A man who operated a fraudulent business that sold kitchens and bathrooms to consumers out of Tesco supermarket foyers has received a 98 week prison sentence, suspended for 2 years, at Harrow Crown Court. He has also been ordered to complete 150 hours community service, pay Brent & Harrow Trading Standards costs of £59,354 and a statutory charge of £100.
This week’s sentencing follows an investigation by Brent & Harrow Trading Standards Service with support from the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigations Team.
Adahm Sheikh (aged 51 of The Ridings, Luton), who pleaded guilty to one count of fraudulent trading, operated under the business names “Amazing Kitchens” and “Home Improvement World” between 2013 and 2016. He sold his kitchens and bathrooms in the foyers of a number of Tesco stores including in Watford and Harrow, generating more than £130,000 in sales.
More than 40 complaints were received by Trading Standards across the South East of England where the defendant promoted his services from stands set up within Tesco supermarket foyers to unsuspecting shoppers before visiting their homes to measure up potential jobs. Once payment was made, Sheikh failed to deliver the agreed work with many customers receiving either no work at all, or only partially fitted kitchens.
Prosecuting barrister, Elaine Freer, informed the court that whilst waiting for home improvements Sheikh provided customers with various reasons for the delays including a warehouse flood, a hit on his head with a cricket ball, a blood clot on his brain, a diabetic fit, a family illness and bereavement.
When customers became agitated and began to complain, Sheikh threatened them, saying to one “Those who left bad reviews [online], gave grief, lied, caused problems, went to [the] press or tried to [take] legal action will be sorted out last”.
Sheikh also used fake customer testimonials on his website which Trading Standards found had been copied from a different website unconnected to his business.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:
“Mr Sheikh deliberately defrauded customers out of thousands of pounds and then used intimidating scare tactics to threaten them when they complained. His actions were reprehensible and I am pleased that he is now facing the justice he deserves.
“People who suspect they may have fallen victim to similar crimes should report it to trading standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”
Simon Legg, Head of Brent & Harrow Trading Standards commented:
“Mr Sheikh’s business activities have caused immense stress and heartache for all his victims. Many had paid large sums of money expecting their dream, fitted kitchen and instead, have received nothing but a string of excuses and disappointment. Some still do not have new kitchens and now don’t have enough money to pay for a replacement.”
Andrew Clooney, Chair of the NTS Tri Regional Investigation Team said:
“I am pleased that working in partnership with Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, we have been able to bring Mr Sheikh to justice. We are hopeful that this result will help send a clear message that such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Cllr Varsha Parmar, Harrow Council’s cabinet member for environment said:
“This fraudster fleeced his victims and left them without an ‘amazing kitchen or bathroom’. Despicably he had the audacity to intimidate and threaten them when they questioned his dodgy activity.
“Thanks to joint work from our Trading Standards officers and the national Trading Standards officers Sheikh’s criminal venture has come to an end. This is what we do to rogue traders, we make sure they pay for their crime.”
Passing sentence Judge, Her Honour H Rogers QC said:
“Mr Griggs [a victim/key witness] deserves credit to bring this matter to Trading Standards and the court. I acknowledge efforts of the Trading Standards team to bring the case to court and applaud them.”
Since the legal proceedings started, Mr Sheikh has taken steps to refund £79,000 to customers after he pleaded guilty to the offences.
Notes to Editors
Notes to editors
- Adahm Sheikh pleaded guilty to one offence of participating in a fraudulent business by purporting to sell fixtures and fittings and the labour to install them, contrary to section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006
- Adahm Sheikh was a sole trader trading as ‘Amazing Kitchens’ and on occasions, ‘Home Improvement World’
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