A man who knowingly sold on stolen vehicles on cloned number plates, leaving buyers thousands of pounds out of pocket, has been jailed for four years and six months.
William Arthur Buckley, aged 36, tricked at least 10 people after advertising vehicles on various sales platforms including eBay, Autotrader, and Dragon Driving, before meeting up with potential buyers to sell them stolen vans and pick-ups bearing number plates which belonged to other vehicles.
Between October 2018 and December 2019, Buckley sold on at least 10 stolen vehicles to unsuspecting buyers, including a Mitsubishi Barbarian for £16,500, a Toyota Hilux for £12,600 and a Nissan Navara for £13,500.
One victim arranged to meet Buckley in Thrapston to buy a Ford Ranger from him, handing over £16,000 in cash and driving the vehicle back to his Devon home.
Once there he found Buckley had given him registration documents for a Ford Transit. When he asked about this he was sent further paperwork which appeared correct, until the purchaser found one of the vehicle’s identification plates did not match, with later checks revealing the Ranger had been stolen in a car key burglary in the West Midlands.
Following an extensive investigation by Northamptonshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, Buckley, of Skeltons Drove, Bury St Edmunds, pleaded guilty to 10 offences of fraud.
At his sentencing hearing at Northampton Crown Court on Friday, September 24, he was sentenced to a total of four years and six months.
Further legal action will now commence against Buckley under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Detective Sergeant Liz Dobson, of the Economic Crime Unit at Northamptonshire Police, said: “Buckley’s offending was carried out all over the UK and the financial impact of his fraud has been magnified by the fact most of his victims are self-employed, with his actions leaving them without a vehicle for their work, and having to borrow to buy another one.
“His crimes have been repeated over a number of months on a number of victims, clearly indicating he had no regard for either them or their families.
“Economic crime like this really does impact people’s lives, and Northamptonshire Police works hard to bring fraudsters to justice. I hope Buckley uses his time in prison to reflect on the harm he has done and hopefully consider how to make a living by honest means in the future.”
If you’re thinking about buying a car or van privately, following this advice can help you avoid falling victim to a scam:
Where is the vehicle advertised? Is it on a reputable selling site, or via social media? The latter can be a far riskier route for buyers so be on your guard
Does the price seem a bit too good to be true, are phrases like ‘saving tax’ or ‘reductions for cash’ used? If so, this could be a sign it’s a scam
Never pay for a vehicle in cash as there is no redress if things go wrong. Use payment methods like PayPal or a bank transfer, especially if you’re buying through a social media advert, and don’t transfer money to an account that isn’t in the name of the seller – ask to see their bank card, not just a piece of paper. Common reasons fraudsters may give for asking you to pay in cash or not providing ID can include stories such as ‘I’m getting divorced and don’t want my wife to know I’ve sold the car’, or ‘We need a bigger car, and want to pay cash for our next one’
Wherever possible, go to the house of the seller and make sure they live at the address on the vehicle’s V5, but don’t put yourself at risk to do so
Is the person on the vehicle’s V5 the person you are speaking with about the sale? Again, ask them to show you ID – genuine sellers should not mind doing this. If the vehicle has only been with them for a few days then alarm bells should ring
Allow yourself plenty of time to look over the vehicle – go with somebody knowledgeable, check it over in a safe and well-lit area, and be prepared to get dirty. Know what you’re looking for by doing your research – look up where the VIN (vehicle identification number) is on the engine, and what the VIN stickers should look like on the frame. If in doubt, ask a main dealer for advice if you can. Consider if the vehicle’s engine condition matches its age and mileage, and always check the on-board computer if there is on – scroll through the settings and see which VIN it is supposed to have
Be prepared to walk away, even if it seems like a great deal. If it has been advertised before and sold and is now being re-advertised, ask about why this is. Look at the sort of feedback the seller has, and if on eBay or other online selling platforms, how long they have had their account for
If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a car sale, don’t go ahead with the purchase – can you afford to lose thousands of pounds and be left without a vehicle? Instead take some time to think, and do further research if necessary. You deserve the car you think you are buying
Report any suspected criminal activity to police by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency