Pair sent to jail for Fenton company cars con
TWO men have been jailed for duping three car dealerships out of more than £150,000 of vehicles.
Fenton-based Evans Halshaw was conned out of five Citroen C5 cars, while Stoke Audi and Stoke Volkswagen were also targeted.
Artur Kwiatkowski and Rizwan Gohar opened Span Media Ltd, on King Street, Fenton, in 2009, and approached the dealerships looking for a fleet of vehicles for the bogus company.
Between August and November 2009, they obtained the five Citroens worth just under £100,000, a £20,000 Golf GTI from Stoke Volkswagen and a £33,000 Audi A5 from Stoke Audi.
But despite the men signing contract hire and credit agreement documents for the vehicles, the companies never received a penny.
Four payments were made on credit cards but were called back after the genuine card holders raised the alarm, Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard yesterday.
Polish national Kwiatkowski, aged 41, of Whatmore Street, Burslem, who was director and sole shareholder of Span Media Limited, and Gohar, aged 38, of Birmingham, pleaded guilty to conspiring, together with other people, to defraud the dealerships.
It is not clear what has happened to any of the cars, worth a total of £153,000
Gohar also pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to defraud Hunters Land Rover, in Derby, out of £88,000.
Span Media Ltd moved out of its Victoria Road base in early 2010 after failing to pay rent for the property. The company's name was also used to obtain electrical equipment worth £2,500 and a forklift truck.
In October 2010, one of the Citroen C5 cars was stopped by a police officer at Penbroke Dock on its way to Ireland. Gohar was a foot passenger on the ferry. The two defendants were arrested by police after documents relating to the sales were found to have their fingerprints on them.
Kwiatkowski told police he had met two Asian men in a shop who told him about a car hire business opportunity.
He said he went to the garages and signed credit hire agreements, but claimed he had no idea the business was illegal at the time.
Paul Cliff, mitigating for Kwiatkowski, who has convictions for 24 offences, said: "He didn't know at first this was a fraudulent business.
"The prosecution says he was the stooge in the operation and we say that isn't too wide of the mark."
Mohammed Latif, mitigating for Gohar, who has convictions for four offences, said: "He pleaded guilty at the first opportunity."
Judge Paul Glenn sentenced Gomar to a total of four years in prison. Kwiatkowski must serve 20 months, minus 127 days spent on remand, after Judge Glenn accepted he was exploited.