86-year-old conned by rogue roofers who then posed as trading standards officials looking into the work
An 86-year-old man was conned by fraudsters who charged extortionate rates for roofing work then posed as trading standards officials investigating the job.
The pensioner's home had been left in a dangerous state due to high winds and he was worried the parts of the roof would crash down onto the path below, where his grandson liked to play.
Conmen convinced the worried granddad to pay out costs far in excess of the value of the work.
Then, one of the gang contacted the victim posing as 'Inspector Green' from trading standards, and convinced him to hand over a further £20,000.
At Newcastle Crown Court Connor Hudson, 22, of Barnes Road, Murton, who allowed the money to be laundered through his bank account, has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Prosecutor Jo Kidd told the court it was in September 2017 that the pensioner's roof was damaged.
Miss Kidd said: "He was approached by rogue builders who persuaded him to pay significant amounts of money for roofing work.
"It became clear they were rogue traders and the amount of money they took from him was far in excess of the value of the work that was carried out.
"The complainant says it was sophisticated and professionally planned."
The court heard in the days after the work was done, a man visited the victim saying he was from trading standards and that he was looking into rogue builders in the area and that someone would be in touch by telephone.
Miss Kidd told the court: "With that ground work in place, within a very short period of time the complainant received a phone call from somebody saying they were Inspector Green, saying there was a wide-ranging criminal investigation and he was going to require his assistance.
"Over the course of the next couple of days Inspector Green persuaded him to make a series of bank transfers into the bank account held by this offender."
Payments of just over £7,000 and then £13,000 were paid into Hudson's account.
Hudson then attended his local branch to clear out the account, leaving £395, which prosecutors said represented his payment for his help in the criminal enterprise.
In a victim impact statement, the pensioner said he felt "deceived and angry at being charged an extortionate sum for roof repairs" and was pleased when he got a phone call from what he thought was trading standards.
He said so-called Inspector Green told him he was acting on behalf of the "court of justice", which he was doubtful about as he had never heard of it.
The victim said: "Inspector Green reassured me it was genuine but, of course, it wasn't.
"It was part of a well-organised, well-oiled scam."
He added: "I was worried the roof would blow down onto the path below, where my young grandson plays when they visit."
Hudson, who has five previous convictions, had claimed he acted under duress from the gang but was convicted of being in possession of £395 of criminal property and transferring £20,404 of criminal property, following a trial by magistrates.
He was sentenced to nine months suspended for two years.
Mr Recorder Michael Fanning told him: "For a short period, your role was to allow money to be paid into your account.
"If anyone went looking where the fraudulently obtained money had gone, it was you who would take the rap and that's exactly where you find yourself."
The judge said the victim was already feeling angry and at a low ebb, having been conned over the roof work.
He added: "To rub salt into the wounds, he was persuaded he could safely pay the money over.
"As he put it, it was well-organised and well-oiled."
Martin Scarborough, defending, said: "He was 19 when he got involved in this matter and he said he was placed under duress.