Two Northumberland men have been convicted of fraud offences after targeting vulnerable victims, including conning a 78-year-old woman out of thousands of pounds.
Jimmy Nicholson, 25, from Lynemouth, and Andrew Kane, 22, of North View, in Cambois, were sentenced yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court.
Nicholson was jailed for 16 months, while Kane was given an 18-month community order with 180 hours of unpaid work.
Nicholson admitted two counts of making false representation, two counts of theft and one of fraud. Kane pleaded guilty to two counts of making a false representation.
The offences related to four victims via Nicholson’s businesses Oakland Tree Services and Woodland Tree Services and Driveway Cleaning.
In one case – which happened in Bedlington between July 11 and 23, in 2014 – Nicholson carried out extra block-paving work at the home of a vulnerable 78-year-old woman in Bedlington, assisted by Kane. He charged the woman in excess of £13,800 for work later reviewed by an expert witness who found it to be inadequate and would only have been worth £2,800 (not including VAT) if carried out correctly.
On four occasions, Nicholson drove this elderly resident in his van to the bank so she could withdraw cash for him totalling £13,800. He was helped in this business by Kane who on one occasion walked the victim to the bank doors in Ashington and waited to walk her back to the van.
The fraud was uncovered when the elderly resident was ill in hospital and her daughter found large and unaccounted for cash withdrawals and reported the matter to the police.
The other offences occurred in Blyth, Hazelrigg and Winlaton.
DC Peter Kennedy said: “Nicholson preyed on the elderly and vulnerable who were trusting and acted in a calculated way, overcharging people for inadequate work, fleecing them of their hard-earned savings.
“These men clearly targeted vulnerable people and there may be other victims out there who haven’t realised they have been a victim. I would urge anyone who recognises these men and believe may have also have fallen victim to them to contact police.
“We want to remind people to make sure you make the necessary checks of anyone who comes to your door asking for money, offering to carry out work or finding any reason to gain access to your house. Any genuine caller or salesperson will be happy to show you ID and return at a later date once you have been able to check their authenticity.
“I would also ask people with elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are aware there are people calling door to door who may not be who they claim to be and if they are in any doubt they should ring police straightaway.”