Scamming used car dealer website CarStar Autos fraudulently used the names and contact details of a legitimate company that has been dragged into the scandal.
Car Dealer has been investigating dodgy used car dealer CarStar Autos after we were alerted to its illegal use of our award logos.
The used car website looked, to the untrained eye, completely legitimate with a London address and phone number – but the cars it advertised were far cheaper than the going rate.
Car Dealer has spoken to the directors behind CarStar Automotive – a separate and completely unconnected company – which had its details cloned by the scammers.
CarStar Automotive is a holding company for property and connected to the supercar repair business director Danny Rota runs, called M&A Coachworks.
Rota has been battling the scammers via his legal team after he was contacted by a member of the public who had fallen foul of the conmen.
He said: ‘We were alerted to the site using our details when a member of the public contacted us about losing their money.
‘They had entered into an agreement with CarStar Autos after finding a cheap car on the website and lost their money.
‘We found the website was using our accountant’s address, our company registration number and part of the names of our directors.’
Car Dealer reported the company to Trading Standards after we called the company to ask them to remove the misused logos and were told to ‘f*** off’ and that they ‘weren’t interested’ in what we had to say.
Last week, we reported Trading Standards had investigated the company and said they believed it had ‘all the hallmarks of a scam’.
Today, Rota told us he had battled with the conmen too and when he threatened them with legal action was told there was nothing that could be done as they were based in Europe.
He added: ‘When I spoke to them they threatened me with legal action – which was frankly ridiculous.
‘They are not UK based so it is very hard to challenge them. It’s clearly a scam, but it is very hard to tackle when they are based outside of the country and out of the jurisdiction of the authorities.’
Rota said it was ‘scandalous’ that websites like this could be set up to sell used cars and trick consumers.
He added: ‘Many people do fall for it. They had clearly spent a lot of money on the website. But when you remonstrate with them they just don’t care.
‘I’d like to apologise to anyone who has been confused by the apparent and false connection and assure them we have done everything in our power to stop them. We are trying our best to get them removed.’
Edmund King, president of the AA, said consumers need to be very wary of these sorts of scams and if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is.
He said: ‘These fraudulent activities are incredibly worrying for consumers especially at a time when more people are buying online.
‘If Trading Standards can’t intervene then police fraud sections should take action.
‘We advise buyers of the real importance of carrying out research before even thinking of giving a deposit or viewing or buying a car.
‘The number one piece of advice is not to part with any money or deposit until you have conducted some checks into the legitimacy of the seller.
‘If that is not possible, forget the deal and move on to a reputable on-line site where you can get the vehicles inspected and have peace of mind should something go wrong.’
Car Dealer contacted the Chartered Trading Standards Institute which said there is a pan European investigating authority, the UK European Consumer Centre, which can help in cases like this.
Car Dealer also contacted CarStar Autos again for comment, but the website appears to have been removed.
Trading Standards said any fraud victims who feel they may have been caught out by CarStar Autos should report the matter immediately to Action Fraud or Citizens Advice Consumer Service who will look into the matter further.
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