A CONMAN who targeted elderly and vulnerable homeowners by pressuring them to allow him to carry out unnecessary and overpriced work in their homes has been jailed and fined.

Ruben William Reed, a director of Warm Roof Group Ltd, Warm Systems Group Ltd, both based in Wokingham and FDG Associates Ltd,was sentenced to 66 weeks custody at Reading Crown Court on June 26 after pleading guilty last year to six offences between February to November 2018.

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He also had to pay £44,177 to West Berkshire Council, which includes £33,432 in compensation and prosecution costs of £10,745.

The victims were five elderly and vulnerable homeowners who were cold called in their own homes in West Berkshire, Wokingham and Bracknell.

Reed purported to offer professional property services at a competitive price, and persuaded the victims by offering additional services for free if they were to agree to building work, or by reducing the cost if they allowed him to use their property to advertise his company.

Once work had already commenced on the victims’ properties, Reed soon identified further remedial work.

The victims felt pressured to accept these quotes due to their concerns about their properties and as the work had already begun.

He quoted unreasonably high sums for the additional work, and, often some form of instant payment was required. In each case the work was found by an expert to be of poor quality and the victim was significantly overcharged.

The offences consisted of four charges under the Fraud Act 2006, and two charges under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

The convictions followed an investigation conducted by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) Trading Standards Service working with the PPP Joint Case Management Unit and West Berkshire Legal Services.

The investigation, was commenced following the receipt of complaints from Berkshire residents.

He was sentenced to immediate custody for a period of 66 weeks and has been disqualified from being a director for a period of five years.

Councillor Hilary Cole, West Berkshire's executive member for Planning and Housing and Member of the Joint Public Protection Committee said: "This was a serious case of fraud and unfair trading with crimes perpetrated on vulnerable residents.

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"The sentence sends out a message to anyone considering doing anything similar that an immediate custodial sentence is a likely outcome.

"In this case we are also pleased to have been able to recover compensation for the victims.

"I would urge anyone who has concerns that they, their family, friends or neighbours have been a victim of trading related crime to contact us."

Any Bracknell, West Berkshire or Wokingham resident with concerns about activity of this nature or any other trading standards or public protection issues should contact Trading Standards on (01635) 519 930 or e-mail tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk.