A trader specialising in Audi TTs clocked thousands of miles off cars and altered Mot certificates before selling the unroadworthy vehicles to unsuspecting customers.
Dealer Alexander Harvey and Daventry mechanic Amit Mistry were both jailed after what a judge at Warwick Crown Court described as ‘a meticulous investigation’ by Warwickshire Trading Standards.
Harvey, aged 28, of School Lane, Priors Marston, who had pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud, two of making or adapting articles for use in fraud, and two consumer protection offences, was jailed for 12 months.
Mistry, aged 38 of Timken Way, Daventry, was jailed for six months, after he had admitted two offences of making or adapting articles for use in fraud.
Prosecutor Tony Watkin said Harvey concentrated on the sale of Audi TT cars, trading as Alex Harvey Specialist Cars.
“Mr Harvey accepts his business was not run entirely on an honest basis, but the prosecution accept the entire business was not run on a dishonest basis.
“But there were systematic breaches by him of consumer trading regulations,” said Mr Watkin, who pointed out that Harvey had twice been given guidance which included a warning not to use misleading disclaimers such as ‘sold as seen.’
Mistry was a mechanic who began running a business called Car Teck Vehicle Solutions at premises in Oxford Street, Daventry, in 2010.
Mr Watkin explained that Harvey, who the court was told operated at ‘the bottom end’ of the market, sold vehicles at inflated prices which then soon developed faults.
And on two occasions he and Mistry were involved in fabricating or altering MoT certificates or service records to back up his bogus descriptions of cars he was selling.
In October 2012 Harvey sold an Audi TT with 98,000 miles on the clock for £4,430; and after a significant problem developed he reluctantly agreed to exchange it.
The mileage was then changed at Mistry’s garage, and later invoices showed it as having done just 67,323 miles, with further false claims that it had a new cam belt and water pump.
Another Audi TT had its MoT certificate altered by the two defendants and its mileage altered from 101,369 to 72,299.
Harvey later said he had paid Mistry £120 to create false invoices consistent with that mileage and with work having been carried out, although Mistry said he had not fabricated invoices although he was aware the mileage had been altered.
Harvey presented the fabricated invoices and MoT when he then sold the car to a teaching assistant for just under £4,000arvey .
When problems emerged with the car, Harvey offered to sell the car for the buyer, but ‘could not just take it back.’
In later 2012 a fireman agreed to buy an Audi TT which was advertised as having done 79,000 miles from Harvey, who he met at Harvey’s parents’ home in Leamington Hastings, for £4,200.
It had 81,000 on the clock – but when he sent off the log book to have a personalised number plate registered to the car, it was discovered it had actually done 147,464 miles.
Harvey agreed to buy it back, but knocked £200 off for ‘depreciation’ and gained the personalised number plate which he made a feature of when he advertised it again for £4,699 – with a supposed mileage of 85,000 even though he knew the true figure.
After another customer complained about a car, Harvey got Mistry to provide a false invoice showing an interim service had been carried out – but Mistry mistakenly put a date on which was three months after the car had been sold.
And when the customer complained, Harvey said his father was a lawyer and that there was no point the man going to court because he would not win.
Another car Harvey sold was said to have had a full service – but two wheel nuts were missing from each of the front wheels and there were no bulbs in the driver’s side rear lights.
Trading standards investigators became involved, and when they carried out a test purchase they were sold a Peugeot which had previously been written off and was found to be unroadworthy.
Matthew Brook, for Harvey, said that after his A-levels he went to university in Sheffield where he bought a TT and sold it for a profit – and decided it was a good business to go into.
Mr Brook said that since the matters came to light two years ago, Harvey has continued trading ‘quite lawfully.’
Laura Hobson, for Mistry, said he had cut his ties with Harvey, given up his business and was now unemployed.
Judge Alan Parker told Harvey: “What makes this case particularly serious was not only the creation of false invoices to describe a history which was untrue, but that it also involved, as part of a joint enterprise between you, the creation of a false MoT certificate or the doctoring of an MoT certificate.
“I have no doubt the public look to the courts to ensure that the integrity of the process where cars are tested has to remain unimpeachable.
“What you and Mr Mistry were doing was seeking to undermine the integrity of the information which is stored and provided to members of the public. You abused the responsibility you had not to mislead people.”
And he told Mistry: “Your role was less involved than that of your co-defendant, but you acted together to create false invoices and a false MoT certificate, which strikes at the integrity of the Ministry of Transport tests.”