South Essex rogue traders charged elderly people thousands for substandard work

·2-min read
Jailed - William Eastwood <i>(Image: Essex Police)</i>
Jailed - William Eastwood (Image: Essex Police)

TWO “rogue traders” who exploited elderly people by charging them thousands for substandard building work have been sentenced.

Jack Fredrick Harbour, a 31-year-old of Wellstye Green, in Basildon, and William Eastwood, a 31-year-old of Chelmsford Road, in Wickford, have been sentenced after targeting vulernable people.

The investigation into Harbour and Eastwood began in 2019 by Havering Trading Standard.

READ MORE >> Southend ice cream parlour opening second site on seafront thanks to £600k investment

It was then brought to the attention of Essex Police, after it appeared four victims had been conned out of tens of thousands of pounds.

In some cases, victims were conveyed to their banks in order to make payments to these defendants.

A Trading Standards assessor reviewed the property and concluded that the building work was nowhere near worth the value these victims had paid.

Harbour was arrested on suspicion of fraud and Eastwood attended the station for a voluntary interview.

At this point, it was estimated that they had overcharged the victims by over £60,000. One victim had even been targeted twice, losing thousands of pounds, Essex Police say.

When interviewed, both men claimed that they weren’t forcing the victims to pay anything and claimed that they had always quoted fair prices.

Both men were swiftly charged with four counts each of fraud by false representation.

After entering a guilty plea, both men appeared at Southend Crown Court on Monday, March 20.

Eastwood was sentenced to three years and two months in prison and Harbour received a one-year and two month suspended sentence. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and will be subject to an electronic curfew.

Rachel Barrett, detective sergeant from the economic crime unit at Essex Police, said “This is a fantastic result and removing one rogue trader from the community and having stringent conditions placed on another has undoubtedly prevented further vulnerable people from people scammed.

“Fraudsters and con artists such as these manipulate and persuade victims into doing something and can target absolutely anyone.”

More information about this type of fraud and how Essex Police and Action Fraud can help, can be found here