Roofer’s ‘appalling’ scam targeted elderly victims

Jailed...William Wallace.
Jailed...William Wallace.

A ROGUE trader who conned pensioners out of tens of thousands of pounds has been jailed for four years.

Roofer William Wallace , who fleeced vulnerable pensioners out of £50,000, was caught after a successful cross-border operation between trading standards and police in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

Wallace (39), of Justin Park travellers’ site in Northampton Road, Harborough, admitted nine charges of fraud involving victims ranging in age from 70 to 88.

Police told the Mail this week that five of the victims lived in Harborough and one in Desborough. Wallace was sentenced at Leicester Crown Court last Thursday to four years in jail.

The offences came to light when a building society cashier became suspicious about a request from an elderly customer who had been escorted there by Wallace to raise a cheque for £7,600.

The society refused to grant the cheque and raised concerns with Northants County Council’s trading standards team.

Enquiries found that in the previous three months the victim had paid three cheques totalling £21,600 for work to her home. A surveyor commissioned by trading standards examined the work and valued it at just £900.

As the investigation proceeded, it became apparent that similar offences involving other pensioners had been committed in the county during 2011.

Two others who helped Wallace launder cheques through their bank accounts were each jailed for six months.

Lee Warburton, and Craig Taylor, both of Whitehaven caravan park, Green Lane, Harborough, admitted money laundering. The court heard last week that father-of-five Wallace had 51 previous convictions including dishonesty, harassment, theft, burglary and handling stolen goods.

Judge Simon Hammond described the crimes as ‘despicable, pitiless and heartless’.

Karen Thompson, a senior district prosecutor for the CPS, said: “We built a strong case, linking incidents in Harborough, Desborough and beyond, to present the court with the full extent Wallace’s offending.

“This allowed the judge to sentence Wallace appropriately for this appalling campaign of fraud and intimidation.”

The CPS is now working to secure compensation for the victims by identifying and confiscating Wallace’s assets.