Car clocker is sent to prison for fraud

Dodgy mechanic Stephen Appleton
Dodgy mechanic Stephen Appleton
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A St Helens car trader has been jailed for fiddling the mileage, conning people out of almost £30,000.

Stephen Appleton, of Meadowcroft, Sutton Leach, was sentenced to 21 months in prison after he was convicted of fraud at Liverpool Crown Court, following a lengthy investigation by St Helens Council Trading Standards Service.

The self-employed car trader had pleaded guilty to 25 offences under the Fraud Act 2006, covering 17 vehicles sold or offered for sale by him between September 2009 and May 2013.

The value of the deception was estimated at approximately £28,000.

In early 2012, the officers had received several complaints about cars sold by Appleton, using adverts on the eBay website, using the name Imperial Motors.

One customer complained that the BMW he had bought was an insurance write off, whilst another had discovered that the mileage reading on the Toyota Avensis he had bought, had been turned back by more than 100,000 miles.

The investigation revealed that the 45-year-old acquired prestigious marque, high mileage, ex fleet cars including a police vehicle, which had been sold at auctions around the country.

Within a few days of the auction, the odometer would be turned back and the car was taken for MOT test, to produce an MOT certificate to validate the lower recorded mileage.

Appleton then sold the cars, to unsuspecting customers all over the country.

He was aware of the true mileage of the cars, as documents, such as the service histories, were found in his home address, when searched by Trading Standards and Merseyside Police, in November 2012.

They also found false service records, and garage stamps that had been used to produce these.

Appleton admitted to making false invoices and service records, saying that he thought it would help him get a better price for the cars.

The fraudster used several different eBay accounts, and changed his phone number frequently; so unhappy customers were not able to contact him.

Customers were left out of pocket, with vehicles that were worthless and costing a fortune to get repaired.