A man who sold stolen cars to unsuspecting owners and pocketed nearly £60,000 has been jailed.
Matthew James Keogh (born 18/06/1980), of Newton Crescent, Middleton, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud by false representation, handling of stolen tax discs, production of a Class B drug and illegal abstracting electricity at an earlier hearing.
Today, 14 February 2013, he was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment at Manchester Crown Court, Minshull Street.
Between July 2011 and May 2012, Keogh would sell cars stolen during burglaries after they had been advertised through Autotrader.
By removing the unique chassis number, fitting the cars with false number plates and stolen tax discs, the vehicles would appear genuine to the unsuspecting owners who bought the cloned cars from Keogh in good faith.
Using an address on Dukinfield Road in Hyde as a base, Keogh would pretend to be the owner of the stolen cars and agree prices with the buyers. The victims would view the cars and leave thinking they had bought genuine vehicles.
The cars fraudulently sold in this way were an Audi A3 sold for £10,500, an Audi A3 sold for £9,400, and Audi A4 sold for £7,200, a Ford Fiesta sold for £5,000 and a VW Golf sold for £9,500 - each time the victims paying cash.
However, when Keogh attempted to sell a Volvo XC90 for £18,000, the buyer suspected something was not quite right about the transaction when he went to view the car in Rochdale and called the police.
An investigation was launched and Keogh was arrested trying to sell the Volvo. Fingerprints recovered from receipts, MOTs and the other cars identified he was also responsible for the fraudulent transactions.
When his Middleton home was raided, officers discovered up to £39,600 worth of cannabis.
Police Constable Nigel Schofield, from GMP's Volume Fraud Team, said: "To put it bluntly, Keogh was making money from other people's misery - selling cars stolen during burglaries to unsuspecting members of the public just to fund his criminality.
"It is a priority for Greater Manchester Police to combat organised crime, reduce domestic burglary and tackle all stealing offences. We hope that operations such as this demonstrate our commitment to these priorities, and show that we will continue to catch those who seek to profit from selling stolen goods.
"We must remember that for every car stolen Keogh was selling there were two victims - those who bought the cars in good faith but also the victims of the original burglaries. A lot of those who bought the cars have been left seriously out of pocket and having to repay large loans to cover the cost of Keogh's actions.
"Greater Manchester Police works closely with online market places such as Autotrader and will continue to work with these companies in the future to combat this sort of criminality.
"We urge prospective buyers of cars to visit the direct.gov.uk website (www.direct.gov.uk/buyerbeware) for general security advice, to always use bankers' draft rather than cash, and we also want to make it clear that if a price looks too good to be true, there is every chance that it is."