A rogue removal man who took people's money but failed to turn up has been warned he could go to prison.
Jeffrey Hayward of Rugby in Warwickshire pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading at Northampton Crown Court this morning in a prosecution brought by Northamptonshire Trading Standards.
Hayward who turns 35 on Monday, operated under a succession of names including Removals R Us, AllShires Removals, Master Movers, Ace Movers and Rugby Movers & Storage.
He falsely claimed he was a member of the British Association of Removers and the Road Haulage Association and that he had insurance to the value of £25,000.
The sole trader also gave customers the impression his operation was bigger than it was, claiming on websites and literature that his company had bases in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Oxford, Cambridge and London, when in fact it was only registered to a relative's address in Towcester, Northamptonshire.
Hayward always asked for payment in advance, but failed to show on the day of the move, offering customers a variety of excuses as to why he didn't turn up.
Kirsten Bezant, who now lives in Aylsham near Norwich, thought she'd found the perfect removal man when she found Hayward on a price comparison website. She paid a total of £681.50 in advance to move her and her family from RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire in September 2010.
"I got quite a few quotes from different people. He wasn't the cheapest one but I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed a really personable man, very helpful and answered all my questions so we decided to go with him", she explained.
"He was supposed to have arrived at half past eight in the morning. We had our whole lives packed in boxes - everything was ready. Half past eight came and went. We thought we'd give him a little longer then it came to half past nine and we realised he wasn't coming".
In the end Mrs Bezant paid £1,000 for another company to move them the next day.
– KIRSTEN BEZANT, VICTIM
"It's not just about the money, that's bad enough in itself but it's the fact that someone could let a family with young children sit with all their boxes, ready to move on to our next chapter, and just leave us high and dry. The man just doesn't have a heart. He's just after money. It's still upsetting. I can't believe there are people out there like that".
In all Hayward, admitted conning a total of £16,967 out 23 customers between 15th January and 24th November 2010. He will be sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on 16th July.