A REDDITCH motor trader who swindled customers by ‘clocking’ cars – claiming they had done a total of more than 250,000 miles less than their actual mileage – has been jailed for a total of 33 months.
Andrew Whitehead, aged 34, of Partridge House, Mount Pleasant, was also banned from being a company director for six years after admitting nine counts of fraud, four of misleading commercial practice and one of offering credit without a licence.
He asked for two further offences – one of fraud by car clocking and one of misleading commercial practice – to be taken into consideration.
Recorder Nicolas Cartwright told him the offences were "planned and deliberate" and, in one case, he had illegally offered a loan with an APR of 49 per cent to a ‘vulnerable’ man, knowing he would struggle to repay it.
The judge said that five cars sold by Whitehead had a total of 250,000 miles taken off their odometers and it was a "planned confidence fraud involving multiple victims".
Whitehead was jailed for 24 months for the car clocking charges, with a further nine months for the offences of offering credit and making false claims to obtain a credit licence, to be served consecutively.
David Munro, prosecuting, said Whitehead, working under the alias of Andrew James, had operated under various company names, including Purple Cars Ltd.
Mr Munro said, in one case, Whitehead sold a Saab 9-3 to Michael Melville for £5,700, giving the customer a warranty stating the mileage was 41,377, when it had really covered at least 95,257.
When Mr Melville discovered the true mileage, Whitehead agreed to give him £1,600 compensation – but the customer still reported the matter to Worcestershire Regulatory Services.
Mr Munro added that Regulatory Services officer Peter Holmes later monitored the Purple Cars website and posed as a consumer to buy a £3,900 VW Passat that was claimed to have a mileage of 79,000 but had in fact covered at least 141,527 miles.
Iain Suggett, defending, said Whitehead had established a "reasonably solid" business with two employees and he had to take the blame regardless of who had actually carried out the car clocking.