December 20 2013 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, October 18, 2013
A Fenland mayor who was one of scores of victims of an elaborate repairs scam has been to London to claim back his car from a warehouse – and found many of his car’s engine parts in the boot.
Andrew Pugh, the mayor of March, said he was among a number of owners who turned up at the Heathrow warehouse to collect cars after earlier having paid £1,490 deposit for his engine to be reconditioned by the firm.
His 2004 Vauxhall Vectra has now been taken to another garage in London and he is waiting to find out the cost of getting it back on the road.
“I found my car in the warehouse and it was whole apart from the engine which was in the boot,” he said.
Mr Pugh then scoured the warehouse and photographed and took a video of many of the other vehicles caught up in the scam.
“It took several days to arrange a time for me to collect the car- I was anxious to get back personal belongings inside the car,” he said.
“I met a security guard outside the compound and then he let me, and a handful of others, into the warehouse to look for our vehicles. I then had to work with my own recovery driver to identify the parts of the engine which were still missing.”
Mr Pugh said: “It was totally amazing. Although I was in one warehouse there were two others packed to the brim with cars. We also saw pallets packed high of bubble wrapped engine parts all waiting to be shipped abroad. Luckily my car was identifiable but there is no chance whatsoever it seems of getting my deposit back.”
The mayor said one woman from Germany he met had been to collect an Audi 6 for which she had paid £4,000 for non existent repairs.
“Her car had no tyres, no bonnet, in fact it was missing virtually everything – the only thing in tact was the shell. It had its number plate on it else she would never have found it,” he said.
The firm, Unique Engines, of Harmondsworth, took Mr Pugh’s deposit but later asked for another £1,500 to complete the work.
He has since discovered the firm – and others associated with it- has featured on TV’s Cowboy Traders, been part of a Sky News investigation, and is the subject of a major trading standards investigation.
Bailiffs closed the factory after they failed to pay rent to the landlords and the Insolvency Agency has been involved trying to unravel the scale of the operations run from there.
An agency spokesman described it as “probably the biggest masterminded garage/car parts scam currently in the UK. Hundreds if not thousands of people have been scammed by these daylight thieves.”
The agency also confirmed that a number of companies linked to the same address and which had the same directors had been wound up by the High Court “in the public interest”.
They had misled customers by overstating “the complexity of the work they did, exaggerated their quotes and used intimidating language when challenged by customers”.
Mr Pugh meanwhile says he is to present his case to Cambridgeshire Police and to find out if there is a possibility of a criminal prosecution.