A Bellshill woman helped snare a bogus caller who has now been jailed for five years at Airdrie Sheriff Court.
Brian Khan (21), of Hamilton, targeted elderly and vulnerable people.
Between October 2012 and May 2013 he called on a 78-year-old woman in Cumbernauld and during repeated visits defrauded her of more than £15,000. Initially offering to repair some loose tiles for a small fee, he returned again and again.
Similarly, he defrauded an 85-year-old Cumbernauld widower, offering firstly to repair gutters for a small fee. He then falsely claimed the roof was badly damaged and took more than £2,250 for work that did not need done.
Khan was tracked down after a Bellshill woman refused to pay him £2,500 and called police for help. This sparked a joint investigation between police and trading standards and Khan was arrested soon afterwards.
Detective Inspector Kevin Jamieson said: “Doorstep crime is one of the worst that someone can commit. The deliberate targeting of elderly and vulnerable people, to extort and defraud them of money, is abhorrent.
“Those who commit these types of crimes are deplorable individuals who have no regard for the misery and fear they cause the people they target.”
DI Jamieson advised householders to be wary of unexpected callers.
He said: “I would urge anyone who has elderly or vulnerable people in their families to remind them to be on their guard.
“If someone attends at your door, and you are not expecting them, you do not have to allow them entry.
“ If they claim to be from a legitimate company, such as a utility firm, look up the telephone number for the relevant company and call them to check if their visit is legitimate. Most companies will be happy to wait while you do this.
“If someone comes to your door asking if you need work done to your home, or if they claim you need repairs done to your home, do not allow them entry.
“ Please alert a neighbour to their presence and for any advice please contact police on 101.”
Councillor Helen McKenna, convener of the environmental services committee at North Lanarkshire Council, added: “This is an excellent outcome for the partnership work between the council and Police Scotland.
“Doorstep crime is particularly despicable as it robs the elderly and vulnerable of money and also peace of mind in their own homes.
“This case and the sentence handed out by the court gives a very clear message that doorstep crime will not be tolerated.”