A rogue trader who conned customers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by overcharging them for his services has been given a suspended prison sentence for breaching the terms of an Enforcement Order.
The sentence was issued to Mohammed Shamrez, director of Express Plumbing Ltd, which also traded under the name ‘London Emergency Plumbers’, by Luton County Court.
Mr Shamrez, 30, of Iddesleigh Road, Bedford, was also ordered to pay Bedford Borough Council’s costs of £40,643 within 28 days.
He was issued with the Enforcement Order in October 2013 following an investigation by the Council’s Regulatory Services team.
Mr Shamrez continually breached consumer protection legislation including deliberately misleading consumers about the price of his services and how he would be paid, deliberately overcharging for his services, deliberately overstating the time taken to do jobs, deliberately taking payments from consumers without authorisation and lying about his position in the company in order to avoid complaints.
The Court heard how Trading Standards Officers had received dozens of complaints starting just weeks after the Enforcement Order was granted, and which continued right up until February this year.
Her Honour Judge Davies stated that she was satisfied that Shamrez had acted deliberately throughout, was highly culpable and had caused financial detriment, as well as anxiety and stress to consumers, in the bracket of £20,000 to £100,000. She further stated that he had failed to demonstrate remorse and his acceptance of his actions was belated.
The court heard that Mr Shamrez had ceased operating his plumbing business as of February 8, this year, and that his business website had been taken down.
However, he must continue to display a warning to prospective customers on each page of any websites that he uses for any businesses he is involved with currently or in the future. The warning informs potential customers that Mr Shamrez is subject to the terms of an Enforcement Order.
Should Mr Shamrez be found to be in breach of the order in the future he will receive a six month custodial sentence, as well any additional time imposed for the further breach.
Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services, said: “Bedford Borough Trading Standards Officers do their utmost to protect residents from rogue traders who are out to rip them off and will take the necessary enforcement action where rogue trading is apparent.
“Mr Shamrez charged excessive sums for his work and repeatedly misled customers but, thanks to the diligent work of our Regulatory Services team, he has now been held to account.”
Anyone who suspects a rogue trader should call Consumer Direct on 03454 040506.