please also spare a thought for yourself - These criminals can be very plausible and persuasive and it can be easy to be taken in by them.
“There are simple steps you can take when a cold caller arrives at your door, such as using a door chain so as not to let them into your home, or checking their identity by independent means. if you are concerned, please do not feel embarrassed to report this to police as it’s only by receiving these reports that we can build a picture of the fraudulent activity and take action. Call 999 if you feel scared or intimidated.
“Please be alert as these opportunists are making a living from defrauding the public and constantly move from place to place to carry out their con – bogus callers and rogue traders will unfortunately be found on a street near you but together we can bring down their criminal enterprise and keep our communities safe.”