Fraudster using local firm's name in Euro car scam

Issue 508

A LOCAL garage owner has found himself at the centre of a Europeanwide car fraud – with himself cast in the role of Hanging Heaton’s answer to Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes.
When a French car buyer rang RM Motors in Commonside to ask where his Range Rover Sport was, Richard Mackereth – Dick to his pals – replied with his halfdecent French that he hadn’t a clue what the monsieur was on about. His garage services, repairs and MOTs private and commercial vehicles, not sells them.
When the Inland Revenue then called Mr Mackereth to ask why he wasn’t declaring the revenue on the luxury cars he was selling across the continent, he likewise declared his ignorance – but smelled a rat.
Having gotten nowhere with the police, who showed little interest because he wasn’t physically losing money himself, and with more and more conned European car buyers regularly contacting him to find what’s happened to their luxury motors, Dick, 46, is closing in on the fraudsters.
He discovered that RM Motors’ details, complete with address and his company registration number, under the guise of an executive variously called Richard David – his middle name – or David Richard – has been taking deposits of several thousand euros a time, for secondhand Mercedes, Range Rovers, BMWs and even Porsches, that are never delivered.
After repeatedly hitting a brick wall trying to get banks to investigate, he finally discovered that accounts had been set up by a Romanian man in London which were being used to siphon the cash.
Eventually Dick provided Barclays with enough evidence for them to close down one of the accounts and investigate another. He’s also given HSBC a dossier showing the conmen are using accounts at one of their branches in London.
Using his office computer’s Google Translate programme, he has managed to communicate with more and more people from Germany, Italy and Switzerland, who have been duped into paying high deposits for cars that never turn up.
The aggrieved car buyers had initially tracked down RM Motors from the paperwork being used by the conmen who were advertising the highend cars at bargain prices using various phone numbers and email addresses via the popular ‘Autoscout 24’ European carselling internet site.
While their stationary was headed ‘World Wide Online Cargo’ the company details in most of the contracts referred to Dick’s firm, RM Motors.
One victim, Wolfgang Dobirr, is 3,000 euros out of pocket paid to a HSBC account in London. The paperwork on that transaction also ‘borrowed’ the name of a taxi firm in Birmingham for the con. Herr Dobirr contacted Dick again this week offering to give evidence if the fraudsters were brought to book.
Other victims across the continent have lost up to 4,500 euros in the con.
Dick is hoping that by going public with the story someone might eventually take the situation seriously. He gave statements to both the police and Inland Revenue, as well as alerting the banks. The police’s only response was to describe the situation as one “information gathering” and gave him a log number.
“I left a message again last week asking the police to ring me, but haven’t heard a thing,” he said.
“It seems that because I’m not losing money it’s not being taken seriously, but having my business name used like this could be incredibly damaging. What’s more, lots of people are being ripped off for lots of money. It has to be stopped.”
A police spokesman said: “In cases such as these, the Force where the offences are originating from take the lead on any investigation.
“West Yorkshire Police would therefore only be required to take witness or intelligence reports – as is the case here – and then pass them to the Force leading any investigation.
“We would apologise if this has not been properly explained to Mr Mackereth when he has contacted us on this matter previously.”

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