74-year-old Tewin woman conned by bogus gardener
PUBLISHED: 10:45 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:54 29 March 2017
A bogus gardener has been jailed after he tricked elderly women into believing he was carrying out thousands of pounds worth of work at their Hertfordshire homes.
Bhavesh Vara, 43, advertised his gardening services in newspapers and was contacted in early 2016 by a 74-year-old woman from Tewin.
Over a period of four months, Vara convinced the victim that extensive work was required and charged her a total of £15,000.
The true value of the work carried out was in fact just over £1,000.
The victim then contacted the police and an investigation was launched by Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Manhunt Unit which investigates distraction burglary and other crimes which target the elderly and vulnerable.
Vara was subsequently arrested on May 13, 2016 and charged with fraud by false representation before being bailed to appear before the courts.
Meanwhile, subsequent enquiries identified a second victim, an 88-year-old woman from Cheshunt, who had also contacted Vara after seeing an advert.
Between September 2016 and January 2017 the victim paid cheques totalling £36,000 to Vara, believing that extensive gardening work was being carried out at her home.
The true value of the work undertaken was valued at £3,867.
He was arrested at the victim’s address on January 9, 2017 and charged with a second count of fraud by false representation.
Vara, of Quilter Close, Luton, pleaded guilty on March 16 and was sentenced to two years and three months at St Albans Crown Court on Friday (March 24). He was also ordered to pay a total of £35,000 in compensation to the victims.
Detective Constable Jason Tinsey, from Operation Manhunt, said: “Understandably these incidents have proved very distressing for the victims who have parted with their life savings in good faith.
“Vara coldly took advantage of their trusting nature for his own financial gains. I am pleased that he is now behind bars and I hope this sentence comes as some small comfort to his victims and their families.
“Thankfully criminals like Vara are a small minority but their actions can have a huge impact on reputable tradesman. I want to reassure people that there are honest workmen out there and, if you do need work doing to your property, you can find a Trading Standards approved trader by visiting http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk or by calling Citizens Advice Consumer Services on 03454 04 05 06.”
For further crime prevention advice, visit http://www.herts.police.uk/advice/crime_prevention.aspx
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