A MAN who was part of a rogue car dealer gang has been convicted of money laundering and conspiring to defraud customers.
Kirk Michael Claus, of Slate Delf Farm, Cragg Vale, was part of a gang of men found guilty of conspiring to defraud customers of Chequered Flag Car Sales and other businesses and companies trading from 541 Halifax Road, Hipperholme, following an eight-week trial at Leeds Crown Court.
They will be sentenced next month.
June Claus, the wife of Kirk Claus, was acquitted of money laundering following a “no case to answer” application during the course of the hearing.
The investigation was carried out by the Yorkshire and Humber Trading Standards Group Scambuster Team, supported by officers from West Yorkshire and City of York Trading Standards services and West Yorkshire Police, following complaints received from customers who had purchased cars from Chequered Flag Car and Bikes between September 2009 and August 2010.
Examples of the complaints include insurance “write off” vehicles being sold as “immaculate inside and out”; vehicles being sold with false mileage readings; and vehicles being sold with various disguised faults such as a sand filled radiator.
In many instances, registration documents and other paperwork was withheld until the cars were paid for and taken from the forecourt.
When customers returned vehicles or tried to get warranty work undertaken, they were met with ridicule and abuse from some of the defendants.
Colin Rumford, a spokesman for the Scambuster Team, said: “They went to great lengths to sell misdescribed and sometimes potentially dangerous second hand cars on a wide scale but accepted no responsibility for their actions.”
David Collinson, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board, said: “This is a very pleasing verdict. Conning the public in this manner is simply not acceptable.”