A Ramsgate fraudster has been jailed after charging an elderly victim £50,000 for routine building and gardening work.

Mark Riley cold-called at a property in Ramsgate on 8 July 2020, offering to do gardening jobs for the resident. The man in his 60s agreed, and for nearly seven weeks the work continued whilst Riley kept asking the victim to withdraw cash to pay for the materials and labour. As one job was completed, the defendant would suggest another job he could do. Work included weeding, new fencing, painting guttering black and the roof tiles red, as well as installing a membrane in the garden and covering with shingle.

Mark Riley
Admitted fraud: Mark Riley

In total the victim made 25 withdrawals from his bank account, totalling £50,000, until the bank alerted Kent Police to the withdrawals.

Riley was arrested and following an investigation into the work done, he was charged with one count of fraud in March 2022.

As part of the investigation, detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate worked with a chartered surveyor, and it was found that the work done should not have exceeded £20,000 if done properly. In this case the work was deemed not to have been done to a sufficient standard.

Riley, 50, of and from Ramsgate, admitted the offence at Canterbury Crown Court on Thursday 14 September 2023, and seven days later, he was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison.

Be alert to rogue traders

Investigating officer DC Mark Collins said: ‘Mark Riley took advantage of an elderly man’s trusting nature and defrauded him of a significant amount of his life savings. Sadly the gentleman passed away in January 2023 and never saw justice being served on Riley or the return of his savings.

‘Victims of frauds like these can pay out a lot of money before they realise what has happened and it can happen to anyone.

‘We ask families, friends and neighbours of elderly or vulnerable people to check if they have been approached by potential rogue traders and to make sure they have not agreed to work until they’ve had a proper quote and time to consider it. Nobody should feel pressured to accept offers of work immediately.’

By Ed

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