A man has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding vulnerable and elderly consumers across the country out of at least £300,000 at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court today. The sentencing follows a nationwide case taken by Powys County Council Trading Standards supported by the National Trading Standards Investigation Team Wales.
Allan John Coutts, 60, of Park Road, Sandhurst, Berkshire was found guilty of breaches of the Fraud Act 2006 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 earlier this month. Coutts ran a tarmac repair business between February 2015 and August 2016 across England and Wales, trading under several names including Roadmac Construction Limited, A. Coutts Tarmac Division and Roads, and Drives & Asphalting in a deliberate attempt to avoid detection.
The defendant used a lorry specifically designed to resemble an ‘official’ vehicle, such as that used by the Highways Agency, to cold call customers to try and obtain driveway repair work. He would select secluded properties in remote areas with longer driveways to maximise profit and minimise the chances of being caught. Consumers targeted were often elderly or retired and were told their driveways could be repaired cheaply with excess supplies of materials.
The work, which often took only hours to complete, was consistently of an extremely poor standard, with just loose stone chippings applied to existing driveways with no solution used to hold it in place. Customers would later discover the work they had paid for with a ‘five year guarantee’ was worthless. Coutts preferred customers to pay in cash, with some customers even accompanied to local banks to withdraw money.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:
“Mr Coutts deliberately targeted elderly and vulnerable consumers with the intention of carrying out worthless repair work for large profits. He lured in customers with the false impression of a legitimate business only to leave behind poor quality and unfinished work.
“National Trading Standards will continue to fight on behalf of consumers to hold criminals like this to account. If you believe you, or a member of your family, has fallen victim to a fraud like this please report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 03454 04 05 06.”
County Councillor James Evans, Portfolio Holder for Powys County Councillor and responsible for Trading Standards said:
“Our team has worked effectively in partnership with National Trading Standards to bring a rogue trader down, with a view of to preventing him trading again and ripping off other vulnerable people, and also to compensate the victims who have already been caught. I commend all involved in this action to protect our streets from rogue traders and to further support our legitimate traders.”
Clive Jones, Professional Lead Trading Standards Community Safety and emergency planning said:
“Coutts targeted Powys first and after ripping off our communities expanded his appalling trading methods to other parts of the UK. What he did not predict was the tenacity of our investigators and that of our colleagues regionally as we will not tolerate our residents being subject to criminal practice.”
Notes to Editors
For more information about this case or for general enquiries about National Trading Standards please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors
About National Trading Standards
- National Trading Standards provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally
- The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards.
- National Trading Standards teams are based within local authority trading standards services
For more information please visit www.nationaltradingstandards.uk