Fraudsters who stole more than £400,000 from six victims have been jailed for a combined total of nine years.
Sonny Maughan and Emmanuel Scarrott used a variety of deceptive techniques to coerce their victims into handing over money, including posing as a police officer and charging extortionate fees for sub-standard building work.
They specifically targeted individuals identified as being elderly, and vulnerable, with homes in Chatham, Herne Bay and Longfield among those impacted.
Both men admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 11 February 2022.
Most victims were subjected to rogue trading offences, with homes in Longfield, Herne Bay and Greenwich targeted by both men. The general pattern of the offending would see a resident cold called and told the tiles on their roof needed to be fixed. On some occasions, a victim was also informed they would need to have their chimney repaired.
Each victim agreed to have the repairs carried out but were charged extortionate prices and had their homes damaged by sub-standard work. On some occasions, the homeowner raised concerns about the prices, but were pressured into handing over more money.
Using a similar modus operandi, Maughan targeted an additional home in Hampshire and Scarrott committed an offence at an additional home in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. In total, £370,475 was stolen through this specific course of offending.
Fake police officer
In addition to the rogue trading offences, Scarrott approached a homeowner in Lordswood and claimed to be a police officer. He told the victim he had been defrauded by rogue traders and that an officer would be in contact. The homeowner agreed to provide his telephone number, so a fraud investigator could keep him updated on the progress of the case.
The victim was later called by a different man, who claimed that two arrests had been made and the victim was going to have his money refunded. Before doing this, however, he was liable to pay the VAT which the rogue traders had failed to pay. He then got a different call from a man which instructed him to pay further money to pay for legal representation.
When a relative became suspicious of the money which had been handed over, Kent Police was immediately contacted and an investigating officer attended the victim’s address to check on their wellbeing.
During these visits, they listened into numerous phone calls which attempted to pressurise the victim into handing over further money – including a threat to place him in a holding cell at the Old Bailey if he did not hand over the cash.
Maughan and Scarrott were arrested on 10 November 2020 after they were seen leaving the address of the Longfield victim in a blue Audi. A police car followed the vehicle, before stopping it nearby and detaining both men. Three phones were seized, and a further two burner-type handsets were found discarded in a nearby bush.
A review of the devices found that one of the burner phones had been used to communicate with three of the victims of this case. Data showed it had continually been in the presence of Maughan’s personal phone throughout the previous months.
Maughan’s personal phone also contained several pictures of one of the victim’s writing cheques to him, and he also took a selfie of himself inside her property.
Two videos of the Hertfordshire victim were also found on Scarrott’s personal device.
- Maughan, 28, from Gravesend, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
- Scarrot, 29, from Basildon, admitted conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Detective Constable Craig Malthouse, Kent Police’s investigating officer for the case, said: ‘Maughan and Scarrott committed appalling offences against elderly victims who they specifically targeted because they believed they were vulnerable and open to exploitation.
‘In doing so, they gained considerable sums of money and caused a huge amount of distress. I am pleased that they have now received prison sentences. Although our criminal investigation has come to an end, our efforts to support the victims are going to continue as our expert financial investigators will now seek to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to deprive both offenders of the money they gained, and concealed, through the course of this offending.’