A rogue trader who has been on the run from police since April after being sentenced over a string of offences across four counties has been arrested and imprisoned.
Tony Williams, 41, from Slough was arrested in London this week police have revealed.
Williams was wanted for failing to appear at St Albans Crown Court in April for sentencing in connection with eight rogue trading incidents committed across four counties including Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire and Surrey.
He was sentenced in his absence to five years and three months for fraud.
Williams, along with two accomplices, would knock on the victims’ doors and state that work needed to be done to their roofs, such a removing moss or repairing holes.
They would offer to inspect the roof, during which time they would remove or damage tiles in order to make the victim believe there was a bigger problem. Police said they would offer to do the work for vastly inflated prices, but as time went on they would demand more and more money, often using pressure tactics, threaten the victims and offer to take them to the bank to withdraw more money.
The victims, who were mostly aged over 70 and lived alone, handed over large sums of money to the men. In one case a man paid them over £43,000 and amended his will so that one of the offenders would receive 50% of his estate upon his death.
The complex investigation was led by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s specialist investigation team, Operation Manhunt, which investigates distraction burglary, frauds and other crimes against the elderly.
The team began investigating in February 2013 after a man, aged in his late 80s, called police. Since December 2012 the man was targeted by the gang who initially knocked on his door and told him they had seen a hole in his roof.
They said they would repair his roof for £10,000 and the man agreed, paying £2,000 up front. No work had been carried out on his house, however the men asked for a further £5,000 for materials and was threatened to hand over more money. Later the men told the victim that his whole roof needed replacing and that they would require a further £10,000 and it was at this time that the victim contacted police. He handed over a total of £7,000. When police sought expert advice from a surveyor, they concluded that the work required would have cost under £200.
Through investigating the crime, detectives from Operation Manhunt uncovered a string of other offences which had occurred in Berkhamsted, four separate areas of Buckinghamshire and Bicester as well as one in Surrey.
The three men were arrested and later charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Two further men were found guilty in early April. They were all sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on April 27.
Billysam Doe, aged 20 and of Foxborough Close, Slough was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation. He was sentenced to seven years.
Dax Wharf, aged 24 and of Laleham Road, Shepperton was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and blackmail. He was sentenced to a total of eight years.