Updated: Tuesday, 25th July 2017 @ 6:41pm

Manchester tradesmen lead fight against rogue traders, as scammed pensioners reunited with cash

Manchester tradesmen lead fight against rogue traders, as scammed pensioners reunited with cash

By Mancunian Matters staff

Manchester’s builders and roofers are hitting back against rogue traders after recent bad publicity in the North West.

Conned pensioners were last week reunited with the thousands of pounds stolen by the notorious Tomney family in a series of scams across Manchester and Lancashire.

Manchester tradesmen are stressing that rogue traders such as the Tomney’s are the minority and have suggested a number of measures for consumers to protect themselves.

Manchester-based roofing specialist Morris Fitzgerald, of M & C Fitzgerald’s Ltd, advised concerned consumers to use endorsements from others as a guide.

“People should always use recommendations from friends and family to avoid this type of builder," he said.

“Or failing that people who advertise with the Yellow Pages should be a reliable source.”

Family-run Abbey Roofing based in Fallowfield has over 30 years’ experience.

Representative of the company David Clarke added: “People shouldn’t go for the cheapest quote – usually the cheapest is the cowboy.

“Pick someone who has a website and look out for the way they present themselves and whether they have a signed up van or not – avoid plain white vans.”

Frank Tomney Snr, 55, and his 21-year-old twin sons Frank Tomney Jnr and Thomas Tomney targeted pensioners across the region for years.

The Cleveleys-based family were last year jailed for a total of 15 years by Preston Crown Court.

The group charged exorbitant fees for a range of work on pensioners’ properties including callous driveway repairs using milk as a sealant.

Relation Brian Tomney, 29, of Salford, was also jailed for five years after he was convicted of convincing an elderly Alzheimer’s sufferer into selling him her house, worth £70,000, for just £17,000.

Chief Officer at Age Concern Wigan, John McArdley, highlighted the damaging effect rogue traders can have on elderly people’s lives.

“It is very distressing and can knock their confidence and their feeling of being safe in their own homes.

“It has the general effect of making them less trusting and loneliness and isolation is a big problem for the elderly.”

Mr McArdley advised that pensioners should never give the impression that they are alone in the house.

“If in doubt ring the company – a genuine trader wouldn’t mind that.

“A lot of rogue traders are opportunistic with things like bad weather - often they will come round after a gale saying you have damaged roof tiles and things on the roof are very difficult to check.”

The Federation of Master Builders are the UK’s leading building trade association.

FMB representative Jayne Runacres highlighted the scale of the problem.

“Every year in the UK an estimated 89,000 householders are fleeced by rogue door-to-door home maintenance traders masquerading as professionals, selling anything from roofing repairs, guttering and gardening services to path and driveway work.

“Trading Standards estimates that rogue traders cost unsuspecting homeowners across the UK some £170million each year.”

When hiring a builder or tradesman the FMB advises all consumers to take care in their selection.

“Be specific and prepare a detailed brief. Be as clear as you can about what you want, as this can make a huge difference to quotes.

If you feel you may have been targeted visit the FMB’s Nail the Rogues campaign website (http://www.nailtherogues.org.uk/welcome/) for help and advice on spotting and avoiding rogue traders as well as how to find a reputable tradesman.