£70k Seized From Jailed Portsmouth Cowboy Builder

A rogue builder from Portsmouth, jailed for scamming 18 victims, has had £70,000 he made seized as compensation.

Paul Gaffney, 51, of Park Grove, Cosham was jailed for 9 years for fraud in July at Portsmouth Crown Court.

In a Crown Court hearing today (Friday 7 November), the council - in partnership with the Crown Prosecution Service - presented the results of a 12-week investigation of Gaffney's assets to the court, which, in turn, ordered the rogue trader to pay compensation of the £70,000 to his victims within six months.

Gaffney was convicted of fraud in July, scamming 18 victims - many of them older residents - after a year-long investigation led by the council and Hampshire police, and was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

Gaffney cold-called elderly and vulnerable residents on their doorsteps and duped them into agreeing to building work that was either unnecessary or - in most cases - not undertaken. He even bullied some elderly customers, accompanying them to their banks to withdraw his payment.

Cllr Robert New, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, said:

"These are excellent results. I am so pleased that the council's trading standards service has been able to confiscate a substantial amount of the money for the victims, saving them stress of individual court actions."
"This joint action with the Crown Prosecution Service demonstrates how effectively we can use the Proceeds of Crimes Act (POCA) to conduct a financial investigation and compensate victims of crimes for what has been taken from them.

"We continue to encourage residents to be wary of door-to-door callers and never agree to any work on the spot or allow the person into their home. Please do not hesitate to report concerns by calling 101."

Before agreeing to any building work, seek written estimates from at least two contractors, who are preferably in a trader approval scheme such as www.portsmouthsquaredeal.co.uk

The council's trading standards service is committed to ensuring that rogue traders don’t benefit financially from their criminal behaviour and illegal activity, and it will continue to pursue the necessary legal action that will seek to compensate the victims.

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