Conman builder jailed for defrauding £170,000 from unsuspecting customers

4 July 2016

A rogue-trader has been sentenced to five years in prison, after he was prosecuted for defrauding people out of thousands of pounds through his building companies. 

Wayne Smith, aged 47, of Doncaster Road, Barnsley, who targeted customers across West Cheshire, was sentenced in Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday, 30 June.

The prosecution, which was led by Sheffield Trading Standards, assisted by Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards, focused on a period between 2013 and 2014, during which Smith conned customers in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and West Cheshire out of an estimated £170,000.

The investigation began following complaints from customers against his businesses 'Build 4 Ltd' and 'Constellation Construction Ltd'. The year-long investigation also involved officers North Yorkshire Trading Standards, with support from South Yorkshire Police.

Mr Smith, a disqualified director and undischarged bankrupt, managed and ran the companies, amassing large debts with suppliers and misleading customers about his services. 

He gained the trust of his customers, presenting himself as an honest and reliable builder and businessman, taking large deposits and in some instances, further substantial interim payments. He failed to order goods or complete work, leaving customers to pay thousands for their projects to be completed.

One victim was left living in a guest house after paying more than £37,000 to Smith when he left her without a water supply and with only one working electrical socket in her three-bedroom house. Another victim paid Smith £13,480 for a new kitchen which was never installed; a further £11,000 had to be paid to other tradesmen to complete the works.

During interview, Mr Smith said the money had been 'eaten up by cash flow' and that he had 'robbed Peter to pay Paul'. He admitted it was 'reckless' to continue to take money from clients when his businesses were in a 'poor financial state'. 

Councillor Karen Shore, Cabinet Member for Environment said: "We congratulate our officers, their colleagues and South Yorkshire Police for their work over a considerable period of time that has finally led to the imprisonment of this rogue trader. 

"We are grateful to all the Cheshire West residents who came forward to help us secure this conviction and prevent others from the same fate." Mr Smith admitted to four offences under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for running his businesses whilst being a disqualified director and an undisclosed bankrupt, two offences under the Companies Act 2006 of running fraudulent businesses and a further eleven individual offences under the Fraud Act 2006 of making false representations in order to make a gain.

Smith was also banned for 12 years from being a company director.

People with concerns or suspicions about a scam, rogue trader or fraudulent business activity can report those concerns to Citizens Advice.

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