Quick-thinking bank staff stop elderly RAF veteran with dementia being cheated out of £2,000 by rogue traders

This is the chilling moment a rogue trader chaperones a war veteran with dementia to the bank to get a £2,000 payment - for a job that should have cost £600.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 7:22 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th April 2019, 3:49 pm
Benjamin Smith accompanied dementia sufferer to Barclays in Leyland to try to get 2,000 cash for a job that cost 600

Anthony Reid and Benjamin Smith’s actions were foiled by suspicious staff at the Leyland branch of Barclay’s Bank, who noticed the pensioner’s poorly state.

They refused to complete the transaction, and alerted the police. Trading Standards prosecuted the duo at court.

Both men have since admitted aggressive commercial practice, and Reid also admits a misleading omission.

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Benjamin Smith accompanied dementia sufferer to Barclays in Leyland to try to get 2,000 cash for a job that cost 600

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Preston Crown Court heard Reid’s driveway cleaning firm, “Spot on Driveways”, undertook work at the 84-year-old’s home in Lostock Hall in November 2017, after the confused pensioner had approached them while they were undertaking work on an adjacent property.

The work to clean and seal the driveway was completed to a “sufficient standard”, but the men failed to provide him with cancellation rights.

They then presented the confused gentleman with a invoice for £2,000- despite the work not yet being completed - and significantly more than the £600 subsequently charged.

The victim in his RAF days

On Reid’s instructions, Smith personally drove the Alzheimer’s sufferer to withdraw the money, and provided the invoice to bank employee George Reed.

He and another bank employee immediately noticed the pensioner was confused.

They refused to complete the transaction and contacted police, who obtained the incriminating CCTV footage.

Prosecuting on behalf of Trading Standards, Jack Troup added: “PC Wood attended his address later that same day and described him as very vulnerable. He was very confused, unaware of who the officer was despite being in full uniform, and had no recollection of attending the bank earlier that day.

Michael Fahmy

“It was clear to all people who came into contact with him that day that he was unwell and vulnerable. This would have been obvious to and within the knowledge of the defendants.

“The defendants took advantage of his impaired mental capacity when taking him to the bank to withdraw an amount in excess of the amount subsequently charged and prior to the work being completed.”

Unable to obtain any payment by use of aggressive practices, Reid contacted Michael Fahmy, the victim’s son - again before the work had been completed.

He only became aware that work was being carried out at his father’s address on the evening of November 7, 2017, and agreed to speak to his elderly father about the work and payment when he was due to visit the following day.

Benjamin Smith accompanied dementia sufferer to Barclays in Leyland to try to get 2,000 cash for a job that cost 600

Mr Troup said: “Mr Reid was persistent and contacted Michael Fahmy again the following morning. When Mr Fahmy attended at his father’s house the work had not yet been completed.

“He was informed by Anthony Reid that the current cost of the work was £400 and if it was completed it would be £600.

“Mr Fahmy agreed for the work to be completed and told his father he would have to pay the £600. This was done by way of cheque.”

In interview Smith, 28, of no fixed abode, accepted he took the victim to the bank on his employer’s instructions and didn’t feel he was doing anything wrong.

Reid, 43, of Hall Street, Colne, denied having anything to do with Mr Smith taking the pensioner to the bank at first.

Judge Philip Parry described them as ‘persistent and heavy handed’ as he sentenced them at Preston Crown Court.

Barclays in Leyland, where staff refused to process the transaction

He added: “What it comes down to is you took advantage of a vulnerable 80-something man with Alzheimer’s.”

“He was plainly a vulnerable consumer – it was plain for all to see before the pair of you descended upon him at his home.”

Both men got 18-month community orders with £500 costs.

Reid must do 180 hours of unpaid work while Smith must do 135 hours.

A Barclays spokesman said: “Using the Banking Protocol we’re able to better protect our customers where we suspect they may be a victim of fraud.

“Police are alerted using a code word and a rapid response can not only prevent the fraud occurring, but as in this case, facilitate the arrest of the fraudster.”

The Banking Protocol is an industry arrangement with the police.

• Residents can use Lancashire’s Safe Trader list to find a reputable trader. See safetrader.org.uk or call 0303 333 1111.