Naheed Plumridge, 48, of Churchill Avenue, Leominster, near the south Shropshire border, was given the immediate custodial sentence at Worcester Crown Court on March 24.
In a case brought to court by Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards team, Worcester Crown Court heard how, over a five-year period, Plumridge took deposits for landscaping and building work he had no intention of carrying out.
A total of 14 people, some of whom were vulnerable, were defrauded out of over £17,000. The largest individual deposit taken by the fraudster was £4,500 for landscaping work that was never completed.
A spokesman for Herefordshire Council said Plumridge, who also used the name Deehan Williams, often made outrageous excuses for not starting work for which deposits were paid to him. They included needing to recover from the suicide of family members.
On another occasion, while impersonating his brother, Plumridge said his ‘brother’ - in other words himself - was in a coma after a failed suicide attempt.
The heavy sentence was due in part to factors including Plumridge’s criminal history and the fact that he claimed he could not repay a penny of the deposits he had taken. Plumridge would have served more time in prison if he had not pleaded guilty early during proceedings. For this, his sentence was reduced by 25 per cent.
Marc Willimont, Herefordshire Council’s head of public protection, said: “Our officers have considerable expertise in investigating consumer fraud.
"This case shows how we work with West Mercia Police to crack down on these kinds of despicable trading practices. We urge consumers not to pay large deposits up front unless using a credit card, which provides legal protection for your money.
"If asked for payment up front for materials by any other means, arrange to pay the builders’ merchant only and have the materials delivered directly to your property.”
Herefordshire Council’s Trading Standards team says anyone who has a dispute with a trader should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 2231 133.