Two rogue car dealers who ran a £100,000 scam selling hundreds of cars that had been written off by insurance companies have been jailed.
Lucien Munn, 52, of Copthorne, and Linda Atrell, 48, of East Grinstead, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court today (Friday July 31), said West Sussex County Council.
Munn, of Beechey Way, was jailed for three years. Atrell, of Railway Approach, was imprisoned for 21 months.
Both were found guilty under the Fraud Act, Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, following a trial at Brighton Crown Court.
A council spokesman said: “The pair had been advertising and selling hundreds of cars that had been written off by insurance companies via Autotrader and Gumtree under a range of different trading names in a scam thought to be worth £100,000.
“In one of the biggest trading standards investigations of recent years, the WSCC team, with support from National Trading Standards Team, discovered the pair were systematically buying insurance write offs and then selling those vehicles without declaring that they had been written off to unsuspecting customers.
“They were also falsifying service histories in order to make the vehicles appear more attractive to buyers and giving customers the impression that they were dealing with a private seller.
“The court heard during the trial that the pair also described the vehicles as “sold as seen” on purchase invoices to try and avoid liability under civil legislation for the sale of faulty or misdescribed goods.
“The trading standards team spent months investigating the pair following a complaint from a customer and collected more than 64 statements from buyers and previous vehicle owners.”
David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s Cabinet Member for residents’ services with responsibility for trading standards, welcomed the sentence and praised the team behind the investigation. “I’m pleased that these sentences reflect the severity of the crimes they committed.
“This is a great result, not just for West Sussex Trading Standards but for our consumers whose lives were being put in danger by these rogue car dealers.
“Throughout the course of this investigation our team spoke with customers who had real horror stories about the state of cars they purchased. We’re lucky nobody was involved in a serious accident.
“This sends a really serious warning message to anyone thinking of trying this sort of scam.”
Richard Sargeant, West Sussex Trading Standards team manager, added: “Second hand car sales are one of the issues that cause the most consumer complaints.
“Conning the public in this manner is simply not acceptable and we would encourage consumers to consider using a trader from the Buy with Confidence scheme, the members of which are audited and approved by Trading Standards. Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of an unfair trading practice, should contact Trading Standards via Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06 or www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.”
An application to recover the money has been made under the Proceeds of Crime Act and is ongoing.
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