Fraudster who targeted vulnerable Summerbridge residents jailed for two years

23 October 2015

A man found guilty of defrauding three households in Summerbridge near Harrogate has been sentenced to two years in prison. David Smith, 51, of Newtown Road, Bedworth, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to three charges of Fraud by False Representation. Smith was sentenced on 20 October 2015 at Leeds Crown Court.

Smith’s offences were committed in November 2013.  He cold called three households and offered gardening services. He falsely claimed to represent a garden centre which was closing down and offered a substantial “discount”. Smith took cash payments in advance for services and products. He performed a small amount of poor quality work but did not return to deliver goods or complete work which had been paid for. In one case Smith drove his victim to a cash machine so they could withdraw the money to pay him.  The total amount of money Smith obtained through his fraud was £1247.00.

All of the victims found Smith’s demeanour to be friendly and very convincing. Smith took advantage of the fact that all of his victims were in some way vulnerable due to age, bereavement, or illness.

Smith was first arrested for these crimes in April 2014.  He was charged but later failed to answer bail for a court hearing in October 2014.  He remained on the run for several months until he was re-arrested in April 2015. He has been in custody since then.

Investigating officer, PC Bill Hickson of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Smith and criminals like him knowingly target vulnerable people. They behave in a way which I think can be fairly described as wicked and merciless. They pretend to be friendly and charming when all the time they are intent on stealing hard earned money. Being sent to prison is a just punishment. I am disappointed that the victims are unlikely to receive any compensation. The police and courts have powers to seize a criminal’s assets and Smith will be the subject of a Proceeds of Crime hearing.

“I would urge all readers to beware of doorstep crime. While I do not want to brand all doorstep salesmen as potential criminals I think there are safer ways for consumers to buy products or services. This type of crime is rarely reported in Nidderdale but, as this case shows, it does happen. My advice is to politely refuse offers of work from unsolicited calls and if you have any doubts at all about the people involved to call the police. If you can make a note of the registration number of any vehicle the suspect is using that will be a great help to the police. Victims sometimes say they had a nagging feeling of doubt but felt too embarrassed to say anything. If this happens please share your doubts with someone; a trusted relative or friend, or the police.”

For more information about how to prevent doorstep crime, please visit our website

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