A mechanic and an eBay seller has been jailed for repairing written off BMWs with stolen parts only to be sold on to unsuspecting buyers.
The cars had suffered crashes which affected the crumple zones but only cosmetic repairs were made, endangering the lives of new buyers.
Some had their fronts totally caved in while others suffered side impacts damaging the central pillars.
Replicas of high performance BMW 1Ms were also made using parts from three of just four of the limited edition models stolen in the UK.
Sussex Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit smashed Arran Khan’s eBay-based business ‘Affordable Performance’ and Imran Raja’s company, Customize Bodyworkz in Three Bridges, Crawley.
Conspiracy to defraud
Raja was jailed for 42 months and Khan was jailed for 46 months for conspiracy to defraud after being convicted following a five-week trial at Hove Crown Court.
Judge Christine Henson said “both had the highest level of culpability in the fraud, which involved significant planning over a sustained period of time”.
She added: “I consider it to be a real aggravating factor that the defendants were prepared to carry out cosmetic repairs with no consideration of the safety of the victims or other road users.
“If a structurally compromised vehicle had been involved in a collision the consequences could have been fatal.”
The pair were also deemed unfit to be company directors and disqualified for seven years.
Detective Constable Nick Tinley said: “The defendants bought badly damaged and written off cars, mainly top of the range BMW’s, repaired them, often with stolen parts, and then sold them on.
‘The sales were fraudulent because the buyers were deceived as to the true previous history of the cars.
Deemed ‘beyond repair’
“Most of the cars that they repaired were deemed by the insurance industry to be beyond repair.
“The defendants took advantage of then-existing procedural loop holes in the insurance and salvage industry processes, and the processes of DVSA and the DVLA to put a number of these vehicles back on the road.
“It is fair to say that some of those loop-holes have since been addressed and procedures tightened, since our investigation – we made the arrests in 2015.
“By restoring damaged vehicles using stolen parts, altering the mileage or by producing replicas of limited editions using stolen parts, the defendants conspired to defraud the purchasers and make a greater profit from their operations.”
Khan and Raja now faces confiscation proceedings.
Fraud and counterfeit teams
An eBay spokesperson said: “We invest significantly in measures to detect and prevent criminal activity.
“Dedicated fraud and counterfeit teams work around the clock alongside law enforcement agencies to block suspicious activity, helping stop fraudulent listings in the first place.
“We also work with the police and other authorities to share intelligence and help bring those who deliberately flout the law to justice, as well as providing extensive advice to buyers to keep them safe.”
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