Two Crawley men have been jailed after taking part in a ‘car ringing’ conspiracy which defrauded owners of high-value cars of around £100,000.
Imran Raja, 38, of Langley Drive, Crawley, and Arran Khan, 28, of West Way, Three Bridges, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court yesterday to three years and six months, and to three years and ten months, respectively, for conspiracy to defraud.
Both had been convicted on February 7 after a five-week trial.
Police say that Raja and Khan each had their own car trading or car repair businesses in Crawley, through which they channelled their illegal activities.
Detective Constable Nick Tinley of the force’s Serious Organised Crime Unit said; “The defendants bought badly damaged and written off cars, mainly top of the range BMWs, repaired them, often with stolen parts, and then sold them on. The sales were fraudulent because the buyers were deceived as to the true previous history of the cars.
“Most of the cars that they repaired were deemed by the insurance industry to be beyond repair. They should have their bodyshell crushed and should not go back on the road. The defendants took advantage of then-existing procedural loopholes in the insurance and salvage industry processes, and the processes of VOSA and the DVLA to put a number of these vehicles back on the road.
“It is fair to say that some of those loopholes have since been addressed and procedures tightened, since our investigation - we made the arrests in 2015.
“Several vehicles were purchased for export using an account registered in Belgium. These vehicles however did not leave the UK, instead they were acquired by the defendants and repaired in Crawley.
“By restoring damaged vehicles using stolen parts, altering the mileage or by producing replicas of limited editions using stolen parts, the defendants conspired to defraud the purchasers and make a greater profit from their operations.
“The defendants produced a number of replicas of the limited edition BMW 1M model. Only four 1Ms have been stolen in the UK and the defendants were found to have handled parts from three of them.
“Our enquiries centred on Arran Khan’s ebay-based business ‘Affordable Performance’ and Imran Raja’s company, Customize Bodyworkz in Three Bridges, Crawley, and another location also in Three Bridges which was not the subject of any convictions.
In sentencing the pair, Judge Christine Henson assessed the loss to victims in respect of seven cars which formed the basis of the prosecution evidence, at between £90,000 and £100,000.
Judge Henson said; “both had the highest level of culpability in the fraud, which involved significant planning over a sustained period of time.
“I consider it to be a real aggravating factor that the defendants were prepared to carry out cosmetic repairs with no consideration of the safety of the victims or other road users. If a structurally compromised vehicle had been involved in a collision the consequences could have been fatal.”
She also disqualified both men from being company directors for seven years, describing them as unfit for the role.
Nick Tinley said: “Members of the public in the market for a second hand vehicle are advised to carry out diligent checks before making a purchase. This case has shown that there are dishonest individuals out there who are capable of making wrecked cars look ‘showroom’ again, while conducting only superficial repairs”.
Khalid Khan, 54, of Martyrs Avenue, Crawley; Jose Teixeira, 38, of Ramsey Close, Horley; and Ian McMurray, 49, of Pelling Way, Broadbridge Heath, Horsham, were all found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud, and Scott Bolger, 45, of Chadwick Close, Horley, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice.