Scam building company had never laid a brick yet became a member of the Federation of Master Builders



The Federation of Master Builders has been hammered by victims of a fraudulent building gang.

Contemporary Home Improvements Limited became a member of the trade organization and raked in more than £800,000 for work never carried out.

As the prosecution told Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London: “Not one brick was ever laid by Contemporary Home Improvements. These defendants were not cowboy builders, they were fraudsters.”

They were brought to justice following a joint trading standards and Metropolitan Police investigation.

The London company was set up Brian Tutton, 62, who was last week jailed for seven years for fraud.

Salesman Scott Baker, 50, got four years for fraud.

Fake architect David Gogo, 30, who was described as so bad that he couldn’t use a tape measure, got a suspended sentence and was ordered to carry out 160 hours of unpaid work.

There were 61 victims, many were unable to recover the money from their bank and Judge Noel Casey said that it was “with some regret” that he could not make compensation orders because the defendants had no apparent assets.

Sentencing took place after the court heard victim impact statements, the judge saying: “It was a fraudulent operation from the outset designed to take the maximum deposits possible.

“There has been a serious detrimental effect on victims financially, psychologically and in some cases physically.”

Key to the scam was a property used as a show house, even though Contemporary Home Improvements had nothing to do with the improvements that had been carried out on it.

Let Down: Angie Brigdon and partner Gary Vinall

One victim was Angie Brigdon, who paid a £8,000 deposit for an extension and says she was reassured by the company’s membership of the Federation of Master Builders.

“The FMB never checked who the builder of the show home was, or who signed off the work with the council, or the claim by Contemporary Home Improvements of a £1.2million turnover,” she said.

“They did not do due diligence.

“Four of us subsequently had a meeting with the FMB and they acknowledged that there were loopholes and they needed to go back and look at these errors, but these loopholes had been there for a long time.

“They didn’t give us any useful assistance at all.”

Another victim, Diana Wright, lost £13,000 for a new kitchen that was never started.

“We feel very strongly that FMB had failed in their duty of care to protect the public,” she said.

“That membership status swayed us to a great deal in awarding the contract to Contemporary Home Improvements.

“At that time we felt confident that such membership would give us a large degree of protection from rogue builders.

“We lost the deposit and cannot get any refund from the bank because we paid by bank transfer.

“The FMB should be made to be accountable for the so-called loophole and compensate victims.”

She was also at the later meeting with FMB, where they discovered that its inspector sent to verify Brian Tutton’s past completed project only took verbal information from the owner of the property and did not obtain any documentary evidence. Despite this, the company still acquired FMB membership status.

An FMB spokesperson said: “This company was briefly in membership between May and September 2017, before being expelled swiftly by the FMB Standards Committee after a number of customer complaints were received.

“Following this case, a review of our membership criteria and processes was undertaken, with new measures introduced, including enhanced ID checks and online review searches.

“Conscious of increasingly sophisticated attempts to commit fraud, the FMB, like other organisations, takes every reasonable measure to protect the public.”

After the sentencing Wendy Martin, Director, National Trading Standards, said: “These deceitful fraudsters went to great lengths to conceal their dishonest operation behind a glossy façade, enabling them to con trusting homeowners into handing over large sums of money for building work they had no intention of carrying out.

“Our teams work hard to protect consumers and today’s sentences are a reminder that criminals who engage in these types of scams will be prosecuted.”

PS It takes an unusually vile cowboy builder to rip-off a 94-year-old, but that’s Frenny Jordan for you.

The roofer from Weymouth, Dorset, charged the poor woman £1,500 for repairs to a porch, a later court hearing that the value of the work was only £200.

He also tried to con her into paying £1,400 for the repairs to a garage roof, lying about it leaking.

In a second case he fleeced a 67-year-old, driving her to her bank to collect £1,500 in cash for roof and guttering work worth a fraction of that.

Jordan, 60, admitted four unfair trading offenses at Bournemouth Crown Court in a prosecution brought by Dorset Trading Standards, getting a 42 week suspended prison sentence and 150 hours unpaid work, plus £5,000 costs.

Compensation proceedings are under way.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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