Dodgy tradie jailed for home improvement scam

A SERIAL fraudster who posed as a general handyman and answered advertisements for home improvement jobs across the Clarence Valley but never did the work, scamming his victims $6800 out of pocket, has been jailed.

Mark Andrew Hughes appeared in Grafton Local Court on Tuesday for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to four charges of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception.

The court heard the offences date between September 2018 and January 2019, and involved Hughes answering four separate adverts on Facebook community groups from across the Clarence from people looking to engage a tradesman for general home improvement work.

According to the agreed facts, the 47-year-old answered the advertisements as part his general handyman service A1 Complete Property Maintenance and in each case responded to notices posted on Facebook groups asking for work to be done.

The court heard Hughes responded to the posts made by the victims and arranged to give a quote over what services he could provide before requesting an initial deposit.

Hughes collected $6800 in deposits from his four victims, but despite many requests and attempts from the victims to contact Hughes he never completed any of the jobs, and only made a start on the fourth project he was contracted to complete. Court documents reveal none of the money has been recovered.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden said the harm and distress caused by the fraud to the victims must be acknowledged, and that there was a need for general and specific deterrence considering the seriousness of the offences and how contacting a handyman for work over social media is common.

“The amount of money involved in the offences is towards the lower end of the scale but is not insignificant,” the magistrate said.

“The victims, who in good faith engaged the offender for home improvement

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Dodgy handyman who once faked cancer swindles $24k

A fraudster handyman who swindled customers out of more than $24,000 also once faked cancer to get more than $12,000 from his girlfriend for “treatments,” a court heard.

Benjamin James Packer, 39, scammed nine clients out of a total of $24,522.50 between February 10 last year to January 22.

Police prosecutor Mark Burrell on Tuesday told Caloundra Magistrates Court Packer advertised his services online using his real name, provided quotes for work to be completed and failed to follow through once he received payment.

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“In each instance, the victim paid the deposit and in return did not receive the work for which they had paid the deposit for,” he said.

“The defendant cited various excuses to each victim as to why he had not commenced the jobs.”

The court heard one of Packer’s victims was 73.

Senior Constable Burrell said a jail term was the only appropriate sentence considering Packer’s dishonest criminal history.

“The offending was deliberate, it was protracted and breached the trust of these victims who were clearly willing to provide the defendant with employment,” he said.

The court heard Packer was sentenced to 18-months on parole in October 2017 when he scammed his former partner out of $12,500.

“He made claims to his then girlfriend that he had cancer and he needed money for treatment,” Senior Constable Burrell said.

“He stated he would repay her but the defendant failed to repay her any funds and the offending was viewed as a significant breach of trust.”

Packer had previously pleaded guilty to eight charges of fraud dishonestly causing detriment and one charge of fraud dishonestly inducing the delivery of property.

Packer’s lawyer Donna Hanslow-Hastie said Packer’s business had run into

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