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Car scam partners in crime are jailed
A COUPLE worked together to fleece people across Britain out of almost £100,000 in an online car-selling scam from a business registered in Pershore.
Paul Humphries, aged 51, and Linda Holden, 55, were both jailed at Worcester Crown Court for their parts in the con, which raked in a total of £94,491.
They even went on the run to Ireland and changed their names from their previous alter-egos, James and Linda Danby, while trying to evade police.
Judge Michael Cullum told them it was “deliberate and calculated dishonesty”. Humphries pleaded guilty to eight counts of fraud committed between April and May 2011 while trading as Car Prestige Ltd, in Pershore.
He would advertise cars on the dealer section of the Autotrader website, agree a price with a buyer – but never deliver the vehicle.
The court was told he made a total of £46,891 doing this, while Holden would make excuses to angry customers, before they fled the country together. They returned to the UK in July last year and were promptly arrested, but while on bail, the frauds started again, taking place between October and November.
They skipped the country for a second time and a warrant was issued for their arrest after they failed to appear at Worcester Magistrates Court in December. They were finally arrested again in May. Humphries also pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud totalling £47,600, while he was trading as Lancashire-based Castle TT Motors Ltd.
Mark Lister, defending Humphries, said Car Prestige Ltd had been a legitimate business and he had only started the scam because the couple, both of Stockport Road West, Bredbury, Stockport, had run into financial difficulties. Holden previously denied the eight charges of fraud relating to the Pershore business, which were accepted by the prosecution. Humphries was sentenced to four years.
Holden pleaded guilty to one charge of money laundering. She was handed an eight-month prison sentence after her defence counsel, Sabia Pathan, told the court that the relationship had been abusive and that she had been coerced into helping Humphries.
Judge Cullum said: “It's quite clear by your involvement in giving excuses and 'fobbing off' customers that you were fully aware of Mr Humphries’ fraudulent activities.”