An Aberdeen gardener has admitted swindling £85,000 from his customers by collecting deposits for jobs he could not do.
George Knowles was operating as Gorgeous Gardens when he agreed to carry out work at properties across the north-east, including in Aberdeen and Fraserburgh.
At Aberdeen Sheriff Court yesterday, the 32-year-old admitted 22 charges of fraud.
In total, he defrauded 25 people for various amounts ranging from £480 to £12,500, with the total coming to £84,810.
The court heard Knowles – who is currently living in a caravan at Parkneuk in Banff – struggled to cope after his “shambolic” business “expanded too quickly”.
He admitted that he told customers he would undertake and complete contracted work and then took a deposit, on the pretence he would use it for materials.
The offences happened between August 1 2016 and March 29 2017.
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Defence solicitor Gregor Kelly said his client accepted it was a “serious matter”.
“He accepts when taking that work on there was no realistic expectation that he could carry out that work,” he said.
“The business was somewhat shambolic and it had expanded too quickly.”
Mr Kelly added that since his “fall from grace”, Knowles had been living in a caravan park and acting as a full-time carer for his partner and his two-year-old child.
He said: “He is not able to work at the moment and is claiming carer’s allowance.
“He is more than aware of the serious sentencing in this matter.”
Sheriff Graeme Napier deferred sentencing until next month for the preparation of background reports.
He said: “I presume you understand the seriousness and the consequences that could follow you. I hope you are not under an illusion of what this means.
“I am looking at an alternative to custodial sentence.”
In 2017, it was revealed police and trading standards officers were looking into complaints regarding Knowles and Gorgeous Gardens.
Aberdeenshire Council’s trading standards team confirmed they were investigating claims he had breached an agreement to only take money for work he could do that he had signed in April 2016.
But angry customers complained that he had taken deposits of thousands of pounds and failed to do the work.