4,000 small builders lose £1m in web con

Grant Prior 10 years ago

More than 4,000 small builders have been ripped-off for £1m by websites which claimed they could find them work.

Builders were persuaded to pay £300 to register with sites providing a database of “trusted” firms to carry out domestic works.

But the sites delivered nothing and have now been shut down by the High Court following an investigation by the Company Investigations unit of the Insolvency Service.

The Building Trades Database Limited, Quality Build Services Limited, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Limited and MTB Sussex Limited traded between October 2008 and February 2011.

Salespeople working for the sites claimed members of the public could submit an enquiry to the company’s website detailing their work requirements to receive a recommendation for an approved builder or tradesman.

Tradesmen were persuaded by cold calling techniques to register as members on the websites operated by the companies in return for the payment of a fee typically of between £200-£300 plus VAT.

The investigation found the sites made false and misleading statements to tradesmen and no or insufficient evidence was found by investigators that builders received any referrals.

In all nearly £1m was conned by the companies from around 4,000 tradesmen which was paid in commission fees to sales staff and payments to the companies directors.

Company Investigations Supervisor Chris Mayhew said: “The Building Trades Database Limited preyed on tradesmen to build up a database business built on seriously misleading and unfounded statements to persuade them to enroll for the purported service.

“The business effectively migrated from one company to another and the continuing deceit on tradesmen unfortunate enough to have been contacted by these companies is perhaps best illustrated by the discovery that the telephone numbers for the positive testimonials about one of the companies, Coast 2 Coast Building Services Limited, purportedly from two tradesmen, matched those for two mobile telephones found at the company’s former trading address”.

In ordering the companies into liquidation Ms Registrar Barber said: “Each company made misleading and unfounded statements to tradesmen by a variety of methods including cold calling and on their websites in order to lure tradesmen into paying a membership fee.

“Despite a vigorous investigation into the trading practices of each company, no or insufficient evidence was uncovered, still less was provided by the companies, that anyone who signed up received any work referrals at all or received any commercial benefit.”

Latest news

Structural steel price jumps another £50 a tonne

British Steel blames New Year's price hike on continuing high product costs
1 day ago

Green light for Birmingham Paradise landmark hotel

17-storey hotel will be the 'cornerstone' of Phase 2
1 day ago

Enabling works start at £400m Manchester First Street

Downing to start main construction in March of three resi buildings rising up to 45 storeys
1 day ago

Former BAM Nuttall chief to join Murphy

Adrian Savory to start new role as director of Major Projects division next month
1 day ago

Bouygues set for London Tustin Estate 700-home rebuild

Phased building programme to start towards the end of the year
1 day ago

Safety horror show on housing site leads to director ban

Court hears contractor ignored multiple prohibition and improvement notices
1 day ago

JV North calls up local firms for £250m new home works

Framework for home building projects worth up to £2m
1 day ago

Kier more than halves debts to below £200m

Kier chief reports steady progress in first six months of trading
2 days ago

Barhale boosts funds as it looks to rebuild turnover

Contractor confident as water companies ramp-up spending plans
2 days ago

HS2 labour agency looks to float on AIM

£23m turnover labour supply business looks to raise funds for expansion
2 days ago

Kane scores £29m M&E deal with Willmott Dixon

Off site works to play crucial role in major London estate contract
2 days ago

Graham secures third Audley retirement village

Work starts on Audley Villages site at Scarcroft, West Yorkshire.
2 days ago

Keltbray wins first deal for former nmcn infrastructure arm

Hull waste processing contract for rescued division
3 days ago

50 firms win £750m decarbonisation framework

Fusion21 framework to target 'whole building' works on homes and schools
3 days ago

Balfour Beatty UK construction MD to step down

Tom Edgcumbe to depart after just over a year as MD construction services in England and Wales
3 days ago

Crest Nicholson trebles cladding retrofit provisions to £43m

House builder revises building safety retrofit costs in face of new Government guidance
3 days ago

BAM bags £110m refurb of iconic Covent Garden tower

Landmark Seifert-designed 15-storey Space House to get two extra floors
4 days ago

Winvic to start UK’s largest speculative shed

Ellesmere Port warehouse understood to be worth around £80m
3 days ago

Kier signs deal for £169m Luton hospital revamp

Main construction work to start this month and last until 2024
3 days ago

Willmott Dixon nabs £30m Kirklees police HQ

Work to start within next few weeks on regional police HQ
3 days ago

Kier reported to be in talks to buy Tilbury Douglas

Talks reported to be at an advanced stage between both boards
4 days ago

Finance sealed for next-generation London office job

Goldman Sachs takes stake in London Bridge office project
4 days ago

John F Hunt starts giant clean-up on £110m Walsall site

Land remediation work at contaminated site will take two years
4 days ago

Build to rent boom lifts Watkin Jones profit to £52m

Surging build to rent market lifts development pipeline to £1.8 billion
4 days ago

HS2 awards £310m station lifts and escalators deal

TK Elevator signs 160 lifts and 130 escalators deal for four stations
5 days ago

Robot cutter set to revolutionise paving jobs for Eurovia

Automated system will spell end for noisy slab cutting on busy sites
5 days ago

First mass built carbon negative homes get underway

St Modwen first volume developer to build affordable carbon-negative homes
5 days ago

GMI Construction names new CEO

Lee Powell takes helm as CEO at GMI Construction in growth push
5 days ago

514-home London scheme clears final hurdle

Inland Homes declares victory after three-year planning battle over Hillingdon Master Brewer site
5 days ago

Henry Construction wins £30m Clarion housing scheme

Ravensbury estate regeneration in Mitcham is Henry's first project for Clarion
5 days ago

Contractor services