Jail for bogus builder caught on camera by tech-savvy pensioner

A man who tried conning an 82-year-old out of hundreds of pounds with a bogus VAT bill has been jailed after his image was caught on CCTV installed by the tech-savvy pensioner.

Terry Collins targeted the man’s home in Carters Lane, Halesowen, on 8 November last year and demanded £480 to cover a tax demand for roofing work he’d paid for weeks earlier. He donned a hard hat and was carrying a Screwfix catalogue on a clipboard in a bid to trick the man into believing he was a genuine tradesman.

However, the switched on pensioner refused to part with the money and sent Collins packing despite the 22-year-old suggesting he would “settle for £280”.

A CCTV image – taken from a camera near the intended victim’s front door – was released by West Midlands Police investigators and resulted in several members of the public naming Collins as the offender. Collins was arrested from his home in New Street, Tipton, on 14 December. He refused to answer interview questions but on Thursday (March 22) was jailed for a year having admitted fraud. Detective Constable Sean Lowe, said:

“Collins was aware work had been carried out on the property and used that knowledge in a bid to extract money from him. He didn’t carry out the work; we suspect he had been driving around the area looking for properties being worked on that he could later approach.

“However, the homeowner immediately realised the VAT claim was extortionate and refused to hand over any cash. Collins made off empty-handed but it’s clear he’d tried to defraud the pensioner out of a considerable sum of money.

“Thanks to the CCTV we were provided with a really clear image of the offender – at one stage Collins looked straight at the camera – and it left him with little option but to admit the offence.

“These types of deceits against elderly people can have a devastating effect on victims: they can lose hundreds or thousands of pounds simply as a result of trusting what they are being told by cruel con artists. It can leave them feeling scared and the psychological impact of being tricked can be long lasting.

“I’m pleased Collins has been jailed; it sends out a strong message that offenders who target vulnerable members of society can expect to end up behind bars.”


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