UK Property Projects: Avoid cowboys

Did you know that rogue traders are taking advantage of vulnerable UK home homeowners who are under increasing pressure to meet soaring living costs? Rogue traders will try to tempt you with ‘last minute deals’, cash in hand’ deals and installation work that is not backed by guarantees/insurance to protect you.

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Beware, not only is this illegal as the work will not comply with the Building Regulations, but the work will ultimately cost more and create more hassle in the longer term when the installation work turns pear shaped.

How to avoid cowboy builders

  • Tip 1 – Always go by a recommendation.
  • Tip 2 – Qualifications often prove competence.
  • Tip 3 – Be very specific specifying the works you want carried out.
  • Tip 4 – Agree the price of the job before starting any works.
  • Tip 5 – Pick installers who specifically carry out the works you want.
  • Tip 6 – Minimise upfront payments.

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

How to protect your identity

CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) warns of the danger of identity theft if house owners are not scrupulously careful about securing all personal data in their home effectively and when moving home. It cites the case of a man who took himself off the electoral register in his old home and redirected his post through Royal Mail only to find himself targeted by identity thieves six months after the move.

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The fraudsters had re-registered the homeowner onto the electoral roll, set up a company in his name and run up large utilities debts and other bills. The fraud only came to light after his application for a credit card was refused.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a person’s personal details are stolen, and can happen whether that person is alive or dead.

Identity thieves can steal your personal information in a number of ways, including going through your post or rubbish to find bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers or tax information.

They could steal personal information from your wallet or purse by taking a driving licence, or credit or bank cards, or could obtain your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.

Some individuals may use the internet to acquire the personal information you share on unsecured sites. They may also use

Your information could even be stolen while you shop. In some cases, fraudsters may even ‘skim’ your credit card information when you make a purchase, leading to card cloning or card-not-present fraud.

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The following are ways to help prevent you from identity theft:

  • Keep all personal document secure and ensure there are no personal documents or other papers carrying your name and details anywhere in the house when you leave
  • Protect your internet-connected devices with up-to-date security software, and make sure you install all official software updates and security fixes on such devices
  • Don’t throw out anything containing your name, address or financial details without shredding it
  • Keep checks on your credit records regularly
  • If you are moving home, make sure you redirect your mail, register with the Mail Preference Service and make sure to inform your utilities, service providers and everyone of your new address in good time to avoid any mail going to your old address
  • End utility and landline telephone contracts before you move out of the home
  • If any of your things are going into storage, make sure there’s nothing personally identifiable from the boxes
  • Be careful when using public wi-fi networks. Never use them to access sensitive apps or sites, such as mobile banking

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Police arrest man for operating funeral service from home and remove coffins from property

A man has been arrested at a house in Blackley, Greater Manchester as neighbours witnessed police removing a number of coffins from the property.

Officers were called to Capricorn Road on Friday night to reports of suspicious circumstances.

A man in his 50s was arrested on suspicion of fraud and remains in custody for questioning.

A funeral service business which is registered to the house is listed online.

Police have not released any further details about the nature of the investigation.

Neighbours reported seeing a number of coffins being removed from the property and placed inside a private ambulance.

Footage seen by the Manchester Evening News shows two coffins being wheeled from the house on Saturday lunch time.

On Saturday night, a police car guarded the front of the property while detectives continued their enquiries.

A number of plain clothed officers were seen searching the house throughout the afternoon.

A funeral hearse can be seen in the driveway covered partly by tarpaulin.

Local residents say a private ambulance parked outside the house was taken away by police.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called at 8.45pm on Friday evening to reports of suspicious circumstances.

“Officers attended and arrested a man in his 50s on suspicion of fraud.

“He remains in police custody.

“A cordon is still in place.”

Source: Manchester Evening News

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

UK Soldier commit suicide over £13k debt used for property investor training

A soldier killed himself after paying £13,000 for training with a property company that promises to help people become “financially free”.

The family of army reservist Danny Butcher, 37, said he never made the money he thought he would.

Dozens of people want refunds from Property Investors, which has been described as operating like a “cult”.

The company, run by former illusionist Samuel Leeds, said: “People should only purchase courses they can afford.”

Mr Butcher, from Doncaster, had spoken about his mental health in the past and his family said he had existing debt before he took on loans and credit card debt to pay Property Investors.

His family said he had been led to believe he would make enough money from property deals and rental income to replace a wage or salary.

Mr Butcher’s widow Charlotte, 32, said: “I think that he felt that he’d let everyone down, that he’d messed everything up and that there was no way out of it.

Danny and Claire on their wedding day
Mr Butcher took his own life just 11 weeks after his wedding

“All he wanted was his own chance at making something of himself for me and his son, he saw this as his opportunity.

“Obviously taking out all of the loans, he put himself on the line, but it was a bit like ‘yeah it’s scary but without risk there’s no reward’.

“He genuinely thought this was his chance because of how easy they made it all sound.”

Property Investors puts on free two-day crash courses, offering people the option to sign up to a training academy where they will learn how to become “financially free” by investing in property.

The company described Mr Leeds as having “found his own success” after attending training courses, with his wealth coming “primarily from his property investment activity”.

Mr Leeds posts videos on YouTube nearly every day promoting his methods. In one he joked that he would punch people in the throat unless they subscribed to his YouTube channel.

In one clip he promises to work one-on-one with his customers, to provide “a custom, tailored, bespoke plan” and “hold your hand, make it happen”.

Mr Butcher attended a free course in March with his brother-in-law Glyn Jones.

Mr Jones said: “It felt like brainwashing, like a religious cult kind of thing but done on a much smaller scale.

“What he’s offering never appears, I don’t see how it can.”

According to his wife, Mr Butcher’s “gut instinct” told him not to sign up for the academy and he held out for two days before changing his mind, swayed by the promise of exclusive mentorship and one-to-one training.

Mr Butcher’s family said he did not get the support he had been promised.

The company said academy members had access to weekly video calls and monthly webinars with specialist property coaches.

After failing to make any money, Danny Butcher took his own life in October.

Source: BBC News

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

UK Property fraudster set to payback £5.3m

Edwin McLaren, of Bridge of Weir, was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine in 2017 for £1.6m fraud scheme.

Prosecutors are seeking more than £5 million from a fraudster who was convicted after Scotland’s longest ever criminal trial.

Edwin McLaren , 54, now faces the prospect of having to hand over more than £5.3 million to the Crown under proceeds of crime legislation.

Prosecutors previously sought £1 million and then £3 million from McLaren, of Bridge of Weir.

But now the Crown has revised the figure being sought from McLaren.

The dad of two, who was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine, accused prosecutors of incompetence during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

He said: “The figure has now reached £5 million.

“When I was convicted, it was £1 million.

“Then it was £3 million and it was £3 million a few weeks back.

“It’s now £5 million – the Crown seem to be in disarray.

“The people who are doing this don’t know what they’re doing.”

McLaren was jailed for 11 years in 2017 for his involvement in a £1.6 million property fraud scheme.

He was found guilty of 29 charges after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow that began in September 2015 and heard evidence over 320 days.

His 54-year-old wife Lorraine was found guilty of two charges involving a fraudulent mortgage application on their own home and money laundering involving a sum of £128,000.

During his trial, a court heard how McLaren preyed on vulnerable people by arranging for their title deeds of their homes to be transferred to his associates without the victims’ knowledge.

The estimated cost of the 20-month trial was £7.5 million.

Jurors heard of the couple’s lavish lifestyle which included luxury holidays in Dubai and spending £100,000 on a ring and private schools for their children.

McLaren, who drove a Bentley, was described by trial judge Lord Stewart as showing “breathtaking dishonesty”.

The fraudster left victims out of pocket and in some cases homeless.

At a hearing last month, McLaren told Lord Arthurson that prosecutors were seeking to seize his £800,000 home in Bridge of Weir.

Source: BBC News

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