A rogue trader who duped homeowners out of thousands of pounds for shoddy work posed as non existent 'colleagues' in order to trick them, a court has heard.
Umran Hussain Suleman, 39, of Lyddesdale Avenue, Anchorsholme, Cleveleys, has been jailed for 21 months after admitting eight counts of fraud by false representation by lying about the ownership of his company to various victims between August 2017 and April 2018.
Following a probe by Lancashire Trading Standards, Preston Crown Court was told a couple, Mr and Mrs Toorawa, answered an advert on the Schpock website in August 2017 having noticed a damp patch on their bedroom floor.
On 27 August 2017, Suleman, who introduced himself as 'Immy’, visited them to provide a quote, wearing a sweatshirt bearing a ‘RC Building and Roofing’ logo.
‘Immy’ said it was likely to be a leaking pipe and he would need to put a hole in the wall to locate and stop the leak.
Mrs Toorawa said they were looking to renovate to create an open plan area, and he gave a verbal quote of £12,000. He was also asked to undertake work at Mr Toorawa’s fathers house to refurbish a bathroom for just over £3,000
Suleman's building notice listed the contractors details as ‘Mr J Roberts and Mr I Hussain’.
Issues began to crop up with both properties and in December 2017 the defendant was asked to cease working on the properties after a building inspector found problems, including no evidence of damp proofing or insulation being installed, incorrectly installed cavity walls, and incorrect pitching of the roof tiles
When Mr Toorawa exchanged multiple messages via WhatsApp and e-mail, Suleman responded saying ‘speak to John or Rob' who didn't exist.
Gemma Townsend, from Lancaster, posted on a Facebook page called ‘Lancaster buy and sell’ asking for builder recommendations in February 2018, and got a reply from
‘Roberts Jhon’ of Right Choice (RC) Building and Roofing Services which claimed to have "37 men ready to carry out the work".
On March 1, Suleman introduced himself as ‘Jimmy’ the ‘Site Manager' and provided a £2,050 quote.
Work commenced and shortly after the bathroom suite was removed a leak developed in the
property. Ms Townsend was told not to worry as this was simply ‘overflow’, but became concerned when no one attended to continue the works.
The leak continued, causing water to pour into the downstairs bathroom.
Suleman eventually sub contracted plumber Matt Hutchingson, who contacted Ms Townsend to inform her that, in his opinion, the work carried out by the defendant was ‘the worst job I have ever seen’.
She cancelled the contract and requested a refund from 'Roberts Jhon', but has never received it. She was quoted a cost of £4,500 to rectify his shoddy work.
Another couple, Dr Ahmed and his wife Mrs Zafar, were looking to build a conservatory and patio with underfloor heating at their home in Lancaster and took out a £20,000 loan.
It was given to Suleman, who had responded to their post on Facebook as 'Jhon Roberts', in bank transfers and cash in hand.
Posing as Jhon Roberts, Suleman arranged for a project manager ‘Jimmy’ to give them a quote.
Prosecuting, Jack Troup said: " The names were an alias for the defendant to disguise his true ownership of the company RC Building Contractors."
As Dr Ahmed and Mrs Zafar began to express displeasure at the progress and quality of the work, Suleman attempted to deflect liability for this onto 'Mr Roberts'.
In June 2018, Suleman failed to turn up for the work, and Dr Ahmed received a hand written letter in July 2018 telling him he was in prison.
A few days later he received a phone call from Suleman telling him he was out of prison and would be beginning the work again, and they agreed to let him continue.
He told them he had been in trouble due to "Jhon’s" wrong doing.
By November, a building inspector from the council had visited and informed them that due to the condition of the work that had been completed it would need to be
knocked down and work begun afresh. After several messages the work remained unfinished.
In an interview Suleman claimed he had purchased the business from a John Roberts six months earlier.
In another, when asked: “Who is John Roberts, can you provide contact details for John Roberts” he replied: “Don’t know”.
Judge Andrew Woolman said he had deceived customers with a fake name, and said though the quality of work was principal cause of distress, not knowing who to talk to added to their distress.