The wife of a man with dementia who was pressured to hand over a blank cheque to rogue traders has spoken about how the incident stripped him of his self-confidence before his death.
William and Mark Nunn were convicted of conspiracy to defraud at Newcastle Crown Court after an investigation by the North East Specialist Operations Unit (NERSOU).
It was found the father-and-son pair had defrauded a number of elderly and vulnerable residents across Northumberland and the North West, pocketing £20,000, over a four month period.
Ken Hogg, 84, was one of those targeted by the callous pair. He had been home all afternoon when the conmen knocked on his door and coerced him into signing a blank cheque for repair work to a communal driveway which was estimated to cost £160.
Mr Hogg’s cheque was later flagged up after it was paid into the account held by the Nunn’s company, The Highways Agents Ltd, made out for the sum of £2,500.
Ken's wife, Elizabeth Hogg, 64, said the incident made her late husband less confident.
She said: “He never saw himself as vulnerable. We were aware he was, but we never expected he would be targeted like this in his own home.
“It makes me realise we were so trusting and soon after this happened we installed CCTV cameras in the house. The effect it had on Ken was just awful to see. He was embarrassed and he knew something wasn't right but he was really distressed as he couldn’t remember all of the details. Although his memory meant he couldn’t actually remember it, he stopped answering the door and telephone after that.”
A neighbour told the family and police afterwards they had seen the fraudsters at the back door with Mr Hogg. Mrs Hogg said her husband would not have been able to hand over a signed cheque without some assistance.
Mrs Hogg added: “We will never know what they said to him or how threatening or pushy they were. They were very clever as they knew which part of the driveway belonged to the local authority and which was privately owned and wore high viz jackets to make people believe they were reputable - if they had put as much effort into getting real jobs, who knows what they could accomplish.
“The police were really helpful, especially the officer who came out and wrote the initial report and took Ken’s statement. He was really good with Ken and managed to get a lot of detail from him which is good as I think the interview process can be difficult for people with dementia."
Following the case, investigating officer Detective sergeant Shaun Fordy, of NERSOU, said: “This is a really sad case but by no means a rare one. We see vulnerable and elderly members of the community falling victim to schemes like this all-too frequently because of their trusting nature and the advanced tactics of the offenders.
“While we were able to track Mr Hogg's cheque and make sure his money was not lost, there were a number of other individuals who handed over large sums of cash to the Nunns and believed they were respectable and reputable tradesmen. They consistently targeted vulnerable and elderly people, schools, nursing homes and businesses which they viewed as easy targets.
“Crimes like this are abhorrent and it is our duty to protect members of the community from having their lives turned upside down by the greedy and selfish actions of people like this.
"It was only right they pleaded guilty and were jailed for their despicable actions.
“We would like to remind the public to stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to ourselves via their local police force or Action Fraud."
Mark Nunn, 60, of Riverside Park, Doncaster, was jailed for 32 months; and William Nunn, 33, also of Riverside Park, Doncaster, was jailed for 16 months at Newcastle Crown Court in March after admitting conspiracy to defraud.