A rogue trader from Swanley who tricked elderly victims across London and Surrey into paying for unnecessary repairs has been jailed.

Peter King, 46, was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation on Monday, having admitted the offence on the opening day of his trial, and sentenced to four years.

He committed the offences alongside Albert Eastwood Jnr, 23, from Surrey, who failed to attend court but was convicted in his absence. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The men formed part of an organised crime network targetting elderly homeowners in Streatham, Leatherhead, Ilford and Felbridge.

Eastwood Jnr led the scam by identifying and approaching potential victims, offering to carry out unnecessary work on their properties.

The group would inflate the cost of work to scam victims out of as much money as possible.

King, who did not possess any formal building qualifications, carried out the work at each address to such a poor standard that it required alterations by legitimate builders subsequently.

Payment for the work was usually made directly into King's account, who would then withdraw the cash from his local bank.

On some occasions he even drove victims to cashpoints himself to obtain his fraudulent earnings.

The investigation was jointly carried out by the Met’s Organised Crime Command and Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards.

Detective Constable Stuart Robertson from the Met’s Organised Crime Command said: “These two men deliberately targeted elderly homeowners in a bid to scam them out of as much money as possible.

“They preyed on vulnerable victims and even went as far as to drive some of their victims to the bank to obtain their fraudulent funds as soon as possible.

“The group carried out these audacious crimes in broad daylight, with no concern for the wellbeing or livelihoods of the individuals they were targeting.

“After a careful and meticulous joint investigation, two of these three individuals have now been brought to justice.

“King failed to attend court shortly after the jury retired to deliberate in this case, but has been found guilty of the offences in his absence.

"An arrest warrant has now been issued for his arrest. I would ask anyone who has information regarding his whereabouts to either call us directly on 0207 230 8176 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 quoting crime reference 1205426/17.

“I would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of criminality to speak to police at the earliest opportunity.

"We have specialist officers who will investigate and support you.”

Denise Turner-Stewart, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Fire and Resilience, said: “These men set out to defraud vulnerable people in Surrey and elsewhere and I’m pleased our joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police has resulted in these jail sentences.

“Our advice is never to do business on the doorstep, no matter how good the deal sounds.

"We receive lots of reports of doorstep traders offering their services, whether it be gardening, taking rubbish away or roof, driveway or other building works.

"But dealing with them means you run a greater risk of ending up with an unreputable trader who charges extortionate amounts for shoddy or incomplete repair work.”

Anyone seeking advice or wishing to report an issue to Trading Standards should contact 03454 040506.