Rogue trader faces jail after string of frauds
John Hargadon, 49, created a professional-looking website emblazoned with endorsements, kitemarks and the logo of well-known tradesman recommendation scheme RatedPeople.com.
But as Preston Magistrates Court heard, he had been kicked off the Rated People scheme after poor feedback, and the other two kitemarks were for schemes that do not exist.
Part of his high pressure selling technique involved showing homeowners nearby new driveways – which had been completed by other people.
And if all else failed, he fell back on aggressive selling techniques and dishonest contracts.
Preston Magistrates previously heard how Hargadon, of Cross Skelton Street, Colne, had enticed one victim, a 57-year-old headteacher, into letting him carry out work after viewing his website.
Prosecuting for Lancashire Trading Standards, Nick McNamara said: “Although her mind had been put partly at rest by what she had seen, she told Hargadon that she still wanted time to think about things before committing to such a large job.
“Unfortunately, Hargadon was not for leaving until he had an immediate ‘yes’ and she would tell you that he instantly became pestering and hectoring, to such a degree that she uses the word ‘aggressive’ to describe his behaviour.
“In fact, such was his persistence that she signed a contract and, at the same time, signed away her cancellation rights simply to get him out of her house so that she could go to work.
“What she had entered into was a contract for £6,300 worth of driveway re-surfacing and garden landscaping work.”
Hargadon had already extracted £4,000 from the woman, but when she raised concerns about his work, he simply walked off the job and, despite 26 efforts to contact him, by phone, text and by letter, not a penny was refunded.
A 73-year-old man also fell prey to Hargadon’s pushy cold-calling tactics.
The retired painter and decorator, who lives with his disabled wife in Hoghton, answered his front door to Hargadon who told him that he was in the area doing driveways.
He told him he offered a 10-year guarantee, which convinced the pensioner to agree to the work.
The trusting pensioner then gave him £231 to do work at the side of his home – but Hargadon disappeared with his cash, never to be seen by him again.
It was not until Trading Standards’ investigations began that the £231 was eventually refunded as well as £500 of the £1,000 originally paid over.
Hargadon admits six offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, including using a trade association logo of which he wasn’t a member, falsely laying claim to work he had not done, falsely denying his identity and making false claims about the work he had done or would do.