A father and his son “nasty” chimney sweeps sentenced to prison terms

[ad_1]

Two crooks who planted dead birds in the chimneys of houses they were supposed to sweep have been sentenced to prison.

Luke and Martin Price, aged 34 and 59, have admitted conspiring to defraud vulnerable households, including elderly couples and single women, out of at least £13,000 by claiming chimneys were blocked by nests and dead birds.

The son and father were sentenced to 14 months and 8 months in prison respectively on September 20. However, Recorder Arwel Jones at Isleworth Crown Court suspended the prison sentences for a year and a half. He called their behavior “mean, nasty and obnoxious”.

The trickster father will also be forced to pay £5,000 in fees to Hammersmith & Fulham Council. They were exhibited in a BBC Rogue traders episode where secret filming showed Martin Price pulling a dead pigeon out of a bag and hiding it in a chimney he was supposed to sweep.

Tackling vulnerable homeowners

The family’s crooks demanded huge sums to put unnecessary cowls on the fireplaces – including £5,790 from a man in his late 80s whose wife has Alzheimer’s disease.

Richard Heller, prosecuting, said the scammers significantly reduced the couple’s savings and their ability to fund future care.

Another victim, a woman living alone, was sworn in and reduced to tears by Luke Price who presented her with a scribbled ‘bill’ for £1,862. She eventually gave him £400 just to get out of her house after he started threatening her.

H&F Business Standards

Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Trading Standards team carried out the four-year-long investigation into the activities of Luke and Martin Price, who both live in Surrey, after a borough resident contacted him to complain men.

After a denunciation, the BBC Rogue traders program then launched an undercover operation using an actress and a house full of hidden cameras. Now con artist Luke must be prosecuted for compensation and they pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud between September 2017 and April 2019.

Cllr Rebecca Harvey, H&F Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion and Community Safety, said she was ‘tremendously proud’ of the council’s business standards team and the work they do to help ensure safety residents.

“Residents have a right to expect that when they invite tradesmen into their homes, they can trust them to do the job they promised. And to do this job at a decent level, at the agreed price and not get scammed or fall victim to the fraudulent greedy selfish behavior of scammers.

It’s not always easy to find a good tradesperson available to do the job you need when you need it. Advice on how to find reliable traders can be found here on the London Trading Standards website.

For more details on how to find approved traders and spot the signs of a scam, please visit the London Trading Standards website for advice and tips.

more punishment

In addition to their suspended prison sentences, Luke Price was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work and 30 days of rehabilitation, and was banned from being a company director for seven years.

Her father must undertake 100 hours of community service in addition to a 30-day rehabilitation order. Both men have been under electronically tagged curfews for more than seven months.

The men went after people who simply wanted their chimneys swept. When victims weren’t looking, they “found” bird carcasses to trick them into paying for more expensive work. In one case, they produced a bucket of dead birds, claiming they had been collected from the roof.

To add insult to injury, the men often didn’t even bother to sweep the chimneys.

Extortion

Sascha Meding, vice president of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, which participated in the Rogue Traders program, said the scammers’ actions amounted to extortion. Fraudsters demanded up to £325 for each bonnet, despite really costing £20 each.

When confronted on camera by Rogue Traders presenter Matt Allwright, Luke Price claimed he was an animal lover and simply put up the chimney cowls to protect the wildlife. However, in a later interview he confessed to the scam and claimed he had “given in to temptation when the job was soft”.

The duo operated under the names of several different companies, all run by Luke Price and based in Ashford, Surrey, including:

  • Full chimney maintenance
  • Premier Chimney Maintenance Ltd
  • Complete Roof Maintenance Ltd.
  • London Chimney Company.

All the companies are now dissolved.

Want to read more stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

[ad_2]Source link