News item

Dishonest car trader jailed

Mr Christopher Christoforou who traded as ‘Sandmoor Motors’ of 1 Leeds Road, Birstall was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on 23rd September 2014 to a six month custodial sentence in relation to 26 charges including falsely advertising vehicle mileages, misdescribing unroadworthy vehicles as “absolutely fantastic condition”, blanking out advisory items from MOT certificates and not declaring the insurance write off status to customers.

Christoforou had pleaded guilty to 26 breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations at an earlier hearing.

In addition a Proceeds of Crime investigation is underway.   

Trading standards received a number of complaints from consumers including one from a Tadcaster resident who complained that a Renault Clio advertised with 60,000 miles had an actual mileage of 76,000 miles.  The customer was not informed that the vehicle was a category C insurance write off and six advisory items had been blanked off the MOT certificate. Christoforou amended the advert to the correct mileage after the sale had been agreed. When the customer complained to Christoforou he claimed his conscience was clear and would see the customer in court. 

Trading standards carried out a joint operation with VOSA and West Yorkshire Police at the premises of Sandmoor Motors.  A number of significant mileage discrepancies were found including one vehicle which had a difference of 46,000 miles.   MOT certificates stored in the office had been altered in order to blank out advisory items.  VOSA’s vehicle examiners discovered six vehicles which were being offered for sale as “absolutely fantastic condition, the very best available” were actually unroadworthy and one was found to be an insurance write off.

Recorder Batiste told Christoforou that he “had chosen to ignore the warnings given by trading standards and had committed a catalogue of fraudulent and dishonest behaviour in order to get extra profits. The message has to go out that people trading in used cars and behaving in such a thoroughly dishonest way as you did, that the courts will not accept it.”

Each offence, under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, carries a maximum term of 2 years imprisonment and, or, an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service said: “This case illustrates that some traders are prepared to act dishonestly and make thousands of pounds by doing so. This Service can and will take legal action against that minority of traders who flout their legal responsibilities. trading standards continues to work with partner agencies to investigate criminal offences and to deprive offenders of their ill-gotten gains”

Councillor Bill Urry, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said “Vehicles advertised on the internet are not always what they appear to be. It pays to carry out checks before any purchase on both history and condition. Consumers should also use the West Yorkshire Motor Trade Partnership as a means of identifying reputable traders, who put customer satisfaction at the top of their priority list.  If you suspect a motor trader is acting dishonestly ring the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”

DATE: 29 September 2014