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Crime

Two Crawley men sent to prison for defrauding car owners of thousands of pounds

A Sussex Police investigation has broken up a Crawley-based ‘car ringing’ conspiracy which defrauded car owners of high value cars of thousands of pounds, with the two men being sent to prison.

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Imran Raja and Arran Khan (left to right in these photos)

At Hove Crown Court on Tuesday 2 April, Imran Raja, 38, of Langley Drive, Crawley, and Arran Khan, 28, of West Way, Crawley , were sentenced to three years and six months, and to three years and ten months, respectively, for conspiracy to defraud.

Both had been convicted on 7 February after a five-week trial.

Imran Raja and Arran Khan each had their own car trading or car repair businesses in Crawley, through which they channelled their illegal activities.

See also our photos of three examples of cars, before and after they were ‘ringed’.

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 BMW’s, 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 loop holes 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 loop-holes 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.

Police enquiries have not ended with these sentencings. An investigation is continuing into the financial assets of Khan and Raja with a view to a court hearing at a later date to seek confiscation orders against them under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

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.

Crime

Crawley Council warns of rise of conmen knocking on doors across town

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The message is very clear – Be scam aware!

Crawley Borough Council is warning residents to be scam aware following a rise in reports of conmen knocking on doors.

The council has recently received reports of two different scams, where residents are asked to pay thousands of pounds up front for work that isn’t needed or shouldn’t cost anywhere near that amount.

In the first scam, a group of men were knocking on residents’ doors claiming to be from a boiler company and saying that they had been sent to check on boilers.

This happened to a resident in Bewbush, who was told their boiler needed to be fixed at a cost of £4,000, which he was told to withdraw from his bank without telling anyone. This particular tenant was vulnerable but fortunately the bank staff knew him well and questioned why he was withdrawing such a large amount of money.

His support worker was then notified and the incident was reported to the police. Additional security measures have been put in place for this tenant.

The second scam was reported in Gossops Green, where a resident was scammed for fencing at a cost of £3,500. This was reported to the police and fortunately the cheque was cancelled before the scammers got their money.

Scams come in many different forms and not just on the doorstep. Other scams include emails, phone calls and text messages. We are encouraging tenants to be extra careful when buying products or services online or in person.

Some of the signs to look out for include:

*             You are asked to pay money up front, for example to cover delivery costs or to ‘release funds’

*             You have ‘won a prize’ in a lottery or competition you have never heard of, much less entered

*             You are pressurised or hurried into making a decision – e.g. told to ‘act now’ as the price will go up if you don’t buy immediately

*             You are told to not tell anyone else about it – for example ‘it’s an exclusive deal only for you’

*             Unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages or letters

*             Emails from sources you don’t recognise that include attached documents or other files

*             Emails that appear to be from your bank, HMRC or another trustworthy source that ask you to reveal personal data, such as your account details.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“There will always be a small number of people who seek to take advantage of others, but we can protect ourselves from scams by taking a little extra time to check people are who they claim to be.”

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