Cheshire East Council’s trading standards team have successfully secured the conviction of a fraudster who came within a whisker of getting an elderly resident to part with £25,000.
Alec Doherty was handed a sentence of two years and eight months at Chester Crown Court for fraud offences after attempting to con an 87-year-old lady out of a large part of her savings for maintenance work at her Wilmslow property which was totally unnecessary.
If it hadn’t been for a home visit from Joanne Bannaghan, working for a Cheshire housing association, who was attending the elderly resident’s property as part of a regular six-monthly property check, then Doherty’s scam would almost certainly have succeeded.
Ms Bannaghan queried some work taking place outside the pensioner’s house and its cost with the home-owner. Ms Bannaghan then contacted a local builder to get a comparative quote for the work that Doherty had claimed was necessary.
When that quote confirmed her suspicions, she then notified the police and trading standards. She also took a photograph of Doherty’s vehicle and shared this with the police, when they arrived at the property.
A surveyor inspected the property and ascertained that both the roof structure and covering were in good condition and that there was no sign of any damp to the internal walls or floor, which Doherty had claimed needed repairs.
It was clear no work was required and the home owner had been subject to a despicable fraud which nearly resulted in her parting with a large sum of money.
After Doherty’s vehicle details were placed on the police national computer, Leicestershire police saw the vehicle, and after a chase, Doherty was arrested and interviewed.
Councillor Paul Bates, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for communities and health, said: “It is such a relief to know that this man is now behind bars. Preying on the elderly is an abysmal and despicable type of behaviour and we can now rest a little easier knowing that this man is not a risk to society.
“With the quick-thinking of a colleague, a significant and callous crime has been averted. It just goes to show how much communities can achieve when working together and being supportive of those who need a little help.”