A Newmarket car dealer has been jailed for four years after scamming customers out of more than £30,000.
Fifty-one-year-old Richard Palmer, who operated from a forecourt in Hammond Close, pleaded guilty to eight charges which included obtaining credit as a bankrupt and fraudulent trading.
The charges, pursued by Suffolk Trading Standards and the Insolvency Service, concerned Palmer’s role at Hammond Autos Ltd, which was established in 2013. He was sole director until January 2014 and continued to manage the business until it ceased trading in the summer of 2015.
Palmer was investigated after complaints from customers who had paid deposits or full payments for vehicles which were never received.
Ipswich Crown Court heard more than 30 witness statements were taken from customers who paid the company between £200 and £2,500 without receiving the vehicle they paid for, or a full refund. Two statements were taken from people who gave their car to Palmer to sell, but failed to receive either the car or any money from the sale.
In March 2015, the forecourt was raided and computers, mobile phones and documents seized. Four months later, when complaints continued, Palmer’s home in Saffron Walden was raided and more evidence was seized.
Sentencing Palmer, Judge Martyn Levett told him he had lost his ‘moral compass’.
“Honesty and transparency are strangers to you. I conclude that you lied every time your lips moved, lies dropped off your tongue.”
Palmer was also banned from being a director for 10 years.
Andy Jones, of the Insolvency Service Criminal Enforcement team, said: “Richard Palmer has simply been ripping people off. Members of the public have lost a great deal of money, that they could ill afford to lose.
“The sentence handed out in this case should serve as a warning to others that this sort of criminal behaviour will not be tolerated. This is an excellent example of good partnership working between Suffolk Trading Standards and the Insolvency Service Criminal Enforcement team to secure a successful prosecution of this individual.”