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Cleaning company cowboy washed up thanks to Enfield Council

Published Thursday, 13 August 2015

A cleaning company conman has been sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, with an order to undertake 200 hours unpaid work after charging a 70-year old resident £10,000 for labour, which should have cost £2,000. He was also ordered to pay the victim £8,000 within 12 months, which was the difference between what she was charged and the market value for the work.

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Nelson Smith, 29, trading as Clean-Tek from Hemel Hempstead Road, St Albans disputed the charge, but was sentenced on 12 August at Highbury Magistrates Court. The judge said Smith’s defence was ‘unconvincing’ and found him guilty of an offence contrary to Sections 1 & 2 of the Fraud Act 2006, (fraud by false representation), and Regulation 9 of the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (engaging in a misleading action).

During 2013 the 70-year old Southgate resident asked Clean-Tek to clear the rear of her property which had become overgrown. Smith quoted £650 to clean the drive and remove the weeds and brambles. The victim accepted the quote and the work was carried out. Upon completion Smith stated that the job had been bigger than he had thought and would now cost £2,000.

He then mentioned that the felt roof on her garage was loose; and said he could replace it for £4,000, but when the work was completed Smith asked for payment of £10,000 which the victim paid.

The company was prosecuted by Enfield Council after the victim reported the matter to Trading Standards who obtained expert evidence which identified that the market rate for the works carried out was no more than £2,000.

Enfield Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: “Cases like these are, unfortunately, quite common in London where the most vulnerable in our communities, such as the elderly, are targeted by unscrupulous traders.

“Conmen will use fear to entice vulnerable people, suggesting that vital work needs doing when it doesn’t, and often then pushing up the price after work has been completed.

“The police work very closely with Trading Standards and Enfield Council to address the issue of rogue traders and, as in this case, bring those responsible to justice.

“The Council will do everything it can to recover the victim’s money, and would urge anyone who has been the victim of a crime such as this to inform Trading Standards”.

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