Telford shower firm scammed elderly out of £20,000
A fraudulent Telford shower company scammed elderly people out of more than £20,000 by refusing to cancel contracts or repay deposits.
Walk in Showers and Baths Limited ripped off elderly people who bought specially-adapted showers and baths from the Hortonwood-based firm in 2014 and 2015.
The company's managing director Michael Lydon Jenkins and general manager Teresa Browne admitted 14 counts of fraud at Stafford Crown Court on Friday, changing their pleas from not guilty.
Telford & Wrekin Council brought the case in its largest ever trading standards case.
All the offences related to elderly customers who were not given their money back when they tried to cancel the contract during the legal cooling-off period.
The court said that the total amount defrauded from customers was £20,567.60 and that the victims had since been compensated, although they weren't paid until July this year.
Walk in Showers and Baths took deposits of 50 per cent of the contract price. The court heard that one customer who cancelled within 21 hours of signing the contract was told that the goods for their contract had already been ordered, altered and packed ready for dispatch and that the company kept £1,895 of their deposit.
As the fraudulent behaviour went on, the defendants not only started to keep the whole of the customers' deposit but they started to try to demand additional money from customers for services and goods they claimed they had provided.
Investigations by the council’s trading standards officers showed that in every case before the court no goods were ordered before cancellation, that the services claimed to be provided had not and the defendants had lied to these customers to keep their money.
Jenkins, 70, and Browne, 45, will be sentenced for the offences next month.
Jenkins is of Halesfield in Telford, and Browne is of Copperfield Drive in Muxton.
Councillor Richard Overton said: "This shows our trading standards officers’ dedication to fighting for vulnerable customers and stamp out fraudulent trading practices. I trust this will serve as a strong warning to companies who think they can get away with defrauding vulnerable and elderly people for financial gain."
When consumers buy goods and services in their homes they have a right to cancel as a safeguard, to ensure that they can take time to think about their decisions and compare prices, products and services.
If you suspect you or someone you know of being scammed or defrauded it can be reported to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
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