Elderly Sheffield lady left 'distraught’ after cowboy builders con her out of £1,400

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.
Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

An elderly Sheffield lady has issued a warning after a gang of ‘cowboy builders’ conned her out of more than a thousand pounds.

Pauline Cockayne, aged 76, of Plantin Rise, Halfway, says she is ‘distraught’ after handing over £1,400 for gardening that has barely been started.

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

The scammers did begin the work on Wednesday after Pauline went to the bank and gave them all the money up front.

But when she expected them to come back on Thursday morning they never arrived.

She said: “It is not just the money, it is the mess they have left me with. They have taken everything down at the front and left me with a garden gate.

“They knew I wasn’t a well person. I have had a stroke and I am bad with my breathing as I suffer from emphysema. They knew all that but they still did this to me.”

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

Pauline agreed to the work as she has only just moved into her property and its dilapidated garden needed some attention.

The £1,400 bill was to cover clearing the front and back of her property, replacing the fencing and putting flagging down.

But the men - who claimed to be called Martin and James Smith - just took the existing fencing down and lifted some of the flags up, leaving them in a pile at the top of the road.

They said they needed the money up front to pay for building materials - including sand and new fences and flags - which never materialised.

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

Pauline Cockayne paid builders 1400 for work on her garden and they never returned to do the work.

Accompanying the two men was an older lady, who Pauline thinks acted as a decoy.

“I said to them I hope you are not going to con me and she said ‘no, they are my sons, they will be back’.”

"Somebody said they wanted shooting but I think that’s too good for them. They want hanging, long and slow.

“I just don’t want this to happen to any other old people.”

South Yorkshire Police advised residents not to give up front payments to people who call at your house or post a leaflet through you door.

They said you should always try to research the company or seek advice from family or friends before agreeing to any work, and contact police if callers are behaving in a threatening or intimidating manner.

Anyone with information about this incident should call South Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 276 of October 11.