Trader sentenced to 28 months for fraud
A driveway repair trader has been sentenced to 28 months for seven counts of fraud at Nottingham Crown Court.
James Eaton, 30, of Woodview Terrace, Bradford offered services to repair and seal residents’ driveways, install damp proofing and repoint the brickwork at properties in the East Midlands through his company, Complete Surface Solutions.
Overall, the quality of the work undertaken by Complete Surface Solutions was found to be substandard, with the coating applied to driveways coming away, cracks re-opening, the surfaces slippery when they got wet. The work was also untidy and not always completed.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards team started to receive complaints from dissatisfied customers regarding work carried out between 2014 and 2015 so launched an investigation.
In most cases Eaton cold called the victims at their homes, making false claims his company was a SmartSeal registered installer. Once work started it became obvious that the work was being carried out by unskilled workers. In one instance, an elderly disabled victim was misled into paying for a driveway coating and repointing of the brickwork at her home. A surveyor later found the work carried out was poor, the drive was a considerable slip and trip hazard and potentially dangerous. Areas of the drive had been left uncoated because plants had been growing over the surface at the time the coating was applied.
The victims paid between £600 and £2200 to have the work done. All attempts to contact the company to rectify the problems were unsuccessful and the business address was found not to exist.
One customer said: “When the man came to my house he was smartly dressed and well-spoken. But my goodness how he changed when working on my drive and garden. He frequently didn’t turn up and I eventually realised he was not the honest person he portrayed in the first place. I eventually paid them £3850.00 for the work.
“My drive looked a mess, the green coating was coming off with overspray on my garden wall and decorative garden pebbles. It was slippery when wet, my wheel chair’s wheels wouldn’t grip and it would slide.
“It annoyed and upset me that he would take advantage of a severely disabled elderly lady just to line his pockets.”
Coun John Handley, Vice-Chairman of Communities and Place Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “I welcome this outcome. Eaton admitted seven charges of fraudulently carrying out the repairs to drives, fraudulently claiming to be a registered installer. He targeted older and vulnerable people.
“The work carried out was not only of a poor quality, it was also potentially dangerous, particularly in the case of people who are disabled or have mobility problems. These people trusted the company to do the work that they paid for. In some cases, they have had to pay a reputable company to put things right. If people need a Trading Standards Approved Trader, they can find a company on the www.checkatrade.com website.
“We hope this prosecution sends out a clear message to other traders that we will not tolerate poor work or fraudulent practises. We will pursue anyone who attempts to operate in this manner, which causes distress to those affected.”
To report a consumer issue, people are advised to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 040506