Fake builder jailed after scamming 11 people out of more than £1,000,000
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A conman builder has been jailed for three years after scamming 11 people out of more than £1,000,000, having admitted to fraud last week.
Richard Nicholls, 38, has no experience in construction, but would take thousands in upfront payments before leaving victims with unfinished work.
In some cases, the job was never even started.
Nicholls, an estate agent and salesman from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, ran four companies when he carried out the fraud, which took place over the course of two years and 10 months between February 2016 and December 2018.
Southwark Council said he took money in advance of the work, blowing £52,000 of the £1.1m scammed from victims on gambling.
His victims, meanwhile, would be left with unfinished extensions and below-par home improvement work.
Nicholls was jailed for three years at Inner London Crown Court last Friday (23 December), after admitting one count of fraud and three counts of fraudulent trading.
Two victims, Owen Rees from Camberwell in south-east London and his wife, had their home wrecked when their extension wall was built over their neighbours’ boundary and their bathroom was ripped out without permission.
Despite agreeing on a price of £60,000 with Nicholls before the work started in August 2017, the couple saw their costs double to more than £110,000.
After Nicholls was jailed, Rees said the fake builder's 'lies, deceit and total lack of moral compass' left him and his wife 'emotionally and financially traumatised'.
He explained how Nicholls disappeared after he tried to plead with him to make things right, and that they later had to borrow money from family to get the work completed.
Ultimately, they had to sell the house.
In November last year, as Shropshire Star reported at the time, Nicholls pleaded guilty to one count of fraud by falsely representing the work would be carried out to a professional standard under the name GMD Construction, to one count of fraudulent trading relating to Active East, to participating in a fraudulent business concerning Side & Rear, and to another charge of fraudulent trading relating to that same company.
Prosecutor Richard Heller told Judge Vanessa Baraitser that his pleas were accepted by the prosecution, adding that he had entered pleas 'on a full facts basis'.