Four men have been given jail sentences for a total of nearly ten years years at Teesside Crown Court for repeatedly defrauding elderly and vulnerable victims - some with dementia in Bridlington.
The men, Monty David Croke, 46, of Pickering; his two sons, Monty Croke Jr, 26, and Billy Croke, 23, both of Knareborough; and James Paul Coverdale, 35, of Pickering; pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud householders in relation to shoddy, over-priced and unnecessary property repairs.
The case represents the worst example of repeat victimisation ever encountered by North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards, which investigated and prosecuted the case - which also saw the men launder proceeds of almost £340,000.
One woman in her 80s with dementia from the Bridlington area was defrauded of £18,532.
A couple in their 80s and 90s from the Bridlington area (where the male has dementia and his wife was his sole carer at the time) were defrauded of £26,638; £22,100 of which was taken in just an eight week period.
Monty David Croke was jailed for five years; Monty Croke Jnr for two and a half years, Billy Croke for 12 months and James Paul Coverdale for 15 months, suspended for two years.
One victim, a vulnerable male with ill-health from the Malton area, was defrauded of £250,000 over an eight year period, a male in his 70’s from the York area with mental health difficulties, who was defrauded of £12,200.
A further 12 victims were also defrauded of a total of £30,772.
Sentencing the men, His Honour Judge Briggs said: “The elderly and vulnerable are a growing part of our community, and frequently have valuable assets which are attractive to the ruthless and greedy.
“The wrong-doing spanned a considerable period of time”.
The judge said that Monty David Croke had effectively stripped the Malton victim of his available assets and had “played him in a cunning and devious way”.
Following the sentencing hearing County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We are sadly getting used to investigating cases of this nature in trading standards.
“But this case has been shocking and distressing, even to those of us who are hardened to this type of appalling and heartless crime.
“That offenders such as these can undertake the ruthless exploitation of vulnerable adults in this way, often for prolonged periods, is disgusting and abhorrent.
Despite being charged with such serious offences in May 2013, the three Crokes went on to defraud a further victim, a female in her 70’s from the York area, in August and September 2013.
They admitted this fraud and asked the court to take the offence into consideration for sentencing purposes. They also admitted three counts of contempt of court after breaching Proceeds of Crime Restraint Orders freezing their assets.
The daughter and son of one of the Bridlington victims said: “We feel the actions of the fraudsters were despicable towards very vulnerable people who have worked extremely hard over a lifetime, not only to pay their way, but to save money for their old age care.
“That future support has been taken away from them by these frauds.
“We would like this to be in the public domain to warn others to be vigilant toward possible fraudsters and to urge them to contact trading standards or the police if they are suspicious of anyone’s activities.
“Finally, we would like to thank North Yorkshire Trading Standards for their superb work in this investigation and their thoughtful treatment of the vulnerable people and their families.”