A suburban blinds and shutter business operator who took money from clients for work he never even started has received a suspended jail term, after admitting using the money to impress his girlfriend and further his attempts to become a professional poker player.
The Adelaide Magistrates Court heard 41 year old James Heere, who now lives in New South Wales, offered discounts when payment was made in full up front.
Over the course of nine months, he'd been paid a total of more than $30,000 by 14 clients for work that was never even started.
The court heard that Heere spent the money on himself - including a trip to the Phillipines with his girlfriend, and funding his attempts to become a professional poker player.
Heere even continued to solicit for - and accept - deposits from consumers even after he'd moved interstate.
Magistrate Michelle Sutcliffe imposed a two month, twelve day wholly suspended prison sentence, releasing him on a good behaviour bond - describing his actions as serious and a breach of consumer trust.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Dini Soulio said Heere's behaviour was despicable.
"This is unconscionable behaviour - he exploited his victims, seeking upfront payments of thousands of dollars for work that he had no intention of undertaking," he said.
"He even kept accepting payments after he'd moved interstate and found work elsewhere.
"It's a timely reminder for consumers to always exercise a degree of caution when hiring a tradie - especially if they demand full, up-front payment for services."
Heere was ordered to repay $31, 190 to his victims.
If you have concerns about a tradesperson you are dealing with, contact Consumer and Business Services on 131 882.