Group of customers band together to stop Wellington business accused of fraud

Dozens of people across the country have come forward claiming two Wellington business owners defrauded them of hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively.

The pair, who ran a company selling building supplies, were arrested on Monday after some alleged victims said they foiled their attempt to flee the country.

When Jason and Tammy Lemire bought their Wellington fixer-upper in the location of their dreams they never expected renovating it would become a nightmare.

"We didn't expect to be running into the issues we're running into now," Tammy said.

In August last year, the couple ordered more than $30,000 worth of building products.

The parts were crucial for their renovation, but they never arrived and the company stopped replying - so Tammy wrote a review.

"We've now connected with other customers and started piecing together something bigger was going on," she said.

Darren Whitaker-Barnett is one of the many others they connected with.

He's missing $140,000 worth of products. He said he contacted the manufacturer who told him the order was never placed.

"We sort of took comfort in each other, that if we band together and coordinate, and get the police complaints in at the same time, the sheer gravitas of complaints will force police to look at it not as a civil case, but as a criminal case," he said.

And that's exactly what happened after the group of customers discovered on Monday that the business owners were planning to leave New Zealand.

Tammy said she went to the owner's home, while Jason went to the Police.

"We worked together with the other customers to prevent them fleeing the country," she said.

Police said a 36-year-old Lower Hutt man has been charged with obtaining by deception, while a 35-year-old man has also been charged.

Newshub can't reveal the company's name or who the owners are because the pair were granted interim name suppression when they appeared in the Hutt Valley District Court yesterday.

But police say the investigation is still in its early stages and enquiries are continuing.

Whitaker-Barnett has been contacted by dozens of other alleged victims.

"Our entire motivation now is to bring them to account," he said.

Tammy said she and her husband Jason have come to terms with it.

"The money is gone and we just need to move on," she said.

But they're hoping they can at least get justice.