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9 January 2014, 13:54 | Updated: 9 January 2014, 14:00
A prolific rogue trader who preyed on some of the county’s vulnerable residents has been sentenced to six years imprisonment following a prosecution by Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards service.
At Northampton Crown Court on Tuesday 7th January, builder Alan Fitzgerald, who traded as Fitz Multi Trade Builders Limited and A J Builders, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraudulent trading.
The offences covered a period of more than two years and involved 39 victims from across Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, with a total loss to them of approximately £300,000.
Many of the victims were elderly, including a 94 year old lady who was threatened by Fitzgerald that she could be prosecuted if she didn’t have work done to her property.
County council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “This is an excellent result for our trading standards team and is the longest sentence for a case investigated and prosecuted by the service. Fitzgerald targeted elderly and vulnerable residents by cold calling and asking if they wanted any building work done. He would frequently tell them that there were visible defects visible that needed repair, claiming to offer a discount and even using work done nearby by other companies as examples of the quality of his work. He would often get payment in advance and then delay the building work with flimsy excuses, as well as overcharging and intimidating people into paying large amounts of money for the work. In some cases, the victims lost their life savings with one person losing as much as £39,000 to this despicable fraudster.”
A financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act is now underway to establish the extent of Fitzgerald’s benefit and any assets he has which may be subject to confiscation. As part of that process, trading standards will also look at whether there is any money available to compensate the victims.