A rogue removal man has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Sole trader Jeffrey Hayward, who used an address in Towcester as his business address, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business at Northampton Crown Court today (Monday, July 16).
Hayward operated a removals service under a succession of trading names including Removals R Us, All Shires Removals, All Shires Removals & Storage, Master Movers & Storers, Master Movers Removals & Storage, Ace Movers & Storers and Rugby Movers & Storers by providing low-cost quotes to customers from leads generated by web-based removal sites.
An investigation by Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards service found that Hayward would require payment in advance for carrying out house moves and then fail to provide the service, usually giving very little notice to the customer and in some cases, only on moving day itself.
He would give an excuse, often telling them that his vehicle had broken down, and suggest that the customer find an alternative mover and he would refund their payment.
Invariably, he did not make a refund even if pursued to judgement in the county court.
The total figure for the loss to 23 affected customers over the period of offending - from January 2010 to November 2010 - was £15,392.55.
The victims were based in Coventry, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire when they contracted with Hayward.
County council cabinet member for environment, Cllr Ben Smith, said: “Moving house is already a very stressful and expensive time in people‘s lives, but imagine booking a removals person who you believe to be reliable and then he doesn’t turn up.
“I’m very pleased trading standards have been able to take this action against Jeffrey Hayward whose rogue trading affected so many people.”
As well as failing to carry out the house moves, Hayward also falsely claimed that he was a member of the British Association of Removers and the Road Haulage Association.
He also falsely claimed that customers would have the benefit of up to £25,000 worth of transit insurance cover.
Hayward also implied he was part of a larger company, stating it was “also at Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Oxford, Cambridge, London”, as well as advertising three telephone numbers but having all calls directed to the same mobile number.