Couple lost £52,000 from pocket but claims’rogue traders’ took the money as payment for their ‘dream kitchen’ but left the project ‘less than 20 per cent complete’

Couple’s £52,000 Loss in Rogue Trader Scam

Loss of Money and Dream Kitchen

Jismon Varghese and his wife, both NHS workers, have found themselves £52,000 out of pocket and without their long-awaited kitchen extension, which they describe as their dream project. They had saved diligently for years to undertake significant renovations on their £350,000 home in Poole, Dorset. Promised a four to six-week timeline, the project was far from complete even after months of delays and excuses from the builders, Transform Dorset Ltd.

Liquidation Revelation and Police Investigation

The couple’s ordeal took a distressing turn when they discovered that Transform Dorset Ltd had gone into liquidation, leaving their project in limbo. An independent surveyor assessed the work and estimated that an additional £40,000 would be needed to finish it. With their savings gone and the project incomplete, the Varghese family reported the matter to the police fraud squad and Dorset Council’s Trading Standards, who are now actively investigating the situation.

Initial Decision and Warning Signs

Jismon Varghese had carefully considered various builders’ quotes for the project, with Transform Dorset’s quote slightly higher than others. However, he was enticed by a 10 percent Christmas discount offered by the company. To ensure a smooth process, he obtained references and a contract, complete with a total price (including VAT) and a completion date, before work commenced.

Disruption and Excuses

Initially, the project seemed to proceed as planned, but issues arose after a few weeks when the builders started missing appointments. Varghese received explanations ranging from worker injuries and illnesses to a shortage of staff. Builders sporadically worked on the project, often requesting additional payments, creating the illusion of progress. By May, three months past the expected completion date, Varghese sought advice from Citizens Advice, which prompted him to send a letter to Transform Dorset Ltd, alleging a contract breach.

Fruitless Complaints and Company’s Liquidation

Despite the letter, there was no response from the company. Varghese escalated his complaints by contacting CheckaTrade, the police, Trading Standards, and Action Fraud. CheckaTrade sent a surveyor to evaluate the work, who concluded that only 20 percent had been completed and estimated an additional cost of £40,000 for completion. Subsequently, CheckaTrade revoked Transform Dorset Ltd’s membership. Varghese later received an email from the company director informing him of its liquidation, which included the clearance of its warehouse, including the brand-new kitchen Varghese had paid for.

Suspicions and Investigations

Varghese noted that the directors of Transform Dorset Ltd had started a new business, Blandford Plastics, at the same address listed on Companies House. This raised suspicions, and a police officer informed him of similar cases involving the same business. Varghese expressed his frustration at the situation, saying, “Mentally we were down. It’s been months, we’ve spent all the money. Me and my wife lost our peace.”

Ongoing Investigations

Dorset Council’s Trading Standards team confirmed receiving three complaints against Transform Dorset Ltd, alleging that the company had accepted substantial prepayments for high-value building work and failed to complete the work as promised, with any completed work being substandard. The investigations are ongoing, and if criminal offenses are identified, Dorset Police will take appropriate action.

Awaiting Response

Transform Dorset Ltd has been approached for comment, but no response has been provided at the time of reporting.

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