A MAN who illegally sold vehicle service stamps online for use in falsifying vehicle documents has been jailed for 12 months.
Jamie Walker is estimated to have made about £70,000 by posting 1,128 listings for sale on eBay, totalling 11,490 vehicle service stamps, between September 2015 and October 2017, an investigation by Leicester City Council found.
It is believed Walker, of Taverner’s Road, Beaumont Leys, had the items made for him by a third party then sold them on to unscrupulous used car dealers across the UK who wanted to falsify the service history of vehicles they were selling.
Leicester Crown Court was told how Walker had sold the items online under two separate accounts – ‘retro Jamie’ and ‘matilda-rose17’.
He sold fraudulent service stamps for Ford, Vauxhall, Audi, Skoda, VW, BMW, Mini, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Bentley, Peugeot and Honda, as well as stamps purporting to be from service centres Kwik Fit and Halfords.
The city council investigated in 2017 after complaints from dealers and brands concerned about the fraudulent use of their names and logos, including Ford brand protection and Pendragon, which owns the Stratstone and Evans Halshaw dealership brands.
It executed a number of search warrants to search Walker’s house, where it found service stamps, ink pads and Royal Mail recorded delivery receipts showing receipt of the stamps.
Walker, 46, was sentenced to a year in prison by the crown court last Thursday, after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to three counts of fraudulent trading under the Fraud Act 2006, along with eight counts of infringing the Trade Marks Act 1994.
Trading standards officers said that each stamp sold by Walker would have been used by dishonest traders to stamp vehicle paperwork on multiple occasions, affecting potentially hundreds of vehicles. The true financial detriment to unsuspecting customers could run into millions of pounds, they added.
The court was also told that Walker had supplemented his income as a taxi driver but failed to declare his true earnings to HMRC. Financial investigations suggested he had no assets to recover under the Proceeds of Crime Act, having spent the money on a lavish lifestyle involving frequent holidays abroad.
After the case, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, Leicester deputy city mayor responsible for regulatory services, said: ‘Fraudulent activity such as this puts would-be buyers at risk, and falsely makes them believe that the vehicle they are buying has a full service record, when in fact the opposite is the case.
“The work of trading standards in this instance has undoubtedly prevented potentially hundreds more consumers being duped.’
The council’s head of business regulation, Nicola Preston, added: ‘This case took a significant amount of time to investigate and I am pleased to see the sentencing at court.
‘Cases like these make it difficult to assess the true extent of the amount of people affected by Walker and his actions. Many people will be unaware that this type of fraud takes place, so taking action is important to protect consumers both locally and nationally.’