WEST Aussies are being ripped off by a rogue seller of food vans and trailers.
It has prompted Consumer Protection to issue a warning not to deal with Cody Raymond Williams who has accepted more than $70,000 from small business operators but has failed to supply the vans or provide refunds.
Mr Williams, sole director of CLC Group Pty Ltd trading as CLC Fabrications (unregistered), has taken deposits and, in some cases, the full amount from six people who responded to advertisements on Gumtree.
One small business paid a $15,000 deposit to Mr Williams for a $21,000 purchase but received nothing in return. Some purchases were for the vehicle only and others included the costs of a fit-out. The six small business operators come from Perth, Bunbury and Albany.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Lanie Chopping said the amounts owed were significant and it would appear the buyers were duped by a man with a dubious track record.
“Cody Williams has history with our department, previously operating as a painter without being registered, and now ripping off hard-working small businesspeople who can least afford to lose such large amounts of money,” Ms Chopping said.
“The purchase of the vans or trailers was part of a desire by people to expand their existing business or to start a mobile business, but now their dreams have been shattered by trusting the wrong person.
“We strongly recommend that, considering Cody Williams’ behaviour over many years, people should not do business with him and they should contact Consumer Protection if they encounter him. In the past he has operated under various business names and has used many aliases.”
Mr Williams has previously been prosecuted by the Building Commissioner for carrying out painting work without being registered, having non-compliant contracts and demanding excessive deposits from consumers. He was fined $20,000 for these offences in February 2016 and was earlier fined $1000 for being an unregistered painter in June 2012.
The Building Commissioner issued public warnings relating to Mr Williams in August 2013, September 2014 and February 2016.
Energy Safety director Ken Bowron advised buyers of these types of vans and trailers to ensure they complied with relevant Australian electricity and gas safety standards.
“The vehicles may be imported from overseas so they will need to be inspected and checked by a licensed electrical contractor or gas fitter who can provide documentation confirming that they meet the minimum safety standards and are therefore safe to use,” he said.
“If the vans and trailers don’t comply with Australian standards, they could pose a serious risk to the operator as well as members of the public.”
Small Business Commissioner David Eaton alerts small business owners to be very wary of making significant purchases from online platforms such as Facebook or Gumtree.
“We always advise people to undertake essential due diligence before spending large amounts of money. Checking whether a supplier has an ABN and undertaking an online search of the owner’s name should be the bare minimum,” Mr Eaton said.
“If something doesn’t look right, or you are unsure of how to proceed, contact the Small Business Development Corporation. Our advisers are available to speak with prospective business owners every day and are aware of issues like these.”