A RUTHLESS gang of rogue traders fleeced elderly people out of more than £1million by overcharging them for shoddy building work.

They picked vulnerable targets in the Clacton and Colchester area and checked bank statements to assess their assets.

Police and trading standards officers prosecuted in 18 individual cases, but believe there were as many as 140 victims in total.

The gang went back time and time again over four years, demanded more cash and “mined” their accounts, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Led by ringleader James Brown Snr, they pressurised them into handing over life savings and discouraged them from talking to concerned relatives and neighbours.

One of the gang’s victims was Grace Gibbs, 87, known as Gladys, who was widowed and had bladder cancer.

She lost at least £123,000 as a result of unnecessary and often duplicated work on her home in Clacton.

The trial continues