A rogue trader has admitted misleading and overcharging a vulnerable pensioner.
Mark Gaskin, 57, of Charlwood Street, Bognor Regis, was sentenced to 16 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, following a Tranding Standards investigation, West Sussex County Council (WSCC) said.
He has been ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation to the victim and £700 in costs.
Gaskin overcharged a 69-year old widow for improvements to her garden between August 2014 and February 2015 in East Preston, WSCC said in a statement.
He had originally quoted £7,941.50 for the work but produced 23 invoices for £16,673.48.
The victim had to take out a loan of £6,000 to settle the bill.
Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Deceiving an innocent victim is completely unacceptable.
“We would encourage consumers looking for a reputable trader to use the Buy with Confidence scheme, members of which have been audited and approved by Trading Standards.”
Following a complaint to the West Sussex Trading Standards team an investigation into Gaskin began.
Trading Standards instructed an independent Chartered Surveyor to value the total work and found it to be worth no more than £6,500.
Gaskin pleaded guilty and admitted that he had overcharged the victim.
David Barling, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services, added: “Our Trading Standards team have once again done a fantastic job.
“This court ruling sends out a very strong message that if you engage in fraudulent actions you will be caught and prosecuted.”
People who are concerned that they, a friend or relative have been a victim of a rogue trader, should contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 040506 or report details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.
To search for a reputable and audited trader online visit www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk.
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