Bogus workman jailed for £7k scam on pensioner


A Fife man is behind bars after conning a pensioner out of £7000 in a bogus work scam.

It was Mark McPhee’s second offence of that kind but initially he avoided a jail term.

He preyed on a vulnerable 78-year-old man who is described as a “hoarder” and whose home had fallen into disrepair. By the time, McPhee had finished his work the house was in an even worse condition.

He paid back £7000 compensation to his victim and eventually completed a restriction of liberty order after breaching it.

However, he was also ordered to perform 300 hours of unpaid work and only completed 91 hours, which landed him back in the dock and he was jailed for a total of ten months.

Mark McPhee (26), of Ericht Drive, Dunfermline was originally sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last year.

He admitted that on various occasions between 21st March and 21st September 2014, he pretended to Duncan Heggie, then aged 78, that building repair work was required at his home in Edinburgh.

He induced the pensioner to agree to have the work carried out, then did some work to a defective standard and further work which he said needed done.

He admitted he induced Mr Heggie to pay various sums amounting to £7000 and he obtained that figure by fraud.

When he was sentenced again at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, depute fiscal Azrah Yousaf said that Mr Heggie lived alone and in March 2014 and he received a cold call visit by McPhee.

He gave a false name and said he owned a home improvements company.

Mr Heggie later told police that he felt McPhee was “pushy” but he agreed that work needed to be done.

McPhee and another male then became regular visitors to the pensioner’s home. On some occasions McPhee accompanied the victim to a cash machine.

On 30th January 2015 a neighbour of Mr Heggie attended the local police station to express concern that the pensioner was being targeted by bogus workmen.

The following day police officers attended the victim’s home and were unaware that McPhee and the other male had been present when they arrived. However, the two men left via a back door.

The pensioner was shown images and was able to identify McPhee.

A chartered building surveyor examined the botched work done on the property and found it had a detrimental impact, giving it a negative value of minus £1100 on the house.

“It’s a pretty pickle he’s put himself in,” admitted defence solicitor Paul Ralph.

Sheriff Charles MacNair told McPhee, “This was your second conviction for a bogus workman fraud and it was a very significant fraud of £7000.

“You were perhaps fortunate to receive a further community payback order and restriction of liberty order rather than an immediate custodial sentence.

“You breached both the restriction of liberty order and now the community payback order.”

He jailed McPhee for nine months and two weeks for the fraud.

McPhee was also jailed for another 14 days for paying nothing towards a £500 fine imposed for breaching the first community payback order.

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