Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS70k Roof Scam Man Targeted Vulnerable Individuals

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

PS70k Roof Scam Man Targeted Vulnerable Individuals

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT gareth.lightfoot@reachplc.com @GazetteCourt

A CONMAN who fleeced three vulnerable householders out of more than PS70,000 in a roofing scam is starting a long jail term.

Lee Gilbertson, 35, was described by one of his victims as "my personal stalker" after plaguing him with constant visits and money demands, hoodwinking him out of PS55,000.

He also targeted two lone pensioners in their 80s, one with dementia, to swindle thousands of pounds, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The gambling addict squandered their precious cash on betting machines and roulette machines.

Judge Simon Hickey told the defendant: "There were three very vulnerable victims.

"I form the judgment unhesitatingly that this was deliberate targeting of very vulnerable individuals.

"You knew exactly what you were doing and who you were targeting. A vast amount of money has been taken, a total of PS70,600."

The frauds spanned three years, starting by telling a 66-year-old retired man his roof needed repairs.

He tricked the man into handing over more and more money, driving him to the bank to collect it.

When the victim told Gilbertson he was trespassing, the fraudster simply laughed and demanded more cash.

At one point Gilbertson signed a document saying he was not a conman.

"That's precisely what you are and that's what you were doing," added the judge.

In the wake of Storm Doris, Gilbertson simply turned up and pulled fascia boards off the roof.

The victim handed over PS55,000 for substandard work, which should have cost just PS500, in about 50 unannounced visits.

Despite being interviewed by police over this fraud, Gilbertson carried on regardless.

He turned up at an 86-year-old lone widower's home in Newton Aycliffe claiming to have done building work. In repeated visits, he took PS10,2000 for work worth PS250. …

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