Neil John Bagnall, of Pitt Street in Stafford, pleaded guilty to offences relating to dishonesty and taking up front payments from customers for building materials and home improvement works that were either not supplied or undertaken or only partially done.
The 36-year-old was given a 16-month jail term suspended for two years, a community order of 150 hours’ unpaid work and 20 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement sessions at Stafford Crown Court on Wednesday.
The case against Bagnall was brought by Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team which was first notified of his behaviour in September 2018.
The court heard that over a 12-month period, Bagnall and his company "NJB Plastering and Property Maintenance Limited" caused loss to eight customers totalling £16,152.
In one case, officers received a complaint from a Stafford couple who had paid Bagnall £11,000 in June and July 2018 for home improvement work to the inside and outside of their property.
A couple from Stafford advertised on Facebook Marketplace for someone to do plastering to the hall, stairs and landing and replace skirting boards and doors throughout the house.
Bagnall got in touch and agreed to do the work for £1,000 including materials, then built up a friendship with the couple and agreeing to do other significant work.
He agreed to do the work and promised he would complete it within four to five weeks, but following payment became evasive and gave excuses why only a limited amount of work had been undertaken.
When the couple finally confronted Bagnall with a letter requesting their money back, he ripped up their letter up in front of them and told them there was nothing the police or trading standards could do.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities and culture Victoria Wilson said: "Our trading standards team works hard to protect local communities and will always take action against any traders or businesses who behave inappropriately.
"It’s a priority to the county council to keep people safe and the team is always working behind the scenes to support this.
“What Mr Bagnall did was shocking. Not only did he dishonestly take up front payments from customers for building materials and home improvement works, he abused their trust in him.
“The sentence today handed down by the magistrate shows the dim view the courts take over such trading practices."
The victims said: "Neil Bagnall befriended us once he knew we had pension savings and conned us out of £11,000 for work he never did and left our house in a complete mess for months.
"We worked with trading standards in the hope that he won’t be able to con anyone else now."
The prosecution’s case against Bagnall was that he set up his company, ‘NJB Plastering and Property Maintenance Limited’, to avoid liability to his creditors, including building merchants and his customers.
His continual use of his own personal bank account after the company was set up supported the dishonest nature of his business.
He had previously pleaded guilty to six offences of fraud and one under The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015.