Brighton & Hove Trading Standards secured a successful prosecution to stop an elaborate scam targeted at small businesses when Russell Chandler was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday, February 21, for making false representations.
Chandler, 29, also known as Alfred Chase, set up a company called Harrington Builds and cold called businesses that were advertising on the internet purporting to offer contracts for work.
The businesses were told that Harrington Builds UK was looking to build up a consortium of contractors to sub-contract work to in their area. They were promised that this job would be the first of many.
The company used salespeople and had a website.
Taking up the offer involved agreeing to pay Harrington Builds a ‘one off administration fee’ of £250 which would ultimately be refundable.
Businesses were asked to provide documents and references and were issued with ‘follow up contracts’ including a reference number. However, no work was forthcoming and, when people became suspicious, were unable to get through to the company by telephone.
The types of contracts that were said to be available included cleaning, painting and decorating, electrical work, garden maintenance and rubbish collection,
The scam was worked from Brighton & Hove but targeted people from all over the country during 2011 which is when Brighton & Hove Trading Standards starting investigating.
Mr Chandler pleaded guilty to 11 counts of making false representations.
Jo Player, trading standards manager for Brighton & Hove City Council said:
“This was a blatant scam targeting small businesses who can ill afford to waste money in these times.
“Trading Standards operate the well-respected ‘Buy with Confidence’ scheme where businesses can advertise their services and the public can find reliable traders.”