Two sentenced for fraud offenses in Formby and Birkenhead 

Detectives have today urged people to look out for vulnerable friends and family after two men were jailed for fraud and theft.

Andrew Donnie Lovell and Charles Smith pleaded guilty in Liverpool Crown Court today to fraud by false representation and were jailed for three years, four months. Smith received an additional eight months for insurance fraud, to run concurrently.

Their victims were elderly women in Birkenhead and Formby.

On 5 January 2017, the pair demanded a 75-year-old woman on Manor Hill, Claughton pay them £3,500 cash to seal her garden path, but the work was never done.

On 9 January, an 84-year-woman with Alzheimer’s disease was targeted on Altcar Lane, Formby where Lovell and Smith claimed there were problems with missing roof tiles which needed replacement. The work was not carried out.

Detective Constable Chris O’Connor from Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Team said: “Andrew Lovell and Charles Smith won the trust of two elderly women and ruthlessly exploited that trust by taking large sums of money for work they had no intention of ever carrying out. It’s hard to believe that anyone would stoop so low as to try and defraud elderly people out of money.

“It can be absolutely shattering for the victims who perhaps are elderly or have health issues which render them particularly vulnerable or who are naturally trusting, to fall victim in such a way.

DC O’Connor added: “There are a number of general steps everyone can take to help prevent falling victim to fraud.

“If you want building work or repairs carried out on your home, never agree to it being done by a stranger who turns up on your door step. Always use a reputable company and, if you are in any doubt, speak to a relative to help you or take advice from Trading Standards.

“Do not open your door if you are unsure who the caller is. Always make sure you know who visitors are by asking to see their identification – genuine callers won’t mind you doing this – if callers haven’t got valid identification, don’t let them in.

“Don’t keep large quantities of cash at home. It’s better in the bank where it’s safe.

“Finally, I’d appeal to the friends and relatives of anyone who is elderly to take the time to speak to them and re-iterate these messages. Advice like this often comes best from someone people trust and, if you do this, you may just stop someone you love becoming a victim of crime.”

Detective Chief Inspector Craig Sumner said: “We have recently launched a campaign, Operation Signature, to identify and support vulnerable victims who will receive the support of a dedicated financial abuse safeguarding officer.

“Merseyside Police is joining forces with partner agencies such as Trading Standards to reduce the opportunities criminals may have to access the accounts of potential victims or persuade victims to part with their money.

“As a force, we are determined to protect vulnerable people from offenders such as Lovell and Smith from the moment they call us or Action Fraud. We are training call handlers to identify victims at risk of exploitation at the hands of people like them and ensure they receive the most appropriate service, working with partners to provide the best support. We regularly visit the victims of fraud at home to provide additional support and advice to help prevent further offences.”

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