THESE are the faces of three members of the same family jailed after defrauding dozens of elderly victims by carrying out unnecessary, shoddy and grossly over-priced works to their roofs.

Fred Smith, 62, and his two son-in-laws, George Thomas Humberstone, 35, and Mitchell Seedhouse, 26, all of Clees Park Travellers Site, Walsall Road, Great Wyrley, Staffordshire, identified the most vulnerable and, in some cases, repeat targeted victims over many months and years.

In total they defrauded 27 victims from areas all over the country, including North Yorkshire, East Riding, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Wolverhampton, of more than £160,000.

They were prosecuted following an investigation by Operation Gauntlet, a multi-agency safeguarding team based at North Yorkshire County Council Trading Standards.

The investigation began after an incident in the Whitby area in June 2016 when a vulnerable woman was visited by two of the offenders and defrauded of £1,450.

She had been previously targeted by the same gang in June 2014 when further work was undertaken to her roof. In total she paid the men £5,600.

An expert appointed by trading standards found the works completed in June 2016 were worth just £55 plus VAT.

Smith and Seedhouse were arrested at Clees Park in a joint operation between Operation Gauntlet and Staffordshire Police in September 2016.

Humberstone was interviewed in prison in May 2017 where he was serving a 37 month jail sentence for similar offences.

More victims were then identified through tracing of payments into the offender’s bank accounts.

The trio admitted conspiracy to defraud between January 1 2014 and September 30 2016.

Seedhouse was sentenced to five years jail, Humberstone three and-a-half years and Smith three years.

Judge Sean Morris, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “This was a sophisticated, nationwide, deliberate fraud conducted over a sustained period with a large number of victims.

“I cannot think of anything more low when it comes to crimes of dishonesty as picking off the weak and elderly.”

They were also made subject to ten year criminal behaviour orders aimed at stopping similar repeat offending.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, executive member for North Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “This case is a perfect example of collaborative working to deal with a team of offenders who considered the elderly and vulnerable to be rich pickings who existed purely to fund their luxury lifestyles.

“Offenders who make the mistake of coming into North Yorkshire will be dealt with robustly using all available tools and this result is exactly what the Operation Gauntlet team is in place to achieve.

“We take the protection of the vulnerable in our communities extremely seriously. I must take this opportunity to warn residents not to deal with cold callers and to report any concerns to us immediately.”