"The defendant seems to have targeted elderly people in the Asian community."
Bogus planning agent Harjit Singh Marwaha is sentenced to 56 weeks in jail after deceiving city residents.
The 34-year-old British Asian had been duping local homeowners in Wolverhampton, while purporting to be a planning agent.
He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and knowingly engaging in a misleading commercial practice.
In 2015, the Wolverhampton City Trading Standards officials received complaints about Marwaha.
He was producing amateur documents that stated he had planning permission for a number of properties.
In one case, he agreed to arrange for extensions to be built at an elderly man’s home.
However, Marwaha failed to submit the plans after pocketing over £1,000 and providing a fake receipt for the man.
Prosecutor Mr David Abel told Stoke Crown Court: “The defendant seems to have targeted elderly people in the Asian community.
“He gave one man a receipt that the the person to believe the application was processing.
“In fact, the plans had not been submitted and were never submitted.”
Marwaha also tricked another homeowner with worthless documents, that didn’t contain essential details required for a planning application.
Back in 2013, Marwaha received an eight month suspended sentence and £7,720 fine for fraud, forgery, unfair trading and misleading advertising.
He forged documents to obtain planning permission to build four bungalows and two home extensions.
One couple lost a total of £2,340, after Marwaha advised he could help them secure permission for a two-storey extension.
At the time, he told the court:
“I apologise to all parties concerned for my unprofessional behaviour. Nothing can excuse malpractice and I am disgusted by my actions.”
However, he repeated similar offences in 2015 and hence resulted in his latest jail sentence of 56 weeks.
Steve Evans, cabinet member of City Environment, comments: “The council takes consumer protection very seriously and will always act to prosecute those who look to commit fraud against our residents.
“The unscrupulous should not be under any illusion. If you are perpetrating acts of fraud against consumers, then you will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The City of Wolverhampton Council also says it hopes the jailing of Marwaha would act as a tough barrier in the fight to safeguard honest consumers in the city.