Wobbly walls, sloppy dollops of mortar everywhere and upside-down bricks – this is the appalling state of work being done by criminals for a cowboy builder imprisoned for defrauding clients. Waheed Butt boasted of “world class service” and finished products of “show home quality”, but instead systematically destroyed homes across Birmingham.
The 49-year-old, from Reading, was jailed for six years at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting a fraudulent trading charge. He defrauded a dozen clients across the city out of more than £150,000 by hiring ex-convicts and drug addicts to do substandard work, even abandoning projects altogether.
Career fraudster Butt, who was also believed to be a prolific gambler capable of burning thousands of pounds in a day, has been brought to justice following an investigation by Birmingham City Council’s Trading Standards.
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He set aside £152,000 to compensate the victims – thus avoiding forfeiture proceedings – although it was feared that the total losses of the 13 claimants could exceed £200,000.
The Authority have now released footage on Birmingham Live showing the appalling level of work carried out by Butt’s company. A set of images relate to a rear extension to a property in Barwell Road, Bordesley.
They show poorly positioned or uneven walls as well as upside-down bricks, missing wall tiles, sunken wall cavities and excessive use of mortar. The second set of photographs were taken at another extension project on Withy Hill Road, Sutton Coldfield.
They bear witness to poorly constructed walls, the use of too thick mortar, voids above the windows and shortened soffits. Trading Standards launched an investigation in December 2019 after receiving numerous complaints about Butt’s company, WB Infrastructure, based in Salisbury Drive, Water Orton.
Tom Quigley, Birmingham Trading Standards team leader, said: “This rogue trader started a business as a builder when he had little or no experience building projects where citizens spent thousands of pounds, hoping it would improve their homes.
“Instead, the ‘world-class service’ that Butt’s victims thought they were going to receive resulted in the construction of unsafe buildings that had to be demolished, at additional cost. Our Trading Standards Officers are working hard to to bring fraudulent merchants like this to justice and to help protect consumers across the city from being misled – and I’m glad there’s a reward for some of his victims.”
Butt typically targeted people on the RatedPeople or MyBuilder websites looking for home improvements such as kitchens, roofs, electrical work, plumbing and conversions. Construction experts have condemned at least two of the projects, calling them unsafe and recommending their dismantling.
Butt carried out the scheme while licensed for car-selling offenses that landed him in jail in 2016. He has 100 prior convictions to his name, about 80 for fraud and similar misdemeanors.
There were 13 plaintiffs, including suppliers caught up in his deception network.
When Butt was convicted, the court heard of the devastating impact on his victims, some of whom were effectively left homeless and lost their life savings. In addition to his prison sentence, Butt was also disqualified for being a director for eight years.
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