A rogue odd-job man who conned an elderly, bed-ridden woman out of thousands of pounds has pleaded guilty to fraud following a Nottingham Trading Standards investigation.
William Bower, aged 38, of Tolney Lane, Newark, weaselled his way into the life of the 76-year-old woman, who lives alone in Nottingham, falsely claiming that he had carried out work to get her to part with thousands of pounds. He sent emails late into the night, sending photographs of his wife in her sick bed and taking his family to visit. Throughout this time, the man lied about his name and pleaded poverty, asking for loans of cash and for payment of his van insurance – when his bank account records now show it had a healthy balance.
Nottingham City Council Community Protection Trading Standards Service discovered that Bower repeatedly claimed certain jobs needed doing around the house and then asked for payment. However, when an expert inspected the property, many of the jobs hadn’t been carried out or had been done shoddily. One example where Bower had decorated rooms in the house, he had painted around furniture.
The woman believed the man to be a friend and therefore relied on him to tell the truth about the work he was doing, as she couldn’t get out of bed to check for herself. Bower preyed on her vulnerability, knowing that she couldn’t see what he was -or wasn’t – doing for her money.
Bower not only provided false details to this victim, but also to a recommended trader website which he had previously been kicked off due to complaints. It was on this website that he initially found his victim.
Bower pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday (November 28) to two counts of fraud in relation to providing false details to the recommended trader website and false information to his victim to gain money. Sentencing has been adjourned until after Christmas.
Consumers are urged to get at least three quotations from traders before employing anyone to carry out work at their homes and also getting recommendations from friends or family or advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506. Fully vetted and monitored traders can be found on www.checkatrade.com or by telephone on 0800 458 1234 or 01243 608801. Checkatrade work in partnership with Nottingham City Council Trading Standards Service.
Consumers can also contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service if they require pre-shopping advice or if they are concerned about the safety of a product that they have recently purchased.