Warning after men traced to Dagenham con builder in engine oil car sale scam
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 July 2020
A man has urged drivers to beware scammers conning sellers out of their cars.
Builder Steve Browne traced his BMW 645ci coupe down to a house in Rutland Gardens, Dagenham after conmen tricked him into accepting less than a quarter of the reserve price.
Steve said: “These guys have got to be stopped. They are making a living out of scamming people.”
The 62-year-old pleaded for anyone with information to contact the police, having waited four months for action.
The rugby fan explained how three men drove off with the motor after knocking him down from £3,500 to £700.
It started after Steve advertised the BMW on Ebay.
Three Middle Eastern men in their 20s and 30s turned up to view the car at Steve’s home in Newbury, Berkshire, on March 9.
After Steve lifted the bonnet when asked if they could see the engine, one of the three asked if he could look inside the boot.
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As an unsuspecting Steve took him round the back of the car, the man’s accomplices poured oil in the coolant.
When Steve took one of them for a test drive on the A34, he barely said a word until he signalled he wanted to see how well the car performed in sport mode.
Steve switched mode only for smoke to start pouring from the exhaust.
As the pair approached Steve’s house, the two other suspects jumped out of their grey Audi 4 saloon, screaming about the smoke. They threw up the bonnet, pointed to the oil and claimed the head gasket had blown.
His passenger said it would cost more than £1,000 to fix so Steve accepted the £700.
“I’m not a mechanic, I’m a builder,” Steve said. “He said they wanted it because the body was immaculate but it was scrap value now. He seemed knowledgeable. I was annoyed thinking the gasket had gone.”
Soon after Steve contacted his own mechanic who told him he’d been scammed.
Days later, Steve received a message on Ebay from a man who bought the car, asking about its history. That buyer picked the car up from Rutland Gardens, paying £4,500 for it. The V5 proof of ownership form had a false address.
“People should know not to trust these guys,” Steve said.
A spokesperson for Action Fraud said Steve’s case was assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police which found there were no leads that would result in a successful criminal investigation at this time.
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