A couple who were under investigation for duping customers of their custom furniture business have now been charged, according to law enforcement officials.
Austin D. Smallacombe, 36, and Amanda Smallacombe, 35, both of Bedminster Township, were arraigned last week before District Judge Stacy Wertman. They face multiple felony charges, including theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, deceptive business practices, false statement to induce agreement for home improvement practices, receiving advance payment for services and failing to perform, criminal use of a communication facility, and criminal conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking.
The couple have been accused of scamming approximately 40 customers out of nearly $118,000 through A&A Custom Furniture.
LevittownNow.com and Montgomery County-based news outlet NorthPennNow.com previously reported on the investigation and spoke with a reported victim from Bristol Township, who said the Smallacombes owed her $1,200.
Law enforcement officials said in a Thursday statement that the investigation was carried out by the Bucks County Detectives in collaboration with the Newtown Township Police Department, Bedminster Township Police Department, and Hilltown Township Police Department.
The case came to light when Hilltown Township police received a report on July 1, 2022 from a resident who alleged that he paid the Smallacombes $4,300 for custom dining furniture. The victim made the payment on January 1, 2022, with the understanding that the furniture would be completed and delivered within 10 to 12 weeks. However, the victim never received the purchased items, police said.
According to the victim, Austin Smallacombe provided several excuses for the delays, including weather-related or medical-related issues. He eventually promised a refund, which was never issued.
Subsequently, Bedminster Township police, Hilltown Township police, and Newtown Township police reached out to over 40 additional victims of the Smallacombes and A&A Custom Furniture. The reported victims hailed from Bucks, Berks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties, police said.
The victims collectively lost $117,880.40, police said.
“The victims said they contacted the Smallacombes through Facebook or other social media networks and ordered custom furniture to be built. The victims paid large financial deposits for the manufacturing of furniture using online payment methods. In most cases, the victims didn’t receive the furniture they ordered, and, in some cases, they received poor quality furniture with numerous defects,” according to police.
During the investigation, it was discovered that the Smallacombes had utilized the funds they collected for personal expenses, police said.
Stacy Ferguson, the victim from Bristol Township, told this news organization she was relieved to hear arrests were made in the case.
“I would never take somebody’s money and not provide them with the service,” said Ferguson, who has run her own small business.
Ferguson had put down a deposit for a custom wood dining room table and chairs in mid-2022. The table and chairs never came.
Austin Smallacombe had trouble in the past, according to court records reviewed by reporters.
Court records in Montgomery and Bucks counties shows multiple civil lawsuits against Austin Smallacombe, all of which he appears to have lost. Additionally, records show Austin Smallacombe pleaded guilty in June 2021 to felony counts of false statements to induce agreement for home improvement services, receiving advanced payment for services and failing to perform, theft by deception and theft by failing to make required dispersal of funds, along with multiple misdemeanor counts of insurance fraud.
Sentencing notes indicate Smallacombe had to serve six months in county jail and six months of house arrest, followed by 10 years of probation. Smallacombe was also ordered to pay a total $45,537.58 in restitution and avoid further contact with the victims, which appears to have been completed in September 2022.
Following their arrests last week, the Smallacombes were remanded to the Bucks County Correctional Facility in Doylestown Township. Austin Smallacombe was held on 10 percent of $900,000 bail and Amanda Smallacombe was held on 10 percent of $500,000 bail. However, Amanda’s bail was later reduced on Tuesday by a Bucks County Court of Common Pleas judge.
Bucks County Detective Timothy Johnson, Bedminster Township Officer Stephen Pekach, Hilltown Township Detective Louis Bell, and Newtown Township Detective Nick Moffett were all involved in the investigation of this case.
Editor’s Note: All individuals arrested or charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. The story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.