Carpet cleaning firms who swindled Exmouth pensioners have been fined just £20

PUBLISHED: 12:28 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:28 09 January 2018

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

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Carpet cleaning companies that ripped off elderly customers in Exmouth, charging pensioners hundreds of pounds, have been fined just £20 at Exeter Crown Court because the firms have gone bust.

Two carpet cleaning companies which swindled vulnerable elderly customers out of £200,000 have been fined just £20.

Premier Carpet Cleaning Services and A Star carpets were handed nominal fines at Exeter Crown Court because they are both in liquidation and have no assets or income.

Their founder and director Adam Vallier has already received a suspended prison sentence for his part in ripping off customers in Exmouth, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, and Torbay.

Vallier and his two firms swindled customers by offering them a cut price cleaning service for £19 and then overcharging for extra work which was not needed.

Judge Graham Cottle imposed a nominal fine of £10 on each of the companies after Miss Anita Noerr, prosecuting, said they were both in liquidation, have no assets, and no ability to pay any fine.

A financial investigation showed Vallier had made £219,007 from the frauds but he was ordered to repay just £350 at a Proceeds of Crime hearing in November.

The figure was so low because his remaining assets were found to be only £350.

Vallier, aged 35, of Hennington Road, Pokesdown, Bournemouth, was found guilty at a trial in 2016 of two counts of fraud, one of misleading customers, and admitted three of engaging in unfair commercial practices.

He was jailed for 12 months, suspended for a year and ordered to do 250 hours unpaid community work.

At his trial Recorder Mr Adam Vaitilingam, QC, branded his techniques as an insidious blight on society and his behaviour as cavalier, corrupt and deeply unpleasant.

Vallier and his two companies swindled customers all over Devon by offering to clean two carpets for £19 or £20 but then charged them up to 22 times more.

The boss and his staff found excuses to carry out extra work, including a wholly fictitious moth infestation.

Other customers were told their carpets were bigger and dirtier than expected or needed ‘deep clean’ work because they were light coloured.

Elderly clients from Exmouth, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, and Torbay ended up paying much more than the £19 offer and in some cases faced bills running into hundreds of pounds.

Vallier and his two companies also lied about being a member of a trade body and being qualified to used a variety of cleaning products and to work on woolen carpets.

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