Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Conmen jailed over tarmac scams

Sean Ball (left) and James Ball
Trading Standards said the scam involved "grossly" inflating quotes

Two conmen from Gloucestershire who ran a million-pound tarmac-laying scam have been jailed at Plymouth Crown Court.

James and Shaun Ball, who also go by the surname Gorman, were arrested in Devon after investigations spanning 10 counties.

The brothers, from Over, earlier admitted a total of 16 counts under the Theft and Fraud Acts.

James, 26, was jailed for three years and Sean, 20, was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

Inflated quotes

The court heard that receipts to the business were in excess of £1m and that an order to confiscate £325,000 was made.

John Peerless, from Trading Standards Regional Fraud Unit, said: "This highly organised criminal group operated across the whole of central and southern England.

Many victims were intimidated and paid up and those who challenged their illegal activities were sometimes threatened
John Peerless, Trading Standards

"They changed their trading name several times and used a number of accommodation addresses to try and avoid detection.

"They operated by giving their victims low initial verbal quotes that were then grossly inflated after they had completed work that, in most cases, was carried out to appalling standards.

"Many victims were intimidated and paid up and those who challenged their illegal activities were sometimes threatened.

"Cold calling and similar misleading and fraudulent activities are widespread and are often targeted at the most vulnerable in society, the housebound and older residents.

"Our advice to householders is that they should never deal with home maintenance traders who arrive uninvited on the doorstep."

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