A Thanet fraudster who sold cars he didn’t actually own has been jailed.
Between 2010 and 2015 Jude Cook, 47, ran two companies while living in Broadstairs and then Ramsgate, called Drop Ship Traders, and Kent Car Collection, both of which were eventually dissolved.
The companies sourced vehicles from around the world and sold them via a website.
But Cook, who is also known as Marcus Jude, never owned any of the vehicles. He would see them for sale on other websites and copy the photos and information to advertise on his own site. When potential buyers contacted him, he would contact the genuine sellers and act as a broker.
Although he made many sales in this way, several were not completed, and the buyers were left out of pocket and without a new car. Cook would then arrange to pay them back in instalments.
One victim contacted police after he paid £35,000 towards Kent Car Collection for a 1964 Mercedes 220 SE. The victim, who had previously bought a car from Cook without issue, complained and asked for his money back. When Cook would only offer the money back in instalments, Kent Police launched an investigation.
Enquiries revealed the genuine car sellers had not given permission to Cook to sell their vehicles.
In police interview Cook, formerly of Lillian Road, Ramsgate, claimed he was never able to pay the money back immediately if the vehicles were sold before he could obtain them, because the cash was tied up in other bills, such as shipping costs for other cars.
At Canterbury Crown Court on Thursday 7 December, Cook, who now lives in Powys, pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud, and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Neil Martin of Kent Police, said: “Cook thought he could make money by acting as an unofficial broker between buyer and the unsuspecting genuine car sellers.
“However he ran in problems because the cars were not his to sell, and on this occasion the car had been sold by the genuine seller before Cook would obtain it for his buyer. His method of selling was risky, bad business practice, and above all, illegal.”