There's little that annoys me more than crooks who prey on older vulnerable people. Those who read my column last Saturday will recall the story of the unscrupulous estate agent who tricked an 88-year-old suffering from dementia to sell his home for almost half its value.
This week a similar story came to light. The victim was a 67-year old widow wanting work done on her Berkhamsted house. Josephine Stubbings turned to the Yellow Pages to find a builder, but sadly got one who befriended her so he could trick her out of her life savings.
Mrs Stubbings lived a frugal existence, but through clever investments made by herself and her late husband had managed to salt away more than £500,000. But just three years after contacting builder John Jenkins she had nothing left. He had taken the lot by vastly overcharging her for work. Shockingly, her plight came to light only after she was forced to ask a neighbour for money to buy food.
The police became involved and examined six bank accounts belonging to Jenkins. There they found the widow had paid the builder a total of £530,000. A surveyor later calculated the value of the work done at her home should have cost no more than £60,000.
Jenkins was found guilty of fraud at St Albans Crown Court on Monday. He couldn't be sentenced as he failed to appear and reports suggest he may have fled the country. There is nothing positive that comes out of this sickening tale, but it reinforces the need for greater protection for older people. There should be tougher regulation and stronger consumer protection.
When Jenkins is eventually sentenced, it must be a strong penalty to warn all chancers to stop targeting and victimising older folk.