The victims of two plumbing companies who defrauded their clients have been fully compensated for their financial losses, after Southampton City Council prosecuted the individuals involved.
Following a five-month trial at Southampton Crown Court, eight defendants were found guilty of money laundering and fraud offences. A further defendant had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
The city council said that between them the nine defendants had paid, or had been ordered to pay, compensation totalling more than £350,000. “This figure will increase as subsequent compensation payments are scheduled to be paid up until July 2020.”
The trial followed a four-year investigation by the city council’s Trading Standards team, which put evidence before the court of 177 victims, who had paid sums varying from £200 to more than £18,000 for plumbing and drainage work.
Prosecuting for the council, Nicholas Haggan QC told the court that customers had been misled about how the bill was to be calculated, about the need for the work to be done and what had been done. Money was also taken from customer’s accounts without permission.
Southampton’s Trading Standards team worked alongside National Trading Standards to uncover the activity of the fraudsters, who were mainly from the Bournemouth area, targeting victims across the South of England, including residents of Southampton, Eastleigh, Dorset and Somerset.
Cllr Jacqui Rayment, Cabinet member for Environment and Transport at Southampton City Council, said: “The people running and working for these companies targeted those people that they knew they could exploit, charging exorbitant sums of money to fund their own lifestyles.
“The full compensation received by the victims will hopefully help to bring closure to those who fell prey to these unscrupulous tradesmen.”