Fraudsters who took £250k from elderly in ‘heartless’ drains con punished

The gang preyed on the elderly and then laundered the money

The gang preyed on the elderly and then laundered the money - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A gang of fraudsters who conned elderly residents out of £250,000 for bogus drain repairs have been punished for what police called a “heartless conspiracy”.

Three people from Newham were among the 13 appearing at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday and Wednesday for preying on the vulnerable in Sussex, Surrey and south and east London in 2011.

Kerry Corcoran, 29, of Marlow Road, East Ham, received a 12-month community order and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to attempted money laundering.

Terry Phillips, 56, of Wolsey Avenue, East Ham, who pleaded guilty to money laundering, received a two-year suspended sentence and was ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid.

Danielle Philpott, 22, of Manor Park, has pleaded guilty to money laundering and will be sentenced on December 22.


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The scam involved turning up at the home of a resident posing as a drainage company, and telling them a serious problem with their drains was affecting other homes and needed urgent action.

Fraudsters told the victims the work required paying up-front for the hire of expensive equipment, but that the money would be held and then returned like a deposit.

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Residents were then “bullied” and “harassed” until they handed over the money and for further payments.

Det Insp Mick Richards, of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “The victims were carefully selected and targeted on the basis of their vulnerability.

“Typically they were elderly householders who lived alone.

“The victims were persuaded by a combination of bullying persistence and tales of the hardship caused to their neighbours.

“So it was not just their insecurity but also their good nature that was cynically exploited.”

Most of the payments were taken by bank transfers, which the fraudsters then withdrew through the accounts of friends and family so it was hard to trace – a process known as money laundering.

The separate crimes were linked up by police, despite having been carefully hidden.

Five people involved, including ringleaders James Ward, 29, of Pleshey, Essex and Wayne Smith, 32, of Girton, Cambridge, were sentenced to a total of 22 years imprisonment.

Det Insp Mick Richards added: “I also pay tribute, as did the court, to the sterling work of our officers including Detective Constables Fleur Jones and Hilary Bennison, who dogged and professional determination ensured that these conspirators were finally brought to justice.”

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