A ‘BOLD’ fraudster has been jailed for scamming customers out of nearly £250,000 when he promised to order supercars – but instead he spent most of the money in the pub.
Nicholas O’Neil of Sheep Street in Shipston was jailed for five-and-half-years after defrauding unsuspecting customers by promising to order cars such as Ferraris, Bentleys and Porsches.
The 47-year-old, who operated Idlicote-based Drive Direct, took deposits for cars for more than two years but never put in the orders.
He worked closely with David Chandler, aged 49, of Prince Philip Avenue, Essex, who operated Kis Cars in Hertfordshire. Chandler’s part in the scheme saw victims conned out of another £91,000, taking the total between the pair to some £340,000.
The men, who are both from New Zealand originally, knew each other well and plotted a scheme to extract money from car dealers and buyers who had approached them wanting to purchase top-of the range super cars.
The trial at St Albans Crown Court lasted for six weeks.
The jury heard how it was only when one of the victims became suspicious about the length of time it was taking and the lack of action from Chandler and O’Neil that he went to the police. The remaining six victims then stepped forward too.
The court heard Chandler used around £91,000 of the cash to prop up his failing business, while O’Neil frittered the rest away on day-to-day living, including regular trips to the pub.
O’Neil was found guilty of tranferring criminal property, fraud by false representation and theft.
Investigator Alan Mordey from Hertfordshire Police said: “This was a complicated and protracted investigation but all the hard work was worth it to see the sentences handed down.
“Chandler and O’Neil were bold in their crimes, taking large sums of money from innocent people in exchange for an exclusive service they had absolutely no intention of providing.
“It was only when one of the victims realised something was not right, after being fobbed off one too many times, and informed the police that the fraud was discovered. The full scale of their offending was later uncovered when more victims stepped forward.
“I hope both Chandler and O’Neil use their time in prison to reflect on their actions, and the fact that they are now behind bars will be a comfort to their victims.”
Both O’Neil and Chandler have been banned from being company directors for seven and five years respectively. A compensation order to retrieve some of the victims’ lost funds has also been applied for.