Fraudster who sold mattresses out of a van is fined and banned from selling in street
A SCAMMER who sold mattresses out of the back of a van in Yate has been banned from approaching customers and ordered to pay more than £1,300 in fines and costs.
Lovell Lee approached people in the street to make sales and carried on his scam across the South West despite being cautioned by police as long as 10 years ago and prosecuted back in 2013.
South Gloucestershire Council’s trading standards team took action when a couple in Yate who had been sold two mattresses by Lee made a complaint about him via Citizens Advice in November last year.
They prosecuted him for failing to give the couple written notice of their 14 day cancellation rights, which should have enabled them to claim their money back, after discovering he had been reported three times, most recently in Swindon in 2016.
During the investigation, two further complaints were received via Citizen’s Advice, including one from a woman Lee had approached in the street and sold a mattress to while she was out walking her dog.
Lee pleaded guilty to two fraud offences at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on September 25.
The 45-year-old, from Cirencester, was fined £332 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.
He was also banned from cold calling or approaching customers in the street anywhere in the UK under a two-year criminal behaviour order and told to comply with consumer protection legislation.
The council said Lee had been prosecuted "as he had clearly ignored previous advice and continued to trade in an illegal manner, showing complete disregard for the law".
Industry body the National Bed Federation says hundreds of so-called ‘bargain mattresses’ are sold across the country each week by rogue traders from the back of vans.
The NBF says the mattresses they sell are often they are simply discarded old mattresses that have been salvaged by unscrupulous dealers, who then put cheap new covers on them, so they look brand new, sometimes attaching labels from well-known brands.
Some don't meet fire safety regulations and many are dirty and worn out under their new covers.
Council cabinet member for communities Rachael Hunt said: “We are determined not to allow scammers like this to operate unhindered in South Gloucestershire and we will use all of the powers at our disposal to prosecute offenders and protect our residents.
“We strongly advise people not to deal with doorstep traders and to only make agreements with reputable traders, never paying any money up front. If you have concerns then I encourage you to report them and if a deal seems too good to be true; it usually is.”
Anyone who is suspicious about doorstep traders can report them by calling 03454 04 05 06.
Main picture: The label attached to one of the mattresses sold by Lee. Industry body the National Bed Federation said scammers sometimes attach labels of well-known brands to their mattresses. Photo: South Gloucestershire Council