Jack Lee demanded cash totalling £7,000 to renovate a garden and driveway in Chatham, but after receiving payment failed to carry out any of the work.
Lee, aged 49, of Church Road, Murston initially cold called the victim’s home in July 2019 and told her she needed urgent roof repairs. Aged in her 70s, the victim paid him £1,300 and work was carried out. She was also handed a flyer with details of Lee’s supposed business, which he insisted was ‘Checkatrade registered’ and which included services including landscape gardening.
Assured that Lee was a reputable trader, the victim then made arrangements for work in her garden and to the driveway. Lee was paid £7,000 cash up front, after he presented a list of materials he claimed needed to be paid for in advance. After the money was handed over, Lee never returned to the woman’s property.
The victim called phone numbers on the flyer, but the calls were not picked up or returned. She suspected she had been scammed after seeing a media appeal on the Kent Police Facebook page for separate fraud offences. The appeal was to locate a relative of Lee, who she recognised had also visited her home.
Police were called and an investigation led to the arrest of Lee, who was charged with fraud and with possession of articles for use in frauds. He initially denied any wrongdoing and the case was listed for trial at Maidstone Crown Court. Lee would later plead guilty to both offences and on 31 March 2021 he was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. A further 80 days were added for breaching terms of a previous suspended sentence.
Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur of the Economic Crime Unit said: ‘Lee targeted an elderly woman and presented her with flyers of a bogus business. He then pressured and coerced the victim into handing over a large sum of cash for work which he had no intention of ever carrying out. People like Lee prey on the vulnerable and elderly, often panicking them into spending money on their homes for work that isn’t needed. Remember, if someone knocks at your door, always refuse on the spot repairs or maintenance. If you ask them to leave and they don’t, contact the police on 999. Genuine companies will also not expect cash in advance or tell you to go to the bank to withdraw money.’