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 mechanic Amit Mistry were both jailed after what a judge at Warwick Crown Court described as ‘a meticulous investigation’ by Warwickshire Trading Standards.
Harvey, 28, of School Lane, Priors Marston, near Southam, had pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud, two of making or adapting articles for use in fraud, and two consumer protection offences – and was jailed for 12 months.
Mistry, 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 presented fabricated invoices and MoT when he then sold the car to a teaching assistant for just under £4,000.
Later in 2012 a fireman agreed to buy an Audi TT which was advertised as having done 79,000 miles from Harvey 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.
On another occassion, Harvey got Mistry to provide a false invoice showing an interim service had been carried out, and told a complaining customer his father was a lawyer.
Another car Harvey sold was found by trading standards investigators to have previously been written off. And another had two wheel nuts missing from each of the front wheels.
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.”