Two men admitted swindling more than £1 million out of people by conning them into paying for costly and unnecessary building work to their homes when they appeared in court today.
Moses Mead, 25, and Christopher Latty, 38, preyed on elderly and vulnerable victims across Kent, London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire between 2007 and this year, costing some of them their entire life savings with their fraud.
One of their victims, a man in his 60s from Bexleyheath, was tricked into handing over a total of £522,000 alone while an 82 year-old man from the Medway area was conned into paying them £230,000.
Ringleader Mead and courier Latty appeared at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent today, where the pair pleaded guilty to a string of crimes, a spokeswoman for Kent Police said.
The court heard how Mead would often return to his victims three years later ringing them and purporting to work for a firm dealing with other companies that had gone into liquidation.
He would claim that while having a clear out he had found a cheque made payable to the person in respect of remuneration for being overcharged for previous building work and to release the cheque he required a percentage - often thousands of pounds.
However the court heard that by using this trick, he inadvertently placed himself at the initial scene of the crime.
Mead, of Springhead Road, Northfleet, Gravesend, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation while Latty, of Victoria Street, Gillingham, admitted two charges of fraud by false representation.
Latty acted as courier and was dispatched by Mead to collect cash, often in carrier bags containing tens of thousands of pounds withdrawn from other people's bank accounts, the court heard.
The pair were arrested in Cambridge in January following an investigation by Kent Police's serious organised crime unit.
Detective Constable Paul Walker of Tonbridge CID said: "This was a lengthy and complex investigation that involved the gathering of evidence from across the south east of the country from a large number of elderly and vulnerable victims often in difficult and sensitive conditions.
"Many of the victims have lost their entire life savings and have been denied financial security in their twilight years because of one man's greed.
"All the victims were targeted due to their age and vulnerability in a most calculated and callous way. We will continue to work tirelessly to bring people who prey on the elderly and vulnerable like this to justice."
Detective Sergeant Keith Roberts of the serious organised crime unit, said: "Crimes like this are particularly distressing for all those involved because the victims are some of the most vulnerable in our communities.
"Kent Police is committed to tracking down and dealing with individuals who commit this type of despicable crime.
"I would like to thank the victims for their support in helping us prosecute those responsible and also those officers from the police and Trading Standards who worked so hard to put this case together.
"We will be asking the court for sentences that not only indicate the seriousness of the offences but seek to prevent anyone else attempting similar crimes.
"This type of crime remains rare, however if anyone suspects that such an offence may be occurring please contact police or Trading Standards and we will take action immediately."
The men were remanded in custody to be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on July 9.