A conman targeted an elderly Torquay woman by trying to charge her over £8,000 to run plastic edging along her roof. The women lives in Marldon but has not been named and was the victim of William Birch of Bridgewater, a 35 year-old conman. Birch pleaded guilty to two offences at the Torquay Magistrates Court under the Companies Act and Fraud Act 2006 in a case brought by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service.
The court was told how Birch would overcharge the woman for unnecessary work on her roof and for what he did it should have cost one third the price. He also failed to give the woman a legal document that is required allowing her to opt out of the contract within seven days. He also did not supply his name or the address for the company.
The company was registered under the name Roof and Home Agency. He made an uninvited visit in February 2010 in order to offer to run the plastic edging along her roof for just £99. When she agreed he said additional work was necessary and quoted her once at close to £8,000 and then he discounted the price to £3,800.
Birch also purchased telephone numbers in Devon including Torquay in order to make it look as though he was a local business and in fact he was not. Trading Standards officers, after visiting her property because of the complaint, promptly arrested Mr. Birch. No money was handed over by the woman and she was able to pay a reputable tradesman who then completed the work.