Sunderland pensioner conned by 'vile' cowboy builders thanks police for 'going above and beyond'
A vulnerable pensioner who was tricked into paying thousands of pounds to two conmen has thanked police for helping to get his life back on track.
Malcolm Bingley, 73, fell victim to the cruel plan as two cowboy builders carried out “odd jobs” around his house in Ryhope.
Scott Wilcock and Craig Cain, both 38, were using fake names while claiming to be working for an invented construction company in a bid to steal thousands of pounds from him.
Both men were recently convicted of fraud, and Malcolm – who had previously gone three years without heating and did not have his own telephone - has praised officers who went “above and beyond” to help get him back on his feet.
He said: “I can’t thank the police enough for what they’ve done for me.
“In hindsight, I should have realised what was happening when these two men kept coming to my house and asking for unreasonable payments.
“I’m glad everything is back to normal. Officers continue to drop by to make sure I’m okay – they have gone above and beyond, really.
“They have helped me organise to get a new boiler and I’m now in contact with Age UK who have also been a big help.”
Wilcock and Cain, who worked under the pseudonyms Andy and Dave, regularly visited Malcolm's home over between September and October last year and convinced their victim to hand over a total of £3,091 for wall repairs, security devices, guttering work and ridge tile replacement.
The cowboy builders also took cash for “legal services” after claiming they could lodge a compensation claim for him over a damaged wall, and also promised to install a security camera to protect his home.
Despite their promises, a court was told the pair’s “unnecessary” home improvements were of a true value of just £395 – a tenth of what they charged the unsuspecting pensioner.
Wilcock, of Watling Avenue, Seaham, and Cain, of Eastlea Crescent, Seaham, both admitted fraud and were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday, August 2.
A judge sentenced Wilcock – the leader of the scam - to 16 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, a four-month night-time curfew between the hours of 9pm and 7am, rehabilitation programme requirements and a victim surcharge.
Cain was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years, a two-month night-time curfew between the hours of 9pm and 7am, rehabilitation programme requirements and a victim surcharge.
PC Kim Wright, of Northumbria Police, led the investigation and has urged residents to be vigilant to such scams.
She said: “Protecting the most vulnerable in our communities remains our over-arching objective as a force, and I’m delighted that this scam was detected before any further damage could be caused.
“Mr Bingley was targeted and exploited by two individuals who preyed on his quiet and unassuming nature.
“This type of exploitation will not be tolerated, and I would urge anybody – especially those living alone – to be wary of this kind of criminality.
“If anybody has any concerns, or is suspicious of a worker who comes into their home and charges unusually high prices, please contact police on 101.”