Scammer jailed and loses driving licence for preying on vulnerable

A ruthless criminal who even drove one of his victims to a bank to get money for the shoddy work he carried out on their property, has been jailed and had his driving licence seized. The conviction follows an investigation by Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards who were alerted to the original case by contacts in the local community and subsequently found the two other victims targeted by the same fraudster.

Edward ‘Ned’ O’Reilly, aged 18, from Great Billington in Bedfordshire, was convicted after pleading guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation under section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006. At his sentencing at Aylesbury Crown Court last week (9 January), the court heard how O’Reilly, trading under the business names of O’Reilly Cleaning Services and Castles Roofing and Building Services, conned three victims in Steeple Claydon between 14 and 21 June 2017.

O’Reilly, who was 17 years old at the time, claimed over £15,000 in total for the roofing work he carried out at the three addresses. However examination by an independent, expert witness valued the total for all the works at just £90. The work carried out was deemed to either not have been needed at all or be of no value due to the poor workmanship. Two of the three victims involved were identified as vulnerable adults.

O’Reilly even drove one of his victims to the bank afterwards in order to get the money for the job and then took them for a coffee.

Sentencing O’Reilly, Judge Francis Sheridan passed on a custodial sentence for the 3 counts: Count 1 – 13 months imprisonment; Count 2 – 7 months imprisonment concurrent; Count 3 – 2 months imprisonment concurrent. Total – 13 months imprisonment.

Making use of all powers available to the court in such cases, as the defendant had driven one of his victims to the bank to claim his payment, Judge Sheridan also disqualified O’Reilly from driving for 15 months. If a vehicle is used for the purpose of a crime the courts have the power to disqualify the driver to ensure it is as difficult as possible for them to re-offend.

In summing up, Judge Sheridan praised the quality of the work by Trading Standards in preparing the case for court, describing the case summary as ‘an outstanding piece of work’.

Trading Standards officers are continuing to work on the case with a view to attempting to recover some of the money lost by the victims, ensuring O’Reilly doesn’t benefit financially from his crimes.

Speaking after the verdict, Councillor Noel Brown, Buckinghamshire County Council Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Public Health said: “Scammers of this kind simply won’t be tolerated in Buckinghamshire. This man preyed on some of the more vulnerable members of our community in a bid to line his own pockets and even had the gall to drive one of his victims to the bank in a guise of being helpful when in reality he was out to con them.

“Protecting all our residents from crime and particularly safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our community is a high priority in Buckinghamshire and our Trading Standards team works tirelessly to investigate dishonest traders and bring them to justice but we often need your help to know where it is happening.”

He continued: “Rogue Traders often deliberately target vulnerable people, as they know they are less likely to report it. Cases like this are often only brought to light by close contacts in the community and people looking out for each other. We would encourage friends and neighbours to keep an eye out for any vulnerable people in their local community and to report anything suspicious.”

Trading Standards issue the following guidance:

Rogue traders can appear as being polite and charming in order to get work, but this soon changes once they have your money. They often put pressure on people to make quick decisions and only take cash so they cannot be traced by Trading Standards and the Police.

Never assume a doorstep caller is a legitimate business, just because they have vehicles with sign writing on, or the workers are wearing smart uniforms. More and more dishonest traders are blending in with the honest hard working tradesmen, making them difficult to spot.

Before agreeing to any work, your local Trading Standards team recommend that you:

  • Read reviews of traders if possible.
  • Ask at least three approved traders for quotes.
  • Always get a detailed written quotation/contract.
  • Never pay up front and never pay cash.
  • Say no to doorstep sellers.
  • Ask your neighbours, family or friends for personal recommendations of builders who have worked for them and carried out a good job.

If you are in any doubt please call us via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on: 03454 04 05 06