Sheffield elderly couple’s garden dream in tatters after being scammed

A vulnerable elderly couple from Sheffield have been left devastated after being 'scammed' out of £2,700 of their pensions to build a dream garden where they could enjoy their post-retirement life together.

By Rahmah Ghazali
Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 12:22 pm

Marie and Paul Francis, of Walkley, said they obtained the contact details of a landscaping company online and after receiving a quote agreed to pay £1,000 in cash on day one of the gardening work, with £1,700 to be paid on the second day of the gardening work.

But after handing over the two payments, the couple claim to have never heard from the owner of the company or his workers again.

Marie, a grandmother-of-five, who suffers from chronic epilepsy and asthma, said: “I asked him for the receipt and he said he didn’t have his book with him.

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Paul and Marie Francis.

“On the first day, he came and started digging out. And then the day after, another two men put a fence up and came back with wood chippings. Then later that day, he said, 'We're finished now’ and left. We were shocked because it didn't look like what we expected.”

The 65-year-old said: “I'm really upset. Paul got the pension money to do the garden for me to go outside. When it happened, I felt so guilty and upset.

“I kept phoning the man but nobody picked up.”

Paul, 66, said he wanted a nice garden for Marie to enjoy because she cannot leave home much due to her illness.

The back garden that was deemed 'finished'.

“I'm just so angry this happened,” he said.

Their plight was made known to a local contractor, Chris Crowther, who said would be happy to help the couple achieve the garden of their dreams.

He said: “After surveying their garden, it was going to come to £4,000 but they said they haven't got that kind of money.

“I felt bad, obviously I can't do the work for free, so they said they have some savings of around £2,000.

“So in order to do the work, I told them how about we raise funds so they could pay the remainder of the money,” he said.

Chris then helped set up a Go Fund Me crowdfunding page online, but he said it still requires a lot of support from the public. The page has only raised £140 since it was launched earlier this month.

Posting on the page, he said: “They had already had a company out and paid £2,700 for what I can only describe as an absolute joke. The garden hadn't been levelled, the fence ran at an angle instead of straight, they had built some next to useless steps up to the garden and basically ripped off this lovely couple.

“So after surveying their garden and the work done, we have given them a quote to rectify and finish the work, and they can not afford to have this put right, even after we put the price as low as possible, at this moment in time.”

To help Marie and Paul to get their dream garden, visit GoFundMe.