Gortin car dealer and sales executive plead guilty to fraud

Date published: 14 June 2024

A car dealer from Gortin, Omagh was today found guilty at Newry Crown Court of advertising and selling ‘clocked’ cars.

Trading Standards Service Court Report
Trading Standards Service Court Report

In a case brought by the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service (TSS), Mr Samuel McConnell (28) of Learden Road, Gortin, director of SMC Cars & Commercials Ltd pleaded guilty to five charges under the Fraud Act 2006. Mr McConnell was ordered to undertake 240 hours community service, to be completed within 12 months. A compensation order was also awarded to the four victims in this case totalling £7,920, to be paid within 12 weeks.

In the same case, Mr Ryan McKittrick (24) of Bearney Road, Strabane, sales executive of SMC Cars & Commercials Ltd, also pleaded guilty to five charges under the Fraud Act 2006. Mr McKittrick was ordered to undertake 240 hours community service, to be completed within 12 months.

The investigation arose following a consumer complaint alleging that SMC Cars & Commercials Ltd of Learden Road, Gortin was selling clocked vehicles. Investigations by the TSS revealed that the Company had sold four vehicles to consumers with reduced mileages.

Eavan Dunlop, of the Trading Standards Service said:

“The number of vehicles uncovered by this investigation and the degree by which their mileages had been altered, points to a systematic ‘clocking’ operation by the two individuals. Cars were purchased with high mileages and subsequently sold to unsuspecting consumers with lower mileages.

“With the rising prices of second hand cars, it is vitally important that consumers have confidence in local car dealerships. Car traders have a legal responsibility to ensure that all descriptions applied to vehicles are accurate and not misleading to consumers. The Trading Standards Service remains committed to investigating those car traders that attempt to take advantage of consumers.”

The vehicles uncovered in the investigation were:

  • a Peugeot 208, purchased by a consumer who saw the car advertised by the car dealer on Gumtree with 89,000 miles. Evidence obtained by TSS revealed that the vehicle had travelled at least 120,597 miles.
  • a Mercedes advertised on Gumtree with 92,000 miles when it had a previous recorded mileage of 120,178 miles. The vehicle was also a Category N insurance loss, information that was not disclosed to the consumer before the purchase was made.
  • a VW Scirocco, with a previous mileage of 172,980 miles reduced to 121,180 miles.
  • an Audi A3, which was sold with 125,000 miles having previously travelled 148,028 miles. The vehicle was returned to the car dealer on the basis of the mileage discrepancy; however, the car dealer then readvertised the vehicle on Gumtree with the incorrect mileage. The vehicle was also being offered for sale with a false service history.

The Trading Standards Service offers the following advice when buying a car:

  • Buy from a reputable dealer. Vehicles may cost more when bought from a dealer but they will have carried out checks on a vehicle’s history before offering cars for sale.
  • If you know the registration number of a vehicle, you can obtain the vehicles mileage by entering it into ‘Check the MOT History of a vehicle’ on GOV.UK
  • Bring someone with you who has some knowledge about cars. Excessive wear and tear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel and foot pedals may be inconsistent with the indicated mileage.
  • Ensure that you see all the relevant original paperwork, the logbook (V5 form), the car’s service history and confirmation of MOT. With this information, you can contact the previous owners of the vehicle as well as the garages that carried out the servicing work to ask questions about the history of the vehicle. Everything should be present and correct. If it is not, simply walk away from the deal.
  • Carry out an online vehicle mileage, accident and outstanding finance check before you buy the car.
  • If buying from a “private” seller, get proof of the seller’s name and address.
  • Finally, never buy a car from the side of a road or pay cash to somebody you don’t know.  

Anyone who believes they have been sold goods which have been falsely described should contact Consumerline on 0300 123 6262.

Notes to editors: 

1. The Trading Standards Service investigates potential criminal offences relating to misdescribed cars under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and The Fraud Act 2006. It is an offence under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for a motor trader to mislead consumers verbally/via advertisement/odometer/paperwork in respect of the mileage of a vehicle. It is also an offence under this legislation for a trader to conceal the fact that he/she is a trader.

2. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office at: pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk

3. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

4. To keep up to date with news from the Trading Standards Service you can follow them on social media at @TSSNI

5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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