A fencing business owner, Raye Watts, has received a suspended prison sentence after defrauding customers and leaving them almost £9,000 out of pocket for substandard and unfinished work. The sentencing took place at Bodmin Magistrates Court.
Watts, 37, from St Austell and the sole director of ‘Know a Fence Ltd’, pleaded guilty to five charges under the Fraud Act 2006 and one charge of running a fraudulent business under the Companies Act 2006.
The investigation by Cornwall Council Trading Standards began in July 2022 following complaints from customers who had paid deposits for work that was never started. Despite their efforts to communicate with Watts, they were met with excuses and delays.
Four victims were affected, collectively incurring losses of nearly £9,000. One couple had to repay a £4,000 loan for incomplete and subpar work done by Watts.
Gary Webster, representing Cornwall Council Trading Standards, expressed disappointment that such cases continue to occur. Customers trusted a seemingly genuine business, only to face shattered expectations and a string of lies and excuses.
Webster also noted that Watts was a local individual known to at least one of the victims. His refusal to cooperate with the trading standards team left no choice but to pursue legal action.
Martyn Alvey, Council Portfolio Holder, emphasized that the trading standards team’s efforts send a clear message that inadequate work will not go unchecked.
As part of the sentence, Watts must attend 12 mental health treatments and perform 200 hours of unpaid work in the community. He is also required to pay 25% of the compensation, amounting to £2,000, which will be deducted monthly from his universal credit.
Instances like this highlight the importance of conducting thorough research and due diligence when engaging with businesses to avoid falling victim to fraudulent practices.