A WIDOWER from Sanderstead has been left with crippling debts and a crumbling garden after rogue contractors overcharged him and failed to return to repair damages.
Stanislav Porokhnya, 46, was approached by contractors who knocked door-to-door in the neighbourhood around Ellenbridge Way back in October and agreed to let them revamp his back garden. The contractors quoted the work at £25,000 but offered to do it for £16,000.
Mr Porokhnya, who is raising his 10-year-old daughter Nadia alone after losing his wife Margaret in 2008, said: "Maybe I am soft but I decided to go for it. They did it in a week but I was not happy with the job they had done.
"Then they charged me extra to repair the wall in my back garden and also they persuaded me to let them do my front too.
"In the end, I had to pay them £27,000 in cash. I had to borrow £12,000 from the bank and sell off all my bonds in my savings to pay the rest.
"Then last week, the wall they worked on completely fell down. I called the company's number but it never picked up. Finally, someone spoke to me and they kept saying they would call back.
"They haven't and now I don't know what to do, I have so much debt and it looks a mess. I am going to have to take a mortgage out on the house.
"They looked legitimate and had the right kind of machinery but all the work they did is falling apart.
"I just feel really naïve and stupid now."
Mr Porokhnya's next-door neighbour, Rob Rankin, said: "The whole thing was all wrong. They knocked part of my wall down in the process. They completely ripped him off.
"I think the workers were illegal – they worked non-stop for 12 hour days. It looked like forced labour to me. They were quite forceful, too, you had to be strong to get them off your property."
Mr Porokhnya said the company's boss had pushed him into the house when he had come round demanding to be paid. He said: "I was scared. I had to get the money to get him off my back."
He also said the builders looked like "hardworking slaves" and had said to him they were not allowed to talk to customers.