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Conman jailed over 4x4 sale
A JUDGE branded a fraudster a “professional criminal” and jailed him for conning a family out of £13,000 on eBay.
Mark Clifford, of Gloucester Street, Faringdon, was convicted after a trial of dishonestly selling a stolen Range Rover.
The 36-year-old put the vehicle on the online auction site and convinced Gordon Drummond and his family to drive all the way from Scotland to pick it up.
Unknown to its buyer, the 4x4 was older than Clifford suggested and didn’t legally belong to him.
The vehicle was eventually found to have been stolen and was handed back to the former owner’s insurance company, who sold it for £5,000.
The Drummonds lost every penny and were left with no means of recovering it.
During a trial at Oxford Crown Court, Clifford maintained he had given the bulk of the money to an accomplice, who he refused to name, and only kept £200.
But sentencing him, Judge Gordon Risius said he was glad the jury had seen through this “unconvincing story” and found him guilty of fraud.
He said: “This was a fraud characterised by careful and sophisticated planning.
“It involved the substitution of false vehicle identification numbers in each of the various places they are located on the vehicle, as well as the use of false registration plates and the forging of false vehicle documents.
“This family thought they were buying a legitimate Range Rover that had not been used for anything like as long as it had.
“This was professional offending of a kind with which you are clearly all too familiar.”
Judge Risius added that this kind of fraud had the added effects of targeting a large number of people and damaged public confidence in internet shopping.
He said: “The fraud has had a lasting effect on the unsuspecting purchasers who discovered the truth after parting with their £13,000 – that it was worth less than half of that.
“They are now out of pocket by £13,000 and have nothing to show for their outlay.
“And they had to make an overnight trip from Scotland with their children to accept delivery from you.”
He sentenced Clifford to three years in prison, adding that he was “clearly a professional criminal”.
Daniel Wright, defending, said his client was unable to work because of an injury and had recently lost his incapacity benefit, leaving his family in financial trouble.