A FRAUDSTER has been jailed for making a brazen doorstep bid to scam a vulnerable north Cumbria pensioner out of £500 for work that hadn’t been done.
Police had been so concerned about the 82-year-old previously being the victim of fraud by visitors to his Brampton home that CCTV covering his driveway was fitted.
That showed Levi John Michael Lowther, 23, approaching the address in April 3, 2018, wearing a bright orange jacket bearing the words “roofing and driveway specialists”. The pair spoke for several minutes.
On April 7, two PCs visited the pensioner and gave him future caller advice.
But just minutes after they left, Lowther went back. The householder then called police saying: “I’ve just had a guy come to my door asking for 500 quid for some work he did on my walls. I’ve told him that I didn’t ask for any work to be done on my walls and I just shut the door.”
The man didn’t hand over money, but was later also visited by others making similar demands.
Lowther was identified from stills, and found by police cowering under a bed inside a caravan in which he lived at Hospital Road in Annan.
He later admitted one offence of fraud by making a false representation, and was described at Carlisle Crown Court today (THURS) as a churchgoer with a pregnant wife who was “terrified” by the prospect of prison.
But Recorder Lawrence McDonald said Lowther had told the man a “wicked lie” and, concluding he hadn’t appeared to show any remorse, jailed him for 14 months.
“This was a straightforward demand for money where absolutely nothing had been done, knowing that nothing had been done and relying on the fact, no doubt, that (he) was elderly and somewhat confused in order that he could be persuaded to make you go away,” the judge told Lowther.
“You targeted (him) because he was old, he was confused and you thought you could scam him out of his money.”
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Detective Constable Rebecca Fox, the officer overseeing the case, said: “Lowther callously targeted an older and vulnerable person in this fraud. We take this type of offence extremely seriously as we know the impact it can have on victims and the worry and fear it causes for both them and their families.
“On this occasion, by using this tactic, we were able to stop this fraud before it got to the point where the victim handed over any money.
“It shows fraud does not have to lead to a loss of money before we act – and also demonstrates how we have a range of methods to stop people who seek to exploit the more vulnerable in society to line their own pockets.
“Cold-calling fraudsters who are thinking of targeting people in Cumbria should take note of this and think again.”
ADVICE FOR DEALING WITH COLD-CALLERS
Officers are continuing to ask people to be on their guard when dealing with people calling at the doorstep and to report any suspicious activity.
DC Fox added: “We would like to take this opportunity to remind people there are some simple steps they can take to protect themselves against any door-to-door fraud or crime.
“If anyone knocks at your door carrying out door-to-door selling activities, please ensure that they have identification, a contact telephone number for their head office and a registered business or charity number.
“If anyone has any doubts of the credibility of any doorstep seller then they are not to engage with them and politely decline their business.”
Officers would also ask any people with elderly or vulnerable relatives and neighbours to share the message with them.
It is often the most vulnerable in our society that criminals target.
Anyone with information about any suspicious incidents can contact police on 101.