‘I hope you have the life you deserve’: Wellington tradesman made to pay almost $60,000 to victims of scam plumbing

‘I hope you have the life you deserve’: Wellington tradesman made to pay almost ,000 to victims of scam plumbing

The case was heard today in Hutt Valley District Court. Photo / RNZ

A Wellington trafficker who scammed dozens of people over a period of years has been ordered to pay his victims almost $60,000 in compensation.

Faamanu (Manu) Anae appeared in Hutt Valley Circuit Court this afternoon after pleading guilty to 12 charges — eight counts of unauthorized plumbing work, three counts of illegal sewer laying and a representative charge of using words or titles in connection with a business, which caused another person to believe that they are licensed.

Anae’s offense began in 2020 after he left his job at 24/7 Plumbing, where he had worked for a number of years – however he had received no training and was not a qualified plumber. He went into business for himself under the name IAM Plumbing and started his work.

He asked people to deposit – usually around $5,000 but sometimes up to $10,000. He might show up once or twice to get the job done, but eventually Anae would disappear, leaving the job unfinished.


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Some of his victims were in court today, and the court heard victim stories from six people who suffered significant financial losses as a result of Anae’s crimes.

Matthew Roberts told the court he decided to read his statement in person so Anae would be forced to confront him – “something you [Anae] didn’t have the courage to do it.”

He spoke of Anae giving him “every excuse under the sun” for not completing work on his house after demolishing his bathroom, leaving him without heating or running water in the middle of the second Covid-19 lockdown.

Roberts said his house was riddled with holes and he was forced to shower at the gym or at friends’ houses – even occasionally at Anae’s as the two were neighbors.


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“I spent the winter in a house with holes in the floors and walls that couldn’t be heated,” he said.

“You dug up the front and back yards and destroyed both – there wasn’t a part of my house that wasn’t affected.”

He said his health had been compromised both physically and mentally and he didn’t wish the stress of Anae’s botched work on anyone.

“You sold me a dream and I ended up in a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.”

He said he hadn’t seen a penny of the thousands he paid Anae back and was curious where it went as it quite obviously didn’t go to his house – but he’s glad to finally see Anae in court .

“After today, I won’t think of you or you anymore. I hope you have the life you deserve.”

Other victims spoke of the massive financial strain, the stress in her relationship with her family, and the embarrassment of being deceived by Anae.

They said the fake plumber presented himself well, and they felt confident he could do the job he promised, only to have thousands out of pocket, with damage to their home costing thousands more to repair.

Judge Mika told the court that three aggravating factors needed to be considered when considering Anae’s sentence.

First, there was that intent – Anae went to all these victims and said he could finish the job, and then the job didn’t get finished. Second, the fact that Anae already had relationships with some of his victims – either neighbors or a family friend – meant his offense involved a breach of trust.


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Third, Judge Mika said the magnitude of the hardship was significant — not just financial, but emotional and, in some cases, spiritual.

However, he also noted that there were factors for a discount – 25 per cent for a guilty plea to the charges and that Anae was suffering a severe mental breakdown at the time of the offense for which he was receiving counseling and medication.

This corresponded to a further discount of 15 percent.

He ruled that Anae must pay his victims a total of $57,297.06 at a rate of $100 per week.

Judge Mika noted that Anae is now employed full-time at 24/7 Plumbing after completing a three-month probationary period with the company.

He is well on the way to an education that could potentially earn him more money in the future – which could increase reparations payments.


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“A letter from 24/7 Plumbers said Anae is doing really well and the employers look forward to a long and fruitful relationship [Anae] and her company.”