Prison sentence for car sales fraudster

8 September 2017 Posted by

A two year investigation by Cornwall Council Trading Standards finished last week when second-hand car dealer, Mark Tomkins, pleaded guilty to six charges at Bodmin Magistrates Court on 3 August.

car-salesThe Court heard that Tomkins (40) of Chard in Somerset had been using his girlfriend’s address in Camelford and a variety of telephone phone numbers to advertise cars for sale via the Autotrader and Gumtree websites. Over a two year period he sold 25 cars to people on low incomes or first time buyers. But the cars were often unsafe and in need of serious repairs so Tomkins posed as a private seller or used false names to avoid his liabilities and to evade consumer complaints.

Tomkins admitted all charges under Consumer Protection Regulations and the Fraud Act. He offered no excuse but said “I feel ashamed, when it’s all read out like that.”

He was told by the Court: “Your trading put buyers safety at risk. It was clearly fraudulent and undermined public confidence in other motor traders.”

Tompkins was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, to pay £720 in compensation and £1,000 towards the cost of the investigation.

Cllr Sue James, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Protection welcomed the verdict. “This was the result of a lengthy investigation by the Council’s Trading Standards team. The offences here reflected a deliberate attempt to defraud members of the public, including those who could least afford to lose money. The use of false names and a variety of telephone numbers and e-mail addresses demonstrates the calculated and scheming nature of the crime.

“The Court has recognised the potential harm done to the motor trade in Cornwall, and this sends a clear warning to people considering illegal activity that they will be caught.

“More and more motor dealers across the county are joining the Trading Standards approval scheme, ‘Buy with Confidence’ to help them stand out as business who can be trusted. A case like this demonstrates the value of the scheme in giving buyer’s confidence in who they buy from.”

The Buy with Confidence Scheme provides people in Cornwall with a list of local businesses which have given their commitment to trading fairly. Every business listed has undergone a series of detailed checks by Trading Standards officers before being approved as a member of the scheme to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. You can find more information on the Buy with Confidence Scheme page which includes a list of businesses registered under the scheme.

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Simon, Research & Information Officer, Amethyst, Community Safety Team

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