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Council leads successful prosecution of man who sold £75k worth of fake car service history books online

A man who sold thousands of fake car service history books on eBay has been sentenced to three years in jail, following a prosecution led by Reading Borough Council.

The borough council said it had begun Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings to recover the financial benefit made, which is estimated at £75,000.

Mohammed Ashfaq Asghar, who pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court last week (Friday 20 May), was convicted of 11 counts of breaching the Fraud Act 2006, the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The court heard that Asghar perpetrated the offences by advertising car service history books on eBay, with the additional option of applying dealership stamps on request and creating fake services histories.

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The logbooks and stamps were discovered in a raid of Asghar's house carried out by Reading's Trading Standards Officers in June 2019. The operation uncovered around 400 fake service history books of various makes, 29 fake dealership stamps and several bank cards in the name of a friend.

A council investigation found both the service history books themselves and the dealership stamps to be counterfeit.

Asghar had obtained the bank cards after tricking a friend into setting up the accounts. He used them to process the money made from a total of 3,700 sales – which generated around £75,000 – over an 18-month period from January 2018 and June 2019. The bank accounts helped conceal his income.

As part of the prosecution, Reading played CCTV footage showing Asghar using one of the cards at a cash machine near his home.

Ellie Emberson, Reading's Lead Councillor for Regulatory Services, which includes Trading Standards, said: "This was a particularly serious trademarks case which resulted in it potentially thousands of vehicles out on the streets with false service histories. It was also aggravated by the fact the fraudster convinced a friend to front the bank accounts."

She added: "Trading Standards officers would always advise buyers to check any service history documentation very carefully before purchasing any vehicle. 

"My huge congratulations to Trading Standards staff at the Council who doggedly pursued and successfully prosecuted this fraudster. It is the sort of important work which goes on behind the scenes at the Council which is often overlooked, unless you are unfortunate enough to be directly involved in a scam. The three-year sentence should serve as a warning to anyone else selling counterfeit goods."

Adam Carey

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