A second-hand car dealer has been banned from being a company director for nine years after he scammed customers out of £750,000.
Steven Prosser used his role as a director at Hertfordshire-based firm Sell Your Car With Us Ltd to con people into giving him their money.
The 60-year-old took customers’ cars on the promise of selling them on their behalf before pocketing the money himself.
Investigators from the Insolvency Service found that at least 48 customers didn’t receive any returns following the sale or disposal of their vehicles.
Sell Your Car With Us also failed to return vehicles to customers who requested their cars back.
Instead of passing money on to customers as promised, Prosser transferred more than £125,000 to himself from Sell Your Car With Us’s account.
Over £52,000 went directly to the used car salesman, £6,000 to a separate company of which he was a sole director, and nearly £67,000 went to third parties connected to him.
Despite knowing the firm to be insolvent, the scammer continued with his scheme and on several occasions either failed to record any of the sales officially in the company’s books and records or retain an invoice or bank receipt after a sale.
Largely as a result of the salesman’s misconduct, the company went into liquidation in September 2019.
At the date of liquidation, 48 customers submitted claims totalling just over £751,000.
He has now been banned from running any company for nine years, effective from August 11.
The order means Prosser will be barred from acting as a director or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
Katie Legge, deputy head of Insolvent Investigations, said: ‘Close to 50 people thought they were entering into legitimate agreements to sell their cars through a recognised dealer.
‘But Steven Prosser failed to carry out his side of the bargain and sold their cars, while failing to pass on more than £750,000 to his customers.
‘Thankfully, we were able to uncover Steven Prosser’s misconduct and nine years is a substantial amount of time to be removed from the corporate arena.
‘Steven Prosser’s disqualification should serve as a warning that we will bring action against rogue directors who mistakenly believe they can do as they please.’
Innocent victims left feeling ‘non-stop stress’
Following the news of Prosser’s demise, several victims came forward to share their experiences of Sell Your Car With Us.
The Hertfordshire Mercury reported that Louise and Neil Soden were left stunned when the company went under.
The married couple had researched the firm before deciding to sell their £32,000 Nissan GTR through it. But they found the firm difficult to deal with and Louise, 50, has been left needing medication as a result of the ordeal.
Elsewhere, Rob and Lora Jackson, from St Ives, Cambridgeshire, lost their Ford Focus ST in the scam. It ended up costing the couple £15,000 – which had been set aside to go towards their daughter’s wedding.
Rob, 54, said: ‘It’s been non-stop stress. Every time Lora sees a car of that colour it brings it all back.
‘That horrible, sick feeling. How can you live with yourself? How can you sleep at night knowing that decent, common people are suffering because of your actions?’
Sell Your Car With Us was RAC-approved, but a spokesman pointed out that its backing didn’t extend to selling vehicles for individuals.
A spokesman said: ‘As we make clear on our website, our Approved Dealer scheme is designed to provide peace of mind to buyers of used vehicles.
‘It doesn’t cover instances when dealers offer to sell vehicles on behalf of individuals.
‘Despite the dealer going out of business, we are continuing to provide service to people who bought vehicles from them and which are backed by our warranties.
‘However, we’re unable to help with issues regarding money that may be owed to customers by the dealer – these have to be raised with the liquidators directly.’